Prejuvenation is a word you should really know if you’re between the age of 25 and 45 and concerned about maintaining youthful skin. The love child of “prevention” and “rejuvenation,” prejuvenation has been gaining momentum for some time now, and it’s all about taking care of business (and by business, we mean fine lines, dark spots, and sagging skin) before it takes care of you. In other words, it’s about staying ahead of the skin aging curve.
The truth is that small acts of prevention are worth a whole world of cure, so if you’re yet to hit your mid-to-late 30s – when the ‘p’ gets dropped from prejuvenation and the rejuvenation tactics start to set in – it’s time to rethink the way you care for your complexion.
In the aesthetics world, prejuvenation is all about injectables, skin tightening, and light therapy treatments. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, their members continue to see a dramatic increase in patients under the age of 30 requesting facial aesthetics or even plastic surgery. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We’re all for small amounts of filler here and a bit of Botox there if a) that’s your jam, b) you remember that less is always more, and c) you only ever get injectables administered by a board-certified physician. Many experts also agree that the earlier you start these kind of treatments, the less likely those lines are to get etched in the first place.
However, needles and lasers aren’t for everyone, so if you’re in the market for an effective prejuvenation regimen but would rather do it in a simpler, more natural way, it’s worth knowing how to do so.
Here are five ways to get your prejuvenation skincare regime kickstarted in the comfort of your own home.
- Moisturize Your Skin (Seriously)
Younger skin generally produces more sebum than mature skin, which goes a long way in protecting it from moisture loss. It also contains an awesome amount of what’s known as the natural moisturizing factor (NMF), a collection of naturally-occurring humectants that work together to moisturize and protect the skin.
But skipping moisturizer in your 20s should never be an option.
In fact, here’s what really happens if you fail to moisturize. First, your skin will start to produce excess amount of sebum to compensate for the lack of hydration it would normally receive from a moisturizer. Cue oily, shiny skin and breakouts. Then, if you bombard your skin with the stresses of everyday life – like harsh cleansing, hot water, environmental damage, etc. – without regular moisturization, your barrier function will start to fail and your levels of NMF will fade rapidly.
All this is a one-way ticket to dry, dehydrated skin, which in time leads to fine lines and wrinkles. And remember what we said about lines being much easier to prevent than cure?
The best moisturizers contain a combination of humectants, emollients, and occlusive ingredients. Humectants act like a sponge to retain water in the skin, emollients soften and fill in any cracks, and occlusives create a barrier on top of the skin to stop moisture from escaping. One of the finest humectants to look out for in a moisturizer (which is also naturally present in your NMF) is hyaluronic acid (HA). HA is widely used in skincare for its almost super-human ability to draw water into your skin. It’s also a lightweight ingredient and very well tolerated by nearly all skin types. Look for hyaluronic acid, hyaluronan, or sodium hyaluronate in your moisturizer and make sure it also contains an emollient like jojoba oil, squalene, or, if your skin is super-dry, an occlusive like cocoa or shea butter. Apply HA without one of these, and all that good moisture will simply evaporate from the surface of your skin.
- Never Skip on Beauty Sleep
The positive effects of a good night’s sleep are hard to argue since nighttime is when your skin goes into repair mode. How so? Well, your body produces two hormones when you turn in for the night, melatonin and HGH (human growth hormone). Melatonin protects the skin and helps repair damage caused by daily environmental stress while HGH encourages skin regeneration. If you don’t get enough shut-eye, your body won’t have the chance to produce enough of these important skin-loving hormones.
Another downside of not getting enough sleep is that your body will overproduce a different hormone called cortisol (the stress hormone). Too much cortisol encourages inflammation in the skin and interferes with the healing process.
Missing a few hours of sleep may seem like a trivial matter in your 20s and early 30s, but continue to deprive yourself of the optimum eight hours and your skin will really punish you. One study showed that just one night of bad sleep can result in puffy eyes, dark circles, more noticeable lines and wrinkles, and a droopier mouth. And we don’t know about you, but they don’t sound like the kind of facial features we wish for at any age.
