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Have you ever wondered what you’d look like in 20, 30, or 40 years? Same. Aging is natural, happens to everyone, and is nothing to stress about. But if you’re curious about what you might look like in a few decades, TikTok’s viral “Aged” filter might be able to give you an idea. With more than 20 million videos created, the filter has brought out all kinds of emotions, ranging from tears of joy to laughable reactions of horror—and even a viral sound (thank you, Kylie Jenner).

But can the “Aged” filter actually provide an accurate picture of skin aging? We asked the experts—board-certified dermatologists Marisa Garshick, MD, and Darren Smith, MD, FACS—for their takes. Read on to find out if the “Aged” filter is a crystal ball into the future of your face.

Meet the Expert

  • Marisa Garshick, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist with MCDS Dermatology in New York City.
  • Darren Smith, MD, FACS, is a New York City-based board-certified plastic surgeon.

What Is the TikTok “Aged” Filter?

The TikTok “Aged” filter is an AI-generated filter designed to give users an accurate peak into their skin’s future. It “shows common signs of skin aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and skin laxity,” Garshick explains.

If you were taken aback by the results when you tried the filter, rest assured that you aren’t alone. “I honestly found it a bit frightening the first time I used it,” says Smith.

How Accurate Is the TikTok “Aged” Filter?

“Considering there are filters out there that seem very far from reality, this one actually does seem to show changes consistent with signs of aging,” Garshick tells us. “That said, the way each person ages can vary based on multiple factors, including genetics and environmental exposures.” (More on that in a sec.)

Smith adds that it’s technically tough to measure how accurate the filter is because we don’t know the specific age it’s trying to emulate. “It’s difficult to really talk about accuracy here because we don’t know how much older it’s trying to make us look, and we also don’t know what the real deal [will] be,” Smith shares. That said, “it certainly does a convincing enough job to serve its purpose.”

What Factors Impact How We Age?

Remember the “Mean Girls” quote, “The limit does not exist…”? Apply that here. While the experts can pinpoint some key factors that impact how we age, the list can technically go on and on, as things big and small in our daily life can contribute to aging.

“There are both genetic and intrinsic factors that contribute to aging as well as external factors,” explains Garshick. “As we age, there is an intrinsic loss of collagen and increased collagen breakdown, which can contribute to fine lines, wrinkles, and skin laxity. There are external factors that can exacerbate these changes, including UV exposure, pollutants, and cigarette smoke, which can also contribute to free radical damage and lead to skin aging.”

“Environmental aggressors can lead to oxidative damage, also known as free radical damage, which can lead to loss of collagen and skin changes, including signs of skin aging like fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, and hyperpigmentation,” she continues. “For example, UV exposure may contribute to DNA damage that increases collagen breakdown, [subsequently leading] to fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. Additionally, UV exposure can also contribute to photodamage, including dark spots and hyperpigmentation.”

And beyond the physical causes of aging, mental and emotional factors come into play. If your parents ever told you that having kids ages you, they weren’t kidding: Work and life stress can expedite the aging process, and it’s crucial to find balances that help protect your health physically and emotionally.

The Best Tips for Taking Care of Your Skin As You Age

Just like the limit does not exist for factors that age you, there are also countless precautions you can take to protect your skin as you age. The experts recommend the following:

  • Don’t Skip the SPF: Sunscreen will always be essential for protecting against environmental aggressors. Look for formulas that protect against UVA rays, UVB rays, and blue light. And be sure to re-up during the day: “Apply sunscreen religiously,” says Smith.
  • Add Antioxidants to Your Routine: Antioxidants are crucial for protecting the skin. “The use of antioxidants helps to neutralize the free radicals to prevent further damage from the external stressors,” says Garshick.
  • Use Retinoids: Retinoids like retinol are among the most powerful tools for preventing and treating the signs of skin aging, the experts emphasize. Retinols help regulate skin cell turnover and boost collagen production—in turn, improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles—and work to tighten and firm the skin.
  • Hydrate: “Keeping the skin hydrated helps to keep [it] healthy and plump,” says Garshick. “As we age, our skin loses moisture and becomes more dry, so it can help to boost moisture using products containing hyaluronic acid.”
  • Exfoliate Regularly: As we age, skin cell turnover slows down. This can lead to a buildup of dead skin cells, contributing to dullness and loss of radiance. For this reason, the experts recommend incorporating exfoliating products into your routine once or twice a week.
  • Consider In-office Procedures: “There are in-office procedures that can also help to address skin signs of aging, [including] procedures that help to boost collagen such as microneedling, microneedling with radiofrequency, or microneedling with PRP, as well as laser resurfacing,” says Garshick. “Neuromodulators like Botox can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. There are also lasers that can help address changes in skin tone, such as brown spots, redness, and discoloration.”

The Final Takeaway

While the age filter is certainly more accurate than most filters on TikTok, Smith encourages people not to stress too much about the unknown. “The age filter is really pretty impressive and can be good for some harmless fun, just don’t take it too seriously,” he says. Garshick echos Smith’s sentiments. “It is important to remember that you are beautiful no matter” your age, she says. “The age filter should be taken with caution, as, of course… many factors influence how an individual will actually age.

Still, there is one notable upside to the filter’s popularity. “It seems to be motivating some people to take care of their skin, reminding us that there are things that can be done to prevent signs of skin aging,” says Garshick. “If it means more people are using sunscreen this summer because of the age filter, then at least it is doing something.”