just like a baby's butt
September 29, 2008 11:43 AM   Subscribe

What can I do now, as a young woman, to ensure I have beautiful skin when I'm older?

At lunch today, I noticed a woman who appeared to be in her fifties, but with beautiful skin - barely any wrinkles, smooth, and a healthy glow.

I'm 23, use Tazorac for some acne flare-ups, and always use sunscreen if I'm spending time outside. What products or techniques can I use now or in the near future to keep my skin healthy and youthful looking? Do I really need to worry about "anti-aging" and wrinkle creams, or are they a crock? Or am I too young to be worrying about this stuff?
posted by kidsleepy to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (38 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: and of course, i missed this question: http://ask.metafilter.com/16826/Skin-care-tips. It's a few years old, however; does anybody have additional insight?
posted by kidsleepy at 11:44 AM on September 29, 2008

I don't know about acne etc. but to have youthful looking skin when you are older and to stave off wrinkles you should definitely wear sunscreen every day. A lot of daily moisturizers have a built in SPF, so that'll do it. Sun damage is what'll get you, though, in terms of wrinkles and aging.
posted by gwenlister at 11:50 AM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: - staying out of the sun (the biggie)
- not smoking
- stay hydrated
- get enough sleep
posted by pointystick at 11:55 AM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Sunscreen and moisturize! Also, it helps to have good genetics, I am 47 but due to my good genes my skin looks a lot younger.
posted by govtdrone at 11:57 AM on September 29, 2008

You're doing great with the sunscreen, but for added protection consider getting a visor or hat if you're going to be out in the sun for long. Seriously, sun exposure is the biggest of the factors you can control. Also, if you take medicine for acne then I'm guessing you have oily skin. If so, you're really lucky as you'll be less likely to get wrinkles than someone with dry skin anyway.
posted by hazyjane at 12:03 PM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: A little tip about sunscreen: unless you never wear anything but turtlenecks, put it on your chest where your shirt is open, every day. It snuck up on me - suddenly I was 36 with a triangle of sun-damaged skin on my chest.

I'm not really sure that a little SPF 10 or 15 in moisturizer or makeup once a day is enough, not over time. It's hard to find something stronger than that, or re-apply-able, that isn't a greasy mess, though. You have to be very mindful of your casual sun exposure during the course of the day, and if necessary adopt a giant hat or parasol if you really want to stay out of the sun.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:04 PM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Sunscreen and moisturizer.

And wearing sunglasses helps a lot. My mother told me when I was little to always wear sunglasses in bright weather, because it would be better for my eyes and would keep me from getting crow's feet.

At 44, I have extraordinarily low intraocular pressure and no sign of incipient cataracts (yay!) AND no crow's feet.

Wearing sunglasses on sunny winter days is something very few people seem to do, but I think my mother was spot on.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:04 PM on September 29, 2008

I'm nearly 40, but my skin looks a lot younger -- I literally don't have single line around my eyes. I attribute part of it to genetics -- my mom's skin was nearly flawless well into her 50s -- but also a daily moisturizer with sunscreen, and always wearing sunglasses outside during daylight hours, even if it's not summer or not particularly bright out.
posted by scody at 12:08 PM on September 29, 2008

When my youngest sister was three, we had trained her like our personal one trick pony to answer this question in the following manner:

Q: What are the three most important words in the English language?
A: Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!

I would add that your neck and declotage should be treated just like your face and moisturised just as religiously. I skipped this bit for a few years and I regret it already.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:09 PM on September 29, 2008

at 40 with nary a wrinkle, I can only reiterate the above advice:

hydrate!! both from within (water) and without (moisturizer)

avoid the sun!! when you must be in it use sunscreen, big dark sunglasses, hats etc., be sure to pay attention to your chest/shoulders etc like Lyn Never points out.

stay healthy!! exercise, keep alcohol minimum, get good sleep, manage yr stress, eat yr veggies

don't ever EVER smoke!!

then hope you have decent genes :)
posted by supermedusa at 12:14 PM on September 29, 2008

moisturizer is at best a short term solution
stay out of the sun
smoking will give you awful pallid skin, but I don't think that is permanent after you stop smoking
posted by caddis at 12:19 PM on September 29, 2008

I've been told on more than one occasion that I have great skin. Perhaps its mostly genetics, but I do drink a lot more water than most people I know.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:22 PM on September 29, 2008

My grandmother had amazing skin throughout her life and while I'm sure part of it was just genetics, it also had to do with her habits. She rarely sunbathed or spent any excess time in the sun, and if she did, she always had a hat on (in the time before sunscreen was so readily available). She was very healthy, as well - never smoked, ate very well and kept herself in good shape. Even at age 86, when she died, her skin was kind of amazing - wrinkly by that time but still glowing.
posted by sutel at 12:29 PM on September 29, 2008

As a guy, it never even occurred to me to worry about this until I was about 35, when I saw a picture of Michael Douglas that clearly showed his neck, hahaha. Since then, I have been religious about cleaning, toner, then moisturizer on my face AND neck. It has helped enormously, even starting late. I didn't see anyone say not to smoke, but don't smoke! Aside from the other health issues, the sucking motion on the cigarette causes thin vertical lines around the mouth. Once you watch for them, you can see who has smoked even if they quit years before.
posted by midwestguy at 12:31 PM on September 29, 2008

Just saying "use moisturizer" is not the correct answer.

