Young skin - how to keep it not just looking young, but functioning like young skin

Young skin - how to keep it not just looking young, but functioning like young skin

The appearance of skin has become a raging point of focus in the skin care industry, as more and more people seek out new ways to keep their skin young. Youthful skin has long been considered the gold-standard, and for good reason — it turns out that the often overlooked molecular basis of young radiant skin is what keeps it not only looking healthy, but functioning optimally as well. Since skin health directly impacts overall well-being, read on to find out the steps you can take to keep your skin young while boosting your health!

Reference Lab

JUL 22, 2021

01 What is young skin?

While it can be reassuring to see a wrinkle-free face and even pigmentation and elasticity across your skin, young radiant skin is truly defined by its molecular foundation and functions:

  • Youthful Skin Structure: Youthful skin is marked by an even texture and strong structure, bolstered by the abundance of collagen bundles. The tautness and thickness of the skin, in addition to the lack of accumulated damage in skin cells, prevents the formation of wrinkles and fine lines. Young skin also has a natural glow due to the constant replacement of old cells with new cells, and has a much thicker epidermal layer as a result of sufficient blood flow carrying oxygen and nutrients.
  • The Skin Barrier: As our body’s largest organ, younger skin is able to function well as a barrier between our internal and external environments. The skin barrier is necessary for internal regulation, and aids our immune system in our defense against pathogens and harmful substances in our environment.
  • Skin as a Homeostatic Organ: Younger skin is also more capable of fulfilling its homeostatic functions, namely water and temperature regulation through sweating and blood flow.[1]

02 How can I keep my skin young?: A Guide For Your 20’s and 30’s

Age-related changes in the skin start to become visible beginning in your mid-20’s and continue throughout your 30’s. The skin noticeably begins to appear more dry due to a much slower cell turnover rate; as a result, the skin is unable to replace dying cells with new ones as quickly. Furthermore, the skin also appears to display lower radiance, as older skin cells are unable to reflect light as well as newer cells.

OneFact Young skin is constantly renewing itself, and can shed up to 40,000 dead cells in one minute![26] Beginning in your mid-20s, you may also notice a slight loss of texture and elasticity. This is primarily due to the reduction in collagen production, which will continue to gradually decrease throughout your 30’s and 40’s.[2]

Given all these changes, you’re not alone if you're asking, “How can I keep my skin young?” Fortunately at this younger age, the focus should be placed more on preventative practices and what you can do to keep skin young before natural aging signs set in.

03 Your Path Towards Forever Young Skin

There’s no doubt that younger skin goes beyond a pretty picture or reflection. Given the numerous benefits of maintaining healthy skin, here are some tips for how to keep your skin young:


A hot cappuccino or espresso is ingrained in the routine of many as a necessary pick-me-up to kickstart your morning and keep you fueled throughout the day. And for good reason too — coffee contains antioxidants which, when consumed in moderation, battles free-radicals that would otherwise contribute to cellular senescence and other hallmarks of aging skin.[3]

However, the truth is most coffee-consumers don’t stop at a single cup. And when consumed in excess over a long period of time, coffee has the potential to dehydrate your skin and compromise the skin barrier. This is due to the caffeine in each cup of java, which acts as a mild diuretic. The skin is one of the main organs affected by this fluid loss, and can lose its elasticity and tautness with continued coffee consumption over time.[4]


It’s an age-old fact that sleep is restorative, and this couldn’t be more true for maintaining younger skin. The skin goes through most of its restorative processes during shut-eye time, including regeneration, increased blood flow to replenish nutrients, and greater production of collagen, which is one of the main structural components of the skin. Compared with individuals who are sleep deprived, those who receive at least eight hours of sleep have been found to have fewer wrinkles, fewer fine lines, and greater moisturization.[5],[6]


It’s no secret that drinking eight-to-ten glasses of water per day is necessary for proper functioning in the body, but turns out it can impact the texture of the skin as well. Studies have shown that dehydrated skin is marked by a decline in elasticity and tautness, whereas an increase in water consumption following low intake can also improve thickness of the epidermal and dermal layers that are key aspects of youthful skin.[7]

But hydration doesn’t stop there — utilizing moisturizing skincare products and avoiding prolonged exposure to dry air or hot showers are also ways to keep skin looking young. Check out our advice below of which ingredients to seek out and avoid in your skincare routine!

Alcohol Use and Smoking

A glass of red wine has become almost synonymous with post-work relaxation, an easy way to wind down after a long day. And while that single glass may have its benefits, excessive amounts of alcohol have been found to directly impair skin barrier function. Alcohol, whether in a glass or applied topically in skin products, is broken down into various products which can be toxic to cells when they accumulate. Acetone, as one of the main products of alcohol metabolism, has been found to reduce the metabolism of triglycerides, which reduces skin thickness and integrity.[8]

On a similar note, smoking reduces the skin’s ability to repair itself, since nicotine constricts blood vessels and prevents epidermal cells from gaining access to oxygen and key nutrients. As a result, this lowers the thickness of the epidermal layer, and causes the skin to further deviate from a young, radiant appearance.[9]


Whether it’s the rise in heart rate before a big presentation at work, or more recently seeing your routines unravel in the midst of a global pandemic, stress manifests in numerous situations and can have significant effects on skin health.

