...And is it already too late?

Southern women know a thing or two about putting our best faces forward.

Whether we’re dancing the night away at a black-tie gala or running over to the grocery store to pick up a bag of sugar, you can bet your bottom dollar a Southern woman always has her face on, from perfectly shaped brows to a touch of blush. Natural beauty is only so natural, you know.

It’s no wonder, then, that we’re especially diligent when it comes to our skincare routine, lathering our faces in every moisturizer known to man and experimenting with nearly every serum on the market. (Okay, so maybe we go a teeny bit overboard.)

But then again, maybe we’re onto something. New Orleans dermatologist Dr. Mary Lupo advises it’s never too early to start using anti-aging products: “If we’re talking sunscreens, [it’s most effective to start using them] pretty much at birth!”

“Prevention is key,” she says. “By the time you see clinical damage, the cellular damage has been occurring for years.”

While sunscreen will do the trick for the first couple of decades in terms of protecting your skin from the aging effects of sun exposure, Dr. Lupo recommends introducing antioxidants to your skincare routine by your twenties to ward off the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

While oxidants can sneak into your body through air pollution and cigarette smoke, free radicals are also produced by your body through normal cellular processes (like respiration) and in inflammatory responses to viruses and injuries. Too many of them, though, can lead to cellular damage (including to skin cells) and some types of cancers. As we age, Dr. Lupo notes, our ability to neutralize those free radical oxidants decreases. Antioxidants, then, like Vitamins C and E, help prevent or stop that cell damage and, when included in skincare products or supplements, can help reduce the signs of aging.

(Our beauty editor swears by this antioxidant-rich serum from SkinCeuticals!)

Once you’re into your thirties, Dr. Lupo advises adding products with peptides (compounds of 2+ amino acids) and growth factors (vitamins or hormones that stimulate cell growth) to your skincare regimen.

Of these, she says, “In my experience, Provoque is the single best reversal product on the market.” (Buy it here … fair warning, it’s a splurge at $180.)

And if you’re long past your thirties, don’t fear! You haven’t missed your window for youthful skin: Dr. Lupo says it’s never too late to start using anti-aging products: “Aging skin does best with growth factors from stem cell cultures, like the Provoque.”

You don’t have to spend a pretty penny for radiant, age-defying skin, either. When it comes to anti-aging products that you can pick up at the drugstore, Dr. Lupo recommends Olay Total Effects products for those with sensitive skin, Olay Regenerist for very dry skin, and L’Oreal products for normal skin.

What are your go-to products for fending off wrinkles and lines?