As we age, skin needs different care to feel and look its best. Throughout the decades, skin goes through a lot of changes. You may experience differences in elasticity; skin can go from oily to dry or vice versa; it can become more sensitive or less (and that’s leaving out any unexpected changes like developing rosacea or hyper-pigmentation). Hormones, lifestyle and heredity all play a part in how our skin ages. With each new phase it’s important to make sure you’re giving your skin what it needs and not just falling back on your same old routine.
The teenage years are are when most people become aware that a carefree face is a thing of the past and it’s time to start figuring out how to take care of your skin. For many teens, oily skin and acne are common problems (one that are not easily solved, either). Often, teens resort to stronger and more harsh cleansers to tight to combat acne, but this can make the condition worse. The American Academy of Dermatology stresses that you should always treat skin as gently as possible.
If you are battling acne, cleanse your skin with a gentle facial cleanser, only use oil-free moisturizers and never leave makeup on overnight. If you feel your skin needs more help combating breakouts, consider a face wash intended to help treat acne (these usually contain salicylic acid, which can be harsh, so don’t overdo it). If you’re out of ideas and nothing seems to help, visit a dermatologist. Sometimes treatment is needed if there is an actual medical condition such as cystic acne.
Oh, the 20s. Such a grand time! Acne has died down and wrinkles haven’t set in yet. At this time in your skincare lifecycle you need to live by a few simple rules: Drink lots of water (everyone should, anyway), wash your face every night, use gentle cleansers and moisturizers, DO NOT sleep with your makeup on and always wear sunscreen. These are all habits that, when you get settled into, will benefit you for decades to come.
Sun damage is not always something you see right away, but as you age you will realize that protecting your skin with SPF 30 or more every single day (even in the winter) is one of the most important things you can do. Think of it this way, sun damage (sun spots, wrinkles, skin cancer, and more) are a lot easier to prevent than they are to remove so get in the habit now while you’re still young.
The 30s is where some interesting stuff starts to pop up. If you’ve had a child you may have darkened spot on your face that you didn’t used to. You might wonder if you should start using eye cream because it looks like there may be a shadow of some smile lines settling in around your eyes (the answer is yes). You realize acne is never really gone, it loves to come back once a month as a part of your PMS package. And sun spots start being a thing.
All of those habits you started in your 20s are really at a make or break point. Don’t slack off now, and consider upping your game with moisturizers containing hyaluronic acid to help boost elasticity. You can play a little bit of catch up at this point but it really is go time and keep up with the sunblock.
OK, here’s where it gets tricky. At some point in your 40s you start seeing more distinct signs of aging. Don’t freak out. You’re stronger, wiser and just as beautiful as ever. Hormones start fluctuation again and now you’ve got to keep an arsenal of options on hand. One month you may get hit with oily skin and breakout, and then followed by three months of flaking dry and sensitive skin.
Set up a weekly spa night for yourself that includes a gentle exfoliator (some people do well with exfoliating scrubs, others do better with brushes that help lift away and remove dry, dead skin), moisturizing mask treatments, and any specialty treatments you may need for skin problems like acne or rosacea.
Make sure you’re staying hydrated, keep a variety of cleaners and moisturizers on hand so you’re ready for whatever comes at you, consider adding an anti-aging serum to your skincare regimen and be sure you’re visiting your dermatologist at least once a year for an annual skin check.
As another hormone shift happens at this point in your life, you’ll find yet again that you need to make adjustments to your skincare routine to keep your skin looking and feeling good. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends regular appointments with your dermatologist and to keep an eye out for any changes or discoloration. It’s tricky how much skin cancer can look like a mole, a freckle or a sunspot. Don’t make a wild guess; be sure you get a your doctor’s expert eyes on anything you notice.
Dropping estrogen levels can cause your skin to become dry and delicate. Be sure to hydrate inside and out, using hydrating moisturizer both morning and night, and keep up with the sunscreen. You might also want to consider asking your dermatologist if your skin will tolerate retinols or peptides to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Or don’t, that’s totally up to you. Just remember, it’s not about fighting aging, it’s about aging gracefully as a shining example of self care.