- Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the most preventable cause of early skin aging. UV radiation is emitted by the sun and indoor tanning beds.
- The most effective ways to prevent wrinkles and sun damage are seeking shade, wearing protective clothing and regularly using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor of 30 or higher.
- See your dermatologist for the successful treatment of aging skin.
- How wrinkled your skin becomes depends on many factors, including your skin type, genetics, and history of unprotected sun exposure and indoor tanning device use.
- People with fair skin who have a history of UV exposure are particularly susceptible to wrinkles, skin damage and skin cancer.
- Studies show that exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning beds damages the DNA in skin cells, leading to premature skin aging and skin cancer.1
- Age spots are flat, brown marks on the skin. Also known as lentigines, they usually appear on the face, chest, back, backs of the hands and tops of the feet.
- Age spots are caused by exposure to UV radiation. If age spots run in your family, you should take extra caution to avoid excessive UV exposure.
Skin care products and ingredients
- There are many over-the-counter products and cosmetic procedures available to treat the signs of aging skin. Talk to your dermatologist to determine which treatment is right for you.
- Sunscreen and moisturizer should be used regularly to prevent and treat the signs of aging. Some anti-aging moisturizers contain ingredients that help minimize the appearance of fine lines and uneven pigmentation.
- Tretinoin, a prescription topical cream in the vitamin A family, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of fine facial wrinkles in patients who take care of their skin and protect it from UV exposure.
- Retinol is an ingredient in many over-the-counter anti-aging products. It is also in the vitamin A family but much weaker than prescription tretinoin.
- Alpha hydroxy acids can exfoliate the skin surface, which reduces rough texture and may improve fine lines caused by poor skin turnover. The AHAs used in skin care products include glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, citric acid and tartaric acid. These ingredients can be found in over-the-counter anti-aging products and in-office chemical peels.
- Topical products that contain stabilized vitamin C may soften fine lines.
- Products containing glycolic acid, hydroquinone, kojic acid, L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C), licorice extracts, N-acetylglucosamine, niacinamide (vitamin B3) or soy may help lighten dark spots and unwanted pigment on the skin.
- Skin lighteners made outside the United States may contain mercury. Ask a dermatologist to help you select one of the many safe skin-lightening products available.
- For information about cosmetic and personal care products and their ingredients, visit cosmeticsinfo.org. This website from the Personal Care Products Council contains information about the safety, testing and regulation of cosmetics and personal products. [Please note: The Academy has not reviewed or evaluated the information provided on the PCPC website.]
Tips for using skin care products
- Wear sunscreen every day. UV rays can accelerate signs of aging. Use a sunscreen or moisturizer that offers broad-spectrum protection with an SPF of at least 30.
- Do not tan. Getting a tan from the sun or a tanning bed exposes you to harmful UV rays that can accelerate aging, causing wrinkles, age spots, a blotchy complexion and even skin cancer.
- Moisturize. Moisturizing traps water in the skin, which can help reduce the appearance of some fine lines and make your complexion look brighter and younger.
- Test products, even those labeled “hypoallergenic.” To test, dab a small amount of the product on your inner forearm twice a day for four or five days. If you do not have a reaction, it is likely safe for you to apply the product to your face.
- Use products as directed. Active ingredients can do more harm than good when used too much. Applying more than directed can cause clogged pores, a blotchy complexion, irritation or other unwanted effects.
- Stop using products that sting or burn, unless they were prescribed by a dermatologist. Some prescription products may cause stinging or burning, but this can be safe and effective for patients under a dermatologist’s care.
- Limit the number of products you use. Using too many products on your skin, especially more than one anti-aging product, can cause irritation. This often makes signs of aging more noticeable.
- Shop smart. More expensive products aren’t necessarily more effective. There are some effective, affordable products in the skin care aisles of your local stores.
- Give the product time to work. While a moisturizer can immediately plump up fine lines, most products take at least six weeks to work, and some can take three months.
1. Whitmore SE, Morison, WL, Potten CS, Chadwick C. Tanning salon exposure and molecular alterations. J Am Acad Dermatol 2001;44:775-80.