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Is Your Skin Aging Faster Than You Are?

Genetics, smoking, and sun can make you look older, but doctors say there are ways to fight back.

Quiz Results

If you chose mostly: Your skin is typical of a person in his/her:
A's 20s
B's 30s
C's 40s
D's 50s
E's 60s

 

In Your 20s

The No. 1 antiaging potion for all age groups is, of course, sunscreen. For people in their 20s, who have yet to see much evidence of sun damage, it may be tempting to skip the daily application. But Lior says the earlier you start using sunscreen, the more damage you can prevent. If you want to avoid an extra step in your morning routine, look for makeup or moisturizers that include a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.

Lior also recommends people in their 20s begin getting screened for precancerous lesions. "Precancers called actinic keratoses begin to show in the 20s and 30s, particularly in fair-skinned people who spend a lot of time in the sun. A few of those people will actually have skin cancers that early, which is the scary part."

If found early, actinic keratoses can be removed before they have a chance to become cancerous. The American Academy of Dermatology describes them as rough, red, scaly patches, or crusts commonly found on the sides of the forehead, the ears, the scalp of bald men, and the backs of the hands. The lesions range from the size of a pinhead to larger than a quarter. While skin cancer is hardly on the minds of most young adults, Massa says it's never too soon to start checking your skin. "Examine your own skin once a month and if you see anything changing or new, get it checked."

In Your 30s

"Patients in their 30s are often concerned about keeping their skin healthier, more radiant, and more even in color," Massa tells WebMD. "They may notice more brown spots related to sun exposure or may feel their skin has a duller look."

One way to improve skin tone is to look for products containing retinol and alpha-hydroxy acids. These products are available over the counter, although stronger solutions require a prescription. For more dramatic results, Massa says, "Light chemical peels can make the skin look smoother, more radiant and more refreshed."

Brush Up on Beauty

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