As seen in Elle Magazine, September 2018When it comes to treating the signs of aging, many women used to take a wait-and-see approach. As in, they wait until they see a wrinkle or age spot, then do something about it. But not anymore. According to dermatologist Harold Lancer, MD (whose Beverly Hills office is frequented by Kim Kardashian, as well as Margot Robbie and Brie Larson), his twenty- to thirty-something patients have learned from their mothers and become the what-if generation. As in, “I may not have forehead lines now, but what if I get them when I’m 40?” Here’s how they’re taking steps to slow aging skin.

Consider Preventative Botox and Filler

“I have 25-year-old clients who want to reduce lines before there are lines,” Lancer says. “They’ll squint and say, ‘That’s where I’m going to have a wrinkle, so I want two drops.’ ” And they’re right, he says. “By doing mini treatments more frequently, you prevent facial muscles in those areas from creating deeper lines in the future,” he says.

Lancer injects microdoses of muscle-inhibiting neuromodulators, such as Botox or Dysport, at the site of “could be” lines—the 11 (aka frown) lines between the brows; crow’s-feet; and across the forehead.

When it comes to hyaluronic-acid based dermal-fillers, the placement and amount are “far more specific and subtle,” Lancer notes. For example, to keep eyes looking bright and open, he puts a droplet of Restylane at each brow’s outer tip. “There’s a muscle/fat overgrowth that occurs in the midtwenties that starts to cause a heaviness of the upper brow,” he says. “Microdosing helps you keep that 15-degree upward turn of your eyes.”

Exercise Your Face

There are 40-plus muscles in your face, and strengthening specific ones can help sculpt high cheekbones and a defined jawline naturally. One option: electrostimulation, which has long been used in the medical arena to treat Bell’s palsy but has now gained traction among the skin-care obsessed. Fitspo cool girls like Hannah Bronfman of HBFIT and Bec Donlan of Sweat with Bec are fans of facialist Shamara Bondaroff’s microcurrent facials ($225 for 50 minutes; @sb_skin). According to Bondaroff, the benefits of muscle-stimulating sessions every four to eight weeks include the “instant gratification of tighter, more lifted skin, but also long-term results—I have clients who stop getting Botox or filler.” Some find the treatment enhances their injectable’s effects. “I look well rested because my eyebrows are sitting higher, I have cheek- bones for days, and it makes my Botox last longer,” Donlan says. Others take matters into their own hands: The palm-size ZIIP nanocurrent home device has reached cult status since its 2015 launch. (The company recently debuted Silver Gel, $50, a serum that contains hyaluronic acid plus mineral-rich seawater, and acts as a conductor between current and skin.) One caveat: If you’re doing electrostim in conjunction with injectables, timing is crucial. “You risk altering their distribution,” Lancer says. “So wait a week after Botox before using the technology, and at least two weeks with fillers.” And be committed. “Electrostimulation can enhance your cheekbones and jawline, but you have to use a home device twice daily indefinitely,” he says. “It’s not like doing one push-up a year is going to make a difference.”

Apply SPF Like It’s Your Job

“Sunscreen is the number one anti-aging cream you can use right now, every day,” says New York dermatologist Robert Anolik, MD. “The only time you don’t have to put it on is at night.”

That’s because, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 90 percent of skin aging comes from the sun. Sure, your tropical vacations require more diligent protection, but Anolik points out that it’s actually cumulative daily bursts of ultraviolet light (UV) exposure that will fast-track wrinkles, brown spots, and blotchiness. And don’t rely on the SPF in your makeup or moisturizer; it isn’t enough unless it’s at least 30.

Then there’s digital light (aka HEV), emitted from your phone and computer, to worry about: HEV damages skin cells, just as UV does.

To ward off both, look for a mineral sunblock containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which act like physical shields such as SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion and Porification Protect SPF-50+.

Resurface Regularly

Anolik, like most dermatologists, swears by retinoids. The vitamin A derivative has decades of science behind it, affirming its ability to diminish pigmentation, boost collagen production, lessen fine lines, improve texture, and reduce the appearance of pores and breakouts by increasing cell turnover.

However, the potential downsides to a prescription retinoid—dryness, irritation, and flaking—lead many to ditch their Rx before their skin can benefit. To minimize potential side effects, Anolik has patients start with a pea-size amount of .025 percent tretinoin every other night and apply moisturizer on top. If your skin is supersensitive, downgrade to a gentler over-the-counter retinol, such as Sente Bio Complete Serum. 

Balance Your Microbiome

“The gut and the skin are intimately connected,” says New York dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD. “Toxins from your gut are released into your bloodstream and trigger inflammation systemwide, including in the skin.” If your gut bacteria are out of whack, your complexion will appear dull—no matter how religiously you stick to a skin-care routine. Or, worse, you’ll experience outbreaks of acne, eczema, or rosacea. According to Bowe, the solution is to starve your gut’s “bad” bugs with a diet rich in probiotics, prebiotics, and healthy fiber, which will rebalance its “good” flora. She also recommends taking a probiotic supplement containing multiple strains of 10 to 15 billion colony-forming units, working your way up to 50 billion. “You see significant changes in your gut microbiome in as little as three days, but it could take a few weeks to translate those differences to your face,” she says. Try Genuine Health Advanced Gut Health Probiotic ($20) SHOP NOW.

What Really Works

It’s a no-brainer: Commit to using SPF daily and work a skin resurfacer into your routine, pronto.