Wait, do teens seriously need to use anti-aging products rn?

Real talk: just because it seems like every influencer is fighting crow's feet and frown lines with a lineup of skincare products and procedures doesn't mean tou need to (or should!). Here's what you need to know—and how you can rise above.

From that English essay due on Monday to your big soccer tourney this weekend, you’ve got a lot going on. And now you have to worry about wrinkles, too? According to beauty industry experts, girls as young as 13 are increasingly interested in products that help prevent fine lines. And society’s obsession with smooth, dewy skin isn’t going anywhere. In fact, the market for anti-aging products is expected to reach a value of $88.3 billion by 2026 (that’s a whole lot of face cream).

What’s behind this trend? Yep, most likely social media. Just take a look on your FYP and you’re bound to see tons of beauty influencers (and real people) sharing their flawless skin secrets. And the more teens post about anti-aging treatments, the more other teens will actively pursue those kinds of products. “I have definitely seen an uptick in teenagers coming into my office to talk about preventative Botox and anti-aging skincare,” says New York City dermatologist Dr. Morgan Rabach.

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with investing time and money into your skin. It’s your largest organ, after all, and it deserves to be treated with care. But there are plenty of ways you can take care of your skin without pricey products (or an extra trip to the dermatologist). Still, it doesn’t hurt to know what’s out there and what you need (and *don’t* need) when it comes to keeping your skin glowing and gorgeous—now and always.

The intel on injectables 

Blame Instagram and TikTok filters that offer the illusion of poreless skin, full lips and a chiseled jaw line: Experts in cosmetic medicine report a bump in visits from teens seeking to achieve a similar look IRL.

One of the most requested treatments? Injectables, including Botox and fillers. Once a procedure mostly favored by older adults as a way to smooth out forehead wrinkles and plump up skin, injectables are now becoming appealing for a much younger set.

“All of the filtered and FaceTuned images and videos that have become trendy make people think they need filler when they really don’t,” states Dr. Rabach. So how do injectables work, anyway? They’re chemical substances inserted into the soft tissue of your face with a needle. Botox temporarily paralyzes certain muscles (like those between your eyebrows and in your forehead) so your face won’t contract and form wrinkles.

Fillers work differently. Rather than relaxing the muscles in the face, they add volume under the skin to make it look more plump (think Kylie’s famously pouty lips).

While injectables are all over social media and seem to transform people into Hadid look-alikes overnight, they’re not a magical fix-all. And the changes they offer are temporary: In general, Botox lasts three to four months and filler sticks around for a couple of years, max. Which means that in order to keep up a desired look, you’d have to make many repeat trips for upkeep—and drop major dollars each time. 

So, even if you are cool with spending big bucks and getting syringes stuck in your face every couple of months, is this really something girls should be considering? For teens, the experts offer a simple answer: No. Matter of fact, the Food and Drug Administration does not recommend Botox and fillers to anyone under the age of 18, since these products’ safety is unknown due to a lack of research. California dermatologist Dr. Susan Cox sums it up: “There’s just no cosmetic reason for teens to get Botox.”

All about anti-aging ingredients

While needles are a no-no, that’s not to say *all* products that help battle the signs of age are bad for teens. There are certain ingredients that are beneficial for the overall appearance of your skin. Anti-aging creams containing retinol can also be used to reduce oil and treat acne. And applying a serum with antioxidants (like vitamin C) can brighten your skin and repair everyday damage from the sun and pollution, says Dr. Rabach.

But because there are so many treatments and products out there—each promising amazing skin as a result—it’s best to chat with a dermatologist to figure out what’s right for you depending on your individual needs. The truth is that using certain wrinkle-fighting ingredients can dry out your skin, causing irritation and making you prone to sunburn (which actually does cause dark spots and lines down the road). So unless your derm has told you to incorporate an anti-aging product into your routine (and explained the right way to use it), it’s best to bypass.

Sunscreen is key

You’ve heard it a million times, but just in case you need just one more reminder about the best way to prevent wrinkles, here goes: Wear sunscreen! Every. Single. Day. Rain or shine. Summer, winter, spring and fall. Really.

“The sun and environmental pollution cause free radical damage to our DNA as well as break down collagen and elastin,” explains Dr. Cox. “Sun protection lays the foundation for your future skin health. It won’t change your appearance dramatically overnight, but it will help your skin stay healthy.”

To keep that UV damage away, use SPF 30 or higher every morning and reapply every two hours. Dr. Cox loves the Higher Education Spring Break Oil-Free Sunscreen SPF 30 ($34, because it won’t clog pores.

Edit your mindset

Sure, wearing sunscreen and taking small, preventive steps to protect your skin from aging (and from scary stuff like skin cancer) is super important.

But fixating on so-called perfection and comparing yourself to strangers on your social feed is never a healthy move. Because guess what? Having freckles or little lines around your eyes when you smile is totally normal. You don’t need to fade them or cover them up just because someone else does.

So if you're feeling antsy about how plump your pout may be or the fact that you actually have pores (PSA: we *all* do), take a step back and limit your follows to people who feel authentic to you. We’re 

talking those influencers who are honest about breakouts (we love a good pimple patch appearance!) or proudly show what they look like makeup- and filter-free.

Or, hey, just take a break from social media altogether. You may find yourself less wrapped up in your looks and more confident in showing off your true self. Because as easy as it is to slide a filter over your face before you post a selfie, the glow that confidence gives you is just as gorgeous.

Hey, girl! Just wanted to let you know that this story originally ran in our October/November 2021 issue. Want more? Read the print mag for free *today* when you click HERE.


by Erin Reimel | 11/1/2021