- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 24, 2005

CHICAGO (AP) — Forget “40 is the new 30.” Now even twentysomethings are joining the quest for eternal youth by using anti-aging products and wrinkle treatments.

Some young adults say they want to reverse the effects the sun has already had on their skin. Others already are feeling social pressure to retain their fresh-faced looks.

“Instead of starting when you’re 40 or 45, you might as well start now,” says Joanne Katsigiannis, a 24-year-old from suburban Chicago who has been using anti-aging products for about two years.

Like many people her age, Miss Katsigiannis once spent hours at tanning booths and out in the sun without using much sunscreen. She thought she looked better tan, until she realized her skin was starting to scar.

For Leslie Speyers, it’s as much about keeping up appearances as anything.

“Vanity is probably the main reason I started using anti-aging products, as superficial as it is,” says Miss Speyers, a 24-year-old who works for a publishing company in Grand Rapids, Mich.

She notes that maintaining a youthful look is a common worry among her friends — including one who has begun to dye her dark brown hair to hide some gray and another who uses skin-firming lotion on her legs because she thinks they look too flabby.

Both sexes agree that women bear the brunt of this kind of anti-aging pressure — though not exclusively.

“For guys my age, investing in your face is less of a priority than investing in a house or car,” says Josh Levitt, a 23-year-old in Laguna Beach, Calif. Still, even he has started using anti-aging products at the urging of his mother, who wants him to preserve his “golden boy” looks, as she puts it.

Mr. Levitt’s product of choice is a moisturizer with sunscreen made by British company Zirh. Miss Speyers uses a Mary Kay anti-aging moisturizer on her face and neck and a L’Oreal eye wrinkle cream, while Miss Katsigiannis uses products made by Neaclear, a brand developed by Dr. Sam Speron, a plastic surgeon in suburban Chicago.

Dr. Speron created his product line with women ages 35 to 55 in mind, but he says that about a quarter of those who have purchased it at his practice and online store are younger than 30.

“It’s a little surprising, but I can’t say it’s shocking,” he says. He sees young adults as more educated about the effects of aging, including skin cancer, and more focused on “maintaining what you have.”

Mair Underwood, an Australian researcher who has examined attitudes about aging, said that while she applauds people who want to take better care of themselves, an obsession with fending off age will cause young people grief, when they inevitably lose that battle late in life.

“Will we end up with a whole generation of individuals with low self-esteem?” she asks.

Tina Wells, the young chief executive officer of the New York-based Buzz Marketing Group, thinks the focus on skin care also has grown out of a wish to avoid plastic surgery and Botox injections down the road.

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