I’m in the second half-century of my life and it makes me wonder: What I would advise my younger self (or my kids – if they would listen) to do, to have their best skin later in life.
So I headed to the scientific literature to find out what the evidence says about preventing skin aging and found… almost nothing (1). Almost all of the research centres on what to do, once the signs of aging have started to appear. And even then, most of these studies have been conducted over relatively short periods. So the evidence for what to do at a young age is sparse. But evidence hasn’t left us entirely in the dark.
Luckily, we now have some good evidence for effective antiaging skincare ingredients. Using this evidence, ESK products have made a big difference to reverse some of my premature skin aging.
By Daniel, Founder of ESK
Where prevention is better than cure: Sun Damage
UV exposure (particularly UVA) is estimated to be responsible for 80% of skin aging and has been shown to accelerate skin aging (2). The damaging effects of sun exposure on skin aging becomes apparent many years after exposure (and this includes relatively short period of time – when the skin does not burn) (3).
Thanks to an Australian study which followed 900 Queenslanders aged 25 – 55 for 4.5 years, we now have evidence that daily application of a broadspectrum SPF 15 sunscreen significantly reduces skin aging. In fact, the group that used sunscreen daily showed no detectable sign of skin aging over the trial period!
Based on that and the safety data surrounding sunscreen, a subsequent study (4) concluded that to reduce skin aging, broad spectrum sunscreen (like ESK’s Zinc Shade) should be worn every day.
Moisurisers: Are they needed? Yes
Anecdotally, you can see that well-hydrated skin is plumper and looks less wrinkled than dehydrated skin. However, what we do not know is whether or not dehydration of the skin causes changes to the underlying architecture to create wrinkles (5).
Currently, studies show that there is a correlation between irregular (vs. regular) use of moisturisers and premature skin aging (people who moisturise regularly tend to have less wrinkles). But we don’t know whether lack of moisturising was a cause of the wrinkles or not.
Antiaging ingredients that you may have reason to use at an earlier age:
If you were like most teens and had acne, you may have been introduced to Vitamin A in your teens. Vitamin A is still the frontline treatment for acne. It is also the ingredient with the best evidence for managing the signs of aging (6).
More recent developments mean that we have effective and better tolerated forms than the one you might have used years ago (like Retinal in ESK’s Ultimate A+). While it’s effective in not just treating acne it also keeping skin, acne free. (7) But whether it keeps making sense to use it after your acne goes and before the signs of aging set in… we don’t have any studies, so we don’t really know.
Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide)
Vitamin B3 (in ESK’s B Calm) has good evidence for reducing wrinkles, improving skin barrier function (helping retain moisture in the skin) and reducing hyperpigmentation (8). So there is the possibility that using it before the signs of aging appear, may help delay the inevitable. There is good evidence that Vitamin B3 reduces acne by reducing excess oil production (9). So there is a good chance that users might have a specific reason to start with Vitamin B3 at a younger age.
The one thing you should do:
There is one thing we can do with confidence from a young age to reduce skin aging later in life and that is to use a broadspectrum sunscreen every day.
As for the rest, there is really no evidence, so we are in the realm of opinion. My view is that prevention is usually better than cure. Remember that the signs of aging emerge years after sun damage. So in the name of prevention, there is an argument to use evidence based anti aging ingredients well before the signs of aging appear.
Other articles you might be interested in:
- Why is everyone talking about vitamin c in skincare
- Sleep and Skin
- Menopause and the skin
- Dr Ginni’s secret to beautiful, younger-looking skin
- Skincare and Vitamin C