February 25, 2024

They’ve been repeatedly berated by Boomers and Gen Z, but one surprising win for millennials is their youthful appearance. 

As the eldest members of Generation Y approach their mid-40s, many people have been left baffled at how the group is ageing much more slowly than generations before – and after – them.

Healthier diets, better knowledge of skincare and improvement in make-up means those born between 1980 and 1997 appear more youthful than older generations did at the same age.

But surprisingly, the trend hasn’t continued to Generation Z, (those born 1998 – 2012) who are ageing differently to those above them.

While millennials learned how to use good skincare techniques in their late teens and 20s, Gen Z may have been overexposed to the techniques and started using products incorrectly, causing them to age prematurely, a number of experts have revealed to FEMAIL.

Aesthetics experts have explained that using the love of vaping, exposure to blue light and getting tweakments too young are also a reason celebrities and influencers in their late teens and early twenties look decades older than those in the past.

‘Overuse or unnecessary application of filler and toxins at a young age may affect the natural facial development, causing younger patients to look older than they are,’ celebrity cosmetics doctor Dr Rasha Rakhshani-Moghadam told FEMAIL.

‘Millennials generally have a heightened awareness of skincare and diet, compared to previous generations, often incorporating a more holistic approach to well-being. This shift involves a greater emphasis on preventive skincare practices and a focus on balanced diets.’

Taylor looks extremely youthful for 34

It’s hard to believe Gen Z influencer Emma Chamberlain (left), at 22, is 12 years younger than millennial Taylor Swift, 34 (right) 

Meanwhile, Taylor, pictured in 2007 aged 17, still looked incredibly youthful as a teenager

Meanwhile, Taylor, pictured in 2007 aged 17, still looked incredibly youthful as a teenager

The phenomenon has been noted by writers and many social media users, with TikTok often debating ‘why millennials look younger than Gen Z’.

‘Why don’t millennials age,’ has more than 20 million views on TikTok. Quora and Reddit is filled with conspiracies about why millennials looks so young.

Hundreds of people have taken to X, formerly known as Twitter, to pose the question.

Some have joked it’s because ‘millennials have depression so go outside less’ meaning their skin isn’t exposed to the sun, while others have said growing up around social media and camera phones means millennials are more image conscious than generations before, keeping them more youthful.

Gen Z’s ageing could in part be due to higher nicotine consumption in their teens and early 20s.

‘Millenials age differently from this oldest generation and the newest generation, Gen Z Tiktok star Jordan the Stallion says.

‘Millennials look way too old for their age or way too young. The newest generation all look too old,’ he explains in a now viral video. 

His comments were full of people saying the same thing: ‘We don’t age because we take naps and we have a morbid sense of humour lol we laugh at everything,’ said one.

Influencer Jesse Greenwood, who is ‘almost 40’, said that she gets told all the time she ‘doesn’t look her age’.

She thinks it’s because ‘normal ageing’ is a result of patriarchal oppression, and millennial women have ‘protected their energy’ more. 

Millie Bobby Brown looks older than 19

Avril Lavigne is 39 but looks like a teenager

Avril Lavigne, 39, (right), is old enough to be 19-year-old Millie Bobby Brown’s (left) mother, but the pair could pass for the same age

Kylie Jenner looks older than 26

Kim, pictured on her 40th birthday, looks very young

Born in 1997, Kylie Jenner is on the cut off between millennial and Gen Z, but tweakments have left her looking the same age as her sister Kim Kardashian, who is 17 years older than her

Jack Harlow looks younger than Thomas

It's hard to believe that Thomas Brodie-Sangster is 33

Jack Harlow, 25, is a Gen Z superstar, but baby faced Thomas Brodie-Sangster (right) is 33

‘It is not uncommon to see 18-year-olds with lip filler,’ Dr Ross Perry, medical director of Cosmedics Skin Clinics, told FEMAIL.

’20-year-olds are having Botox and fillers, semi-permanent make-up in the form of eyebrows and lips, all of which combined can make you appear older, but actually once you start down this route, it’s very hard to go back to being entirely natural, especially when the ‘affirmations’ start on social media.

Combined with lifestyle and environmental factors, for example, it’s become “fashionable” to have a tan again, so statistics have told us the use of sunbeds are on the rise, again not only are you putting yourself at risk of skin cancer further down the line, but also premature ageing will be happening far quicker.’

Amish Patel, award-winning aesthetics practitioner & skincare expert at Intrigue Cosmetic Clinic, added: ‘We know that lifestyle choices also have an impact on the ageing process- vaping, smoking, drinking excess alcohol, eating a poor diet, not wearing a high SPF all affect your skin, so if you are starting to develop bad lifestyle choices from a younger age, it makes sense that you are not going to age well into your thirties and above. Developing good skin care habits is important, but these don’t have to be overly complicated or expensive for Gen Zers.

‘The exaggerated trend for overfilled cheeks and lips also distorts the face and masks the natural youthfulness you possess in your twenties. In fact, it can make you look a lot older than you actually are. ‘

Dr Sophie Shotter, who runs Medical Cosmetic Skin Clinic in London, added that it’s down to ‘lifestyle and beauty trends’ that are prematurely ageing Gen Z.

