Anti-Aging Skin Care for Beginners

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For the vain among us (no shame), aging is none too pleasant of an idea, but the seemingly endless array of anti-aging products may be scarier still. Even as young as our mid-twenties or early thirties, anti-aging skin care is on the forefront of our minds as something we should be doing, but unless you’re a whiz at navigating product descriptions and lengthy ingredient lists, it’s hard to know where to start. These three tips should help you get well on your way to finding the right anti-aging strategy for you, right now.

Prevention is key.
Any dermatologist, aesthetician, or sound-minded human being worth their salt will tell you that the key to keeping signs of aging at bay isn’t injectables or fancy products—it’s prevention. Taking good care of your skin with a thoughtful skin care routine and plenty of sunscreen is the foundation for minimizing skin concerns, along with a healthy diet, good hydration, avoiding sun exposure, and not smoking. Don’t leave the house without an SPF moisturizer, like Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 ($54, sephora.com).

Start small.
There’s no reason to panic and overhaul your entire skin care routine on the day of your 30th birthday. Start by integrating one new product, rather than cashing on an entire cabinet’s worth of hard-hitters, because you really don’t need them just yet. A serum is a great place to start, because it’s an extra step you can add, rather than switching out one of your tried-and-true products for something you’re unsure about. Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum ($79, caudalie.com) is ideal for an extra hydration boost to brighten and even out tone and texture on all skin types. Apply it twice daily after your toner and before your moisturizer.

Know what you don’t need.
Retinol is an incredible ingredient for treating blemishes, uneven tone and fine lines, and super-rich, oily creams are excellent for dry and dehydrated skin, but if you’re acne-prone, thick creams will only clog your pores, and if you’re prone to dryness, retinoids will suck the moisturize from your skin. Anti-aging is not a “one size fits all” category, so don’t think that just because a smattering of crow’s feet sprung up around your eyes it’s suddenly time to load up on heavy moisturizers year-round. Look for products with small concentrations of potent exfoliating ingredients like retinol and alpha hydroxy acid, like the time-released Philosophy Help Me ($47.50, philosophy.com), and stock up on antioxidant and nutrient-rich products with lightweight textures, like Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream ($42, fresh.com).

Read more: Do You Need Anti-Aging Products in Your 20s and 30s?

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