Now more than ever, people are trying to get a jump start on preventing wrinkles at an earlier age. By practicing good lifestyle and skincare habits now, you’ll get a big payoff in years to come with beautiful, glowing skin that shows fewer lines, wrinkles and brown spots.
It’s a fact that preventing visible skin aging is far easier and less expensive than getting rid of it once it appears. In this post, you’ll learn ten easy tips you can start following at any age to prevent wrinkles for a long-lasting youthful appearance.
How should I be caring for my skin to prevent wrinkles and slow down visible aging?
1. Re-assess any prescription medications that you may be taking orally or applying to your skin.
The most common medications for the skin are:
- Oral antibiotics for clearing acne
- Topical creams and gels for clearing acne
- Birth control pills
- Prescription retinoids for clearing blemishes (these can also help with wrinkle prevention by improving the skin’s texture)
As you get well into your 20s, all of these medications (except the prescription retinoids) could be negatively affecting the appearance of your skin. Dryness, irritation or pigmentation are all common side effects, and these are never good for your skin’s health—or in your quest to prevent wrinkles.
You may have outgrown your acne, and oral or topical medication may no longer be needed.
Are you still using acne products prescribed to you in your younger years? Do you fear if you go off of them, you’ll be back to your teenage breakouts? In a lot of cases, by the time you’re in your 20s, you may have outgrown the severe, hormone-induced acne from your younger years. Why continue to use these medications if you don’t need them? I believe oral antibiotics should be a short-term strategy and should not be overused, but this is ultimately a conversation between you and your doctor. If a topical prescription cream is drying out your skin, this can be easily controlled by switching it out for a gentler, non-prescription option. To clear and prevent breakouts, I recommend using a product with salicylic acid like BHA Clarifying Serum or Pore + Wrinkle Perfecting Serum. Additionally, a spot treatment like Anti Bump Solution can be used for cystic hormonal breakouts without drying out the skin. The goal is to create a healthy, balanced environment for the skin so it can look its best and slow down the process of developing signs of aging—like wrinkles!
If you’re dealing with adult acne and can’t seem to get it under control, read how to prevent adult hormonal breakouts.
Did you know that birth control pills can increase skin pigmentation above the upper lip, cheeks, and forehead?
A lot of people wonder why they have a dark shading (kind of like a mustache) above their lip, or patches of brown pigment on areas of their face. More than likely, this could be caused by the hormonal changes occurring from birth control pills that stimulate melanin production. This condition is called melasma and can occur at any time and just show up out of nowhere. Talk with your doctor about potentially changing doses because the longer pigmentation is there, the more difficult it may be to get rid of later on. Read how birth control pills affect the skin.
Using a retinoid prescription for acne? Stick with it since it’s helping to prevent wrinkles.
One of the greatest discoveries in skincare was finding out that an FDA-approved topical cream developed for acne treatment was, in fact, doing double duty as a wrinkle prevention product. You can read all about how this was discovered here (it’s a great story!). If you had acne as a teen and were prescribed a retinoid cream or gel, consider yourself lucky. You got a serious jumpstart on preventing wrinkles, and I highly recommend you keeping using it. (More on this in #8 below.)
2. For wrinkle prevention, don’t get caught in the cycle of over-drying your skin.
I often hear, “My skin can get dry so I need a good moisturizer that won’t cause me to breakout.” Sound familiar? My first question is always “Why is your skin feeling so dry?” It’s usually because someone is exfoliating way too much or using a drying cleanser and damaging their skin’s protective barrier. Your skin cells are like fish and need water to live, so you don’t want to be putting the skin in an unhealthy state by using harsh products. Dry, damaged skin is more prone to developing early signs of visible aging, so your approach to treating adult breakouts needs to be different than the strategy you would’ve used as a teenager. If you’re still getting breakouts, there are gentle ways to keep your skin clear that won’t cause damage to your protective barrier. Using a hydrating acne mask like Rapid Response Detox Masque can be incredibly effective (yes, shocking I know. There is such a thing as an acne mask that actually hydrates!). Or better yet, use this peel/mask duo every week to really get adult breakouts under control while simultaneously preventing wrinkles.
