This past summer, I accepted an internship at an amazing company down in St. Petersburg, Florida. While had been to Florida several times before, I knew living down there would be a whole other story, and major culture shock. Pink buildings, roaming alligators, palm trees for days, plastic surgery galore, and a non-stop party scene even more intense than Nashville. While Florida is definitely a place for some, it was not exactly my cup of sweet, mid-south tea. I craved the rolling hills and “real” trees found in Nashville. Now, that’s not to say I had a bad time. I learned a lot about what I want out of a job, and I got to meet some really cool interns that turned out to be great friends. However, there was something I noticed down in the sunshine state. Something that, to this day, truly haunts me.
Now, I’m not just meaning a sunburn, or even the large population of elderly citizens. I mean completely average people in their early twenties looked years older than they actually were. People my age! Wrinkles, thin skin, and dark spots. Of course, I’m not trying to tell you that there were college students roaming around when the face of the ancient, because that wasn’t the case. Even still, these people looked way older than the average undergrad Before my brief Florida residency, I’d say my skin concerns didn’t exist beyond acne and the occasional extra-dry winter. Things have very much changed.
Before you jump at my throat to tell me how vein and superficial I am, I just want you to consider something. How healthy do you think it is for people in their early twenties to have skin that makes them look like they are in their early thirties? I’d say that’s a pretty problematic circumstance for your largest organ. While some people will naturally age a bit faster due to genetics, and that is completely okay, I am very much willing to wager that wasn’t the case for every twenty-two-year-old I came across with crows feet. Aging is a natural and normal process, and while we shouldn’t be ashamed of it, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take the steps to ensure it happens at a safe, healthy rate.
“But, I don’t live in Florida,” I hear you thinking, “so this article doesn’t really apply to me.” Wrong. As I’ve delved further into my research on anti-aging, I’ve learned that this is exactly the time to start. You see, cell-turnover and collagen production both decrease as you enter into your twenties. This is when the earliest stages of aging start to occur. While that doesn’t mean you should fear losing your youthful skin at any moment, that does mean now is the time to add a bit more TLC into your daily routine. Here’s a little tidbit on how we college kids can manage to integrate that easily, and perhaps even more important, affordably.
I was never big on toners in my teenage years. My skin is extremely sensitive, and I didn’t really understand the purpose of the harsh toners Proactive threw my way except to dry out my skin. Ultimately, toners serve two purposes. 1.) To cleanse anything remaining that your facewash failed to remove 2.) To allow better penetration of your moisturizers and serums. The biggest rule of thumb when shopping for American made toners is to avoid alcohol at all costs. Toners should not be drying out your skin. If looking for an all-natural alternative, apple cider vinegar has been a popular pick as far back as the age of Helen of Troy.
There are many kinds of serums out there, and many of them can be confusing. This is mainly due to the fact that serums have the potential to do a lot of different things. The good news is that there is really only one kind of serum we need to be reaching for at our age, trusty vitamin c. While it does wonders for a body fighting a cold, it also aids in relieving the sun damage you picked up laying out by the pool in high school. Don’t be fooled by the appearance of spotless skin, just because you can’t see it yet doesn’t mean it isn’t hiding under the surface. The benefits don’t stop there though, as vitamin c serum also carry antioxidants to fight off the effects of free radicals.
This is probably the most important, and most ignored, step in an effective anti-aging regimen. 365 days a year, rain or shine, SPF is a must. The sun is one of the biggest contributors to premature aging (hence the Florida situation). Studies have shown that those who wear sunscreen on a daily basis were 50% less likely to develop skin cancer. There is a reason why every dermatologist on the planet stresses this. Be warned though that not all sunscreens are created equal. Many that you’ll come across at the drugstore have active ingredients that are actually harmful to the skin. Be certain to avoid the likes of oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Personally, I tend to find safe suncreens of similar price on amazon.
This brings me to my last and final point. Something most Americans are bad at, just in general, is checking the ingredients on the foods and products we buy. In all honesty, we shouldn’t have to be. We should be able to expect the shelves of the skincare aisle to be lined with products that do as they promise. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. You’d be surprised how many drugstore products have ingredients that actually harm your skin. This doesn’t mean you have to scrimp and save to buy high-end products – unless of course you want to. The best thing you can do is research the ingredients you don’t recognize. A quick google search will tell you straight away if this something you need to avoid. Over time, you’ll easily begin to recognize what is and isn’t safe.