I have wrinkles at 22 - is there anything I can do to stop time?
July 29, 2012 4:55 PM   Subscribe

I'm only 22 and already noticing forehead wrinkles and little lines beneath my eyes. Is there anything I can do or am I doomed to look like a disaster by the time I'm 30?

These are not very deep wrinkles, and when I tell my friends they insist that they can't notice them at all. However, I definitely do. I remember noticing the lines in my forehead when I was only 18 or 19, and I don't know if they got a little more pronounced or if I just forgot about them for a while.

I have never been one to take meticulous care of my skin because it's never been something I worried about - I was pretty much acne free for my teen years and now have a smooth, clear complexion that garners compliments. So it's great, you know, except for the wrinkles! I have been using SPF moisturizer or sunscreen every day for years and have not led a particularly rough life. I'll admit that I smoked throughout college (but not heavily) and still have the occasional weekend cigarette or two, but while I know this is a bad habit I don't think it's entirely to blame - I know plenty of girls my age who tan and smoke like chimneys and none of them have wrinkles!

1) Is it "normal" to have minor wrinkles in your 20s? Am I just being neurotic and projecting my own fears of getting old?
2) Am I doomed to have horrible wrinkles when I get older? My mother seems about average for her age, despite years of suntanning and much harder living than me.
3) What can I do? Do any anti-aging creams work or are they just bogus? I always felt morally opposed to getting Botox, etc. because I don't think there's a problem with ageing. I will embrace getting older when I do get older - but can't I look young while I am young?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
It's normal to have minor wrinkles in your 20s. No one will ever notice your wrinkles as much as you do.

I'd worry more about whether they're laugh lines or frown lines. Abraham Lincoln once threw a man out of his office because he didn't like his face. When his aides protested, Lincoln said, "After 40, a man is responsible for his face."

I'd keep on using sunblock and moisturizer. Keep your face out of the sun and harsh weather. There's a reason people who work or play outside have rougher faces.
posted by musofire at 5:00 PM on July 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

In my experience, everyone over the age of 20 or so has "minor wrinkles" that are noticeable to them and to nobody else. You are the only person who scrutinizes your face that closely, I promise.

You will probably age along the same lines as your parents. Give yourself some extra youth points if they smoked or had a lot of sun exposure.

One slight red flag to me (not a dermatologist) is the fact that you didn't have acne as a teenager. My understanding is that youthful-looking skin is related to the presence of oils. If your skin tends to be dry, you might have more noticeable wrinkles earlier than some of your peers. Or maybe that's just what I tell myself as I continue to blot my T-zone at the ripe old age of 31.
posted by Sara C. at 5:14 PM on July 29, 2012

1) Yes, yes and yes. It's also normal to do all of those things.

2) No. I noticed the same signs at 18 and became paranoid. My skin did not fall apart in my 30s. I just turned 40, and I have awesome skin that is only just now begining to show gentle signs of ageing with under-eye wrinkles. And until 2 months ago, I smoked, though I never tan.

3) The three most important words in the English language are "moisturize, moisturize, moisturize." Trends in anti-aging creams come and go, but they are all built on one underpinning theme of skin hydration. I do not have greasy skin and so I can get away with spackling the fuck out of it. Seriously, I put Vaseline on at night. During the day I use whatever with SPF, I'm sure whatever you are using is fine.

In general I think it is largely genetic, though I think a small amount of weight helps as one ages as well; pinched doesn't help anyone's face look supple.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:15 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know plenty of girls my age who tan and smoke like chimneys and none of them have wrinkles!

Yes they do. You just can't see them, like how they can't see yours.
posted by that's how you get ants at 5:31 PM on July 29, 2012 [16 favorites]

Use sunscreen, drink water, wear a visor, put on moisturizer, and you'll be fine.
posted by discopolo at 5:35 PM on July 29, 2012

Response by poster: I had the same in my early twenties. Since then I've become a sunscreen addict. It has kept my face in stasis, though the wrinkles are still there. I would also suggest getting plenty of sleep, as a few years of consistent deprivation from school have really wreaked havoc on my under-eyes.
posted by Anonymous at 5:44 PM on July 29, 2012

Nthing sunscreen + moisturiser + nobody but you looks that closely at your skin.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 5:45 PM on July 29, 2012

Everybody moves their faces, and if you stared harder at more people your age you'll see that most of them start to show it at least a little in their early 20s. Also, you're just out of puberty and are beginning to lose the kid-fat in your face that kept you filled out.

Like everyone said, moisturize and keep the sun off your face. Wear sunglasses, not just for the extra protection but to keep from squinting. For that matter, have you had an eye exam lately? You might be squinting when you read/watch TV/etc.

