Instagram famous dermatologist, Dr Davin Lim breaks down the causes behind premature skin ageing and what you can do to prevent it from happening

Growing old is inevitably part of life—but that doesn’t mean your skin has to age with you. While ageing may cause you to lose skin elasticity and bring wrinkles over time, different aspects of our lives could also cause our skin to age prematurely, speeding up the skin’s ageing process. 

We spoke with Dr Davin Lim, an award-winning dermatologist known for his educational skincare content on Instagram and YouTube videos. In this article, the Brisbane-based dermatologist explains what premature skin ageing is, the causes behind it, how it can be prevented, as well as possible ways to reduce premature skin ageing.

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Woman touching the wrinkles arround her eye, close-up.
Above Slow down the development of smile lines with Dr. Davin Lim's advice (Photo: Courtesy of Getty)

What is premature skin ageing and what are the causes behind it?

Premature skin ageing, as the name suggests, is accelerated collagen loss that is more advanced than what is considered normal for one’s age. 

This gives wrinkles, laxity and enlarged pores. Advanced ageing is also associated with skin pigmentation. The two biggest causes behind accelerated ageing are UV exposure and smoking. Stress, dehydration & diet all contribute to premature ageing. 

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Can you reverse premature skin ageing?

“The good news is that there are effective ways to reduce premature ageing. The first step is to prevent further accelerated ageing. This means sunscreen & antioxidants,” Lim explains. 

We’ve all heard about the benefits of wearing sunscreen by now. Aside from protecting us from skin cancer, wearing sunscreen on a daily basis—regardless of whether you’ll be out all day in the sun, or if it’s just a regular day in the office—keeps us safe from harmful UV rays that’ll silently hammer away our skin, leading to wrinkles and sunspots. 

A study has even found that daily sunscreen use of SPF 30 could even reverse signs of ageing. Participants from the study saw reduced hyperpigmentation, improved skin texture and skin clarity after just a year’s use of sunscreen. 

If you’ve got your sunscreen game down already, it might be time to think about adding antioxidants into your routine. Antioxidants protect the skin “against  UV and environmental pollutants that attack your skin cell’s DNA. From there, add the essential skin vitamins, namely retinol, niacinamide & ascorbic acid. Vitamins can boost collagen and reduce unwanted pigmentation,” says Lim. 

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5 ways to reduce premature skin ageing


“Include ascorbic acid (a natural water-soluble vitamin C), vitamin E and ferulic acid into your skincare routine,” says Lim. “These three key vitamins protect against UV & environmental damage to your skin cells.”


Retinol “builds collagen, elastin and reduces wrinkles, enlarged pores as well as skin laxity,” explains Lim.

Retinol creams and serums are often the first skincare ingredient recommended for anti-ageing purposes. A derivative of vitamin A, retinol helps increase the rate of cell turnover. Studies have found that retinol is able to improve the skin’s texture, lessen sun damage and lighten hyperpigmentation. 

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“Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), including glycolic, lactic, mandelic and citric acid are powerful chemical exfoliants that can reduce stubborn pigmentation seen in early ageing. These compounds can also stimulate collagen production," Lim says.

AHAs are a group of acids derived from plants and animals that can be found in skincare products such as serums, toners, creams and even chemical peels. AHAs have risen in popularity as more people have shunned physical facial exfoliate that may be too harsh on the skin when used frequently (Goodbye, 2010s’ St.Ives apricot face scrub). 

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Dermal fillers

Need a quick fix for a boost of self-confidence? Try hyaluronic acid dermal fillers, a type of cosmetic procedure that’ll help “add volume & rehydrate the deeper dermal layers of skin, in addition to correcting wrinkles,” says Lim.

Hyaluronic acid, a popular skincare ingredient, is one that’s already naturally produced by your body and can be found in your skin and cartilage. This type of filler generally lasts between six to 12 months and can make your skin look fuller during that period. 


If a long-lasting, more drastic improvement is what you’re after, “lasers are super effective at treating all signs of premature ageing including wrinkles, pigmentation, skin laxity, enlarged pores and dull skin,” explains Lim. 

Lasers use light and heat energy to safely damage the surface of the skin so that the body will heal the tissue by creating new skin. The most popular lasers include pico and fractional laser resurfacing.

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