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Look like you’re 25 when you’re 45: a doctor’s secrets to younger looking skin

I turned 45 this week, and if my genetics are any predictor I am not quite half-way there.

Of course I tweeted a bit about the birthday, and the twitterverse responded very kindly to my trolling for complements. A few asked my secret to younger looking skin, and so here is the information as promised. It does not involve the use of any super fruit from a South American country nor any patented therapies from any Hollywood dermatologists (or placenta, I’m an OB and I know you were wondering).

For the record, I am opposed to the crap women do to their faces in the name of youth. Collagen doesn’t make you look younger, just puffy. I don’t care who’s injecting it (except perhaps the Michelangelo who tends to Madonna). Botox gives you a smooth forehead, with weird flattening at the nasal bridge and crazy arched eyebrows. That doesn’t look younger, just Botoxed. And chemical peels? They make most people look shiny. Like a snake who just shed its skin, not younger. And trust me, I see a lot of puffy, shinny women with eerily flat foreheads and crazy arched eyebrows in my neck of the woods in California.

So my secrets to younger looking skin are (normally available for three easy payments of $19.95, but free today for you):

  • I never wash my face. Well maybe never is too harsh a word, but rarely. Maybe once a week. Gross you say? I got that little nugget from my dermatologist when I was but a wee lass of 16 (OK, I was never really a wee lass, I was probably 5 feet 11 inches). But like all 16 year old girls, I had some acne. Probably not very much, but when you are 16, one zit makes you feel like the elephant girl. Anyway, this old-school dermatologist said the more you wash, the more you strip away oils and dry your skin, and then your skin just makes more oil. That sounded reasonable. And now I know that soap basically just pushes bacteria around on the skin and leaves a nice scent. It’s been studied kids. Soap really just provides an illusion of clean. I mean my face isn’t going to spread methicillin-resistant staph aureus or influenza, so I don’t need to nuke it. When I shower after my work out, I just let the water run over my face and I almost always sleep in my make-up. I know that seems horrific to a lot of people, but think about it: if my make-up was really bad for my skin I shouldn’t have put it on in the first place never mind wear it all day. I do actually take my make-up off if I’m working out or planning on re-applying it and the shower just didn’t do the trick. Sometimes I use Neutrogena make-up remover pads or that’s when I break down and use some pure glycerin soap for my face and olive oil to take off the mascara.
  • I exercise. Exercise increases blood flow and that keeps all your tissues healthy. I am also convinced the extra blood flow to my scalp makes my hair grow faster.
  • I wear sunscreen. I know, you have heard this before, but you actually have to do it. I apply sunscreen every morning. I use a moisturizer that has an SPF of 15. Before a work-out or at the beach I use an SPF 30. I hear wearing a hat is good, but I can never remember that.
  • I wear sunglasses. And you thought my aviators were just for looks?! Not only do studies tell us that we feel sexier when we wear sunglasses (I would have loved to write the grant application for that one!), but sunglasses give you extra protection around your eyes from the sun.
  • My moisturizer has alpha-hydroxy acid. This is my one chemical cave in. It really does make my skin feel tighter and I swear since I started using it, I started to receive more compliments. I just use Neutrogena Healthy Skin face lotion. This also has my sunscreen. My products have to multitask (I’m lazy like that).
  • I have never smoked and I won’t be around smokers. That stuff is evil and ages you inside and out.
  • I smile a lot and have a positive attitude. Yeah, it’s corny, but when you smile you use fewer muscles than when you frown, and using your muscles repetitively creates wrinkles.
  • I eat well. No chemicals, the right amount of fruit and veggies and protein (although I ate like crap for the 12 years I was in school, so I am undecided how much this helps, though it is probably good for me in other ways, so I persist).
  • I use good foundation and don’t wear powder. Powder settles into the wrinkles and highlights those babies, making you look older. I love my Chanel foundation. Take a look at the before and after pics (taken with iPhone, no special lighting). Just kind of smooths things out.


41 thoughts on “Look like you’re 25 when you’re 45: a doctor’s secrets to younger looking skin

  1. I’m in my mid-twenties now, and I’ve been following many of your tips for years. (I avoid smokers, exersice, keeping a positive attitude.) I *occassionally* wear make-up (my husband says I’m pretty enough without it) and I do tend to sleep in it. People think I’m still in high school.

    Going to try eating better and using that skin lotion you recommended.

