I look 37 at 22, please advise?
April 23, 2015 11:13 PM   Subscribe

Hi there, this is something that's been on my mind a lot lately and I was wondering about the opinions of others. Has anyone out there actually tried medical treatments that are supposed to make you look younger? Specifically, laser skin resurfacing, laser skin rejuvenation, or the 'dreaded' facelift?? (I say dreaded because it has a bad reputation.) It's hard to know what the results are without actually asking someone who has undergone it- not to mention that it would be incredibly rude to inquire. I don't trust any of the online review sites, so I'd appreciate everyone's personal anecdotes about these options.

Please just trust me when I say that I look like I'm in my mid to late 30's, this is not a simple insecurity. Also, I've never struggled with a substance abuse issue, I'm very careful about sun exposure, and my mother is still beautiful even in her mid 50's- so I feel confused and cheated about this all. I've just experienced what I consider to be unusually high daily levels of stress since I was 11 years old. Not that I think my life is just terrible, I feel blessed- I guess everyone just handles their lemons differently than others. Please advise!
posted by nephilim. to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (29 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I tried CO2 Matrix laser skin resurfacing, supposedly a less harsh version of Fraxel. It was a bad move for me. I did it to (a) remove sun damage, and (b) improve the crepey skin around my eyes. Instead I ended up with worse pigmentation. My skin became drastically more sensitive to the sun and I just couldn't protect it enough, it seems. As for my eye area, I can't say there was a difference, I guess they couldn't safely go that close. Overall though, there did seem to be some improvement in the suppleness of my skin which I noticed over the course of the next few months.

I repeated the procedure six months later, as the provider said this was sometimes necessary with stubborn pigmentation, and there was an immediate improvement, but longer term definitely a worsening.

I'll PM you a link to a review I wrote with pics on the Real Self.
posted by Dragonness at 11:29 PM on April 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you're 22, I'm willing to bet looking older has more to do with your clothing, hair and/or attitude than your skin. Even if you were 37, I'd suggest working on stuff like that before you turned to surgery. At 22 your poor little face is barely finished growing! Get a new haircut and try dressing like a fashionable person your age, and that will probably make a big difference. In life, scalpels should always be a last resort.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:35 PM on April 23, 2015 [25 favorites]

I haven't tried any of your listed options, but I do have severe migraines treated with Botox. It somewhat decreases my faint forehead wrinkles but also makes my upper eyelids a bit more droopy. I imagine the positioning of the injections for beauty reasons is totally different than for headache ones, though, so I don't know how helpful my experience is. I'm not averse to the concept of lasers/injections/surgery but given your age I also think changing your diet/lifestyle/hair/eyebrows/glasses/makeup/wardrobe will do much more than a laser/facelift.

If you have acne that leads to the appearance of aging I think straight up 2.5% benzoyl peroxide applied 1-2 times daily is a pretty standard dermatological recommendation and I use it nightly. Exercise and trying to avoid junk food and staying hydrated all make skin look more youthful and radiant. And potentially get tested for allergies - it can show on your face in a number of ways ranging from undereye circles to areas of puffiness to skin reactions. Getting enough sleep is also very important, and you might want to test out your face washing/moisturizing preferences to see if there's a better method for you. Some people swear by using oil to clean their faces, for instance. Stress, like you said, is also a big appearance-wrecker so you may want to put the money you'd put into lasers/facelifts into things that relieve your stress, whether that's exercise or spa days or anti-anxiety meds.

You might also consider visiting a few makeup counters (Sephora, Mac, Bobbi Brown) and asking for a youthful makeup look. Bushy eyebrows can make people look older, so you may look into shaping if yours happen to be on the generous side. And then perhaps take a headshot of yourself and try out new hair and clothing options in Photoshop (or Gimp, which is freeware).
posted by vegartanipla at 12:22 AM on April 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I live in Los Angeles, and had a very good friend that is a very well respected dermatologist. All I can tell you for sure is to be very careful because they do try to sell you cosmetic products and procedures you might not need to support the finacial bottom line of the practice. This is where they make their money.

