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We all want to age gracefully — or even look a few (or 10) years younger than we should — but are you taking the right steps towards preventing fine lines, wrinkles, age spots and sagging?

We turned to Kiehl’s consulting dermatologist, Dr. Adam Geyer, for his insights. Here are seven ways you could be missing out on skin-saving benefits — or even worse, actually damaging your skin.

1. Not wearing sunscreen

This is a big one. “A lot of people feel they only need sunscreen when they plan to be at the beach or outdoors for an extended period,” says Dr. Geyer. “But the truth is, you get so much more sun than you expect on your walk to work, through the car window, through the window at the office, so it’s important everyday regardless of temperature and expected outdoor activities to put that sunscreen on. It can make a huge difference in terms of staving off the signs of aging.”

2. Not choosing high-quality ingredients

If you want to get the most out of your anti-aging products, you’ll want to invest in those products that boast high-quality ingredients with high concentrations. “It’s important when choosing a specific ingredient to really look at the quality of that ingredient because often products are formulated very differently,” says. Dr. Geyer.

One ingredient Dr. Geyer is passionate about is vitamin C, which he says is a proven ingredient in skincare. “It’s been tested and shown to improve lines and wrinkles, improve the texture of the skin, as well as the skin’s tone,” he says and recommends Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate. “Kiehl’s uses a high concentration of L-Ascorbic Acid, the most potent form of the molecule to work on lines and wrinkles and really delivers powerful results in terms of the skin.”

3. Not exfoliating enough or exfoliating too much

It’s important to strike a balance between exfoliating enough and exfoliating too much. Dr. Geyer says that exfoliating is an important part of an overall approach to healthy skin. “It certainly can work to make the skin reflect light more evenly and look more luminous and it can also make your skincare products work better when applied to the skin,” he says.

But he warns that exfoliation can lead to irritation and redness and advises that the frequency of exfoliation should be adjusted according to season. For instance, “Those with sensitive skin may want to choose a light chemical exfoliant during winter months whereas those with oilier skin or more coarse skin can certainly use a mechanical scrub or exfoliant throughout the year,” he says.

4. Not thinking ahead

Dr. Geyer says that he’s been impressed with his 20-something patients who seem focused on and interested in preventative skincare. “Integrating antioxidant-based serums and skincare treatments early on into one’s regimen can really help protect from environmental aggressors, from UV radiation and stave off the pigmentation and lines and wrinkles and textural changes that can come from too much sun,” he says.

This is not to say that you have to be 20 to think ahead. It’s important to think about how you can make your skin look its best for your age and to always focus on protection — in the form of SPF and anti-oxidants.

5. Not storing products in the fridge

Don’t worry. Most products aren’t the refrigerate-after-opening kind but Dr. Geyer says that refrigerating skincare can give your complexion a major boost. “Take your products and put them in the refrigerator for morning use,” he says. “A cool eye cream or a cool moisturizer, especially in summer months can really help to decrease the night’s puffiness and help the skin look fresh and more awake when you head out the door in the morning.”

6. Not taking advantage of your sleeping hours

“Take advantage of your body’s natural rhythms, says Dr. Geyer. “Our bodies and skin have a natural circadian clock making protection and prevention during the day important when we’re exposed to environmental pollutants, free radicals and aggressors, but at night that’s the time to restore and repair.” He suggests applying a serum at night that works with the body to stimulate renewal.

7. Not considering your diet

What we eat not only affects the inner workings of our bodies but the aesthetics too. It only makes sense. Skin and hair are made up of complex cell structures and we look better when our bodies are healthy. Dr. Geyer recommends a diet rich in antioxidants, specifically brightly coloured fruits and vegetables.

He says that antioxidants protect your body against free radicals thus allowing your skin to focus on its essential processes like collagen renewal. He also warns against refined sugars, which he says can spike your insulin levels and cause an increase in inflammation.

Some of Dr. Adam Geyer’s favourite products

7 ways you’re unknowingly aging your skin
From left: Kiehls Super Fluid UV Defense SPF 50, 50ml, $39; Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate, 30ml, $50; Kiehls Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate, 50ml, $77; all kiehls.ca