    Posted by minimedic | July 17, 2011, 4:08 pm
    • I’m 36 and people cannot believe my age, I look mid twenties. They thought I was late teens when I was that age, in my twenties. I have smoked since a teenager.(trying to stop), never used any creams or lotions for my face, have used sunbeds quite a bit and have hardly a wrinkle. Here is my thing, I don’t wash my face much, don’t really wear makeup but I do the same and wear it whilst I sleep if I do, I also have had depression since my teens and due to that, I haven’t ventured out into the windy, sunny weather too often. My skin is not damage by harsh chemicals or weather and I still smoke. Its nothing to do with smoke, perhaps the stress of needing to smoke due to the addiction might cause wrinkles. Maybe its alcohol, I don’t drink although I used to in my early twenties. I don’t think the writer of this article, looks 25 at all, much older than that, but she doesn’t look 45 either, perhaps somewhere in between 🙂

      Posted by cat | May 29, 2016, 6:43 am
  2. Bravo to you Doc. You must be one of the lucky ones. Happy 45! As I turn 57 this year and my skin still looks great from years of healthy skin care habits. Although I could never imagine not washing my face or going to bed with makeup-if it works for you OK, but in general something I have never done. Living in Hawaii and being influenced by my Asian girlfriends we protect our skin at all cost from harmful UVA/UVB rays. Especially those of us that have Melasma, adult acne, or Rosacea. We spend time and monies on preventative methods for great looking skin. Along with some of your tips we would only suggest wearing protective clothing for your body(hard to always lather up with sunscreen) and especially a good brim hat. it is our goal to keep our skin protected from the effects of the sun that speed the aging process so that we don’t have to get fillers, peels, or the dreaded knife. Although I have not gone under the knife, I have had two excellent treatments IPL and Fraxel both with great results in removing rough sun damaged skin. I think when it comes to fillers and Botox there are a lot of people offering these services that shouldn’t and therefore we see a lot of bad results and then there are those Dr’s that really know what they are doing; and their patients don’t look like they are from Star Track. But I wouldn’t through a good daily skincare routine out the window. I am sure you are aware that skin cancer is leading the way to take the gold medal in its division!
    Thanks for the great blog
    Much Aloha.

    Posted by Devra Wathen | July 18, 2011, 4:06 pm
  3. But you look like some where in 35-40 age

    Posted by meghan | July 19, 2011, 11:35 am
    • I disagree, in the photo on the right 30 imo but a “good” healthy youthful 30 imo.

      Posted by James | December 27, 2014, 12:34 pm
      • No, she does not look that much younger. People in there 30S SHOULDN’T be having wrinkles ANYWHERE. But I guess it’s all according to one’s personal opinion.

        Posted by Chrysmia | April 2, 2015, 1:42 am
  4. I once heard on a radio program that some of the components of sweat are similar to ingredients in anti-aging products; more reason to exercise.
    I’m pushing 44, but definitely look much younger than my age. Clean living is part of it, but genetics likely play a role as well. Maybe exposure to Manitoba winter weather during one’s formative years tightens things up!

    Posted by ladylungdoc | July 20, 2011, 1:22 am
  5. Impossible! No way you turned 45, Dr. Jen. You’ve miscalculated by at least 10 years! (Happy b-day, BTW).

    Posted by Randall Griffith | July 21, 2011, 4:07 am
  6. Doesn’t moisturizing your face count as washing your face? When do you put your moisturizer on? After you have rinsed your face? In the morning? At night? Details help me. Thank you.

    Posted by Cam | July 29, 2011, 7:28 am
    • No, I don’t wash my face before I put my moisturizer on. If I was in the shower it had water on it. If I have make-up on, I take that off first….

      Posted by Dr. Jen Gunter | July 29, 2011, 1:04 pm
      • when in high school I closed my pores with alcohol then put on baby oil. I wash my face about twice a week, sleep in my makeup and before applying makeup the next day I remove the old eye makeup. I now use a great moisture cream and foundation, and eye makeup everyday. I think the air dries your skin and makes you look older. And it’s not feminine. About once a month I use borie strips on my nose and sides of my face. People think I’m 50, I’m 71. They think my sister is my mother and my 11 and 13 year old grandsons my children. Men love makeup. I married and Italian from NY. I was in the health food store today and a man came up to me to advise me on products to look younger. I said “how old am I?”, he said 50, then 49, I said higher, he said 65, he had to see my drivers license to believe me. He was shocked that I am 71.

        Posted by nancy | May 3, 2013, 2:33 am
  7. How many times a day do you put moisturizer on and when? And what are the benefits of using one? I’m asking because I am trying to clear my skin and I don’t have experience using moisturizers.

    Posted by Cam | July 29, 2011, 5:30 pm
  8. No offense but i guessed your age at mid 40s..your under eyes, forehead wrinkles and lower facial sagging are of someone your age, nothing wrong with that

    Posted by caroline | October 15, 2012, 1:12 pm
  9. I just discovered your blog today. Thanks so much for your honest, researched thoughts, and also for this tip on not washing your face. I struggled with acne for years and it went away in a week when I stopped using soap in my face. And people think I’m imagining it.

    Posted by Jocelyn Brown | February 5, 2013, 11:54 am
  10. People in our culture tend not to age naturally because of all the bad habits you mentioned. People who are seen as looking “younger” in reality look the way we are supposed to look. Becoming haggard in the years between 25 and 45 is not natural. Looking relatively the same, with a few changes (mild wrinking, thinner face, a bit of sagging but not drastic amounts) is how it is when you’re healthy and not a sun worshipper. Jen looks healthy and ageless–not like a kid, but definitely not old.

    Posted by Mara | March 27, 2013, 6:20 pm
  11. I just saw this today and i love it

    Posted by Ndidi oshiogu | April 12, 2013, 4:35 am
  12. any tips and/or suggestions to help cope with dry, winter skin?

