Gender stereotypes be damned. Wrinkles and age spots are two of the most common skin concerns amongst men—even those who are still in their 20s.
Of course, with something as coveted as eternal youth comes a lot of misinformation and overpromising.
Here’s our expert take on what actually works and how.
Retinol is a natural form of vitamin A and it works by speeding up the cell regeneration process. As you age, the speed at which your skin cells regenerate decreases, which means it takes longer for new, younger-looking skin to appear. For example, it takes about 14-21 days for the skin cells of someone in their 20s to regenerate, while the same process takes about 45-60 days for someone in their 40s.
Retinol is the most heavily marketed anti-aging skincare ingredient. It’s also to most heavily researched and there’s plenty of evidence to support its efficacy. That said, not all products containing retinol are created equal. Many mass-marketed products will tout retinol as a key ingredient even if it truthfully falls much further down the formulation list.
The big downside to retinol is that it famously irritates the skin. Many people who begin using retinol will experience a slight burning sensation, redness, dryness, and peeling. That’s why it’s important to start slow and let your skin adapt.
For sensitive skin types, we often recommend a newer, breakthrough ingredient called Bakuchiol—a plant-based ingredient that’s shown to have similar effects on the skin without causing irritation.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight cell damage and provides protection from free radicals (cells that increase inflammation, the risks of skin cancer, and signs of aging). Vitamin C, which often comes as a serum, has also been shown to stimulate collagen production and aid your skin’s natural regeneration process to help reveal younger-looking skin.
Like Retinol, vitamin C is highly researched and highly proven.
The best feature of vitamin C is that it’s safe for nearly all skin types. It also checks many other boxes like providing hydration, fading hyperpigmentation, and reducing redness.
Like with all skincare products, it’s important to ensure that this key ingredient is toward the top of the formulation list. The very best vitamin C products will likely be formulated with another top-notch ingredient called ferulic acid, which assists vitamin C and amplifies its benefits.
As you age, your body produces less collagen. In fact, around the age of 30, you start to lose about 1% of the collagen in your skin every year. Think of collagen as the scaffolding that keeps your skin firm and wrinkle-free—the less you have the more your skin begins to sag and appear older.
Peptides are small proteins that help stimulate new cell growth. That said, to be effective, peptides must be formulated in a way that allows them to penetrate the skin deeply enough to achieve the desired effect, so their co-star ingredients are super important.
Alpha-hydroxy Acids (AHAs) like glycolic acid, citric acid, and lactic acid are common skincare exfoliators derived from fruit, sugar, and milk.
As you age, dead skin cells build up and enhance the appearance of wrinkles and age spots. Using an AHA regularly will help to shed dead skin cells and minimize the appearance of wrinkles.
Choosing which acid to use depends on your skin type and sensitivities. Depending on the formulation, sensitive skin types will likely fair better with lactic acid while oilier, non-sensitive skin will benefit from the strength of glycolic acid.
In the sport of skincare, the best offense is a good defense. Wearing a daily SPF moisturizer and shielding yourself from the sun is the best, most effective way to maintain youthful skin. The sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays are responsible for 90% of the visible signs of skin aging.
And no, there’s no such thing as a healthy base tan. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy a few poolside cocktails in the sun, just remember to protect yourself.
The only ingredient mentioned here that works quickly is sunscreen. Anti-aging skincare is a long game. Consistent use over the course of months and years is the only way to enjoy results. Anyone who tells you otherwise is slinging snake oil.