Photo: Jonathan Skow
Q: Is it a good idea to use a deep-wrinkle cream as a preventive measure even if I have no wrinkles yet?
A: Well, hello, little girl, and welcome to Ask Val. Come here and have a seat on my old, wrinkled knee. How refreshing to know there's an unlined reader out there. You have a chance many of us have lost—to keep your skin in excellent shape.
But you don't need a deep-wrinkle cream for that. "Follow the rule that if it isn't broken, don't fix it," says David Leffell, MD, professor of dermatology and surgery at Yale School of Medicine. He points out that ultraviolet radiation from the sun causes 80 percent of wrinkles.
So what you do want to use is aggressive sun protection—a sunscreen every day that shields against UVA and UVB rays. You should also wear a wide-brimmed hat when you know you're going to get a lot of exposure, and avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Don't smoke—it increases wrinkles. If you're in your 20s, you may not see any wrinkling yet, but there may be changes in the dermis, or second layer, of your skin that will eventually show up as fine or deep lines. Products that contain retinol—like Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Intensive Face Lotion SPF 20 and SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5—may help reverse some of those changes, says Leffell.
Bottom line: Spend your money on a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Then you may never need a wrinkle cream.