Listen: It happens to me too. I find myself in front of the mirror at the end of the day or flipping through photos with my friends, and think ‘Now where did those fine lines come in?’ It used to be enough to send me into a skin spiral in which I’d take AHA-loaded masks and peels to my face in an attempt to erase those etchings. Now, I take a breather, center myself, and remind my overactive brain that my skin is in the best shape of my life because I’m thoughtfully taking care of it—not reacting to it. I’ve spent the last several years really working on creating a healthy relationship with my skin, and treating it kindly is one part of that.
But I’d be lying to you if I said those moments didn’t give me pause: I mean, I’m 30 now—couldn’t these be the first signs of premature aging? Certainly, yes, it’s possible to see signs of damage when you’re in your 20s and 30s, but the more common answer is quite simple: Your skin is dehydrated.
And holistic plastic surgeon Anthony Youn, M.D., agrees. In a recent TikTok in which he duetted with a fellow TikToker, he confirms that many fine lines that pop up throughout the day are simply the result of dry skin. Let’s get into it.
Fine lines may be a sign of skin dehydration.
So first and foremost, Youn is no normal plastic surgeon: Where most M.D.s see syringes of Botox and filler, he sees lifestyle fixes. He’s deemed his specialty holistic plastic surgery, which basically means he incorporates lifestyle fixes, alternative medicine, and a less-is-more aesthetic.
But back to the video. In it, the fellow TikToker, beauty influencer Sarah Palmyra who is in her 20s, talks about how she’s “aging backward” by focusing on hydration. In the video, Youn confirms that if you are in your 20s and even 30s, fine lines on the forehead, under eyes, and in the nasolabial folds are usually the result of extremely dehydrated skin rather than aging. “Think of your skin like a grape. When it’s hydrated, it looks like a ripe grape. When it’s dehydrated, it looks like a raisin,” says Palmyra, who Youn agrees with.
To help with skin dehydration, first and foremost, stay hydrated internally. The advice “drink lots of water” tends to get several eye-rolls, but I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t valid. Then, layer hydrating topicals for a cushiony effect that ideally keeps your skin brimmed with moisture all day long. Look for humectants—which hold moisture in the skin—and top it off with occlusives to seal it all in.
Now, for those north of 30? Youn suggests you may need to focus on additional healthy aging topicals, too, that support the skin structure (read: don’t go overboard with harsh options). “This can be true if you are young and relatively wrinkle-free, but if you’re older—it’s not just dehydration that causes wrinkles. Hydrating the skin can reduce the visibility of wrinkles temporarily, but it isn’t a solution,” he says. “Make sure to use a retinoid, vitamin C; exfoliate, and consider noninvasive options like IPL and microneedling with PRP for real aging reversal.”
Don’t fret every time you see creases at the end of a long day. Just let it serve as a reminder that you need to hydrate a bit more diligently, add in a smart topical, and (most of all!) be kind to yourself.