first wrinkle treatment

Where the heck do you come from?!

I literally woke up one morning with huge lines around my eyes. Ok, they weren’t huge huge. More like the faintest hint of crow’s feet.

But I was only 25. It was the first time I ever saw a wrinkle on my face. I totally freaked out. Can you blame me?

Sure, I knew this was gonna happen. When I turned 50. I didn’t expect to get my first wrinkle so soon. I guess I had all those Italian summers spent frolicking in the sun to thank for it…

Oh well, what’s done is done. You can’t go back. But you can use your skincare arsenal to nip those first wrinkle in the bud and keep new ones from making an appearance too soon. Here’s how:

When Is It Normal To Get Your First Wrinkle?

It totally depends on your gene pool and lifestyle.

Most people will see their first wrinkle appear around the big 3-0. But it’s not uncommon for that first wrinkle to creep up in your mid 20s either. This usually happens if you’ve spent too much time in the sun as a kid, were a devoted sunbed user in your teens, have started smoking at a young age, or have fair skin.

I’ve never been a sun worshipper. I grew up in Senigallia, a small Italian town on the Adriatic coast. Yet, I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I went to the seaside as a child.

What can I say? I can’t stand the feeling of having sand all over me… and finding it everywhere around the house for a week afterwards.

What got me that first wrinkle was playing in my backyard under the torrid sun without sunscreen. My mum always warned me about wearing a hat to avoid a sunstroke, but she never mentioned wearing sunscreen would keep wrinkles at bay. These were the ’80s. No one knew better then.

Plus, I’m super pale. It’s not like I could count on my skin to provide some natural sun protection (FYI, dark skin has some in-built SPF, but it’s really low. You need sunscreen, too). So I got those first wrinkles sooner than I should have.

Struggling to put together a skincare routine that minimises wrinkles, prevents premature aging, and gives your complexion a youthful glow? Download your FREE “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):

How To Tweak Your Skincare Routine To Deal With Your First Wrinkle

Don’t panict! No matter when you get that first wrinkle, there’s still a lot you can do to keep premature aging at bay:

blissoma phototonic facial sunscreen + daily moisturizer SPf 25

1. Wear Sunscreen Every Day, Rain Or Shine

I know what you’re thinking, “But Gio, I’ve already got a wrinkle! How can sunscreen help me get rid of it?”

It won’t. But it’ll keep it from coming back. What’s the point of getting rid of a wrinkle if sun damage is gonna bring it back again? I can’t stress this enough: nothing on this list will help you if you don’t wear sunscreen every single day.

Rain or shine. UV rays are sneaky. They penetrate through clouds and windows and even get reflected on snow. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing – soaking up the sun on an exotic beach, driving your car to work, or walking the streets of gloomy London – you’re not safe until the sun comes down.

Put that sunscreen on!

Best Picks:

  • EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47 ($25.00): available at Dermstore and Walmart
  • Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection SPF 50 Sunscreen + WetForce For Sensitive Skin & Children ($42.00):available at  Nordstrom and Ulta
  • Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 ($34.00): available at Blue Mercury and Dermstore

Related: 6 Things To Look For When Buying Sunscreen

2. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

Let’s be honest here: it doesn’t matter what you throw at it, that wrinkle ain’t gonna disappear in a day.

While you’re waiting for retinol & co to make a dent in your wrinkles, use a moisturizer to make them look as small to the naked eye as possible.

Moisture works because it plumps up your skin, so that your fine lines and wrinkles look smaller. Plus, it gives your skin a healthy glow and helps the skin’s natural exfoliating process.

You can never go wrong by giving your skin more moisture. The easiest way to do this is with a hyaluronic acid serum: it draws and binds to the skin up to 1000 times its weight in water. You can’t get more moisture than that!

If your skin is on the dry side and doesn’t have a tendency to clog, you can also switch to a richer moisturizer with a more plumping effect.

