Before you unwrap another straw, did you know that pursing your lips around one actually causes wrinkles? If you want to minimize the signs of aging, there are a few habits you need to master early on. "In their 20s, people think they're invincible and that they're never going to age, but that is when you really need to develop good habits, because it will last you a lifetime," said Dr. Debra Jaliman, board-certified dermatologist and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist. Below you'll find the secrets to maintaining that youthful glow for longer. So when it comes to your skin, maybe 30 is the new 20 after all.
1. It's never too early to start anti-ageing. Which probably means you're reading this too late. "I always say the sooner the better because if you know you're going to care about lines then you might as well start sooner," says Dr. Jaliman. The first step is using a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which will protect you against aging caused by the sun's UV rays.
2. Even if you are using anti-ageing products, you're still ageing. Here's some bad news: "We're losing everything as we age, unfortunately, so there is no way out of it," says Dr. Jaliman. "You're going to lose collagen and elastic tissue, so your skin is going to get saggier. Your skin is going to get rougher, and the pigment isn't going to be as even. Also, all those things get worse with sun damage."
3. Skipping sunscreen is the biggest mistake you ever made. "People say it's so time consuming, but really just like you brush your teeth every day — that's 30 seconds." Of all the anti-ageing creams and treatments you can buy, sunscreen is the most inexpensive and effective route. So, you'll want to get in the habit of wearing SPF 30 every day.
4. Don't skip the neck (and hands). "A lot of times I see people with a young-looking face and old-looking hands and neck," explained Dr. Jaliman. "Those three areas are chronically sun exposed, so whatever you do for your face you also want to do to your hands and neck."
5. Drinking from a straw does cause wrinkles. Your mum might have passed on this advice when you were a teenager, and it turns out this beauty myth is all true. "Any kind of repetitive muscle movement will cause wrinkles," admits Dr. Jaliman. "Smile every day and you get a smile line, or if you frown you're going to get a frown line, but what are you going to do? You can't stand like a mummy!" This problem is easily solved by using a retinol at night around the mouth and on the forehead.
6. Eye cream really is worth buying. The skin around your eyes is the thinnest on the body, meaning that is where wrinkles will appear first. By your mid-20s, find an eye cream that will restore moisture to that area and ward off crow's-feet. Sunglasses that protect against UV rays are also a must have for your beach days.
7. The A in anti-ageing stands for antioxidants. Makeup can cover up a lot of imperfections, but that healthy glow from within comes from a diet packed with antioxidants. While you're in your 20s, get in the habit of noshing on berries, beans, and dark chocolate.
8. Don't cross your legs. While genetics play a role in whether you'll end up with varicose veins on your legs, there are a few things you can do to prevent them. Try not to cross your legs. If you must stand for long periods of time, move weight from side to side. And try wearing support stockings on an airplane.
9. Avoid smoking at all costs. We know you might have taken a few puffs in your rebellious teen years, but smoking is a bad skin habit to break ASAP. It restricts the blood supply to the skin, making aging more obvious, and each time you inhale, you're causing wrinkles around your lips.
10. Got acne? See a dermatologist. While over-the-counter products are easy to find, sometimes it's best to see a professional in order to keep acne scarring to a minimum. "If you start to get scars, they're harder to get rid of than they are to prevent," Dr. Jaliman says.
11. Remember to stay active. Exercise increases the blood supply to your skin, making it healthier, and it will show.
12. Get used to lukewarm showers. While a steaming hot shower can be relaxing, the heat is actually drying to your hair and skin. Tone it down to a moderate temperature to lock in moisture. "You have half as much hair at 40 than you do at 20," she explains. "Hair becomes dryer, more brittle, and is not as shiny and resilient." So, you'll need all the moisture you can get. It's also a good idea to wash hair less often as we age to preserve the natural oils on the scalp, which decrease with age, too.
13. In retinol we trust. Retinol is a cure-all product for your skin care woes and is safe to start using in your 20s. "Retinol is an easy product to use because that helps with dark spots and discolouration. Plus, it brightens and evens your skin tone," Dr. Jaliman says.
14. Just say no to the heat lamp. When you're getting highlights, avoid the heat lamp and just let the colour develop naturally. The excess heat plus chemicals can be twice as damaging to your hair.
15. Lock down your anti-ageing routine. With all these tips, there are a few ingredients to look out for in the drugstore: soy and vitamin C for brightening, peptides to increase collagen production, and of course sunscreen!