I turn 24 in a couple of weeks, and while I remain mostly unflustered by that thought, my millennial girlfriends seem to feel like it’s a major milestone, especially beauty-wise (and otherwise). Words like wrinkles, peels, cougar and Tinder are currently doing overtime rounds in our phone chats. Not judging though; we do belong to the age of Botox and silicone after all and we grew up with Lindsay Lohan, so the ravages of a premature aging are not lost on us.
Which brought me to reflect on the uncomfortable relationship between your age and your level of self-worth / love today. Shouldn’t age scares begin at what, 35? Do I really need to start Googling ‘best anti ageing ingredients’ already? Should we really be fixing what isn’t yet broken? If yes, what are the best anti-ageing ingredients?
I got on the phone with Dr. Jamuna Pai, founder of Blush Clinics, Mumbai; aesthetic physician and cosmetologist with a celebrity clientele composed of half the Bollywood industry and pretty much every Miss India. Her book 'No One Has To Know' debuts this week, jam packed with 25 years’ experience worth of judicious advice on skincare.
Here she is, guiding you through your ‘terrible twenties’ (credit to Urban Dictionary for coining that one).
Opening Notes: You’re Aging All The Time
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, according to Dr. Pai. “We don’t talk about it that way, but aging really starts at birth,” she says. To begin with, she recommends good old working out for its youth-freezing benefits; “having blood rush to your skin is one of the best anti-aging things you can do for it” – and also recommends lots and lots of green juice, “to combat both disease and aging.”
And on the skincare front…
When it comes to anti-aging wonder ingredients, retinol still comes out on top with dermatologists everywhere. “It exfoliates the skin, gets rid of patchy skin, helps with pigmentation and scars and stimulates the production of collagen,” says Dr. Pai. She also recommends looking for products with plenty of Vitamin C and peptides, while stressing on the importance of sunscreen. “I’m all about less is more with everything else but when it comes to sunscreen, more is definitely more. I can’t stress the importance of using it enough, even for school kids.”
Is starting an anti ageing routine in your 20s much too soon?
It might have been at one point, but pretty much everyone’s stressed out all the time now, and that takes its toll on your skin. “Everything’s on fast forward now,” says Dr. Pai, “and so it’s a good idea to start following the skincare regimen in your 20s that you might have started in your 30s.” Besides, your 20s aren’t exactly easy on your skin. “This is when you’re really living it up – lots of late nights, eating whatever you want, and drinking a couple of times a week. All of that adds up.”
So when’s a good time to start? 21? 29? Or somewhere in between?
As with most things, beauty isn’t one-size-fits-all, and Dr. Pai agrees. “It really depends on your genes,” she says. “I have girls who come to me with deep laugh lines at 27, and that’s just because it runs in the family, not because they’re prematurely aging.” Maybe there’s something to those cheesy beauty ads about loving your mother’s laugh lines after all? Dr. Pai also recommends looking at your lifestyle and deciding when to start accordingly. Are you outdoorsy, or do you find yourself spending lots of time in the sun? If so, start early – anytime after 18 is good, according to her. “In general, the mid 20s are a good time to begin a full fledged anti-aging routine.”
Speaking of lifestyle…
It’s no secret that working out and eating right are just as important for healthy, youthful skin as your skincare. In addition to prescribing the usual; multivitamins, anywhere between 2-4 litres of water a day and 8 hours of sleep, Dr. Pai also had something interesting to say about shots – the kind made entirely of freshly-squeezed lime.
She loves limes for their alkaline properties, which she says work to combat disease and slow down the aging process. They even help with ulcers! “You’d think that lime on an ulcer would be like salt on a wound, but I have a friend who had ulcerative colitis (a disease characterized by ulcers in the intestine) who tried doing two shots of lime juice a day and saw a huge difference.” She recommends mixing it with a green juice – “I’ve just had mine in some spinach juice” – and drinking it fresh.
Here’s what an ideal skincare regimen looks like in your 20s.
This is what Dr. Pai recommends.
Everyday: two shots of lime (four limes in total) in the morning with green juice. Cleanse and moisturize your skin. Apply sunscreen. At night, cleanse your skin and remove all your makeup. Once you’re 25, add a night cream to the mix.
Once a week: A superficial or mechanical exfoliation – something like a Clarisonic or a face scrub.
Once a month: Treat yourself to an exfoliating facial at the salon.
Finally, check that thyroid and eat light before bed.
“Hormonal imbalances, not wrinkles, are what make your skin look less than its best in your 20s,” says Dr. Pai. She recommends getting your thyroid checked if you’ve noticed sudden weight loss or weight gain coupled with dry, blotchy skin. “If you’ve got an imbalance with your thyroid it’s going to dry your skin out, which makes you age faster,” she says. “It’s all related.” The other thing you might be doing to unwittingly harm your skin? Eating a heavy dinner, as it turns out. “All the blood rushes to your stomach to help digest the meal, which means that anything it might have done for your skin has to wait.” But your skin repairs itself at night, so not being able to do so means that “it suffers and becomes dull and blotchy,” says Dr. Pai.
So there you have it! It’s not too early to start an anti aging regime in your 20s, but it’s just as important to eat right, hit the gym on the regular, and load up on that green juice.