Hormonal changes during our stress response directly impact how effective our skin is at performing its functions. Levels of cortisol, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine have all been found to not only increase during times of stress, but also target skin cells. Most notably, elevated levels of molecular precursors to cortisol, such as CRH and ACTH, are directly linked with greater inflammation and unhealthy proliferation of skin cells. Furthermore, higher levels of epinephrine can impair the wound healing process and further hamper the skin’s restorative properties, which can increase risk of developing conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis, and acne.[10]


Lifting weights for our biceps, doing crunches for our abdominal muscles, and running for our calves — exercising for our skin? Recent studies have shown that those extra minutes at the gym may be positively influencing skin health and youthfulness. In fact, some individuals in their 60s who participated in an aerobic endurance program and engaged in other healthy lifestyle habits, were able to present with dermal thickness that nearly mirrored that of individuals in their 20s and 30s. This was compared with much thinner dermal layers and unhealthily dense and flaky epidermis of sedentary individuals.[11] It’s never too early or late to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, whether that’s a morning jog or an hour of yoga!


The temptation to order fast food for the third time in the week can be relentless, but you’ll be glad you chose the healthy option when you find out that a healthy, balanced diet is the solution to how to keep your skin young.

In addition to staying hydrated to maintain skin integrity, a diet rich in proteins is strongly correlated with more efficient skin repair and regeneration. Eating iron-rich foods such as spinach or turkey can also improve the skin’s defenses against free-radicals and other toxic oxidative species that accumulate in aged or damaged cells. Furthermore, a high-fat diet impairs the skin barrier function, while consuming too much processed sugar through candy or baked goods can result in higher levels of inflammation and accelerate skin aging. And in addition to these, a diet that meets all recommended values of vitamins can have a multitude of benefits, from boosting collagen production to reducing DNA damage in skin cells.[12]


There’s no doubt that the sun can be a source of energy and revitalization, but it can also be the source of great damage to our skin and body. Sun damage, also known as photoaging, is the result of prolonged exposure to UV radiation from the sun which results in the early-onset of wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and elasticity, and fine lines, amongst other symptoms.[13] For this reason, suncare is an essential part of maintaining young radiant skin.

When selecting a sunscreen, look for an SPF greater than 30, protection against both UVA and UVB radiation, and water resistance, particularly for aquatic activities. Mineral sunscreens, as opposed to chemical sunscreens, are also more effective at blocking UV penetration into the skin layers.[14] And even if you plan on staying indoors or stepping outside on a cloudy day, lather up! — UV rays are known to penetrate glass and a cloud cover, and can still result in photodamage if your skin is exposed.[15]

Skincare Habits [16],[17]

In addition to following each of those guidelines, incorporating a steady and comprehensive skincare routine into your schedule can do wonders for your skin health. Consider:

  • Starting early and being consistent, the most effective strategies will have a cumulative effect after years of implementation.
  • Using moisturizers, to hydrate the skin and encourage using a product that contains ceramides or a humectant like hyaluronic acid to help your skin barrier seal in moisture.
  • Washing your face every night, to rid the skin of sweat, makeup, and other toxic molecules that may have accumulated throughout the day.
  • Using milder detergents to wash clothes, since some detergents may contain substances that can be abrasive and irritating for the skin surface.
  • Consult with a dermatologist, to receive professional advice specific to your skin type — something that worked for a friend may not be the right product for you!

Quality of Skincare

After committing yourself to a steady routine to keep your skin young, it can be overwhelming to see the array of products available to you. Where do you start?

The ingredients list on each product offers an insightful look into how the product claims to work against hallmarks of aging.

Seek Out Products Containing:

  • Antioxidants: With age and exposure to the sun, reactive oxygen species accumulate in skin cells and lead to more inflammation and reduced collagen production. Antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, are therefore key to restoring a youthful foundation to the skin from the root up.[18]
  • Hyaluronic Acid: Trademarks of young, radiant skin include moisture and a natural glow that are the direct result of a high water content. Hyaluronic acid, both from natural stores and from topical supplements, is the main molecule responsible for hydration and water retention, and is a must-include ingredient in any skin care product.[19]
  • Peptides: Peptides have taken the skincare industry by storm, mostly for their effectiveness against cellular senescence and other hallmarks of aging. OS-01 utilizes a revolutionary peptide that serves to address the molecular changes associated with aging to not only enhance your appearance, but your skin health as well.

