Fashion & Beauty

The Young and the Restless

July 10, 2022


The best thing to do to preserve a youthful countenance: apply a broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen every day, rain or shine. / iStock photo.

By Valerie Monroe

For nearly 16 years Valerie Monroe was the beauty director at O, The Oprah Magazine, where she wrote the popular “Ask Val” column.

If you’re interested in feeling happier about your appearance—especially as you age—you might like reading what she has to say about it. For more of her philosophical and practical advice, subscribe for free to How Not to F*ck Up Your Face at

Can’t get enough Valerie Monroe? There’s more at

YES, YOU with the adorable gender-neutral hairstyle and fancy Gucci fur-lined mules?

Q: I’m 32 and starting to see the first signs of aging. I’m not interested in Botox or fillers at this point—but I am wondering if there are specific treatments you’d recommend for a person in their early 30s?

A: Thank you for your excellent question! Come on up and sit on my wrinkled old knee. To begin at the beginning: You may think you’re starting to see the first signs of aging, but they’ve probably been there long before you noticed them. You began losing collagen (a crucial protein for supporting the skin’s structure) in your 20s; cell turnover, which contributes to a bright complexion, also slows before you hit the big 3-0. My guess is that you’re just now noticing a few fine lines and wrinkles you haven’t seen before.

I’m glad you’re not interested in neuromodulators like Botox or in fillers—though statistics show that doctors are seeing younger and younger folks ask for them, as there are some people (including doctors) who believe using them at an early age can prevent facial aging. My take: If for some reason you have the kind of wrinkles in your early 30s most people get in their 50s or 60s, you may want to do a deep dive into your skincare routine to discover what’s causing them. (And if you think you have such wrinkling but you don’t, well . . . that’s another problem.) Otherwise, there isn’t a definitive study on the effects of a lifetime of injectables, but one thing we know for sure: It’s expensive. I advise dropping those coins into a 401K for now.

Most important, the only “should” I can think of is wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 every day, rain or shine. That’s the best thing you can do to preserve a youthful countenance. Many skincare experts also recommend applying a prescription retinoid (vitamin A) cream at night, as that has been proven to help generate collagen and elastin, and increase cell turnover. I’ve used one for more than 20 years. Judging from the amount of dust in my apartment—composed of anywhere from 20% to 50% dead skin—my cell turnover is satisfyingly high.

I encourage you to appreciate your youthful face, rather than scan it for imperfections and indications that you are—lucky, lucky you—getting older. Learn how to look at yourself with loving awareness now and you’ll save yourself hours of unhappy scrutiny later.

Wait for It . . .

Speaking of unhappy scrutiny: You’ve probably seen the click-baity and idiotic headline about ☠️ advocating that men expose their testicles to infrared light to raise testosterone levels. (This story is the best I’ve read about it.) And it got me thinking, if you (not you, but someone) are supposed to get a testosterone boost from tanning your (not yours, but someone’s) testicles, how long will it be before a beauty company debuts fake tanner specifically for the scrotum? So you (not you, but someone) can look as if you’ve had your testosterone boosted—and benefit from the attendant . . . admiration—without having to submit to the infrared treatment. Bets, anyone?

And if you now need a palate cleanser . . .

Good, Clean Fun

When the weather turns fine, as it just has, I tend to miss the fine weather in places I used to visit. So I’ve pulled out a few of these soaps I bought the last time I was in Lisbon, Portugal. They smell divine—and if you’re careful about unwrapping them, you can admire the empty packaging on your bathroom shelf as you lather up in the tub or shower. What a lovely gift for some deserving relative or friend!


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