At What Age Should I Use Anti-Aging Products?

Hi there,

Can you tell me: When is the right time to start using anti-wrinkle products? I’m 23-years-old and I do have laugh lines and a fine line from the corner of the eyes to the cheeks.

I was thinking of using Neutrogena Health Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream, SPF 15 ($9.45, Will this help?



Dear N.,

Aging shows on faces at different times depending on factors such as sun exposure and diet. (Photo credit:

It’s difficult to navigate when to start using wrinkle creams. Signs of aging appear on everyone at a different time depending on lots of extrinsic — external — factors like sun exposure, as well as factors like the melanin content in your skin (which gives you a darker or lighter complexion). But it’s good to start thinking about anti-aging routines right now because you can stave off a lot of future damage.

When does skin start to age?

Nicole Kidman is a great example of someone who’s continued to look young despite being from a sun (Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer)

Collagen production lessens about 1% every year after maturity (around age 21) (Cosmetic Dermatology). This is one of the factors in the intrinsic, or natural, aging process that everyone goes through. But when skin really starts showing signs of aging depends on a few extrinsic factors, like UV-exposure, whether or not you’re a smoker, and what your diet is like (Skin Ageing).

There’s no set time that people begin to look older. If you’re in your 20s or 30s, live in a sunny area, and use minimal sun protection, you’re likely to show signs of aging before someone of the same age who’s very vigilant about sun protection (Press Democrat). With the right diet and sun protection, you might stave off the most obvious signs of aging until your 50s of 60s. And the darker your skin is naturally (that is, without tanning), the more natural protection you have from the sun in terms of melanin.

So when you start to notice those fine lines, it’s the right time to act because, as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You’ll get the best results if you try to stave off aging as opposed to working to reverse it.

What anti-aging products should you use during the day?

Sunscreen offers a shield from damaging UV-rays that cause dark spots and wrinkles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First and foremost, have a daily sunscreen that you wear faithfully. This is so extremely important because UV rays are one of the things that do the most damage to skin. But I’d recommend a higher SPF than 15 — think something more like 30.

The American Academy of Dermatology did a study to see the actual SPF of sunscreens when applied in the amounts that consumers typically use. They found that with the minimal amount consumers use SPF of 70 and 100 were actually about SPF 19 and 27, respectively (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology). And there’s ever worse news — the relationship between the amount of sunscreen used and the SPF isn’t linear. So if you have an SPF of 15 and you use half of what you should, your SPF might actually be as low as 5 (American Academy of Dermatology).

Before sunscreen, I’d recommend using a C+E serum, such as SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum ($113.27, or Timeless Vitamin C+E Ferulic Acid Serum ($24.95, Vitamin C has been found to have skin firming properties and also improves UV protection when layered under sunscreen.

[Read More: Spotlight On: Vitamin C]

Overtop I’d recommend layering a sunscreen like Nia24 Prevention 100% Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30 ($27.75, with Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, as well as nicotinic acid, which, according to the company’s research, has the benefits of niacinamide with better skin penetration. It’s a good physical sunscreen that’s good for treating age sunspots and smoothes skin smoothness over time. Note that there’s an adjustment period because of the nicotinic acid, and it’s best to start using it on alternate days to give your skin time to get used to it.

[Read More: Spotlight On: Niacinamide]

What anti-aging products should you use at night?

When you sleep at night, your skin repairs itself. (Photo credit: riebschlager)

Before bed is a great time to work on fine lines and skin healing because that’s when the most reparation happens. The basal body temperature is slightly elevated, which allows the ingredients in your night care routine to better penetrate your skin, according to Dr. David E. Bank, M.D. in a 2008 issue of Health Magazine.

[Read More: Is It Really Beauty Sleep?: How Sleep Affects Your Skin]

We recommend using a retinol like our FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5. Retinol is proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, smooth skin, treat mild acne, diminish the appearance of age spots, and increase skin firmness. This retinol is 0.5%, which is the highest concentration you should start with, and microencapsulated, which means it has a slow, sustained release throughout the night. It’s also a lightweight gel, so it absorbs quickly, making it easy for you to use a moisturizer overtop.

Over that I would recommend using something like Olay Regenerist Night Recovery Moisture Treatment ($17.59, This has Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-3, the best-researched peptide proven to stimulate collagen regeneration and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Bottom Line

Keeping skin wrinkle-free is most easily done when you start early. (Photo credit: bwillis)

Aging starts at a different time for everyone. Collagen production slows 1% every year after about age 21. Depending on conditions like how much sun exposure you have or what your diet is like, you could see signs of aging in your 20s or 30s, or as late as your 50s or 60s.

The absolute most important thing to put on your face right now to stave off aging is sunscreen and it’s better to go with an SPF higher than 15 because most people don’t apply enough to achieve the real SPF.

There are also several other products that will do wonders for preventing aging and correcting any signs of aging you might have now, like CE Ferulic Acid Serum, Retinol, and a peptide-containing night cream.

Right now is a great time to start working to keep your skin looking young and I wish you all the best of luck in figuring out your routine.