Avoid Products Containing: [20]

  • Retinoids: Also known as retinol or retinoic acid, amongst other names, these molecules are no longer the gold-standard of skincare. When used extensively, they are now known to encourage skin peeling, unhealthily fast cell turnover, and increase sensitivity to harmful external stimuli.
  • Artificial Fragrances: If it’s artificial, it isn’t natural, and your skin won’t appreciate a generous coating of potentially toxic substances not even listed on the ingredients list. Instead, opt for a naturally scented or unscented product.
  • Mineral Oil: Mineral oil does to your skin what glue does to a crack in the wall; following use, the skin is no longer able to move substances in and out of the body, thus impairing its function as a homeostatic organ.
  • Parabens: Parabens are often used as a preservative in skin care products, and are not required to be listed on the ingredients list, despite being connected with unhealthy shifts in hormone levels. Look for the label “Paraben-free” when searching for your next product.

04 Recommendations for Those Past Their 30s

As you enter your 40s, 50s and 60s, you may notice that the preliminary wrinkles and fine lines you noticed in your 30s have deepened and multiplied. The patches of altered pigmentation may be that much more noticeable, and the effects of photoaging over time may be impossible to hide any longer.

At this stage, the focus should be shifted from prevention, to repair and reversal.

Which anti-aging trends are truly contributing to my forever young skin care routine?

Recent years have seen the rapid development of various products aimed at minimizing wrinkles, loss of pigmentation, and other physical hallmarks of aging. While some of these trends are backed by science and can positively impact skin health, others have overlooked the molecular hallmarks of aging and should be avoided.

Trending in the Right Direction

  • Topical Supplements Backed by Science: Any product or strategy you adopt in your routine should positively impact your skin at the molecular level. Rather than lather on multiple lotions and creams to achieve young skin, just a few products applied each day can do the trick. At OneSkin, we have developed the OS-01 Topical Supplement which targets aging at the source to promote long-lasting skin health and consequently improves the appearance of the skin.
  • Face Masks:[21] From a neon green paste to a horror movie-esque sheet, face masks have seen a significant uptick in use in recent months. Though not a one-stop solution for young skin, face masks can offer a burst of nourishment to a variety of skin types. Masks containing hyaluronic acid can boost hydration, clay masks can be great for absorbing excess oil, and masks containing antioxidants can help reduce inflammation.
  • Exfoliation:[22] One of the most desired features of young skin is its shine, which is achieved through the constant replenishment of old skin cells with new ones. Enter exfoliation, a way of speeding up this turnover process to restore radiance. Long-term exfoliation has been linked with greater collagen production and improved blood flow. It’s worth noting, however, that aggressive exfoliation may take you further away from clear skin, and a dermatologist should be consulted to lay out a plan for your specific skin type.
  • Microneedling:[23] Though anything with needles may sound painful and invasive, microneedling is actually considered to be a safe and effective way of restoring youthful skin. The procedure works by inserting small needles into facial skin in order to boost production of healing molecules and fibers, such as collagen. While there are potential side effects of irritation and redness, the benefits of a successful procedure can outweigh these risks, and could be an option for those who receive dermatologist-approval.

Trending in the Wrong Direction

  • Botulinum Toxin (Botox): Botulinum toxin, more commonly known as BTX or botox, has become one of the most popular and widely used rejuvenation strategies in the past few decades. Botulinum toxin works via injection by blocking the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, from nerves to muscles. The muscle is unable to contract, which gradually softens wrinkles until they disappear. While this is an effective strategy for how to make your face skin look younger, botox ultimately falls prey to the current theme of the anti-aging industry: fixing the symptoms of aging, and not the cause.
  • Microcurrent Facials:[24] Similarly, microcurrent devices have been used to reduce wrinkles and tighten facial skin and muscles. While the procedure is considered to be safe for most individuals, a single session can cost up to $500 and often multiple sessions are required to achieve desired results. Although there are cheaper home kits, they are not as powerful as professional devices and often cause little to no change in appearance.
  • Chemical Peels:[25] Chemical peels encourage quick cell turnover and repair following the removal of targeted skin layers. Peels can vary based on their depth and the pH and concentration of the solution used. While peels can result in a thicker epidermis, increased collagen production, and improved hydration, there are risks that cannot be overlooked: higher risk of infection due to temporary weakening of the skin barrier, potential damage to the heart muscle if deep chemicals are used improperly, and irritation or redness of the skin that can last for several months depending on your skin type.
  • Retinol: Though retinol continues to be regarded as the anti-aging gold standard, newer research has consistently demonstrated the harmful effects of using it in the long-term: redness, peeling, increased sensitivity, amongst others.

05 Conclusion

  • Youthful skin is defined by its molecular foundation: newer cells providing a natural glow, abundant collagen maintaining its structure, and its ability to serve as a barrier and homeostatic regulator for the body.
  • Your path towards youthful skin in your 20s and 30s should focus on preventative care and incorporating healthy habits in your routine: getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, exercising, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, amongst others.
  • Ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and antioxidants should be sought out in skin care, while retinol should be avoided.
  • When you enter your 50s and 60s, the focus of care can be shifted towards repair and reversal — while there are numerous products and services available, it is always best to consult a dermatologist before joining any trend.
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