If you’re struggling with over-drying your skin, here are some posts that will provide you with important information:
Dry vs dehydrated skin: There’s a difference and you need to know what it is
The beginner’s guide to exfoliation
Five ways to hydrate oily, acne-prone skin without causing breakouts
3. To prevent wrinkles, get to know your skin type and use products exclusively for your needs and goals.
For most people, your skin acts way different now than when you were younger. It’s important to keep evolving your skin routine as your skin changes in order to get the desired results. If you’re still thinking you need to put your skin into the standard dry, normal and oily skin types, it’s time that you think about your skin in a new way. It can be hard to find a routine that works in harmony to give your skin the perfect balance, but it is possible. Your skin changes every decade and you need to know the best way to care for it. I have developed nine skin types that I believe truly reflect the real-world needs of peoples’ skin. Find your true skin type by taking my skin type quiz. You can also schedule a virtual consultation with an esthetician for personalized advice.
4. Be mindful of how you sleep so you can prevent wrinkles from appearing.
It’s thought that after sun exposure, the second cause of wrinkles is from sleep. Specifically, the position of your face on your pillow at night can make a difference. As an esthetician, I can tell by looking at some faces (more so after the age of 45) if they are a side or back sleeper. Side sleepers will have creases on their chest known as “sleep cleavage”. On the face, I can see a vertical line that has formed in the area where their nose and cheek meet (I see this more often on men). For back sleepers, I’ll see deeper horizontal lines on their neck from this area being squished with the chin pushing down.
For me, as you can see in this photo, I choose to sleep on my side with my head positioned in the bottom corner of an extra firm pillow. I know many of you think that you can’t really control your position once you sleep, but I challenge you to think differently. I believe that your subconscious can control it if it’s really important to you. That’s been my experience, at least. There are also special sleep pillows that can force you to stay in a certain position, so you might consider those.
5. For wrinkle prevention, get serious about your sun protection—365 days a year, rain or shine, inside or out.
How to help wrinkles not come on as quickly? Sunscreen, when applied generously during your morning skincare routine and then reapplied as needed, is the MOST effective way to prevent wrinkles. Daylight and sunlight (even when coming through windows) are causing a considerable amount of DNA damage to your skin without you even realizing it. Many people are still not making sunscreen use an everyday habit. The reason is usually that they can’t find a proper sunscreen that is compatible with their skin type, since many sunscreens can feel heavy or clog the pores. I’m here to tell you that sunscreens have come a long way. There are many great formulas available that won’t feel greasy or cause breakouts. It’s so important to find a sunscreen that you’ll actually enjoy wearing day in and day out. This way, you’ll actually use it and you can feel confident that you’re using the best, most effective “wrinkle cream” on the planet. Recommended lightweight sunscreen: Weightless Protection SPF 30 is a lightweight daily moisturizer that will not cause breakouts. Trust me on this one. As a bonus, it can be used nicely under makeup and won’t pill or ball up. If you want to increase protection against UV rays to really slow down visible signs of aging, consider adding an antioxidant serum into your morning routine. When applied underneath your sunscreen, antioxidants can actually increase your sunscreen’s effectiveness! Recommended product: Vitamin C&E Treatment.
“Preventing visible skin aging is far easier and less expensive than getting rid of it once it appears.”
6. To prevent wrinkles, treat your neck as an extension of your face.
To my younger readers: thanks to research and greater awareness of what causes skin aging, you have access to a lot more knowledge about how to prevent wrinkles than your mother did. Embrace it! That being said, you face a challenge your mother probably didn’t face. Looking down at a cell phone all day is not helping you prevent neck aging. You may have heard the term “tech neck” before. The ideas is that the 45-degree angle at which you hang your head to look at your cell phone causes a repeated squishing of the neck, resulting in premature folds and wrinkles (similar to what happens to back sleepers). When it comes to aging, the neck is at a disadvantage to begin with since there is less bone structure to support the skin that in the face. This will all lead to eventual sagging. In your quest to prevent wrinkles, you want to pay attention to how you care for your neck.
Treat your neck as its own area.
Don’t make the mistake of treating your neck as an afterthought. For example, a person will typically rub moisturizer onto his or her face, and then whatever is left over on the fingertips will be brought down onto the neck. Sound familiar? While the intention is good, it’s truly not helping that much in the quest for keeping the skin on the neck tight and smooth. You must apply your skin care products to the neck in the same way you would apply them to the face and treat it as a separate, second applications.
Apply sunscreen to the neck generously.
Just like the face, sunscreen needs to be applied generously in order to offer full sun protection and prevent wrinkles. The best way to apply sunscreen to the neck is by doing a full, second application once you’ve covered your face. You must be thorough in your application in order to get actual protection from harmful UV rays. Read how to apply sunscreen to the face and neck.
