Most humans—with the exception of some reality-TV stars—would rather avoid cosmetic surgery. We talked to Dr. Mona Gohara, a board-certified dermatologist and associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, about what to do and what to avoid right this very minute, so you can continue looking your best well into the future.
1. Get out of the sun. Obviously.
“A full 90% of the signs of visible aging come from daily unprotected exposure to UV light,” says Dr. Gohara. “This causes the formation of free radicals, which bind to collagen and elastin, causing wrinkles and saggy skin. Daily sunscreen use can save us from discoloration, lines and wrinkles, as well as sags and hollows!” Oh yeah, and skin cancer.
2. Add an antioxidant.
“Antioxidants are the warriors against free radicals that come from UV light, light bulbs and, yes, our computer and phone screens,” says Dr. Gohara. Consider products with vitamin C, E, niacinamide, resveratrol, retinol and CoenzymeQ10.
“Hydration keeps the skin looking plump and radiant. It’s a primary tenet of skin health.” Don’t skip moisturizer because you’re using a retinol; apply it after the retinol absorbs. Don’t skip it because your skin is oily, just choose a gel moisturizer. Don’t skip it in the summer heat or tropical humidity, just use a lotion rather than a cream. Got that? Do it.
4. Stop rubbing your eyes.
“Eyelid skin is so thin. Rubbing and tugging to remove makeup or apply products can stoke the fire. Using lubricated products to remove makeup is so much kinder to this collagen-deprived skin.” Bottom line, says Dr. Gohara: “Be very careful around the eyes.”
5. Skip the scratchy scrubs and aggressive facials.
“These compromise the skin’s barrier function, and that causes water to evaporate out and irritants to trickle in. That makes skin appear dry, irritated, sullen and, yes, more wrinkled.”
6. Lose the straw (even if it’s paper).
“Like smiling and laughing or doing bicep curls, when you use a muscle it becomes more defined. Defined in this case means lines around the lips.” Drinking without a straw: good for the environment and for preventing wrinkles.
7. Move your body.
“Exercise is good because it lowers blood cortisol levels. And cortisol is the stress hormone that causes inflammation and aging. I call it inflamm-aging.”
8. Go to sleep!
“Inadequate sleep spikes blood cortisol levels, causing inflammation and aging.” Beauty sleep is real!
9. But don’t sleep on your stomach.
“Stomach sleeping can promote eye bags as fluid accumulates, and can train the skin on the cheeks to remain wrinkled.”
10. Consider Botox and the like.
“Pre-juvenation with Botox is most definitely a thing. If you cannot use the muscles, they will not be defined or wrinkled. This truly does work.”
11. Don’t lose too much weight.
“Fat adds plumpness to the skin, buoying it.” Without enough fat, the face looks drawn, hollow and more wrinkled.
12. Stop laughing.
Nah—laughing is good. Facial expressions may contribute to wrinkles, but those are the wrinkles we love.