Another good friend works in the skin care industry on the medical side, she's a big proponent of peels, and recommended a few to me. She uses them and has a lovely complexion in her 30's, but she regularly uses pharmaceutical grade sunscreen, too, because all that stuff makes your skin extra sensitive and we're in SoCal.

I'm totally fine using the over the counter Boots Acid Peel she recommended, and a BB Cream with Titanium Dioxide and/or Elta MD SPF Cream, that is makeup that magically matches my fair skin tone.

Overall, I approve of the advice by Ursala Hitler that at 22, you update your wardrobe, haircut, and hair color. I am not a natural blonde, but was at 2 yrs old, and started lightening my hair at 12, dyeing regularly by 14. At 35 I tried to back to go back to my natural brown and looked ancient. That didn't last long, LOL. At 45, I just shortened my hair from long to shoulder length, because as I look older, I needed an update on a style level. Worked out great!

There's so much you can do that doesn't involve surgery. Lindsey Lohan is my goto example of a young woman who completely ruined her look with surgery, fillers, and all sorts of unnecessary shenanigans - even for someone who parties a lot. She has money, and there were people willing to take it when she was offered procedures she did not need at her age.

At 22, you need an ethical dermatologist and some styling. Procedures of any sort unless you really want rhinoplasty or have a week chin? Yes. Otherwise? Not so much.

If you know someone in the industry in your area that you trust, ask them for professional recommendations to services. Be wise. Less work is better. Almost always.
posted by jbenben at 1:45 AM on April 24, 2015 [15 favorites]

All the talk of face lifts etc. has me thinking that you're self-conscious about wrinkles, but do correct me if I am wrong. If that's the case, Retin-A is a non-surgical option that would be worth exploring first. Make an appointment with a dermatologist and they will be able to advise you.

I've met a few people who have had cosmetic procedures done, including facelifts, laser resurfacing, botox, and lip fillers. After seeing and hearing about the various side effects from things gone wrong (eg. hair loss from the face lift scarring, being housebound for days on end because of Fraxel), I think that exploring other options first is the way to go.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 1:51 AM on April 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I want to add that even though certain skin resurfacing procedures sound attractive to me at my age of 45, I won't try them because I am fair skinned and I am not keen to promote the sensitivity, freckles, and age spots I already have, which for the most part, are minimized by over the counter Boots Peel. Wrinkles, too.

Less is more. Get a doctor or three to weigh in if at the age of 22 you think things are this dire. I can't see you. I can only tell you I have sensitive fair skin and always wear sunscreen & hats and I believe "reversal" procedures often make some problems worse, based on experience of peers.
posted by jbenben at 1:53 AM on April 24, 2015

Since you asked, I regularly get Botox. I LOVE IT. I had very pronounced lines between my eyes, a result of habitual squinting (I never see the optometrist as often as I should). My face is kind of bony - I have a very square jaw and prominent brow line - and the squint lines made me look kind of permanently angry.

I get very small amounts of botox placed strategically - three shots between my eyes, one above each eyebrow. It doesn't hurt at all, and takes about two weeks to kick in. The muscles are definitely paralysed - that feels weird, but you get used to it. I'd also say that my face is still quite expressive, but I can't really frown any more.

It does wear off in about three months - usually sooner for me. I've had three sessions so far.

That said, I'd be really surprised if you have the kind of expression lines that would require Botox at 22. If I were you, my first stop would be a hairdresser, rather than a dermatologist - it's kind of shocking the difference hair makes. I recently cut off my hair into a super choppy, square, boxy chin length bob, and I swear it took 5 years off my face.
posted by nerdfish at 3:04 AM on April 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

I have done a jessners chemical peel and other tca peels in my 20's, green peels, retin-a, and when I was uncomfortable with the strong wrinkles on my glabella and forehead, I started getting botox.

