Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
No one is excited when they wake up in their late 20s and spot crow’s feet, forehead wrinkles or other signs of aging for the first time.
But it happens. One day, you’re out in the world being young and full of life. Then the next, those signs of aging that inevitably affect everyone start to creep up on you.
As much as we all wish there was a “pause” button we could push on the aging process, there’s no way to stop skin aging entirely -- as long as you’re alive, you’ll continue to get older, and your skin will inevitably show some signs of this process.
However, there are simple things that you can do to make the aging process less obvious, more graceful and, well, look younger regardless of the age on your driver’s license.
For the most part, the biggest impact you can have in your fight to look young is by keeping your face in good condition. After all, it’s the first thing that people see when they look at you.
From smile lines to thinner, more translucent skin, just about every sign of aging can be slowed down, minimized or hidden with the right combination of effective skin care habits, healthy living and good grooming.
To help you look younger at any age, we’ve shared our expert tips below, with a focus on things that are simple, practical and won’t put too much of a strain on your finances. Just consider this your full guide on how to fight aging.
Looking young starts with good habits. One of the biggest anti-aging mistakes many guys make is trying to turn back the clock after skin damage has already developed -- for example, by using one skin cream after another to try and get rid of deep, obvious wrinkles.
While reversing the signs of aging is definitely possible, it has its limits, meaning the best way to look young throughout your life is by practicing healthy skin care habits that prevent these signs from developing in the first place.
There are several ways to do this, from protecting your skin from damage to living a lifestyle that minimizes internal harm to your cells, organs and skin tissue.
Let’s begin with the most important: wearing sunscreen. In addition to massively increasing your risk of developing skin cancer, sun exposure can damage your skin and cause it to prematurely age via a process called photoaging.
Whenever you spend time outdoors in sunny weather, you expose your skin to UV rays from the sun. These rays can penetrate into your skin and damage its DNA, preventing it from producing collagen and elastin -- structural proteins that give your skin its strength and elasticity.
This process can thin your skin and make it less elastic, causing wrinkles to develop. It’s also a major cause of brown spots, or “liver spots,” which form when excess melanin develops in areas of your skin affected by sun exposure.
The impact of long-term sun exposure on your skin really can’t be overstated -- according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, photoaging caused by UV light exposure is responsible for 90 percent of the visible changes that occur in your skin as you get older.
The good news is that minimizing the effects on your skin from sun damage isn’t that hard. You can do it by:
Always wearing sunscreen, especially during the morning, midday and afternoon
Choosing a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum, SPF 30+ protection
Applying enough sunscreen to cover any skin that isn’t covered by clothing
Reapplying sunscreen every two hours when outdoors, or after you swim or sweat
Sunscreen is especially important if you use tretinoin -- a topical retinoid we’ll talk about in more detail a little further down the page.
Oh, and it should go without saying -- avoid tanning beds. Not only are tanning beds no safer for your skin than natural sunlight, but they also provide the same wrinkles, lines, reduced elasticity and other effects of premature aging.
Along with tanning, smoking is one of the most harmful habits for your skin, as well as one that will seriously accelerate the aging process. This is because many of the chemicals in cigarette smoke are highly toxic to cells, including those in your skin.
Research has found that cigarette smoking makes the skin less elastic, meaning it’s more likely to form into fine lines and wrinkles. Studies also show that smokers tend to have more obvious nasolabial folds -- the lines on either side of the mouth -- than their non-smoker counterparts.
If you smoke, one of the most effective ways to look younger is to quit. Since smoking is directly linked to erectile dysfunction (ED), kicking the habit can not just help you look younger, but also help you feel younger when it comes to sexual function too.
Quitting can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. Smokefree.gov, which is operated by the National Cancer Institute, shares proven, science-based techniques that you can use to give up smoking for better skin, health and quality of life.
Stress can do a serious number on your health. Research shows that it can affect your muscular function, respiratory system, cardiovascular system and hormone production. It’s also linked to an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety.
Because stress affects just about every aspect of your health and wellbeing, it can also age your skin prematurely.
According to research published in 2014, stress can damage your DNA and contribute to aging of your skin. Exactly how remains somewhat of a scientific mystery, but hormones associated with stress (epinephrine and cortisol, for instance) likely play a role.
Beyond internally damaging your skin, stress might also indirectly contribute to wrinkles through its effects on your facial expressions. You know that face you make when you’re overly stressed out? That furrow in your brow isn’t doing you any favors.
Even when severe, stress is treatable. You can take a stress test to find out about how stress is affecting your life, or use our free mental health resources to discover how you can reduce your stress levels to look and feel younger.
There’s a reason it’s called beauty sleep -- when you’re asleep, your body actively repairs itself, including your skin.
Failing to get enough sleep can harm your skin in both the short and long term, accelerating the effects of aging while making you look older on a day-to-day basis.
