The 6 Biggest Myths About Aging
MYTH: Peeling Face=Stop Retinoids.
REALITY: The irritation many people feel when they add these vitamin A-based creams to their regimen are "all part of the process," says celebrity dermatologist Dr. Brandt, who works with Madonna. To see results, you have to persist. If it's too uncomfortable, he suggests using a retinoid like Glow by Dr. Brandt Ruby Crystal Retinioid Hydracreme ($65; sephora.com) every third night. After two weeks, go to every second night, then every night.
MYTH: SPF only matters on the face.
REALITY: If you don't protect your neck now with SPF, prepare to be covering up in your 50s. The same age-fighting ingredients you put on your face can also be applied below the chin, but be careful with retinol and acids. "The skin on the neck is more sensitive," says Dr. Brandt, who advises you use retinol on this fragile area no more than two or three times a week. We like Clinique's Youth Surge SPF 15 ($50; clinique.com), which turns back the time by boosting collagen while protecting from sun damage.
MYTH: If makeup has SPF, you're safe.
REALITY: Unless you are slathering yourself in foundation, your coverage is inadequate. Dr. Brandt recommends wearing at least a teaspoonful of sunscreen on your face every day. "Protecting your skin from the sun lets the repair enzymes shift from defending skin to healing it." He recommends Neutrogena's Ultra Sheer Sunblock SPF 100 ($12; neutrogena.com). "It provides complete coverage without looking chalky, and has a light texture," Brandt adds.
MYTH: With age, add more foundation.
REALITY: Actually, the reverse is true. "As you age, base tends to settle into wrinkles and lines, which makes skin look duller," Dr. Brandt says. This is especially problematic for women over 40, who have already lost some luminosity as the turn-over rate of their skin cells has slowed. Instead, apply a lightweight tinted moisturizer like the NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer ($42; narscosmetics.com) in place of a heavy foundation. See a dermatologist to fix the uneven skin tone that you're tempted to cover up.
MYTH: Looking old is all about wrinkles.
REALITY: According to Dr. Brandt, women tend to spend too much time focusing on tiny fine lines that don't have a big impact on their appearance. "It's the changes in the shape of your face-sunken cheeks, undereye hollowing-that really show your age." After 40, most women get more "bang for their buck" with hyaluronic acid–based products like DermaDoctor's Wrinkle Revenge Serum ($65; dermadoctor.com), which plumps up the entire face.
MYTH: The more you exfoliate, the better.
REALITY: Though scrubbing regularly to remove dead cells is important, doing it too often can be so irritating that you won't be able to use other anti-aging products, like retinol. The ideal: Exfoliate just once a week with a peel or an at-home micro-derm system like PMD's Personal Microderm ($179; personalmicroderm.com).