I didn't do all of that stuff at once, just retin-a (mostly in the fall and winter since it makes you sun sensitive, as do the chemical peels) and one chemical peel a year, and then on my 33rd birthday I treated myself to the botox. I had it 3 times that year but have stopped now that I'm pregnant... and I am kind of glad I have had a break now because its addictive.

I am not against having fillers either... but it you are in the UK- be careful- they aren't regulated to the same degree they are in the states.

I think at such a young age it is super important to not mess with your main skin and face structure.

And take breaks between procedures... this stuff gets super addictive and when I got pregnant I freaked out about all of this stuff not being okay for pregnant women and afraid that I would get tons of wrinkles blah blah... and Mr. Catspajammies had to sit me down and remind me that its not good to be a slave to ideals of beauty and its whats on the inside that counts.

FINALLY! PS- definitely whiten your teeth, stained teeth add a lot of years and if you have them whitened it can take years off your face.
posted by catspajammies at 3:11 AM on April 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh! And like you, I had a decade of major stress and I didn't sleep or eat well, I was tense and anxious, I smoked cigarettes...

All of the major stressors resolved themselves about 3-4 years ago and since then I have started eating well, exercising, doing yoga, and sleeping and mostly cut out the bad habits... I look MUCH better... I look like a fantastic 30-something, and not a haggard 20 something.

Sure, I have more wrinkles now than I did back then, but its not just wrinkles that age you... its not being healthy, having gray pallor, unlooked after teeth, dull eyes, patchy skin, unnourished hair... when you get healthier habits you start to look better from the inside out... you may have wrinkles but your eyes sparkle, your hair is healthy, cheeks rosy...

so that's important too!
posted by catspajammies at 3:17 AM on April 24, 2015 [15 favorites]

In addition to an appropriate skin care regime make up makes all the difference. Look for make up looks that make you look 'bright', 'awake' etc. Can't link but Lisa Eldridge has tons of videos on such looks and it makes all the difference for me and I am 37 and am told I look a lot younger (with make up at least).
posted by koahiatamadl at 4:11 AM on April 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm 48 with very few fine lines and here's why. There are multiple reasons. I have stayed out of the sun as much as possible for most of my life. It's never too late to start that. I will use an umbrella in the sun, a hat, huge dark glasses, and a tone of high-grade zinc-based sunscreen. I have also used Retin-A since my late 20s. Recently I started using extra virgin coconut oil as a facial moisturizer and organic apple cider vinegar as a toner. I have acne, and those two things help with that.

I have used Vitex capsules, Maca Root, or DIM capsules for hormonal regulation since my 30s and my acne went away. Also, I have cut way down on dairy products, and that helps my acne too. Even if you don't have acne, hormonal regulation will help your skin in general (akin to that "pregnancy glow.")

I don't smoke and I drink minimally. In the past I have smoked and drank more, and I noticed that my skin wasn't as glowy.

Of all those things, I think sun avoidance and Retin-A have made the most difference.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 5:21 AM on April 24, 2015 [7 favorites]

Nthing that you need a good, ethical dermatologist.

If you use the benzoyl peroxide or other topical treatment my biggest tip is to let it bind to your skin for 30 mins before applying anything else. Nobody will tell you this! But it was a real turning point in my management of my own acne when someone gave me this tip. Also, if you moisturise beforehand give it 10 mins to sink in.
posted by tel3path at 6:06 AM on April 24, 2015

And I was going to say, it is possible that you are wearing the wrong colours or shades and that is making you look haggard. Take various colours of your clothes and hold them up to your face in good daylight. Odds are some will make you look older and some will brighten you.
posted by tel3path at 6:07 AM on April 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