In fact, research shows that sleep deprivation in men and women is associated with redder and more swollen eyes, darker circles under the eyes, more visible wrinkles, drooping of the corners of the mouth and a general appearance of physical fatigue.
So, how much sleep should you get? While researchers have yet to calculate the exact number of hours per night for maximum wrinkle prevention, the CDC recommends that people above the age of 18 get at least seven hours of sleep a night.
Our guide to the benefits of sleep for your skin goes into more detail about how good sleep can help you to look younger.
The role of nutrition in skin aging has led to numerous nutritional supplements being touted as anti-aging miracles, but the research rarely backs up these claims.
However, research generally suggests that keeping it simple by eating a healthy, balanced diet that’s rich in fresh fruits and vegetables provides the antioxidants your body needs to keep your skin youthful.
Instead of spending big on supplements, try to focus on eating a diet built around fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as healthy carbs and lean sources of protein.
Keeping yourself hydrated has numerous benefits, including aiding in digestion, regulating your body temperature and helping your blood transport oxygen and nutrients to your cells.
It’s also good for keeping your skin healthy and youthful. Some research suggests that people who drink plenty of water on a regular basis have a more hydrated stratum corneum, which is the outermost layer of skin.
Maintaining a healthy fluid intake is also with smoother skin and improvements in skin elasticity, an important factor for preventing wrinkles.
With this said, most scientific evidence on a link between water consumption and smoother skin isn’t that strong. As such, it’s best to think of it as a good general habit that may also provide a few benefits for your skin, not as a core aspect of maintaining youthful looking skin.
Believe it or not, the way you shower -- and the amount of time you spend in the shower -- can have a surprisingly large impact on your skin’s health and appearance.
If you’re prone to dry skin, it’s important to take some precautions when you shower. Use water that’s warm rather than hot, as overly hot water can dry and damage your skin. Also, limit your shower time to five or 10 minutes to avoid causing your skin to become dehydrated.
If you use a moisturizer (another topic we’ll cover more in a moment), make sure to use it a few minutes after you’re done drying off to trap in as much moisture as possible.
Finally, while it’s not directly related to skin, exercising on a regular basis has serious anti-aging benefits that make it worth considering if you want to look younger.
In addition to burning away body fat, regular exercise can support other habits that are great for your skin, such as reducing stress, maintaining energy levels and helping you to maintain good sleep habits.
Exercise can also play a significant role in the hormonal side of maintaining youthful skin and a healthy body.
For example, research suggests that both aerobic and resistance exercise stimulate the release of human growth hormone (HGH). Several studies have also found that working out can boost testosterone levels -- an important factor for building and maintaining muscle mass.
Whether it’s a jog around your neighborhood, a workout in the gym or a bike ride, try adding at least a few weekly exercise sessions to your routine.
Used effectively, topical skin care products can have a noticeable impact on your skin’s texture and appearance. In fact, the right daily skin care routine can help to enhance the health of your skin’s protective barrier and increase your skin’s smoothness and elasticity.
Unfortunately, thanks to the marketing practices of the skin care industry, knowing which topical products are worth it and which aren’t isn’t simple. As such, it’s easy to go broke in search of the fountain of youth in a small glass bottle.
Luckily, effective skin care isn’t very expensive. In fact, once you’re familiar with the science of skin aging, it’s easy to keep your skin healthy and young looking with only a few products, none of which come with a premium price tag attached.
Below, we’ve shared the most worthwhile, science-based skin care products and medications to consider as part of your routine.
When it comes to making your skin look younger, very few products offer as much bang for your buck as a good quality moisturizer.
In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, along with sunscreen, moisturizer is the most effective anti-aging product you can buy.
Including a good moisturizer in your skin care routine helps to combat skin dryness. It can also make fine lines less visible. Many expensive anti-aging creams sold in department stores are built around simple moisturizers, with fancy ingredients added in for marketing purposes.
To get the best results from moisturizer, use it once you finish drying yourself after a shower or bath. This helps to trap moisture in your skin, plumping up your complexion and giving you a younger look.
Retinoids are medications derived from vitamin A. They’re commonly used in skin care, either as prescription medications or as active ingredients in over-the-counter products.
The most well-known retinoid is tretinoin -- a prescription skin care medication that’s approved by the FDA to treat acne breakouts, facial wrinkles, skin roughness and hyperpigmentation, or the dark patches of skin that can develop on your face when it’s exposed to sunlight.
When it comes to keeping your skin youthful, retinoids -- and especially tretinoin -- are some of the most effective topical anti-aging products available.
Over the years, tretinoin has established an incredible track record for anti-aging benefits, such as stimulating collagen production, thickening the outer layer of the skin and reducing the depth and visibility of fine lines and wrinkles.
As a prescription medication, tretinoin is something you’ll need to discuss with your healthcare provider. It’s one of several active ingredients in our Custom Anti-Aging Face Cream, which is available following an online consultation with a licensed healthcare provider.
