Let’s get this out of the way first: There’s nothing wrong with aging. Feeling good about how you look as you get older—feeling better, actually—is what we all want. For some, it feels great letting those telltale signs of our maturity and wisdom—laugh lines, sunspots, grey hairs, acne scars—appear naturally. That’s wonderful, and more power to you. (Can we borrow some of that confidence?)
But the rest of us, we’d maybe like to slow down the appearance of the passing years, and maybe even start to reverse some of those classic giveaways on our faces that tell the world, “I’ve seen some stuff.”
Myths and marketing copy abound, telling you that you’ll look and feel younger if only you apply this or that three times a day and sleep hanging upside down like a bat… It can be a bit overwhelming and confusing, so we’re going to give you the scoop on what really works.
From the right ingredients to the worth-the-spend treatments, here’s how to get those “Hey I really do look better!” results safely and effectively, no matter what your budget might be.
Squinting into the sun, laughing, looking at a computer all day, narrowing your eyes in rage at the latest news breaking on Twitter—these are all things that can make your skin look older near the temples. Do yourself a favor and start applying an eye cream everyday. This one from Kiehl’s is specially formulated for men’s skin, and will help firm up that tender skin around your eyes and even reduce dark circles.
We’ve covered retinol products before, but it bears repeating that it’s basically a miracle ingredient that you should most definitely have in your skincare routine, even if it means becoming slightly more maintenance. It’s an easy additional step that fits right in between washing your face and applying your moisturizer. Dr. Michelle Henry, a board-certified dermatologist in NYC recommends Paula’s Choice to her patients, and since you need so little of the serum for each use (a couple pumps is enough for your whole face) it’s actually quite affordable.
Right up there next to retinol in the pantheon of effective anti-aging ingredients is vitamin C, which is rich in the kind of antioxidants that protect your skin from free radicals (skin damaging molecules). This lightweight serum uses Vitamin C Ester, patented by Dr. Perricone himself, which is more potent but less irritating than regular ol’ vitamin C. It works to reduce discoloration—you know, redness, sunspots, dark circles—while also brightening and smoothing the skin.
To get the most out of your serum, apply a few drops of this stuff to your fingers, rub them together, then massage in all over your face. Keep yourself busy while waiting for it to absorb (brush your teeth maybe?), and be sure to follow with a moisturizer.
Prescription Retinoid cream, averages around $150
Retinoid is the prescription version of retinol, which you can get over the counter. Both are what Dr. Henry calls ‘cream exfoliants,’ and they work to resurface the skin slowly. That resurfacing means fewer fine lines, and a brighter, more even skin tone—plus a major reduction in acne and acne scars.
The obvious warning here is that prescription products are stronger than something you get from the drugstore or a skincare brand, so proceed with caution and only with the go-ahead from a dermatologist. Redness, flaking and irritation are common side effects of regular retinoid and retinol use, but they do diminish over time as skin gets accustomed to the ingredient.
LED light therapy facial
Dermatologists, spas, and skincare brands use Color Light Therapy to boost collagen production and reduce acne issues. Collagen is the protein that makes your skin bouncy and youthful-looking, which is why it’s a buzzword in so many skincare products and treatments you’ll see as you begin building your anti-aging routine.
Many spas offer LED light therapy facials, sometimes in tandem with other treatments like a chemical peel or detox mask to really get your skin feeling fresh and renewed. Prices will vary depending on where you live and how “luxury” the spa is, but you can expect to pay around $125 or more for this type of facial. They’re expensive, no doubt, but can be a great option if you’re looking for quick results before an event like a wedding or vacation.
With an at-home LED tool, like Dr. Dennis Gross’ new FDA-cleared mask (that reminds us of Jason, unfortunately...hey, ‘tis the season!), you’ll see more subtle results out of the gate, but sustained improvements in the look and feel of your skin over time. You can choose between three three-minute therapy options: red light for lines and wrinkles, blue light for acne or a combination of both.
This cheaper Neutrogena alternative only lasts for 30 treatments before you have to buy more “Activators,” but it’s a cheaper way to give light therapy a trial run.
Botox injections, $300 per session & up
Think only women get Botox? Think again! Dr. Henry told us she’s been seeing more and more male patients pop in for a little ‘tox, so don’t let any outdated stigmas about who gets to care about their personal appearance hold you back.
Botox is the neurotoxin most widely used by dermatologists to address fine lines and wrinkles, because it’s effective and safe, with little to no down time after the in-office procedure. As far as cost, it varies widely depending on where you live, your doctor, and how many injections you need. Expect to get anywhere between 20 and 30 injections based on where your lines and wrinkles are, each of which will run between $10 and $20.
Before you go under the needle, though, be sure the dermatologist is familiar with male patients. “It’s really important to go to a doctor with experience treating men, because the injection technique is totally different,” says Dr. Henry.
Fraxel Laser resurfacing treatments, $1500 per session & up
“A lot of guys come in for this treatment because they notice they’re getting big pores on their nose or enlarged oil glands—which are considered signs of aging,” says Dr. Henry.
Specifically, she’s a fan of the Fraxel laser, which has become very popular with her patients. “It heats up the skin below and stimulates collagen to lift a scar right up and to even out the skin on the surface,” says Dr. Henry.
She recommends these treatments because of the you-can-definitely-tell-the-difference results that show almost instantly. One session, and you’ll leave with a significant improvement in skin condition, though some patients will need more than one to get to their desired results.
If the price makes you want to gag, consider that depending on your age, your total financial investment in one or two laser treatments will be far, far less than your overall spend on facials, creams and serums throughout your life if you maintain an anti-aging routine! At least, that’s what we tell ourselves...