Years and years ago I had Thermage (laser) treatments (supposedly stimulating collagen growth beneath the skin; there's something similar now (Titan) that uses electricity. It helped temporarily, but some say that's because the skin swells in response to the zings, not because of new collagen. So it doesn't last, and even for an upcoming event, is nowhere productive enough to justify the cost ($700 for a single treatment; of course they will tell you you need several.). A decade of common-sense strategies, most noted above (add in: religiously and gently washing face and neck twice a day; organic olive oil + retinol serum + Vitamin E; facercises as part of morning routine; low BMI weight maintenance; and plenty of sleep.), and I look at least as good now as I did then.
posted by mmiddle at 6:40 AM on April 24, 2015

Why not start with something small like getting yourself a Clarisonic to help regulate your skin texture and go from there?
posted by thirdletter at 7:01 AM on April 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Lots of people get strategic, conservative, well-planned facelifts and reconstructive surgery (along with orthodontia and maxillofacial surgery for both functional and cosmetic purposes). The issue is that you have to find doctors to work with who are both talented and trustworthy, you have to be realistic about what can and cannot be done, AND you have to plan for your work to age - bone work in your 20s tends to hold up, soft tissue changes and fillers look like shit by your 30s. You want to save that stuff for later.

Go to a dermatologist - not the ones with benches and billboards all over town advertising microdermabrasion, go to a plain old derm who does mole checks and removes warts and treats acne. Start there.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:27 AM on April 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

An unexpected side effect of dietary+supplement changes I've made over the last couple months has my facial skin looking healthier and more youthful than it did 10 or 15 years ago. Do you have any other symptoms which might recommend getting your ferritin, B12, or vitamin D levels checked? Do you eat enough protein every day, for your activity level (I'm not even a vegetarian, and it turned out I had to work at this, once I started counting nutrients)? Would you be willing to try reducing the number of potential inflammatory foods in your diet, if not eliminating them entirely, to see if that would bring back some "glow"? (I saw a difference in 3-4 weeks.)

(I was getting cruel remarks about how much older i looked than my age as early as 16, and it turned out it be the result of as-yet undiagnosed health issues.)
posted by blue suede stockings at 7:41 AM on April 24, 2015 [4 favorites]

It's not that these are bad solutions across the board, but you may want to consider what options you want to have in the future as well. The Lindsay Lohan before-and-after cautionary tale is a valid example. Now it seems like there is just an endless cycle of treatments and surgeries, in some cases probably to "fix" what the last ones did. Not only is that expensive, but it is also hard on your body. Plus, general anesthesia is dangerous, and though I know many of these procedures don't require it, all of them carry some risk. If you get a facelift now, what if you feel you need another at 30? 40? 50? 60?

If you are determined to go this route, start talking to a lot of doctors, knowing they are also making a living and selling something. But before that, make a list of all the treatments and surgeries you are willing to consider and the number of times you are willing to do them. Maybe also do some research on how much you are willing to pay. Then write down the ones that you feel firmly you do not want. It's not that you can't change your mind, but an exercise like that would help keep me from being up-sold, or starting down a path that meant more and more and more.
posted by juliplease at 7:43 AM on April 24, 2015

I have learned that there is a FB group for everything under the sun. Look for an overall group, and for a group that's specific to your area. The overall group just to ask general questions about procedures that you've heard of, or procedures that others have tried, etc. Use that group as a place to learn. The group specifically for your area so that you can check in with people about specific doctors or clinics, to find out what their experiences have been.

Many years ago I learned about the book Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me here on AskMe. I was looking for tips dealing with adult acne, and my fellow Mefites did not let me down. But the book has so much more about appropriate makeup colors, appropriate hairstyles, and more. It's worth checking out if you can find it in a library. I haven't cared much for more recent online versions as I feel like the author is now just focused on selling her own skincare line, but ymmv.