‘We can’t necessarily say if this reflects in their actual biological age, but certainly in their appearance.

‘I think, perhaps having wrinkle relaxing injectables and fillers too young and embarking on an approach that homogenises faces is partly responsible, especially with the reality TV and influencer cohort of celebrities. 

‘There’s a right age to embark on treatments, and for most people it isn’t before the age of 30 for age management reasons. 

‘There are very few people under this age who will truly benefit from wrinkle relaxing injections at younger ages, although there are some and it has to be decided on a case by case basis. 

‘Having these treatments before they’re truly needed can sometimes make someone appear older (in the wrong hands) with an almost mask like appearance,’ she added.

Alix Earle looks beyond her 22 years

It's hard to believe Amelia Dimoldenberg is almost 30

Tiktok star Alix Earle, 22, (left) looks older than fellow influencer Amelia Dimoldenberg, 29 (right)

Billie Eilish

Sarah Hyland is famously babyfaced

Billie Eilish is 21 while Sarah Hyland, 33, (right), is 12 years her senior

Sabrina's Carpenter's heavy make-up and styling ages her beyond her 22 years

Selena looks young for 31

Sabrina’s Carpenter’s (left) heavy make-up and styling ages her beyond her 22 years, while Selena Gomez (right) looks young for 31

Selena, pictured in 2008 aged 16, and Zac Efron, aged 18

Selena, pictured in 2008 aged 16, and Zac Efron, aged 18

Leading London aesthetic doctor, Dr Joney De Souza, added that growing up on social media adds to this effect. 

While millennial are the first generation to have grown up online, Gen Z, has social media in their lives from childhood, adding to insecurities and seeing them seeking more treatments.

‘They are having aesthetic treatments at an earlier age including dermal fillers and even plastic surgery which can often distort their appearance in order to achieve their unrealistic ambition to match their filtered ideals,’ he added.

Dr Sophie Shotter said that trends also play a role. 

While millennials are known for a more natural make-up look, leaving behind garish orange foundation and concealer lips in the noughties, Gen Z trends lead towards a full glam look, every day. 

‘These heavily contoured and made-up looks do make people look almost mask-like rather than more beautiful. 

‘And I think maybe that’s the key – this mask type appearance is what makes some look older,’ Dr Sophie said.

Lifestyle factors too are certainly at play.

While millennials, often dubbed the ‘wellness generation’  drink and smoke less than any other generations, Gen Z-ers vape more than any age group.

A scroll through TikTok will offer accounts from vendors advertising a selection of the ‘bars’ on offer, with the ‘vapinguk’ tag amassing some millions of views; peanuts compared with the three billions views under ‘#vaping’ and 16.6 million under ‘#vapingtricks’. 

Moreover, a report from Action On Smoking And Health (ASH) found that this year, 7 per cent of 11- 17-year-olds were users compared with 3.3 per cent in 2021 and 4.1 per cent in 2020.

Meanwhile, next month sees the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), set up to ‘develop and promote the £1bn vaping industry’, hosting a forum and awards dinner.

Filler and botox loved by Gen Z stars, such as Molly-Mae, 24, are ageing them prematurely

Healthy lifestyles of millennials like Bianca Lawson, 44, keep them young

Filler and botox loved by Gen Z stars, such as Molly-Mae, 24, are ageing them prematurely, while healthy lifestyles of millennials like Bianca Lawson, right, 44, keep them young

Paris Hilton is pictured on her 40th birthday

Priyanka Chopra, 41, looks incredibly youthful

Both Paris Hilton, 42, and Priyanka Chopra, 41, look incredibly youthful

Andrew Garfield, 40, regularly plays roles of characters ten or 15 years younger than his real age

Andrew Garfield, 40, regularly plays roles of characters ten or 15 years younger than his real age

Many TIkTok stars have been shocked by millennial vs Gen Z comparisons

Many TIkTok stars have been shocked by millennial vs Gen Z comparisons

One influencer says that she is constantly mistaken for Gen Z despite being in her 30s

One influencer says that she is constantly mistaken for Gen Z despite being in her 30s

‘Lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption and use of nicotine and vaping products, all have an impact on the skin and contribute towards premature ageing. 

‘As could the increased amount of processed foods and refined sugar in many diets. 

‘Some people also believe that stress is a factor in premature ageing, coupled with the fact that Gen Z were the first generation to grow up with the internet and social media, so typically spend more time in front of screens than previous generations. 

‘A more sedentary lifestyle with less fresh air and exercise as a result of this could also be a factor.’

Dr Glyn Estebanez  of Prima Aesthetics, said: ‘This generation is often associated with being health and wellbeing conscious, as well as being less likely to smoke and more likely to exercise than previous generations. 

‘These lifestyle factors all have a huge impact on our skin health, and therefore how we look.’

‘Millennials are known as the generation who take an interest in their health and wellbeing, incorporating a healthy diet with exercise. Indeed, I read that millennials eat more fresh and frozen vegetables than other generations, and buy more organic food. 

