When Should You Start Using Anti-Aging Products?

by beautifulwithbrains

at what age should you start using antiaging products

You never think you need something unless it’s too late.

Case in point: my crow’s feet. I didn’t think I needed to invest in any fancy anti-aging product until I saw those first fine lines creeping up around my eyes in my mid ’20s. I swear they came totally out of nowhere.

I wouldn’t say it’s too late to jump on the anti-aging bandwagon now, but it sure is a lot harder. Wrinkles are way easier to prevent than treat. Fact.

That’s because of how we age.

How skin ages

Did you know that everything that causes wrinkles can fall into only two categories? Intrinsic factors and extrinsic factors.

Ok, back to plain English.

Intrinsic factors are those things that happen naturally, as part of the aging process. Like loss of collagen. This is a BIG one. Collagen is the protein that keeps skin firm and elastic. When you’re young, your body produces it in spades. But, as you get older, it gets lazy and makes less and less collagen.

When I say “as you get older”, I don’t mean when you hit 50. I wish. Nope, you’re barely made it out of puberty when that pesky collagen starts getting lazy. After you hit 21 – 21 ladies! – collagen production decreases around 1% every year!

You don’t see this happening because 1% in a year is so little, you don’t even notice it. But multiply that 1% for 15 years and you’ll see a big difference.

Loss of collagen ain’t the only culprit. Extrinsic factors, like unprotected sun exposure, smoking, and a poor diet high in sugar and poor in veggies give it a helping hand and speed up the aging process.

That’s why smokers or women who live near the tropics age faster than their friends who have never smoked a ciggie or avoid the sun like the plague.

So, what anti-aging products should you use?

Once a wrinkle has appeared on your faces, there isn’t much you can do to make it go away for good. That’s  why it’s best to start early and prevent the damage in the first place. Here’s how:

blissoma phototonic facial sunscreen + daily moisturizer SPf 25

1. Sunscreen

This is by far the best, most effective anti-aging weapon you have in your arsenal. Bar none.

I’m not exaggerating. Nothing damages skin as much as UV rays do. They alone are responsible for up to 90% of premature aging. They make skin dry and sallow, speed up the loss of collagen, and cause fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots.

Even if you do nothing else, wearing sunscreen EVERY day, come rain or come shine, will make you age much more slowly. Of course, you need to apply enough (the recommended amount for the face is 1/3 teaspoon). A thin layer won’t do.

If you apply half of it, for example, you don’t get half the SPF on the bottle. You get its square root! So, a SPF 50 becomes a SPF 7!

Needless to say, you need to reapply it throughout the day, as well. At least, until the sun goes down.

When should you start using sunscreen?

At 6 months of age. I’m not kidding. The sooner you start the better. Before that, baby’s skin is too sensitive for sunscreen, but after they turn 6 you can slather on a gentle mineral sunscreen (that’s one with zinc oxide as UV filter).

Best Picks:

  • Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 ($36.00): available at Sephora.
  • EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF47 ($25.00): available at Dermstore and Walmart
  • Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ WetForce For Sensitive Skin And Children ($42.00): available at Neiman MarcusNordstrom and Sephora

Related: Why Mineral Sunscreens Are The Best For Sensitive Skin


epionce intense defense serum

2. Antioxidant Serum

Antioxidants are nice little molecules that fight free radicals, the main cause of aging. Pretty much anything creates them: sun exposure, smoking, eating too much sugar… even breathing!

Of course, you can’t stop breathing! But if you want to neutralise the free radical damage that, and the rest of your lifestyle, does to your skin, you need to get your antioxidant fix every day.

Good news: there are plenty of antioxidants that do the job well. Here are just a few that come to mind now:

  • Coenzyme Q-10
  • Ferulic Acid
  • Gluthianone
  • Green tea
  • Quercetin
  • Resveratrol
  • Superoxide dismutase
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E

Which one is best?



Just like your body doesn’t only need kale, your skin doesn’t only need vitamin C. The more antioxidants you use, the more damage you’ll prevent.

In case you’re wondering, my favourite combo is vitamin C + vitamin E + ferulic acid. Science says this trio can:

When should you start using an antioxidant serum?

In your teens. Antioxidants can’t treat wrinkles. They only prevent them. While you should still use them all your life, the earlier you start, the less damage your skin will have.

Best picks:

Shop Antioxidant Serums

Related: Common Antioxidants Found In Skincare Products

the ordinary glycolic acid toning solution
Wrinkles are easier to prevent than treat. Start your antiaging routine BEFORE they appearClick to Tweet

3. Glycolic Acid Exfoliants

Glycolic acid is my fave exfoliant. Why?

It’s the last bit that makes glycolic acid such an effective anti-aging weapon. At least, for those of you who have dry skin (if yours is oily, salicylic acid is a better option).