But you are definitely seeing it worse than anyone else. Also, bathroom downlighting is kind of a bitch; look at yourself near a window so you have a more diffuse light (which is probably what you generally see your peers in) and base your comparisons on that.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:46 PM on July 29, 2012

Have you considered gentle exfoliation or antiaging creams? I love the one by no. 7 at target protect and perfect, my skin is much older and this is awesome, but not strong. You'll be shocked by week six.

Other than that, get plenty of water and eat well is really all you can do. Keep staying out of the sun and use sunscreen.
posted by cestmoi15 at 5:46 PM on July 29, 2012

Chiming in to say that you're, in all likelihood, the only one who notices them.

I'm 25 and I've noticed fine lines on my forehead and corners of my eyes since I was 21 or so.

Incidentally, I started using retinol cream last year for some hyperpigmentation issues (thanks a lot, birth control pills) and the lines seem to have faded. I have no idea whether that's a long-term result.
posted by third word on a random page at 5:56 PM on July 29, 2012

I'm like you- 22, always had good skin, just started to notice some pre-wrinkles on my face. I think it's pretty normal. I've gotten better at moisturizing and using SPF during the day, and making sure I'm not over washing my face since it tends to be dry.

Use it as impetus to keep up your skincare routine and stop smoking completely!
posted by MadamM at 6:06 PM on July 29, 2012

I think in this day and age of "cosmeceuticals", some anti-aging products, particularly those containing retinoids, do work, but the results are not dramatic. Try using OTC products with retinoids or you could get a prescription for Retin-A (which I believe has been proven as an effective treatment for wrinkles). If you go the above route, definitely be more diligent than ever with the sunscreen as these products will make you're skin more sensitive to the sun.

The only twenty-something I knew with serious wrinkles, was very fair, very outdoorsy, rode her bike everywhere, and I assume didn't wear sunscreen or sunglasses because she had very noticeable crows feet. She was still a very attractive, it was only noticeable because it was unusual in someone so young. And this was back in the 80s when it was difficult to find sunscreen above SPF 8 and wearing it all the time, or indeed even out in the sun was not as common as it is today. So long-story short, definitely wear sunscreen. I put it on every morning, every season, even if my only sun exposure is going to be on my walk to and from the metro to home or work.
posted by kaybdc at 6:26 PM on July 29, 2012

Building on what other people have said, I will second things like good moisturizing/regular exfoliation. I'm a little under 30 and started noticing these things, so I started making sure I drink enough water, eat enough vegetables, and get enough omega 3 fats - I eat sardines and sometimes take cod liver oil - and my fine lines/wrinkles/whatever aren't even really noticeable to me anymore.
posted by fromageball at 6:29 PM on July 29, 2012

1) Yes. And very much, yes.

2) The word you're looking for is "character".

3) You grow into your face; it takes decades, and by the end of them you can tell who's spent their decades scowling at people and who's spent their decades laughing. Laugh a lot, smile a lot. Be kind to people. That will get you the face you deserve.
posted by mhoye at 7:07 PM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

You've already got the main stuff covered: keep up the daily moisturizer, on your face and throat; and avoid tanning --- look what tanning does for leather! Ick.

Also, wear sunglasses --- prevents both sun damage to your eyes and wrinkles caused by squinting.
posted by easily confused at 7:07 PM on July 29, 2012

It's genetics related. Really can't say if it'll plateau, or keep getting worse at the same or accelerating rate.

I'm assuming that you're fair skinned, live in a sunny part of the world, and have a low body fat percentage for your weight?

Gaining a few pounds might help "plump up" the valleys and make the wrinkles less visible, but again, this will depend on your genetics and where your body likes to pump up adipose tissue.

Anecdotally, I've seen some improvement in my own under-eye micro-wrinklage after routinely using a little 10% alpha-hydrolic acid (glycolic acid, acne.org/danielkern.com sells a high quality product in volume at extraordinarily, relatively, affordable prices) in the morning and if I can remember at night. Then again, placebo effect and whotnot.
posted by porpoise at 7:07 PM on July 29, 2012

More sleep, more water to drink, less alcohol and sun contact (with or without sunscreen).
posted by infinitewindow at 7:29 PM on July 29, 2012

People have wrinkles. Don't believe the photos you see of models, actors, whoevers.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:01 PM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

In grad school, you could really tell who was spending too much time in the lab. Get plenty of sleep, eat properly, and exercise. I don't know enough to speak intelligently about the skin care routines everyone else is discussing, but taking care of yourself -- or failing to do so -- really starts to show in your twenties in a way it never does in your teenage years. Smoking and drinking seem to significantly add to the skin issues.