If you’d like to start with something milder, you can also get retinoids like adapalene and retinol over the counter in many drugstore anti-aging products.
Our full guide to retinoids for wrinkles explains how retinoids work, as well as how you can use them to slow down the skin aging process and look younger.
When most people describe the “youthful” skin they’d like to have, they mention a smooth feel and a lack of fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. They don’t mention the other side of “youthful” skin -- whiteheads, blackheads and other types of annoying, unsightly acne.
Acne can also affect adults, and while it might make you look youthful in an awkward teenager way, it can indirectly age your skin by contributing to collagen loss in the form of scarring.
For this reason, it’s best to use a good facial cleanser well into your 20s, 30s and 40s to stay in control of your skin’s oil content and prevent dead skin cell buildup.
When it comes to face washes, the key is to look for active ingredients that are proven to keep your skin blemish free. These include salicylic acid and other alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs) that promote exfoliation.
Our guide to the best anti-aging face washes for men goes into more detail about proven active ingredients to look for in a face wash.
While not skin care products per se, antioxidants are common ingredients in many moisturizers, anti-aging creams and other products designed to keep your skin healthy and youthful.
While not all antioxidants are linked to skin improvements, many are. For example, vitamin C -- a powerful antioxidant that’s found in our Vitamin C Serum -- plays a key role in stimulating the production of collagen.
Other antioxidants, such as niacinamide, are linked to improvements in skin tone, smoothness, barrier function and dark spots.
Try to look for these antioxidants on the list of ingredients when you’re comparing products such as serums, moisturizers and night creams.
One easy way to keep your skin looking youthful is to look for an anti-aging cream that contains the active ingredients mentioned above.
Most anti-aging creams are designed for use once per day, typically before bed. Many use a mix of active ingredients to target your skin from several angles at a time, such as by stimulating cell turnover, increasing collagen production or fixing uneven pigmentation.
For example, our Custom Anti-Aging Face Cream contains tretinoin and other active ingredients to keep your skin youthful, elastic and healthy.
Our guide to the best anti-aging creams explains what to look for in this type of product, as well as a few other tips that you can use to prevent skin aging.
If lifestyle changes and skin care products aren’t quite enough to get rid of those pesky lines on your face, there are cosmetic procedures available.
Although we might associate the words “cosmetic procedures” with obvious plastic surgery and aggressively applied fillers, the truth is that a lot of the skin care and anti-aging procedures that are offered by dermatologists and plastic surgeons produce natural looking results.
Just be warned that these are more expensive, invasive and often have bigger risks (as well as longer recovery periods) than other options, so weigh them carefully.
Chemical peeling involves removing layers of skin using hydroxy acids and other chemicals to stimulate new skin production and improve the texture and tone of your skin.
Men undergo chemical peels for a variety of reasons. Common ones include to treat scars and irregular pigmentation, to get rid of fine lines and wrinkles, to smooth out the skin’s texture and to deal with sun-damaged skin.
Peeling procedures range from superficial to deep, with some of the more invasive procedures requiring a long recovery time. Our guide to chemical peels for men goes into more detail about how they work, their benefits and more.
Laser therapy, or laser skin resurfacing, involves using concentrated pulsating beams of light to treat wrinkled, scarred or damaged skin. Although it sounds like some kind of 60s Bond villain weapon, dermal laser technology can offer real benefits for turning back the clock on aging.
By penetrating into your skin, the laser beam used in this type of procedure stimulates collagen fiber production, resulting in smoother, younger-looking skin. Like with chemical peeling, laser procedures can range in intensity, cost and recovery time.
Dermal fillers are designed to fill in facial lines and restore the volume loss that can develop as your face loses fat from the aging process. They contain ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, calcium hydroxylapatite and polyalkylimide and usually last for several months at a time.
The key to fillers is balance -- used wisely, they can reverse some of the effects of aging, but if overused, they can create a result that looks, well, a little artificial.
Finally, there’s Botox®, a brand name of botulinum toxin, an injectable medication that freezes facial muscles to stop them from wrinkling. Botox is generally used to reduce or get rid of the lines that can develop on your forehead and around your eyes and mouth.
Botox works well, but the results aren’t permanent, meaning you’ll need to return for injections every three to four months. Just like with dermal fillers, there’s something of an art to getting the anti-aging benefits of Botox without the artificial look.
There’s no stopping getting older. But no one wants to look older than they are and few people welcome the lines and wrinkles that accompany aging.
When it comes to reducing the signs of aging, prevention is the best strategy. Take care of your skin with great habits and the right products and you’ll minimize the damage that contributes to skin aging in the first place.
But when the wrinkles come despite your healthiest efforts -- and they will eventually -- options are available that can turn back the hands of time, or at least minimize their effects. No need for a midlife crisis.
If you’re interested in maintaining that youthful glow, or restoring it, you can get started with our range of science-based men’s skin care products, including our Custom Anti-Aging Face Cream and Goodnight Wrinkle Night Cream.