I also "had my colors done" with a wardrobe specialist a few years ago. Learning how to put myself in the right color clothing for my natural skin/eye/hair colors has made a huge difference in how I look. I notice now if I wear a color that is not within my palette I look very pale, perhaps sickly, or yes, even older than I am. So that might be something to consider.
posted by vignettist at 7:45 AM on April 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yoga will help with the stress. Water, lots of it, and a healthy diet will help with the rest. (Have your vitamin levels checked by a real doctor.) Keep up the sunscreen, add Retin-A if you like. Please do not do ANYTHING other than that -- other than good basic skin care -- until you have 100% gotten everything else health-wise under control. Good luck.

Oh and you might try the Philosophy line, which I've been using for years. (I'm more than twice your age, and very happy with my skin.)
posted by cyndigo at 8:50 AM on April 24, 2015

If you feel comfortable MeMailing a photo (or posting here), I have some experience in this area.
posted by easter queen at 9:09 AM on April 24, 2015

/r/Skincareaddiction is a great resource. I recently started using a Vitamin C serum for its anti-aging and photoprotection qualities. /r/AsianBeauty is great, too, as asian beauty routines focus on young and healthy skin.
posted by clearlydemon at 9:37 AM on April 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've known people like you, who at 22 come across as significantly older. I've also seen them adjust their dress, countenance and appearance to look their age, so I know it can work. :)

1) Hair cut - THIS IS HUGE. You can still go to Supercuts, but styling your hair differently will radically change your appearance. Look at other 22 year old for style guidelines. Consider reviewing Refinery29.com for ideas. Go for something edgy! Consider color, or asymmetry.

2) Clothing - If there are options in your size, focus your shopping activities in the "Juniors" section. Target is a great cost-effective place for this; stay away from the "Merona" line as it is targeted at the 30-40 age range. To start with, choose two new youthful outfits and see how you feel in those. For shopping ease, consider a) a one-piece playsuit/jumper, and b) shorts + a fun strappy loose top + a long chunky sweater.

3) General physical fitness - the average 22 year old is more physically fit than the average 40 year old. Get some muscle definition in your arms and this will youth-enize you. :)

However, the biggest change comes from something more amorphous - it comes from making life changes that allow you to feel more carefree. If you've been successfully managing more stress than the average kid since you were 11 (so for 11 years), you probably naturally have developed the overall posture, facial responses, vocal control of someone with 11 years of adult experience. (So... a stressed-out 33 year old.) The people I know who look like they've gotten younger have made the above changes, but they've also shifted their approach in life so that their day-to-day life allows them to experience a more youthful, happy-go-lucky outlook.
posted by samthemander at 10:17 AM on April 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

I feel strange about people minimizing your concerns, or sure that you have some dysmorphic viewpoint. Some people have skin that ages rapidly, period. One of my favorite bloggers has eye bags at age 22 or 23 which rival my 80 year old grandfather's. It's definitely, definitely not necessarily a 'problem' that needs to be 'solved,' but if it's really bothering you then you get to try to address the issue. Period.

Anyway, non-invasive things that help *a lot* are a good Vitamin C serum (OST or Paula's Choice), Retin-A (I use Pocketderm), AHAs (and other exfoliating acids like Mandelic, etc.), and good sunscreen.

Personally, my skin has completely and totally changed for the better since finding the badly-named but amazingly-helpful AsianBeauty subreddit, and to a much lesser extent the SkincareAddiction subreddit. I'm much older than you, and only started looking older in the last couple of years, but the info I got from that place, along with Pocketderm (for my Retin-A) dropped *years* off my face. It has been an unbelievably dramatic change.

Other people have seen huge changes from the slightly-->majorly more hardcore DIY peels and serums from Makeup Artist's Choice, which require meticulous attention and care.

Good luck, and in my opinion it's not a crime to care about your face, and it doesn't follow that a 22 year old adult is obviously deluded about the state of their own skin.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 11:20 AM on April 24, 2015 [6 favorites]

It's hard to give you specific advice as there are many different issues that can lead to the appearance of premature aging and I'm not sure what your'e dealing with. That said, I also have had great luck with the products offered by Makeup Artist's Choice, both the moisturizers as well as the various peels and serums. If you're unsure where to start, they're also great with phone consultations and will help direct you. If you're considering using acids, heed their warnings about how to ramp up in strength so that you don't damage your skin by being too aggressive before being habituated.

