What age to start using anti-ageing products?

I am 25 years old and have no fine lines or wrinkles, but I hear that I should start using anti-ageing products. What is the right age to start using them?

Most men and women assume they do not need anti-ageing skincare until they start seeing lines and wrinkles, but Dr Low Chai Ling, medical director of The Sloane Clinic, says that is waiting too long.

She and other doctors and experts interviewed say one should start using anti-ageing products in their 20s, when skin starts to age.

"While some are still fighting oil and acne, there should be some attempt at skin protection during this decade," says Dr Low.

But this does not mean you need to rush out and buy the most expensive anti-ageing creams or have a full anti-ageing regimen, as your skin cells will still be replenishing themselves.

Common ingredients found in anti-ageing products are peptides, alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), retinol and antioxidants.

The most important ingredient for those in their 20s are antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E.

Foods and products with antioxidants help to fight damage from free radicals and slow down the effects of skin ageing.

"There is little reason to invest in anti-ageing creams, which promise to speed up cell turnover and build elasticity, as the skin still has excellent turnover and is fully capable of repairing itself," says Dr Low.

The other ingredients, which 20-somethings need less of, are those mainly focused on collagen production and cell renewal.

Peptides are proteins which help to stimulate collagen production. Retinoids (vitamin A) help to break down the top layer of the skin and promote faster cell turnover.

AHAs act as exfoliators, getting rid of surface dead skin cells, which thus encourage cells turnover.

These ingredients are generally safe for use for those in their 20s, but may cause redness or skin irritation.

If you are starting on an anti-ageing product, apply a small amount once every other night to see how your skin reacts.

Most important, do not skip using your sunscreen.

"UV rays are the main cause of extrinsic ageing, so sun protection should be part of your daily skincare regimen," says Dr Rachael Teo, a specialist in dermatology and consultant at Raffles Skin & Aesthetics at Raffles Hospital.

Here are some products to try:

Dermalogica Age Smart Antioxidant Hydra Mist
($89 for 150ml, from AsterSpring Centres)

This contains vitamins C and E and has a non-greasy feeling, which is good for younger skin.

Ms Teri Tay, education manager for Dermalogica, says many anti-ageing products are loaded with oils and may cause breakouts.

Aesop B Triple C Facial Balancing Gel
($161 for 60ml, from Aesop, B1-50 Takashimaya Shopping Centre)

This gel is rich in vitamin C and can be used twice a week after cleansing and toning.

SkinCeuticals Serum 10
($178 for 30ml, from Derma Centre, 02-33 Westgate mall)

This serum contains 10 per cent pure vitamin C. It is fragrance-free, lightweight and fast absorbing.

Rodial Stemcell Super-food Day Cream
($89 for 50ml, from Guardian Plus, B1-15 Takashimaya Shopping Centre)

Key ingredients in this product include marula oil, which is rich in vitamins C and E, and Alp Rose stem cells, which are said to be able to help maintain the self-renewal capacity of the skin's stem cells.

La Roche-Posay Active C
($69.90 for 30ml, from all major pharmacies)

This anti-wrinkle moisturiser contains 5 per cent pure vitamin C.

This article was published on April 11 in Urban, The Straits Times.

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