Updated 1/24/18. When it comes to how your skin will age, there are three facial characteristics that you are genetically given (or not given) that can predict if you’ll maintain a more youthful appearance well into your later years.
There is a lot of discussion on how genetics will play into your skin’s appearance, and what I know for sure is that genetics do count for some things, but not everything. In this post, I’ll share the genetic traits that you’re lucky if you have inherited, and then I’ll go into where genetics don’t come into play as much and where you are in control.
What facial features will make my skin look younger?
There are three main genetic features that contribute to a youthful face.
1. A full face with natural volume.
If you are someone where one of the first places to show weight gain is in your face (like me!), this means you have an increased number of fat cells (pads) in your skin. While a chubby face may have been frustrating in your younger years (I know it was for me), consider yourself lucky since it’s very beneficial for having a youthful look. As we age, especially starting in the 40s when the estrogen hormone starts to decline, we lose that natural plumpness in our face. To counteract this, people will start having fat or cosmetic dermal filler injections to prevent a hollow, sunken-in look.
When people ask me what they can do to help them look younger, one of my tips is to eat ice cream like I talk about in this Instagram video. However, I realize that this may not be ideal, since gaining weight will also add volume elsewhere! Regardless, volume in the face = a younger look.
Did you know that adding volume (naturally or through fillers) can make large pores, indented acne scars, lines and wrinkles less noticeable? Any indent in the skin can be plumped up when there is something underneath that helps fill them out.
2. A strong, firm neckline.
This is also known to be essential to a youthful-looking face since this is often the first area to lose its tone and show signs of sagging. A key component in a facelift and certainly a neck lift is to tighten that skin back up to get rid of what is known as a “turkey neck”. A tighter, firmer neck = a younger look.
Make sure you’re not neglecting your neck. I can’t stress enough the importance of making, not only caring for the skin on your face a priority, but the skin on your neck, too. Read tips for how to repair the skin on your neck and chest.
3. High cheekbones.
Of the three, if you’re blessed with nice, high prominent cheekbones, you definitely hit the jackpot. Regardless of the quality of your skin’s texture (a lot of sun damage vs a little damage), it will not lose its tone as much since it essentially gets ‘hung up’ on the cheekbones and doesn’t drop as quickly. People pay a lot of money to have cheek implants put in since this is known to be the key to a young-looking face. Simply put, prominent cheekbones + fewer sagging jowls = a younger look.
I chose the actress, Bo Derek in this post to use as an example of someone who has all three genetic features—and hasn’t had cosmetic surgery. I mean, we all know that Jane Fonda looks great, but she’s been very vocal about having a lot of work done so you can’t see her true genetic makeup. Bo Derek is using her good genes to age gracefully. As you can see in the above photo, she has good volume in her skin. Sure, she definitely has lines and wrinkles, but they aren’t too deep for someone who is age 61. She also has a great neck that is staying nice and firm, and how about those amazing cheekbones? (Google Bo Derek and you can see more detailed photos of her.) In an interview with the Huffington Post, Bo said, “Aging is really hard and it’s tough. Bette Davis was right; it’s not for sissies, it really isn’t. And there is a certain expectation. I get credit on one hand for not having had a facelift, and then, on the other hand, it’s, ‘Oh my God, why doesn’t she do something?’ So you’re just torn. I just have to keep busy, have other interests and try not to think about it.” I think she has such a healthy attitude and I applaud her for that. I work with a lot of high profile, beautiful women who have been praised for their looks from a young age. When they get older and the compliments are fewer and far between, this really puts them in panic mode and they really struggle with accepting this new normal. If Bo were my client, my one suggestion for her would be to start using a product with retinol. Read my beginner’s guide to using retinol or prescription retinoids.
What else can I do to have a younger-looking appearance?
Anyone who tells you that genetics is everything and that you don’t have much of a say in the matter of how your skin ages, is misinformed. While we are genetically programmed from birth to age a certain way (called intrinsic aging), genetics are now only thought to be responsible for 20-30% of aging. The other 70%-80% of how you’ll visibly age depends on extrinsic aging. This comes from your environment and lifestyle choices—both things that you can have control over. This is great news because this confirms that how your care for your skin far outweighs your genetic predisposition. If you want to retain your youthful self from the inside out, you need to focus on what you can control. You can control what you eat, how much time you spend in the sun or daylight, whether or not you smoke and various other lifestyle factors. Read my beginner’s guide to healthy aging and these 7 secrets to looking younger without cosmetic surgery.
Lastly, be sure to use a skincare routine formulated exclusively for the needs of your skin type every morning and evening. Take my Skin Type Quiz or schedule a virtual consultation to get personalized advice. After all, beautiful, healthy-looking, youthful skin requires a commitment, not a miracle.
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.”