Woman in Her 40s With Great Skin, Smiling on Her Living Room Couch

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October 20, 2022 — 11:26 AM

Some things are better treated before they even begin—aging skin included. Preventive skin care is naturally going to be easier than going back and softening pre-established fine lines and wrinkles.

In order to truly keep your skin tight and bright, there are a few hero ingredients you should know about. Think of this as a quick healthy aging tool kit to keep on hand:

Retinol is the classic healthy aging skin care product, but do you know why? “Retinol binds to retinoid receptors within skin cells,” board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., once told mbg. This “activates genes that upregulate collagen production.”

Studies back this claim, too: In one small human study, retinol treatment stimulated collagen production in mature skin, thus decreasing the appearance of wrinkling. However, it is important to note that use of retinol can make the skin more susceptible to UV damage—so don’t skimp on your daily SPF.

Not sure where to find a grade-A retinol serum? Shop our top picks here.

Collagen supplements have been particularly buzzy in recent years, and there’s a pretty good reason why: There’s significant research showcasing their all-around skin benefits.

The main benefit? Promoting your natural collagen and elastin production. This is key for aging skin, as research shows your collagen levels begin to decline by 1% each year, starting around your mid-20s.

However, not all collagen supplements will work the same. Most of the promising research on this topic comes from hydrolyzed collagen peptides specifically, so make sure you check that off the list when you shop—here are nine glowing recommendations from a nutrition Ph.D. 

If you’re already on the retinol train, you may consider adding a chemical exfoliant to your skin care routine as well (just don’t use them on the same night!). You’ll want to use these products two to three times a week as tolerated, as research shows that regularly exfoliating your skin can further enhance collagen production.

What’s more, studies have shown that six months of using topical glycolic acid stimulated a 27% increase in epidermal thickness. This is exactly what you want for tighter, younger-looking skin.

Plus, glycolic acid is an AHA, meaning it’s simultaneously exfoliating and hydrating. You can read more about the ins and outs of this powerhouse ingredient here, if you’re curious.

If you want to get a head start on delaying skin aging, you’ll want to focus on skin care from the inside and the outside. More specifically, incorporate a collagen supplement into your daily routine and add both retinol and glycolic acid to your topical lineup—but never on the same night.


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