If age is just a number and you’re only as old as you feel, why is it skin hasn’t gotten the memo? For every smooth-skinned 55-year-old there is a 25-year-old with crow’s feet wailing “I’m too young for the anti-aging aisle!” What’s a girl to do? The quick answer is that you need to rethink what anti-aging means.

Think Skin Health Over Age

The unfortunate truth is that anti-aging serums have backed themselves into a bit of a corner. None of us wants to feel old so until we’re of a certain age we avoid that genre of products – even when they could be highly beneficial. In a recent In Style piece, esthetician Renee Rouleau noted that anti-aging products – in particular those with antioxidants – can be useful in one’s early 20s.

“The most important thing,” she noted, “is to use anti-aging products that are appropriate for your skin type.”

Get Gorgeous Skin in Every Decade

However, it should be noted that in that first decade of young adulthood there’s also no reason to invest in balms that claim to speed cell turnover, repair collagen, and build elasticity. Prevention should be the focus of your 20s – stick with an antioxidant moisturizer that includes UVA/UVB protection. These can reduce damage from environmental stressors on skin without causing breakouts.

In your mid-twenties and thirties, add a retinol treatment to your skincare routine. Artistry Intensive Skincare anti-wrinkle firming serum from Amway is a professional grade treatment designed to add back elasticity and firmness while still being gentle. The main downside to retinol treatments is that they make one’s skin more vulnerable to short and long-term sun damage so slather on that sunscreen!

From there, starting around age 40, add brightening masks that contain a bleaching agent to fight the kind of skin discoloration that can come from sun damage (and pregnancy), a plumping and hydrating serum that contains hyaluronic acid, and the occasional alpha-hydroxy acid peel to help maintain a radiant, healthy glow.

But Spend Wisely

There’s nothing beautiful about going broke, so don’t peel your way into the poorhouse because you think only celeb secret serums can get the job done. There are plenty of moisture-boosting, wrinkle smoothing balms out there that contain the same active ingredients as their more expensive counterparts.

Read labels and do your research to find the ones that are best for your age, your skin type and your particular beauty challenges. That said, some anti-aging treatments are simply better suited than others to address things like redness, unevenness and acne – and you may have to pay a premium if you have difficult skin.

Remember, different products provide different results, and your skin is constantly changing, so the answer to the question of when it’s really time to start using anti-aging products is complex. Your best bet is to bite the bullet and back away from the department store counter until you’ve talked to an esthetician who can assess your skin type and tell you what products will best address your unique needs.

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