Fighting Wrinkles

How you choose to treat wrinkles and other signs of aging depends on what stage of your life you're at. In your 20s, when wrinkles are just beginning to appear, sunblock is the best course of action. At that stage, skin can still repair itself, and wearing sunscreen regularly will prevent further damage and help the skin regenerate itself. An alpha-hydroxy acid product is also a good idea, because it will lightly exfoliate the dulling layer of dead skin and give it a smoother, clearer look.

When your 30s start to creep up (with a few more lines and wrinkles in tow), retinol products and prescription retinoids, such as Retin-A or Renova (the more moisturizing form), are the next line of defense. Both are designed to plump up fine lines and stimulate skin to produce collagen, although Renova is the only product approved by the FDA clinically proven to reduce wrinkles. If your skin is starting to show signs of dryness, moisturizer will hydrate it and make wrinkles look less apparent but won't make them disappear.

When wrinkles become stubborn, usually around your late 30s and early 40s, it's time to see your dermatologist, who can prescribe a skincare regimen to help keep wrinkles at bay. In addition, she has various chemical peels in her anti-aging arsenal. Peels come in varying strengths, depending on the severity of your wrinkles and age spots. Light, glycolic acid-based peels, done once a month over the course of a few months, will help smooth some of the fine lines (although they won't have much effect on deep wrinkles), fade brown spots, and even out overall skin tone.

TCA (trichloracetic acid) peels are a bit stronger and reserved for deeper wrinkles. They are used at varying concentrations and leave skin red and sensitive for a few days. Phenol peels are used for very severe discoloration as a last resort. The downsides of phenol peels are that they can leave the skin permanently lighter and involve more risks than more gentle peels.

Laser peels are a newer weapon that only require a single treatment but are reserved for very severe wrinkling. Depending on the type of damage you wish to get rid of, this could be an alternative to a facelift and should be performed only by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon who has substantial experience using lasers. The additional drawback is the healing process; count on severe redness and peeling for at least a week.