    Posted by Mackenzie Nelson | April 28, 2013, 4:18 am
  13. I am not being nasty but I do think that you look your age, nothing wrong with being 45, but you don’t look younger, quite furrowed and creased on brow, but at least your natural. well done

    Posted by k | November 5, 2013, 2:54 pm
  14. I’d screw the crap out of you and I’m only 24 and pretty good looking. I think you’re doing ok. That first picture was really hot. Shiiiiiiit I have way to much testosterone going on right now lol

    Posted by Marc Rodriguez | February 19, 2014, 12:56 pm
  15. You look freaking amazing! I’m 29 and people think I’m 21-22 , hope I hold my youth like you do when I am that age your beautiful.

    Posted by Mz.Hanshaw | May 7, 2014, 3:24 pm
  16. do you use any face wash in the morning or in the night before sleep? r u recommend for using face wash ? plz let me know… @ DR. JEN

    Posted by jalish | July 29, 2014, 9:37 pm
  17. Ok you look fantastic. I just found your blog and have been reading for an hour! Great posts. I came here researching nerium….ya no thanks! There is no quick fix. Women are so hard on themselves. I have suffered with BDD for years and aging sucks for us obsessed with picking our flaws. This was great to read. I would love an article on empowering women to accept and love themselves for what they are!! Love the chanel foundation what is its name?

    Posted by TS | November 17, 2014, 6:00 pm
  18. Well, I’m sold – I’m 35 and would have assumed you were about my age! Unfortunately the “never smoked” train has sailed. I quit 13 years ago but I think it still took a toll.

    Posted by Evie | January 16, 2015, 2:53 pm
  19. Dark skin still ages much better. And can go for 36-40

    Posted by Tonya | January 25, 2015, 4:32 pm
  20. You look great. I’m 35, and I think you could easily pass as being in my age group. I would love to think I might look as good as you in 20 years, but I don’t think I look that good now! Nevermind- each line tells a good story!

    Posted by Emma Ann | May 5, 2015, 1:19 pm
  21. You look like a healthy 40’s lady. The frown lines, forehead wrinkles and hair are a giveaway – your upper eyes lids too- you look great for 45 just no where near 25 or 35

    Posted by Marie | May 5, 2015, 3:04 pm
  22. i look like i am 22 and i am born in 1971. the real secret is smoking marijuanna and drinking redvine, sex everyday and finding happyness

    Posted by Peter Kjeldsen Jensen | July 4, 2015, 9:26 am
  23. Honestly, you look 45. You look good but you don’t look like you’re in your twenties or even your thirties and that’s fine.

    Posted by A | September 18, 2015, 6:10 am
  24. I think your a pretty lady but i dont think in your 30s embrace that you look fabulous. I think that looking young and feeling young is wonderful … im not opposed to fillers done by a professional who cares about you and not just your money.. i love ladies who care about how they look a project positive images..

    Posted by martha | September 25, 2015, 1:26 pm
  25. you look beautiful, but you don’t look 25.

    Posted by Patricia | October 4, 2015, 3:10 pm
  26. Hi doc, does merely splashing water on the face a few times come under ‘washing’ the face? I rarely use any soap on my face or any face washing products

    Posted by Alf | October 20, 2015, 12:47 am
  27. You look beautiful and lovely (and better than me) but you do look at least 35. I’m not been horrible. Just speaking my mind. Definitely look good for your age tho and good in general. Well done 🙂

    Posted by Joe | December 9, 2015, 4:36 pm
  28. I will also attest that regular exercise makes hair grow faster!!!! Also, when my skin is too over-stressed I sleep in make-up one night to correct it. If really works ! But more than 1 night clogs my pores. I agree with all your tips & have been following these same ideas since I was 15. Now 38, I have yet to see one wrinkle!

    Posted by Mm | January 22, 2016, 6:30 pm
  29. Hi

    I’m male 49 and I’ve pretty much done
    Most of things you suggest except the make up lol
    In addition I do weights 5 times a week
    And been told I look 30 to 42 so it must be working
    its not whether we think dr Jen looks 25 or 45 the point is she looks great at any age in those pics because the suggestions she makes are sensible and logical to maintaining a healthy body.


    Posted by Steven | January 30, 2016, 10:29 pm
  30. Your skin, hair, teeth all go downhill after menopause…enjoy them while you can

    Posted by Elizabeth | March 13, 2016, 11:51 pm
  31. I’m not sure if your still responding to comments anymore. But I’m wondering that even though I have smoked and quit that the damage is reversable. Like if I continue to excersize and all that will I still maintain youth as an ex smoker? It’s sad to hear that people who smoked can’t reverse the damage. Any thoughts on this?

    Posted by Jennifer | March 21, 2016, 11:15 am
  32. I think it’s all about genes I’m 36 some people think I’m in my 20’s some people think I’m In my teens I do t smoke or do drugs or wash my face or hydrate I don’t do anything but just be me. So that’s why I think it’s just genetics.

    Posted by Sara | April 12, 2016, 9:34 pm
  33. Am 35 and i look 40. I really want to lool younger

    Posted by uc | July 2, 2016, 2:25 pm

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