Accredited dermatologists say that the early signs of aging typically occur when we're in our 20s and 30s.
While this stage is a slow shift away from the vitality of youth, there are subtle changes in our appearance that oftentimes go unnoticed.
Smoking, drinking excessively, stress, hormonal imbalances and poor diet often accelerate the aging process. I've met 35-year-olds who look 25 and 25-year-olds who look 35.
As we look at ourselves in the mirror every day, we sort of go through a "tunnel vision" effect.
Here are six ways we age that often go unrealized immediately:
1. Dry Skin
Even if you had greasy skin as a teen, it can seem as though the moisture has suddenly been sucked from your face.
This will also show on the palms of your hands, on your elbows and on the backs of your feet.
2. Larger Pores
Enlarged pores start expanding once you pass the age of 25. This could mean that they're more prone to absorbing dirt, oil and bacteria.
If you were one of the lucky women who bypassed the acne phase in their teen years, know that you may sometimes experience adult acne later on in life. Sometimes, hormones start to shift when you're in your mid-20s.
3. Subtle Under-Eye Lines When You Smile
You may not have crow's feet yet. But if you take a close look at your eye area when you smile, you might notice an upside-down, crescent-shaped line right under your eye.
That's a sign of aging.
4. Tiny Grey Hairs
Unless you have naturally dark brown to black hair that has never been dyed, these are a bit less obvious to notice.
You may see a few of them if you look closely enough while you comb your hair. Luckily, you can dye these.
5. Small Sunspots On Your Neck And Chest Area
Be careful: It's very easy to mistake sunspots for freckles. Since the neck and chest regions are the most neglected by far, they are especially prone to sun damage and dirt.
Exfoliate your neck in the shower and slather on sunscreen before you go out. This is vital for protection.
6. Face Not Reflecting Light Well In Photos
This means that your skin is beginning to lose its luminosity, due to less collagen production. This is caused by dead skin cells accumulating on the surface of your skin.
Luckily, there are ways to prevent this from happening. Here are my solutions for the early signs of aging:
1. Pay attention to your everyday routine.
Use serum, and then moisturize before you go to bed. When you wake up every morning, use a sunscreen that has an SPF of 15 or greater.
Have water sitting at your desk at work, so that you're more likely to drink it more often. Exfoliate at least once a week, and don't forget to pay attention to the neck area.
Drinking aloe juice helps tremendously for cell turnover and collagen production. Eat a sensible diet, and avoid processed foods, sugar and dairy in large amounts.
If your hormones are causing you to break out no matter what you do, consider going on (or off) birth control.
2. Try microdermabrasion.
This is an awesome preventative measure for ladies in their mid-to-late 20s. I do this at least once a month.
Microdermabrasion suctions off the dry cells on the surface of the skin and reduces the appearance of both fine lines and acne scars. The best results are often seen after two to three visits.
I'm 27, and people usually peg me for 22. It might not be that much of an age difference, but hey: I'll take it.
3. Get a hydrafacial.
This is relatively new to the market. It uses hydradermabrasion (microdermabrasion and water), rather than lasers.
It combines deep cleansing into the pores, extraction, hydration and antioxidant protection. I have yet to try this one, but my esthetician says that it literally gives you results immediately.
Although it can be pricey – $100 to $200 per procedure – it does a phenomenal job of really digging deep and getting all that gunk out of your pores.
4. Give microneedling a shot.
This is also new to the market, and it falls in the same price range as hydrafacials.
This procedure uses microneedling therapy, aka collagen induction therapy (CIT). It's a minimally invasive technique that involves lightly puncturing the skin with fine needles.
For about 24 hours, your face may be a bit sore. It'll look like you got a sunburn.
But after the results set in, your skin will literally illuminate like you have never seen before. This is also highly recommended for people with severe acne scarring. Kim Kardashian highly endorses this method.