Don't work too much.
posted by samofidelis at 9:03 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Stop looking at yourself in the magnifying mirror. Normal mirror only and from a conversational distance. Your face will look 10x, 12x, or 15x better... 1) Yes, if you look hard enough without makeup and photoshop you can find wrinkles on every human, 2) you sound pretty normal now so you'll probably be pretty normal when you're old, 3) sunscreen, sunglasses, and a gentle/moisturizing skin care regimen.
posted by anaelith at 9:33 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

anonymous posted:
1) Is it "normal" to have minor wrinkles in your 20s? Am I just being neurotic and projecting my own fears of getting old?
2) Am I doomed to have horrible wrinkles when I get older? My mother seems about average for her age, despite years of suntanning and much harder living than me.
3) What can I do? Do any anti-aging creams work or are they just bogus? I always felt morally opposed to getting Botox, etc. because I don't think there's a problem with ageing. I will embrace getting older when I do get older - but can't I look young while I am young?

1) Normal. No-one can see yours except you, likewise all those people your age who seem unwrinkled can see all sorts of age markers in their own faces.
2) No, genetics have a LOT to do with how well you age. In fact, if you've stayed out of the sun and taken better care of yourself, you'll look younger than your mom when you're her age now.
3) Moisturize/sunscreen, don't smoke, stay hydrated, and eat your fruits and veggies.
posted by desuetude at 11:20 PM on July 29, 2012

I'm 23, it's normal. Moisturize, use sunblock, stay hydrated, and sleep well. Also, in the summer, my skin looks fantastic because of all the humidity. If you're in a particularly cold/dry environment, it tends to look slight worse (but seriously, no one will notice). I started smoking a few years back and had a freak-out where I thought I was already getting upper lip wrinkles... turns out it's just extremely easy to exaggerate one's own skin defects.

Also yeah, Photoshop on models + Botox on celebrities = terrible body image for all of us, which extends to skin as well.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:44 AM on July 30, 2012

I had noticeable across the room forehead wrinkles by the time I was 27. My skin staged a total mutiny because of my chronic illness and I found myself (bookish person) driven to the desperation of visiting a (puke) "med spa." I believe you. Another friend experienced the same at 24. It's hard to understand it until you experience it; it's your face! You're not overreacting.

I never thought I'd be the kind of person to get Botox for non-medical reasons, but I did and I do. I'm very, very pale skinned (so much that I stay out of the sun in the cloudy Pacific Northwest) and apply sunscreen several times a day year round. I had also written 3 novels at 27 and was a worrier, so I was easy on myself. I first got Botox as part of treatment for migraines and found that without the sensation of being able to furrow my brow and worry, I felt more relaxed and my anxiety/physical tension decreased. (And it was the only thing that broke my migraines, too, possibly for this reason.) I went back and tried some more on other area where I frown and worry - had some relief from TMJ too - beyond the cosmetic benefits, which themselves were immense. The Botox was about $10 a unit (docs are always running specials) and I ended up needing about 30 units, out of pocket about $150 for me. The doctor who administered my Botox was always running a special on blocks of botox for touch up beyond the brow Botox covered by my insurance for my migraines. When I've had the spare money, it's been worth it. YMMV -- and I know most people's does -- but it lasts about 6 months for me. It seems like a much less expensive and potentially more beneficial treatment than Retin-A, which caused me painful peeling. (YMMV, again.)

If you want to go this route and you have migraines, get it covered for them. That will get you a brow lift and probably improve your quality of life in multiple ways. Otherwise, the best way to approach any of these options people have suggested (if you need prescription Retin A) is to find the best cosmetic dermatologist you can. It may be, for instance, that you need filler shots rather than Botox, or another topical agent than Retin A (there have been a lot of new products on the market) -- only a doctor who deal with these technologies can tell you. My advice re: cosmetic dermatologists, having been to some skeezy ones before I met my current doctor. If they make you meet with somebody who is not a medical professional for any sort of consultation (including billing counseling and a treatment plan) before seeing the doctor/PA, don't stick around.
posted by sweltering at 1:17 AM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm 32 and my forehead/smile line wrinkles haven't increased too much over the last few years. I credit a lot of it to slapping on a thick coat of Cetaphil Cream at night to plump up everything. If I go several days without using it (like in the summer, because it's hot and it makes me feel greasy), I definitely notice my wrinkles are more pronounced.
posted by jabes at 7:05 AM on July 30, 2012

Like others have said, having fine lines in your 20s is very normal. Moisturize, drink plenty of water, stay out of the sun, eat a well balanced diet and get the sleep you need. Beyond that you're going to be a slave to your genetics to a certain degree.

I use Lancome Genefique serum and it may be a waste of my money, who knows, but I like the way my skin looks since I've started using it. I also use a Mia Clarisonic to wash my face and again since I started using it, I've felt my skin is brighter and that makes it easier for me to deal with the small lines that have started to form.

You can't undo what's there but the good news is small lines won't be noticed by anyone other than you.
posted by GilvearSt at 7:42 AM on July 30, 2012

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