P.S. Glycolic acid can be irritating. For best results, use a small dose only 3 or 4 times a week.

When should you start using glycolic acid?

In your teens. But, mind you. Your skin is probably still exfoliating well on its own. Give it a helping hand once a week – that’s enough. You can increase frequency as you get older. Don’t rush it!

Best picks:

SHOP Glycolic Acid Exfoliants

Related: The Complete Guide To Glycolic Acid

medik8 retinol 6 TR 01

4. A retinol serum

Retinol (and all other forms of vitamin A, for that matter) is the real deal. Like, the only thing scientifically proven to reduce wrinkles.

Don’t get too excited. If you’ve got deep wrinkles, retinol won’t make them disappear overnight. Truth is, the sooner you start using it, the better.

Retinol works in three ways:

A word of warning. Two, actually:

  1. Retinol can make skin more susceptible to sun damage (ironic, isn’t it?). Use it at night only.
  2. Retinol can be irritating at first. Start with low concentrations twice a week, and increase both dose and frequency gradually.

When should you start using a retinol serum?

In your early to mid 20s. You can use it early, if you want, but if you’re on a budget, don’t sweat it. Just don’t wait too long!

Best Picks:

Shop Retinol Serums

Related: What Strength Of Retinol Should You Use?

But, wait, won’t start using anti-aging products too early ruin my skin?

I hear this all the time.

A lot of women think that if they start to soon, their skin will get used to these anti-aging superstars. Worse, they may even damage their skin!

This is NOT true. I couldn’t find any proof in the scientific literature that confirms these fears.

Instead, there’s plenty of evidence that they won’t work that well if you start using them too late, when most of the damage is already done.

The Bottom Line

You know what they say. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Many anti-aging products can only prevent, rather than treat, wrinkles, so don’t wait too long before you start using them. Like me, you may regret it.

When did you start using anti-aging products? Share your experience in the comments below.

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Ana May 9, 2016 - 7:47 pm

“Like me, you may regret it.”
I wish I knew then what I know now (don’t we all?).

I believed it when they said you should use a product X before time Y, and a lot of times, that Y was the thirties. My wrinkles and I are giving them the side-eye.

Gio May 9, 2016 - 8:34 pm

Ana, mine too. I feel you. Those wrinkles start to appear a lot sooner than we think, and all that crappy advice just leaves us unprepared. I understand wanting to wait to use the big guns until your budget can afford it, but sunscreen and antioxidant serum at least should ALWAYS be used. And, as soon as you can, everything else, too.

Lucie May 9, 2016 - 11:17 pm

I started using anti-ageing skincare in my early 20s and I’m so pleased I did. I’m now 42 and still have no lines or wrinkles and am constantly told I look like I’m still in my 20s!!

Gio May 10, 2016 - 9:45 pm

Lucie, that’s amazing. Your skin must be fab, well done!

audrey March 8, 2017 - 8:44 am

Do you midn sharing anti-aging products you used during your early 20s? I’m 23 and despite everyone saying I can wait until later in life to use anti-aging products I prefer to prevent rather than treating it later on. I already have fine lines (Allergic shiners) due to allergic rhinitis and dynamic wrinkle on crow feet area (only appears during big grin) and they scare me immensely.

Gio March 16, 2017 - 4:51 pm

Audrey, I’m afraid I didn’t use much in my early 20s. It’s only in my mid-20s that I started getting serious about anti-aging. When you’re that young, though, the only thing you need is sunscreen and a serum full of as many antioxidants as possible. I love Paula’s Choice antioxidant serums because they’re full of them.

Lucie March 16, 2017 - 4:59 pm

It’s a long time ago now so I can’t remember exactly what and when but used Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair every night and a serum which came in a blue bottle – can’t remember it’s name and I don’t know if they still sell it – every morning. I also used day and night creams. Back then if you wanted good skincare products you had to buy the premium brands, now the more affordable ranges are just as good but having said that, as soon as my current night products run out I’m going back to the Advanced Night Repair. And, boring as it sounds it really is essential to do your skincare routine every single morning and night.

Gio March 17, 2017 - 7:30 pm

Lucie, I agree. It’s great that we have so many affordable options these days. But, if a product really works, it is worth the splurge indeed. It’s just about figuring out what your skin loves best.

Susan July 2, 2016 - 8:58 pm

When I was young SPF didn’t exist. People used to use baby oil. I didn’t, but I can see the damage now from not being able to use SPF products.

Gio July 14, 2016 - 9:03 pm

Susan, it’s such a shame that people weren’t aware of it back then. Even now, lots of us underestimate the importance of wearing SPF regularly. Are you using retinol and glycolic acid? They can help treat some of that damage.


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