Learn how to care for the neck and chest.
You don’t want to forget about the chest either since this area gets tremendous amounts of sun damage. Read how to repair damage to the neck and chest.
Someone once told me, “You’re only as young as your neck.” I believe it.
7. How to prevent wrinkles around the eyes? Start using an eye cream and under-eye exfoliator NOW.
Did you know that the eye area is the first area to age due to wear and tear from smiling, squinting and rubbing? Keeping it hydrated and nourished is essential for preventing premature lines and wrinkles. It’s important to know that eye creams don’t need to be heavy and greasy to work. In fact, the heavier they are, the more they could actually be causing wrinkles. This can happen when oils seep into the eyes and cause puffiness, which can stretch out the skin and weaken elasticity.
Choose a nourishing eye cream with skin-firming peptides.
The skin under the eyes gets weak easily, so you want an eye cream that does more than just moisturize. Ingredients like peptides help support the skins’ structure to keep it intact. Recommended eye cream: Total Repair Eye Creme
Use a lighter weight eye cream under makeup in the morning.
When the eyes are looking tired in the morning, it’s beneficial to use an eye care product that not only helps to prevent wrinkles but also encourages less puffiness and darkness. Recommended morning eye cream: Vitamin C Eye Brightener. Read 6 tips for reducing puffiness and dark circles.
Be sure to exfoliate under the eyes to smooth away dryness.
If the skin under your eyes is dry and looks crepey, gentle exfoliation will make a huge improvement. Plus, your eye care products will work more efficiently when they don’t have to try and break through dry skin cell buildup. Recommended under-eye exfoliator: Overnight Eye Serum
I swear by eye creams for the prevention of wrinkles and I swear by these 10 skincare rules, too.
8. Use a product with retinol or a prescription retinoid. Aside from sunscreen, this is the most effective product to prevent wrinkles.
Hands down the most tried and true, biologically-proven topical anti-aging ingredient is Vitamin A, also known as retinoid or retinol. As mentioned above, consider yourself lucky if you have been using it since your teens or 20s for acne. However, if you’ve never used a Vitamin A product before, you should really start using a non-prescription retinol product. I recommend Advanced Resurfacing Serum to my clients because it’s so safe for sensitive skin and you will not experience the harsh side effects that can accompany a prescription retinoid. If you are in your 20s and start consistently using a retinol product now, then you should never have to switch over to a stronger prescription. The idea is that you’re getting ahead of you wrinkles by using it preventatively, and consistency is almost always more important than potency. Someone in their 50s who already has sun damage may need to start with a prescription immediately to achieve more dramatic results, and then manage the side effects of dryness.
Read my beginners guide to using retinol.
9. Use a Botox-free alternative for preventing forehead and between-the-brow wrinkles.
I get asked all the time by people in their 20s, “Do you think I should start getting Botox to prevent wrinkles? I’m starting to notice a crease. Is Botox safe?” I generally don’t think it’s a good idea for most people in their 20s to start getting Botox unless it’s needed (Read if you need it here). However, I do believe it’s perfectly safe. I personally have it done between my brows and around my eyes since my mid-30s, so I am a fan.
A much less expensive option for the prevention of wrinkles is applying Frownies at night while you sleep. I know it seems a bit silly, but it does work. Dreaming at night, along with the position of your face on your pillow when you sleep, can create a lot of facial movements. By applying these easy-to-use patches that freeze your expressions, you’re actually doing a lot to prevent the formation of wrinkles. Of course, using sunscreen and products with retinol and antioxidants all help you achieve younger-looking skin, too.
10. Put your skin in the hands of a professional.
While using a good home-care routine designed for your specific skin type is essential, your skin will greatly benefit from additional care with professional treatments like facials, lasers, and chemical peels. These can all help prevent wrinkles. Not only are you getting a skin treatment that will target your wrinkle concerns, but you’ll also be getting guidance from an expert. They can guide you on how to care for your skin at home in between your visits. When people attempt to go it alone, they often get confused and end up using a routine that isn’t delivering the results they need. Read how to do the perfect morning skincare routine and nighttime skincare routine.
So there you have it. These ten things to start doing NOW to prevent wrinkles will truly set you up for a lifetime of healthy, beautiful skin with a #ReneeRouleauGLOW. Trust me when I say, don’t just rely on good genetics to carry you through. Good habits are EVERYTHING. And my 11th tip? Read my blog for more of my expert advice. Enjoy!
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”