- Understand the Power of Active Skincare
As we already mentioned, most dermatologists agree that the earlier you start treating your skin and addressing the visible signs of aging, the better it will look and feel later in life. This means that starting an active skincare in your 20s will go a long way in maintaining youthful skin for longer.
However, prescription-strength retinoids and regular glycolic peels could be way too much for 20-something skin. So stick with an over-the-counter retinol, and apply it just once or twice a week. You should also use mild alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and gentle antioxidants to keep your skin healthy and youthful-looking.
Lactic acid is one of the most gentle, highly researched, and effective AHAs you can use, and it’s a real gem for all types of skin. It has a larger molecular size than glycolic acid, meaning it penetrates the skin on a surface level only to increase cell turnover without causing too much irritation to your skin.
Lactic acid also helps hydrate the skin while working hard to prevent breakouts, fade sun spots, and improve the first signs of fine lines. That makes it a must for all skin types and is particularly effective for younger skin that has started to show minor signs of aging.
Try our Overnight Star Lactic Acid Treatment, which contains 5 percent lactic acid and is balanced by hyaluronic acid for extra hydration, licorice to brighten, aloe to soothe, and prickly pear to heal and nourish.
For the daytime, antioxidants are critical to help protect your skin from damage caused by lifestyle and environmental toxins such as smoking, a poor diet, pollution, and UV radiation. Depending on your main concerns, there are many clinically-proven antioxidants to choose from, but if you’re looking for a good all-rounder, niacinamide is the perfect choice. A great treatment for younger skin, niacinamide helps strengthen the natural protective barrier, reduces enlarged pores, and is very well tolerated by most skin types.
- Beat your Sugar Cravings
What you eat and how you live your life right now will play a major part in the way your skin will look in 20 years’ time, and eating a diet that is high in refined carbs, sugar, and salt is a sure-fire way to prematurely age up your skin.
Sugar, specifically, is a real devil dressed in Prada because while it is heavenly on the tastebuds, it’s a beast for your skin. Sugar attaches itself to collagen and elastin through a process known as glycation. Glycation results in advanced glycation end products (appropriately known as AGEs), which harden and weaken the structure of collagen and elastin and show up on your skin’s surface in the form of lines, wrinkles, dullness, and sagging. Thankfully, your skin produces much more collagen and elastin in your 20s than later on in life, which is great news for keeping the visible signs of glycation at bay. But overloading your body with refined sugars, simple carbs, and high-fructose corn syrup will allow AGEs to build up, so when you hit your 30s, the perfect storm will strike. Again, it’s all about getting ahead of the game.
Obviously, sugar is an essential fuel for your body, but being aware of what you eat and cutting down on the unnecessary is a great way to stop the sweet stuff from doing a number on your complexion.
- Always Wear Sunscreen
The sun is responsible for a staggering 90 percent of external skin damage, and early signs of sun damage often start in your 20s as collagen and elastin levels start to decrease and the skin’s ability to repair itself weakens. The problem is that by the time things like solar lentigines (dark spots) and sun-induced wrinkles turn up to the party, the damage is already done, so don’t think you can get away with zero protection just because you’ve not yet hit your 30th birthday. Sun damage is one bullet that cannot be dodged without due diligence, so you have to protect your skin all year round.
If you’re spending a lot of time outdoors – on vacation, for example – a broad-spectrum SPF30+ sunscreen should be applied liberally and often (every 90 minutes) to every inch of exposed skin. If you’re swimming, sweating, or exercising, always reapply when you’re done, and stay out of the midday sun at all costs because that’s when UV damage will really hit you hard.
For your daily business – when you’re not spending all day under those damaging rays – apply protection to any skin that’s exposed before heading outside. In the summer, this may include your arms, shoulders, legs, and feet, but for the rest of the year, your face, neck, décolletage, and hands might be the only parts on show. A daily SPF30+ moisturizer with broad-spectrum coverage should do the job just fine.