We’re living in a much more enlightened world today, where it’s routine to slather a baby in sunscreen as part of getting them dressed in the morning and for it be a habit by the time they’re dressing themselves.
Still, it’s hard to appreciate the value of sunscreen until that first sunburn. Likewise, even though everyone among us recognizes aging skin as an inevitability, it’s rarely something anyone thinks about until that first, faint wrinkle or small pigmentation appears on their face sometime during their twenties.
While much of the skincare industry still tends to focus a lot of its attention on women in their fifties and sixties, the truth is, it’s never too early for men or women to start taking care of your skin. In fact, starting a simple, preventative skincare routine in your teens and twenties can spare you from invasive restorative treatments, not to mention skin cancer, later on.
Think of it this way: You avoid exercise like the plague until one morning, at age 45, you wake up and realize nature’s no longer working with you. So you decide to go for a run. It’s likely to take months of intense exercise to get yourself to the same state as the 45-year-old version of yourself who’s been consistently working out since their twenties.
But deciding to do something about your skincare and knowing what to do are two different things. So here are a few cues to get you started.
Using sunscreen isn’t up for debate
Sun damage is cumulative, meaning the sun you get during daily activities in your teens and twenties will affect your skin for years to come. And just because you rarely, if ever, burned doesn’t mean you avoided the worst of it. A tan may look healthy, but it’s always a sign of skin damage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes it as the skin’s response to injury.
Moisturize with a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 in the morning and a basic moisturizer at night. Even then, avoid too much sun on your face. The base tan is pure myth. In reality, what you’re doing is dramatically increasing your risk of skin cancer, accelerating the aging process, and causing wrinkles.
And remember: SPF is not additive, so using two products that each have SPF 15 is not the same as using an SPF 30 product. Also, one application is not going to last you for the day, so get into the habit of reapplying every few hours, even if you work in an office and only head out for lunch. And wear it every day, even in the winter. The sun emits harmful UV rays year-round.
Environmental factors outweigh good genes
How your skin ages depends a lot on genetics (read: your parents), but environmental factors, like excessive sun exposure, smoking, and air pollution are even more influential. In other words, a 20-year-old who’s tanning and smoking is going to age faster than a 30-year-old who takes better care of their skin.
You are what you eat and drink
What you eat and drink has a lot to do with the health of your skin, too. It is, after all, the largest organ of the human body. There’s a limited time for sweets and a cocktail or two. Just make sure that the bulk of your diet is comprised of lots of water, veggies, fruits, and lean protein. You’ll feel and see the difference they make.