‘In addition to this, another study found that millennials spend more on skincare than any other generation. So it could be that they were one of the first generations to have the access and availability to better skincare products, and also the disposable income to afford them. This, coupled with healthy diets has a hugely positive impact on our skin health, and therefore looks.’

Kourtney Kardashian's daughter, Penelope Disick, 11, is a dedicated skincare enthusiast

Kourtney Kardashian’s daughter, Penelope Disick, 11, is a dedicated skincare enthusiast

Seven-year-old twins Haven and Koti, from Oklahoma, have also gained traction on TikTok

Seven-year-old twins Haven and Koti, from Oklahoma, have also gained traction on TikTok

And while skincare can be incredibly important in anti-ageing, many skincare brands are targeting younger people who don’t need retionoid products.

Dr Ross Perry- Medical Director of Cosmedics skin clinics told FEMAIL: ‘It is a good idea to start a skincare regime from a teenager, but the products used should be aimed at not just your skin type but also age appropriate. 

‘For example, retinol isn’t something you should be using in your 20’s as it’s too harsh for young skin, and not only will it cause irritation, but could well damage the skin down the line. 

‘Again, marketing is at an all time high, especially with the promotion and false promises on things like ‘Tik Tok’ shops.

Dr Sophie Shotter added: ‘Most children/teens will benefit from starting a routine in the very earliest stages of puberty. 

‘And it’s been shown that most girls are now starting this process in primary school, with girls as young as 8 starting their periods and primary age girls in particular suffering with breakouts. 

‘The key is to use a very simple skin routine from this young age to build a habit of cleansing, moisturising and a sunscreen, not applying fragrance products or too many products with active-ingredients. 

What are retinols? 

Retinols are vitamin A compounds that work by speeding up cell turnover, the rate at which new collagen and elastin are generated, and more besides — with famously complexion-enhancing results.

As a result, retinols are celebrated as the gold-standard damage-defier and have become an obsession for skin buffs around the globe.

However, in a case of ‘when they’re good, they’re very good, but, when they’re bad, they’re horrid’, retinols have to be used with caution.

While they can boost ageing complexions, they also have a reputation for being abrasive, causing redness, inflammation (ironically, a big skin-ager), even burning.

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‘But we have to acknowledge that a skin routine is beneficial at this stage of life for helping to prevent acne – it just comes down to the right product choices. As always, taping into experts for their advice is key.’

Even pre-teens are getting into skincare sooner than ever and the beauty industry is recognising Generation Alpha as an increasingly important customer base.

The age group, encompassing those born between 2010 to 2024, is renowned for its strong connection to digital media and technology, having never known a world without iPhones, WiFi and social media.

Children as young as seven are now becoming influencers and sharing their beauty routines, with experts saying skincare is not a luxury but a ‘part of daily life’.

Perhaps the most famous Gen Alpha influencers are North West, 10, and Penelope Disick, 11, who regularly share their skincare routines with their millions of followers.

Dr Saniyya Mahmood, Aesthetic Doctor & Medical Director of Aesthetica Medical Clinic added: ‘Young people are increasingly incorporating anti-ageing products and treatments into their beauty regimes these days. Make up trends have a big impact on teenagers looking a lot older. 

‘Social media like Tik Tok also plays a huge role. The latest TikTok trend ”aged filter” reveals our generation’s unhealthy attitude towards ageing. This filter shows you an aged version of yourself.

‘Recently another video went viral showing a fourteen year old who has an anti-ageing routine, which included using retinol twice a day. 

‘However while it may not be physically dangerous for a fourteen year old using some of these products it is concerning how self critical children are these days. 

‘Using retinol may even be prescribed to help clear acne but it has to be consulted with a healthcare provider first before staring any retinoids at that age. 

‘As our skins starts to change during puberty, many dermatologists often recommend using skin care products around age 12, or whenever puberty starts. 

‘Taking care of our skin from an early age will lead to healthier skin for the long term. However it is important to understand what products teenagers are using and why they are using these products. 

Hundreds of people have taken to X, formerly known as Twitter, to question why Gen Z look older than millennials

Hundreds of people have taken to X, formerly known as Twitter, to question why Gen Z look older than millennials 

‘A 14-year-old for example doesn’t require a complicated skin regime, definitely nothing that is anti -ageing at the age. Using a gentle cleanser, moisturiser and SPF is more than enough for most teenagers.

Dr Sindhu Siddiqi, No Filter Clinic, added: ‘Every generation has been surrounded by different beauty standards and trends, which ultimately play a huge part in this. 

‘Although Millennials have grown up with socials and media, Gen Z has been introduced to social media such as TikTok and Instagram from a very early age, where insights and education on cosmetic procedures, trends, and suitable skincare are available at the tap of their fingers. 

‘Although this may not always be beneficial, this does mean that they have grown up with more of an awareness and knowledge of aesthetic offerings as many practitioners and brands use these platforms to promote their offerings. 

‘This has also meant that Gen Z is trying more aesthetic treatments and taking further notice of vital ingredients in skin health and anti-ageing, such as SPF, retinoids, topicals and more. Millennials are also very conscious of this and are ultimately more knowledgeable compared to Gen X for example.’