You get what you pay for when it comes to skin care.

The national (cheap) brands, like Neutrogena or Aveeno or will do nothing for you. And in fact they may harm you (look at the ingredients).

The products that are "a croc" are the cheaper brands. Moisturizers that actually work are expensive for a reason.

My gf is 42 and has skin like a 22 year old. She uses products from companies like Darphin, Orlane and Shu Uemura.

If they sell it in a supermarket or a major drug store chain, don't use it. It is a waste of money and you may be doing more harm than good.
posted by Zambrano at 12:40 PM on September 29, 2008

Tazorac is a retinoid, right? That will help somewhat. I had a weird line in my forehead from teenage angsting that became fairly invisible after my stint with retinoids. I had crow's feet by the time I was 14, despite being sunscreen-fixated.

My mother looks good, as a woman in her fifties. My aunt looks great, as a woman in her sixties -- she doesn't look any older than my mother in the least. My paternal grandmother looks a clear 20 years younger than she is.

Why I think this is so: My mother has gotten significantly more sun exposure, has taken less care of her nutritional and health needs in the past, and smoked for about a thousand years. She's turned that all around now, and looks really good, but my aunt has an obvious edge if she still looks about a decade younger. And my grandmother accidentally came across her youthfulness, by happening to pick makeup that shielded her skin from sun damage, and preserved her very pretty face (I swear, the woman is 76 years old and last month, one of my male friends told me she was a good-looking woman.)

But look: even with sunscreen, limit your sun exposure. If you get dependant on the idea that sunscreen is protecting you, then you're setting yourself up for skin damage and possibly skin cancer. Because most people do not put on enough sunscreen, don't apply it until they're already out in the sun, apply it incorrectly and unevenly, and rely on its effectiveness way after it's been rubbed or sweated off.

Also, seconding Lyn Never: Put sunscreen on your chest, for sure. I have always done this, and I still have some sun damage there (my family is just prone to it). Also, your shoulders, arms, neck, and HANDS, for god's sake, your HANDS!
posted by Coatlicue at 12:46 PM on September 29, 2008

Moisturizers that actually work are expensive for a reason. [...] If they sell it in a supermarket or a major drug store chain, don't use it. It is a waste of money and you may be doing more harm than good.

All I've ever used is the drugstore stuff, generally Neutrogena or Complex-15, since I was about 16. Given that I'm often told I look at least 10 years younger than I am, I have no complaints.
posted by scody at 12:49 PM on September 29, 2008

My dermatologist told me to use Aveeno. Spend more and you're pretty much just throwing your money away on more expensive added perfumes. It's impossible to say that just because someone's girlfriend uses expensive stuff and looks good, it means the expensive stuff works and the cheap stuff doesn't. Correlation does not imply causation. Lets at least try to be somewhat scientific here, instead of spreading lies by the beauty industry cooked up to take women's money away from them. Well, mostly women, although marketing to men has certainly been catching up lately.
posted by hazyjane at 12:52 PM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

The national (cheap) brands, like Neutrogena or Aveeno or will do nothing for you. And in fact they may harm you (look at the ingredients).

The products that are "a croc" are the cheaper brands. Moisturizers that actually work are expensive for a reason.

This is soooo not true. My dermatologist (and many, many others) recommends Eucerin and Cetaphil products, both of which are available for a reasonable price at the drugsstore. Test out different brands and see what works for you but higher price certainly does not necessarily equate to higher quality.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 1:00 PM on September 29, 2008 [3 favorites]

If they sell it in a supermarket or a major drug store chain, don't use it. It is a waste of money and you may be doing more harm than good.

Can you substantiate that with evidence?
posted by 26.2 at 1:07 PM on September 29, 2008

Uh, Botox! My answer is less green and organic and blue state than my fellow contributors, but if you truly want to maximize great looking skin, why not get the botulism injection once in a while.
posted by No New Diamonds Please at 1:20 PM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: Don't forget your hands! I wish someone had told me that in my twenties.
posted by Space Kitty at 1:27 PM on September 29, 2008

Make sure your sunscreen has good UVA protection (Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Avobenzone, or Mexoryl). UVB generally is responsible for tanning, UVA is generally responsible for aging and cancer. Just because you're not tanning doesn't mean you're not damaging your skin.

