Bad news: once your skin is saggy, you can’t unsag it. Not with skincare anyway. There’s a reason Kris Jenner opts for facelifts, ya know?
Good news: you can slow down the sagging process and keep your skin tight for as long as possible. Would you like that, gorgeous?
Why Does Your Skin Sag?
Think of your skin as a mattress. Collagen is the frame that holds the whole thing together. Elastin is the springs that make it bounce back into place. Fats are the stuffing that gives it its volume. As every part becomes weaker, the mattress starts to sag.
The same happens to your skin. When you’re young, your skin makes all the collagen & co it needs to stay firm and elastic. But as you get older, it starts to slack on the job. Here’s what I mean:
- Collagen: It’s the protein that keeps skin firm. As soon as you turn 21, you start losing 1% collagen a year. At first, the loss is so tiny, you barely notice it. 10 years later, you wonder when did your skin become so slack. By the way, things only get worse with menopause. You lose 30% collagen in the first 5 years!
- Elastin: It’s the protein that makes your skin elastic. Once elastin breaks down, it’s very hard for your body to make more of it. Prevention is key here.
- Fats: Remember the baby fat you couldn’t wait to shed? It filled up your cheeks and under-eye area, making it look smoother and plumper. As fats deplete with age, your face loses volume. Cue hollowed cheeks and eyes. (By the way, how unfair is it this happens only on the face?!)
Related: 8 Science-Backed Ways To Rebuild Lost Collagen
Struggling to put together an anti-aging skincare routine that really reduces the look of wrinkles and gives your skin a youthful glow? Download your FREE “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):
What Makes Skin Sag Faster?
Sagging is a natural process. But the rate at which it happens ain’t always natural. There are a number of things that speed up the process.
Here are the worst culprits:
- Gravity: It pulls everything down.
- Pollution: It generates free radicals that speed up the aging process.
- Smoking: It speeds up collagen and elastin depletion.
- Too much sugar: It causes glycation, a fancy way to say that it corrupts your collagen and makes your skin sag faster.
- UV rays: They destroy collagen, elastin, and everything else they find in their way.
- Weight loss: If you’re always losing and gaining weight, you’ll weaken the “springs” that keep your skin firm and elastic.
Related: How To Protect Your Skin From Pollution
How Do You Prevent Saggy Skin?
You can’t do anything about gravity or the natural aging process. But that doesn’t mean you’re powerless. Here’s what you can do to prevent saggy skin for as long as possible:
1. Wear Sunscreen
Sunscreen is NON-negotiable. UV rays are the number one cause of saggy skin (and all other signs of premature aging). Every time you go out without sunscreen, you’re aging your skin.
Even in winter. Even if it’s rainy. Even if it’s snowing. UV rays are sneaky. They get through the darkest clouds and get reflected on snow. Just because you can’t see the sun, doesn’t mean it’s not harming your skin.
FYI, UVA rays penetrate through glass, too. Don’t think you’re safe in your car or near those big office windows. Wear your sunscreen, ladies.
WARNING! You can follow all the other tips in this article, but if you skip sunscreen, it’s all for nothing. Sunscreen is THAT important.
- Dr Dennis Gross Dark Spot Sun Defense Sunscreen SPF 50 ($42.00): available at Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Net-A-Porter, Nordstrom and Sephora
- EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47 ($25.00): available at Dermstore and Walmart
- Paula’s Choice Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 ($33.00): available at Dermstore, Feel Unique, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice
Related: 6 Sunscreen Myths You Need To Stop Believing Right Now
2. Use A Vitamin C Serum
Did you know that Vitamin C is essential for collagen production? The more your skin has, the more collagen your skin pumps out.
While it’s at it, Vitamin C fights off free radicals, too. They’re nasty molecules generated by UV rays, pollution, smoking… all the usual culprits.
Free radicals give you wrinkles and dark spots, make your skin sag faster, and even play a role in the development of cancer and other awful diseases.
The more free radicals are roaming your body, the faster you age. Vitamin C helps you neutralise them before they can wreak their havoc on your skin… especially when used with other antioxidants.
Make sure your Vitamin C Serum contains as many antioxidants as possible. At the very least, it must contain Vitamin E and ferulic acid. Studies show this combo makes Vitamin C work better and boosts sun protection, too!
- Paula’s Choice C15 Booster ($49.00): available at Feel Unique, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice.
- Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum ($38.00): available at Dermstore, Feel Unique, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice.
- Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($166.00): available at Dermstore and Skinstore.
Related: The Complete Guide To Vitamin C In Skincare: What It Is, What It Does, And How To Use It
3. Add A Retinoid To Your Skincare Routine
Retinoid is a catch-all term for every member of the Vitamin A family, including:
- Hydroxypinacolone retinoate (Granactive Retinoid)
Retinoids slow down premature aging in 3 ways:
- They fight off free radicals before they give you wrinkles and saggy skin
- They boost the production of collagen, the protein that keeps skin firm
- They speed up cellular turnover, the skin’s natural exfoliating process to make skin smoother and more even-toned
Tretinoin is the most effective – and the most irritating. So irritating, it’s available by prescription only.
Retinol works more slowly, but it’s less irritating. Still, it’s a good idea to start with a low concentration (0.01%) and work your way up to 1%. I show you how to do it in this article.
Retinaldehyde is somewhere in the middle. It’s more effective than retinol, yet gentler on the skin. The catch? It costs more.
I don’t recommend other retinoids for saggy skin prevention. These 3 have the most research to back up their claims.
- La Roche Posay Redermic Anti-Aging Dermatological Treatment ($56.99): 0.1% retinol. Available at Dermstore and Feel Unique
- Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum With Retinol ($34.00): 0.03%retinol. Available at Paula’s Choice
- Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM ($65.00): available at 1.5% retinol. Available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Nordstrom, Sephora and Ulta
Related: What Type Of Retinoid Is Best For You?
4. Avoid Eating Too Much Sugar
I know, I know… I have a sweet tooth, too. There ain’t no way I’m gonna give up on cake, ya all. I just eat it only on my cheat day. Here’s why:
Too much sugar causes all kinds of havoc on your skin:
- Wrinkles: Ever wondered why people affected by diabetes look older? Glycation. That’s a fancy way of saying that sugar hardens and cross-links collagen and elastin, the proteins that keep your skin firm and elastic. When they’re damaged, skin sags and wrinkles appear.
- Pimples: High levels of insulin trigger the skin to produce way more sebum that it needs. Hello, pimples!
- Inflammation: Too much sugar causes inflammation, which leads to wrinkles, dark spots and irritations.
Again, I’m not saying to cut sugar out of your diet completely. If you can do it, kudos to you. For most people (myself included), deprivation only leads to sugar binging a few weeks later. Ahem…
There’s a better way. The Low Glycemic Diet is a simple diet with only one rule: eat more foods low in sugar and fewer foods high in sugar.
By the way, don’t let the word diet put you off. The Low Glycemic Diet is more of a way of eating than a diet. It doesn’t ban any foods. It just encourages you to eat more of the foods that nourish your body and less of those that make you age faster.
If you want to know how to get started on the Low Glycemic Diet, check out my guide here.
Related: I Went On The Low Glycemic Diet And It Transformed My Skin
The Bottom Line
You can’t prevent saggy skin completely, but you can slow down the aging process considerably. How? Wear sunscreen, cut back on sugar, and add vitamin C and retinol to your skincare routine. And be patient! It takes months of consistent use to see results. Don’t quit!