On the cosmetic end, proper makeup and a younger hairstyle/color will go a long way toward having others read you as younger. And, the importance of good nutrition, hydration, and staying out of the sun can't be overstated. The good news is that younger skin tends to respond better to intervention. Save the more hardcore cosmetic surgery options for later on down the line.
posted by quince at 12:07 PM on April 24, 2015

...beyond the nutritional/health advice I gave above, I will give one purely cosmetic tip: try going lighter with your hair color or at least highlights. The lightest/warmest you can get away with for color or highlight chunks naturally is usually your haircolor as a young child. This can easily make you look younger, if you're a brunette.
posted by blue suede stockings at 12:10 PM on April 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

A lot of people here are guessing what your problem might be, because there is very little information in your post. We have no idea what skin type you have, what you do to care for your skin or where you are in the world (environmental factors). Do you smoke?

Please tell more - I agree advice from a dermatologist can be iffy, if they offer cosmetic services as well as medical treatment, as most do.

Recently my daughter, at 22, suddenly looked very wrinkled and her hair seemed very dull. It turned out to be a problem of moisture. She is very fit and a healthy eater, and rarely uses make-up, but she was neither drinking enough water during the day, nor using the correct moisturizers / conditioner. When you train a lot, you need to drink water to compensate the water-loss, and also you have to deal with a lot of bathing. Hot water and soap kills your skin and hair. She started being more systematic with her water-intake and revised her skin-care regime, and now looks great again.
She has never suffered from acne, but she has has problems with dry and sensitive skin as a child/teenager.
posted by mumimor at 12:19 PM on April 24, 2015 [1 favorite]



Maybe you have dry lines!

I have acne, with very oily skin and surface dryness that is exacerbated by topical treatments.

The ONE moisturizer that adequately addresses the dryness is Cetaphil Daily Advance Ultra Hydrating Lotion. Search for that exact phrase.

Let it sink in for 10mins before you apply any sunscreen or makeup. If topical acne treatments irritate your skin, you can also try applying it after washing and 15mins before applying your treatment. OR 30 minutes after applying your treatment. Or both.

(As an aside, wouldn't you know there'd be ONLY one moisturizer that would adequately address my surface dryness, even though dry skin is not one of my major problems. Because that is how it is for me, ever the special snowflake. Yet if I don't use this exact product, I look like one of those applehead carving dolls. With this product? Not a wrinkle in sight. Nowhere in sight. And I'm in my mid-40s.)
posted by tel3path at 2:15 PM on April 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think the reason people are focusing on things like how you dress and comport yourself, rather than on skincare specifically, is because looking older is causing you such distress. As someone who never looked "young" after the age of 10 or so, I totally understand where you're coming from. Especially since now you've passed the age where extra maturity will get you illicit booze, it seems like there's not much benefit to looking older than your years.

But! If you're taking good care of your skin, moisturizing, drinking lots of water, staying out of the sun, etc., you will find that you seem to keep looking the same as you age. I have looked 35 since I was 15, which used to cause me a lot of distress until I hit my 30s and realized that "35" is apparently how my face will always look, because at 33 I don't really look different than I did at 23. Looking at my mom, I realized the same was true for her, too. She had an old face on a young body, and now that she's in her sixties, she looks 20 years younger.

One more thing: it took me a long time to grow into my nose, which I thought looked like a potato for most of my life. In just the last five years, it's grown into its adult form and looks so much better. I'm not sure if this will be the case for you, but it's something pleasant I didn't expect. Your bone structure is still growing and changing, which can make a "mature" face look stunning as the bones grow into place.
posted by inky_the_pinky at 10:56 AM on April 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

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