We must accept the fact that we’ll all grow older with each tick of the clock — which is why it’s essential to reevaluate our skincare needs continually. Natural aging, maturation, hormonal changes, what we eat, and environmental influences all affect how our skin looks and feels.
We experience what most people think of as aging when our skin begins to lose collagen, which results in wrinkles, skin laxity, and dryness because of a decrease in the production of hyaluronic acid and ceramide.
I spoke to Dr. Anne Beal, founder of AbsoluteJOI, who believes that age is nothing but a number. She went on to say that years of smoking, binge drinking, eating sweets, and following a diet deficient in antioxidants can all add up to cumulative skin damage.
As the damage accumulates over time, it causes many of the changes we associate with aging — dark marks, fine lines, wrinkles, etc. She noted that while the sun can be our best friend, it can also be our skin’s worst enemy.
“The single biggest source of skin damage is exposure to the sun,” Dr. Anne explained. “I’ve seen people in their early 20s with very visible lines and wrinkles around their eyes because they spent their teen years baking in the sun.”
Because so much beauty marketing focuses on changes, people believe that fine lines and wrinkles are the first signs of aging. This rings true because that was definitely my thought process. I remember listening to the women in my family discuss their annoyance with any lines they may have seen on their faces or necks. They’ve always blamed it on aging and stress.
However, the initial signs of aging actually depend on how much melanin is present in your skin. According to Dr. Anne, people with melanin-rich tones are much less likely to have wrinkles and lines at a young age due to the natural sun protection from their melanin. Instead, they’ll develop dark marks and a loss of brightness as their first signs of aging.
“If we are fortunate enough to live to a ripe old age, we’ll all ultimately develop wrinkles and changes in skin tone, Dr. Anne said. “But the early signs of aging — when they manifest — will vary greatly depending on your levels of melanin and lifestyle choices.”
Just when you thought there was no fountain of youth, Dr. Anne informed me that there’s one thing we can do to slow down the aging process. “Sun protection is key,” she cautioned. “Yes, there are products with retinol, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C that are very effective. But the single most effective thing you can do for your skin is to wear broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, which is at least SPF 30.”
Thankfully, I keep a 40-ounce water bottle by my side that I fill up two to three times a day because Dr. Anne also recommended that we pay attention to our water levels to keep our skin hydrated.
“When you are younger and have oily skin, you may spend a lot of time working [on getting] rid of that oil, but you may ignore your skin’s hydration,” she reminded us. “The water levels in your skin are not the same as the oil levels on top of your skin. So, while working to remove excess oil, do not ignore the need to keep your skin hydrated and dewy.”
With the knowledge that aging can be slowed down with the proper care, Dr. Anne said that we should embrace the beauty marks that come with becoming wiser and more beautiful by definition.
“I remember when my father turned 50. I asked him how it felt to be so old, and he responded, ‘It beats the alternative!’ That served as a reminder that aging is a gift and certainly preferable to dying young,” Dr. Anne said. “In most non-Western cultures, we revere and honor people as they mature and recognize that with their age and life experiences come wisdom and insights that we can all benefit from.”
As a woman of Indigenous descent, I’m aware of the respect our culture has for the experience of our elder women. In addition to imparting wisdom, our elders are the source of beauty secrets that help us age gracefully. I’m always in awe of how their traditional treatments work like magic to keep the skin youthful — almost effortlessly.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’ve improved my beauty routine by incorporating new routines into our established traditions. For my skin protection, I’ve been researching the best SPF 30 (or higher). I’ve been careful to moisturize with serums, and I always use a satin pillowcase at night.
As someone getting closer to their 50s, I can share that the results — which included my family’s beauty secrets — have been a lack of wrinkles and a radiant shine.
Dr. Anne revealed that there are three pillars of effective anti-aging skincare that we should all be practicing by the time we hit 30. “You need to add SPF, retinol, and vitamin C to your routine,” she says. “These three ingredients can be started by younger people and will benefit them in the future, whether they have oily, acne-prone skin, or dry, sensitive skin.”
Overall, Dr. Anne believes aging is truly a gift that should be embraced.
“If you speak with women in their 30s, 40s, and beyond, one of their regrets is that, as young girls, they spent too much time trying to please others and cared excessively about what other people thought.”
She concluded, “Accepting our imperfections in terms of our skin, bodies, and lives implies accepting who we are as our true selves. The fact that they are flawed, however, does not diminish their worth of admiration and respect.”
Well said, Dr. Anne, well said. I couldn’t agree more.