Find a good sunscreen and use it AS moisturizer. (I really like Anthelios Fluid).

Don't rub your eyes excessively. Don't drink a ton of alcohol. Don't smoke.
posted by specialfriend at 1:33 PM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Use a good moisturizer and a good sunscreen. THESE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE MOST EXPENSIVE ONES.

Paula Begoun is the best person writing for a US lay audience about this stuff. She does her research.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:45 PM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: Oooh oooh oooh I have been waiting for one of these questions ever since I tried a book recommended in an earlier askme.

Go to your local library and get The Skin Type Solution by Leslie Baumann. Basically, Baumann (who is a practicing cosmetic dermatologist, apparently) breaks the skin up into a number of skin types (more than just the usual oily, dry, combination), has the reader take a quiz about how their skin behaves, and based on the resulting classification, you read the chapter on your skin, conditions common to its type and how to best take care of it.

Things I like: the book is really easy to use, the system makes sense, the suggested regimens are very simple and easy to expand because Baumann doesn't just provide generic product suggestions or a list of product names, but also talks about what ingredients are good and bad for the skin so you can go and find more. Besides appearance-related stuff, she talks about things like skin cancer risks, when to go to a dermatologist, etc. (She's also very up front in the introduction about where her research comes from and that she's worked with cosmetics companies, which I liked.) Things I don't like: uh, it's kind of cutesy at times. She provides a lot of anecdotes about her patients and sometimes celebrities, and it's a bit glurgey - lady, I don't care that Renee Zellweger has skin like mine, okay? Get on with it. Also, I wished at points that she would be a bit more, "It is okay, your skin is just innately like this and you are beautiful," and less, "Your skin is just innately like this - compensate with Botox!" But I guess she is a cosmetic dermatologist...

Anyway, the short answer is that my skin is not your skin, so I can't give you specific advice - things like moisturizer use and what brand of cleanser is best aren't universal. However, everybody should use sunscreen.
posted by bettafish at 2:16 PM on September 29, 2008 [4 favorites]

Don't frown.
posted by icarus at 3:49 PM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

The national (cheap) brands, like Neutrogena or Aveeno or will do nothing for you. And in fact they may harm you (look at the ingredients).

The products that are "a croc" are the cheaper brands. Moisturizers that actually work are expensive for a reason.

My gf is 42 and has skin like a 22 year old. She uses products from companies like Darphin, Orlane and Shu Uemura.

If they sell it in a supermarket or a major drug store chain, don't use it. It is a waste of money and you may be doing more harm than good.

What a load of horse manure. Do not follow this advice. It will only make you poor. The difference between expensive and cheap moisturizers is generally better fragrances, although some of the very cheapest moisturizers have kind of an oily feel. If you want to avoid that look for more humectants and less oil. Still, the creams only last for hours and provide almost no long term benefit. Don't believe the hype.
posted by caddis at 3:54 PM on September 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

Looking at the ingredients is extremely good advice (and I'm seconding the recommendation of the Leslie Baumann book above; the Paula Begoun website I recommended also talks about ingredients in some detail).

However, there is not necessarily a direct relationship between the cost of a skin care product and the efficacy of its ingredients. Neutrogena and Oil of Olay (a/k/a Ulay in some countries) are two drugstore brands often praised by dermatologists.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:38 PM on September 29, 2008

The products that are "a croc" are the cheaper brands. Moisturizers that actually work are expensive for a reason.

Cite please? Advertisements don't count.
posted by desuetude at 5:16 PM on September 29, 2008

My grandmother has beautiful skin, and I should follow her advice, but I don’t... She washes every morning and every evening with Noxzema and then moisturizes. She said when you rub the stuff around your face, always rub UP, never pull your skin down or around in circles. I don’t know if she is full of it or not, but that is what she does and she is gorgeous. She has been doing this as long as my mother remembers and the results are outstanding.
posted by Jenny is Crafty at 5:39 PM on September 29, 2008

All the women in my family use Oil of Olay and have beautiful skin, so I don't know if it is the product or the genes. Yoga seems to be helpful, too, for toning the muscles of the face.

[And it's CROCK! Croc is that ugly shoe, or an abbreviated crocodile. Thanks for listening.]
posted by Riverine at 6:13 PM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

She said when you rub the stuff around your face, always rub UP, never pull your skin down or around in circles.

