“There are a variety of factors that contribute to aging, particularly lifestyle, diet, genetics and personal habits,” says Dr. Rhonda Q. Klein of the Connecticut Dermatology Group. Think: smoking, pollution, stress, obesity, sleeping position and especially sun exposure, which is particularly damaging, she adds. Prevention is key. 

“Sun protection is of the utmost importance,” Klein says. “Antioxidants and vitamins are vital protectors as well. Retinol and tretinoin [vitamin A derivatives] are some of the ingredients dermatologists recommend most to prevent damage, build collagen and prevent pre-cancers and skin cancers.”

When it comes to evening out skin tone and keeping your complexion looking vibrant and healthy, natural skin-brightening ingredients can work wonders. Look for “skin-brightening” components (note: avoid “lightening” claims), including fruit enzymes, citrus-derived ingredients and kojic extract. 

Also, know that although freckles have a reputation for being cute, they’re a result of the exact same process that causes sunspots, so you should take them just as seriously. “Even freckles on kids indicate too much sun exposure and impending sun damage,” says Dr. Cynthia Bailey, CEO of Advanced Skin Care & Dermatology in Sebastopol, California. “Consider them a sign that you should better protect your children’s skin.” 

Zondra Wilson, founder of Blu Skin Care, adds that for sleeping you should use a soft, silky pillowcase. This decreases the compression on your skin and reduces creases in the morning, as well as wrinkles over time.