Best Picks:

Related: If My Skin Is Perfectly Hydrated, Do I Need To Worry About Antiaging, Too?

medik8 retinol 6 TR 01

3. Add Vitamin A To Your Skincare Routine

Vitamin A is the only thing proven to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. It comes in many forms:

  • Hydroxypinacolone retinoate
  • Retinaldehyde
  • Retinoid acid (tretinoin)
  • Retinol
  • Retinyl Palmitate

They all fight wrinkles the same way. Studies show that Vitamin A:

  1. Has antioxidant properties that destroy free radicals before they give you wrinkles and dark spots.
  2. Accelerates cellular turnover(i.e. the skin’s natural exfoliating process), reducing the appearance of dark spots and wrinkles.
  3. Boosts the production of collagen, the protein that keeps skin firm.

But some are more powerful than others. Retinoic acid is the most powerful – but also the most irritating. That’s why it’s available by prescription only.

I’m partial to retinol and retinaldehyde. They quickly convert to retinoic acid in the skin and are powerful enough to make a dent in your wrinkles. Expect to see results after a couple of months.

FYI, retinol is harsher than retinaldehyde and can cause dryness and irritation. You can minimise the risk of side effects by starting with a low concentration a couple of times a week and building up both dose and frequency gradually.

Best Picks:

  • Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum With Retinol ($34.00): 0.03%retinol. Available at Paula’s Choice
  • La Roche Posay Redermic Anti-Aging Dermatological Treatment ($56.99): 0.1% retinol. Available at Dermstore and Feel Unique
  • Arcona Advanced A Serum ($85.00): Retinaldehyde. Available at Dermstore and Nordstrom

Related: Which Form Of Vitamin A Is Best For You?

4. Use Collagen-Boosting Ingredients

If you’re serious about antiaging, you need to pump up the production of collagen, pronto.

Collagen is the protein that keeps your skin firm. When you’re young, your skin produces all the collagen it needs. But as soon as you turn 21, its production decreases by 1% a year. Until you hit menopause. Then, it depletes even faster.

Adding collagen back into your skin doesn’t work. Collagen molecules are too big to penetrate skin. But even if you chop them down into tiny pieces that can get through the skin’s barrier, there’s no way they can attach themselves to collagen-making cells to firm skin.

Your best bet is to use ingredients that trigger your skin to produce more collagen on it own. Here are the best at the job:

  1. Vitamin C: A powerful antioxidant that boosts collagen production, brightens the skintone and fights free radicals
  2. Amino acids: L-lysinel-proline, and l-threonine trick cells into producing more collagen
  3. Copper peptides:  They boost the production of collagen, elastin, and other components of the skin’s natural barrier, have anti-inflammatory properties and help heal wounds. 
  4. Niacinamide: A form of Vitamin B3 that boosts collagen, hydrates skin, brightens the skintone, soothes irritations and helps you treat acne.

FYI, you don’t need to use all these ingredients together. You can just pick and choose what works best for your skin. Or look for products that use a combination of them. They tend to be pricier but are totally worth the splurge.

P.S. It’s a myth you can’t use Vitamin C with niaciamide. I’ve debunked it here.

P.P.S. Be patient. Nothing works overnight. Boosting collagen is a complicated process and it can take months before these actives can make a significant impact.

Best Picks:

Related: 8 Ways To Rebuild Lost Collagen For Firmer, Younger-Looking Skin

paula's choice 10% niacinamide booster 01

5. Accept You’re Getting Older

Look, I’m all for using skincare, fillers and whatnot to slow down the aging process. But you can’t keep wrinkles off your face forever. They come with the territory as you get older. And who says that’s a bad thing?

Don’t ever let a wrinkle – or a few extra pounds, thin lips or lack of thigh gap – define your worth as a human being or determine what you can do in your life.

You’re beautiful. You’re kind. You’re loving. You have a great sense of humour. You have skills and gifts no one else on this planet has. That’s what makes you YOU. What makes you special.

Accept yourself for who you are. Love every part of you. Live your life to the full and work hard to make your dreams come true. You’re worth it – wrinkles or no wrinkles.

The Bottom Line

Don’t freak out over your first wrinkle. Getting older is a normal part of life. Just slather on sunscreen every morning, fill your skincare routine with collagen-boosting ingredients and relax. You’re doing everything you can to slow down the aging process – now focus on yourself and living your life to the full.