In addition to this, I've always heard it's best to pat moisturizer (and esp. eye cream) onto your skin as much as possible after washing, so that you minimize rubbing your skin in the first place. And speaking of washing, it's supposed to be best to pat your face dry, too, rather than rubbing with the face towel.
posted by scody at 6:31 PM on September 29, 2008

The sun is not your friend. I have ravaged skin, and if I had my life to live all over it wouldn't matter any way. But you say you care so avoid the sun. Hats, sunscreen, stay inside between 10 and 4.


Also, they have much nicer, more gentle sunscreens now.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:22 PM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: Get UV screening window tint for your car. Lots of people have far more freckles on the left side of their face where the sun beats down on you when you drive. That UV filter really does help.

When you put on eye cream or concealer use your ring finger and not your pointer. Your ring finger is your weakest finger and you'll tug less.

Don't gain and lose weight. Over time it makes your skin sag.

On to what brand to select - I looked up the last Consumer Reports evaluation (Jan 2007). The best performing wrinkle cream in their study was Olay Regenerist which was one of the cheapest. In the less effective category was La Prairie, the most expensive.
posted by 26.2 at 10:18 PM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

For me, it's 1) not wearing makeup, 2) always being careful about sun exposure, and 3) usually eating well & always drinking lots of water. None of those were for the purpose of wrinkle avoidance, but I'm 31 now and quite wrinkleless without ever having used moisturizer. So for all the discussion about moisturizer, it's only one factor and lifestyle factors are also important.
posted by kalapierson at 4:48 AM on September 30, 2008

-Get enough sleep and learn how to manage stress.
-Don't smoke. Someone above mentioned those lines around the mouth smokers get. Indeedy. They will stay even after you quit.
-Drink enough water.
-Eat well balanced meals and get enough exercise.
-Use sunscreen, and THE RIGHT KIND. It has nothing to do with expensive brand versus cheap brand; it has to do with effective broad spectrum UVA block, and how well your sunscreen stays put and lasts. I use Coppertone Oil-Free Faces because it's cheap enough I don't worry about slathering it on (most people don't apply enough sunscreen to make a difference in UVA protection, which is the kind that ages your skin), it stays put, and it doesn't make my oily skin break out. I forget the three most common ingredients to look for that are UVA blocking...Avobenzone is one of them. Paula Begoun's books and website probably will tell you. Oh, and learn to apply it right--you should put it on clean, dry skin before your make up if you wear any, at least 10 minutes before you actually go out in the sun. You need to apply enough, and it needs to be UVA blocking to matter. This is all especially important if you use retinoids--they increase your risk of sun exposure due to the speedier skin cell turnover rate they promote. Wear hats, big sunglasses, etc. too to avoid the sun. Protect yourself year round; sun rays reflect off snow, pierce through rain clouds, etc.
-If at all possible, streamline your skincare regimen. Less is often more, and it just takes some trial and error to figure out what really works for you. Ditch the rest. Skip toner or other alcohol-based, drying skin products. Cetaphil, the Oil Cleansing Method (but go light on the steaming step--steaming is BAD for your skin), Castile Soap, and Carmelia Oil are all simple approaches that can help you ditch all the superfluous beauty product crap gracefully.
-Don't rub your skin. When washing and drying it, be gentle and don't tug down.
-It might be an old wives' tale, but I personally abstain from most make up (I wear lip gloss and on occasion fun, bright eyeshadow and that's it). I doubt it's the ingredients that make skin look bad so much as all that rubbing and irritation from applying daily and rubbing off with harsh make up removers.
-This is pure superstition, but I sleep on my back (most comfortable for me anyway). I always got the feeling this was better than sleeping on my belly and pushing my face skin against rough linen. Who knows though...
posted by ifjuly at 8:47 AM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

My mother is in her 50s and she has beautiful skin...

She absolutely stands by cleaning your skin well. She's always stuck by the Clinique 3 step skin care, (which one could easily emulate with cheaper products if you wanted to) which are:
A good thorough face wash--but not too harsh and drying.
a nice exfoliating toner, to use on your face and neck
and finally a good moisturizer that doesn't make your face too greasy (thus breaking you out)
You should do this 2 times a day. No matter what.
Also, use a make up that has an spf of 15 every day.

Another tip of hers, which she'll kill me for divulging, is a daily application of the lowest dose of Retin-A (usually purchased in Mexico.)
posted by dearest at 9:54 AM on September 30, 2008

A very late addition, but one no one else has addressed. Aging skin that does not have enough fat under it will inevitably fall and wrinkle due to unavoidable loss of elasticity.

In other words, after age 45 or so, you have to choose between a small ass and an unwrinkled face. If you want the former, your face will be more lined; if you want the latter, get used to larger size pants.
posted by jfwlucy at 6:48 AM on October 15, 2008

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