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We have a complicated relationship with anti-ageing skincare.
Yes, in principle we fully agree that there’s no shame in getting older. But how many of us can honestly say we’ve never been tempted by a cream that claims to zap wrinkles, or a serum swearing to reduce our eye bags?
The global anti-ageing market is predicted to be worth a whopping £306 billion by 2030 – so there’s no denying that a lot of us are spending money on these products.
If you’re going to buy these items, it’s helpful to know what works, and what’s just cleaver marketing.
How can we add anti-ageing products into our daily skincare regimes that actually make a difference? What should we look for if we want to start targeting fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation? And when should we start doing it?
To answer all these important questions (and many more) we’ve spoken to a number of skincare specialists and got the ‘411’ on the truth about anti-ageing skincare – and busted all the myths too!
There’s no set age you should start using anti-ageing skincare products
Believe it or not, there’s no set age when you should start using anti-ageing products to prevent the signs of ageing occurring. Ultimately, it’s your choice when (or if) you choose to implement anti-ageing products into your skincare routine.
However, it’s important to note that the ageing process may start a little earlier than you would think.
Mehmet Göker, dermatology specialist atVera Clinic, explains: “Although there is not a set age recommended to begin an anti-ageing skincare routine the ageing process can start as early as your twenties and visible signs may start appearing post 30.
“I recommend starting to use anti-ageing products during your mid-twenties, however the choice is ultimately down to each individual putting their skin type into high consideration.”
Helen Green, skincare expert at Transform Hospital Group, agrees, saying “everyone’s skin is different”.
“It ages at different rates and because of that, we all need to have tailored skincare regimes,” she adds. “The process of ageing starts when skin starts to thin, when cell turnover slows and hydration is lost. This is when fine lines and wrinkles start to appear.”
Prevention is key to healthy, youthful-looking skin
If your skin isn’t showing signs of ageing, Green recommends taking preventative steps to keep skin healthy, such as keeping it protected from UVA and UVB rays and keeping it hydrated.
“Many people don’t believe that there is a difference between UVA and UVB rays and therefore don’t get adequate protection against both,” she says. “In actual fact, UVA rays have a longer wavelength and are associated with skin ageing, whereas UVB have a shorter wavelength and are associated with skin burning.
“Both are invisible and dangerous and require protection on every day of the year, even if it’s cloudy outside.”
Lots of people think that if their make-up or skincare already has SPF in it, they’re protected, but this isn’t always the case.
“In order to get the required level of protection, you would need a huge amount of make-up or skincare on your face – far more than even the biggest make-up or skincare fans could apply,” Green adds.
Because of this, you’ll want to use suncream as well as your SPF moisturiser.
It pays to establish your skin type
According to Göker, it’s important to create a skincare routine that targets your specific skin type. This may also change as you age.
“Firstly find a cleanser that suits your skin type. Facial cleansing should be the first step in any skincare routine as it is vital for removing any skincare product or makeup that you’ve applied during the day, as well as natural skin oils, pollutants, and bacteria that are accumulated,” he says.
“Finding a good toner would be the next step to benefitting your skin by balancing the skin. Finally, you should regularly moisturise the skin to hydrate and soften.”
As an extra step, Göker recommends applying an overnight facial serum and exfoliating weekly.
Green agrees, explaining that: “Exfoliation is a very important skincare step as it removes surface grime, impurities, makeup and dead cells. This allows greater penetration of active ingredients when they are then applied to the freshly cleansed skin.
“It is important however to avoid an overly aggressive exfoliant as this can have the negative effect of triggering oil production, dehydration and effect the barrier function of the skin.”
For a gentler exfoliant, Green suggests using a glycolic acid as a chemical exfoliant to give skin a brighter, fresher look.
For those worried about under-eye bags, Göker recommends adding a targeted eye cream to your makeup bag.
Are retinoids important?
If there’s one ingredient group we hear about time and again in anti-ageing ads, it’s retinoids. But what does this even mean? And do they work?
Göker says the ”products to look out for that will benefit your skin include retinoids”.
“This term is used for vitamin A compounds, such as retinol and retinoic acid. These ingredients have long been used topically to help repair sun-damaged skin and reduce fine lines and wrinkles,” he explains.
“Retinol exfoliates the skin, increases skin cell turnover, and stimulates collagen synthesis beneficial for anti-ageing and skin-clearing benefits.”
While there is no set time to start using retinoids (and you may not want to at all), Göker advises that you might want to consider them from your mid to late twenties and early thirties.
Green agrees, explaining: “Everyone’s skin is different but as we start to age, our skin becomes thinner, cell turnover slows, you lose hydration and as a result, lines and wrinkles start to develop.
“A topical retinoid (which contains Vitamin A) possesses anti-inflammatory properties and works by normalising the cell life cycle. It clears pores, smooths skin and gives a radiant appearance.”
Do you need to buy the most expensive products?
There’s a common misconception that more expensive skincare products produce better results, when this isn’t necessarily the case.
“Many people get caught up in how much skincare costs, thinking that the most expensive products will be best for their skin,” Green says. “However, it’s less about the price and more about choosing the right product for your individual needs.′
A good anti-ageing skincare regime is all about maintaining the health of your skin, she adds, through the use of antioxidants (such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E).
“Most skin ageing is caused by external factors such as smoking, UV rays, stress and the consumption of alcohol,” says Green. “All these elements produce free radicals which attack and destroy healthy skin calls, causing premature ageing.”
Taking note of the advice above, to help you kickstart your anti-ageing skincare regime (or improve it), we’ve put together a guide to some of the best buys for starter anti-ageing skincare.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.