Recently, many young starlets have publicly revealed that they use anti-aging products. Three weeks ago, 21 year-old Vanessa Hudgens admitted that she uses anti-aging products as a prevention mechanism, saying, “You might as well start now, put a little lotion on rather than having to get wrinkles. I think it’s smart to start soon. It’s a good beauty tip”. This begs the question – at what age should you start using anti-aging products? What products does your skin really need as you go from 20 to 30 to 40 and beyond?
I personally promote a strategic, science-based approach to selecting skin care as you age. With that in mind, below is a comprehensive (and hopefully fascinating) overview of your key skin changes and primary skin care needs as you age.
If you are in your 20s, you should approach skin care with prevention in mind. The twenties is not yet time for aggressive wrinkle treatments that modify skin physiology; it is too early to tinker with cell growth rate or aggressively stimulate collagen. Therefore, highly potent anti-aging products with ingredients like retinoids (e.g. Retin A), DMAE or Idebenone are generally inappropriate.
On the other hand, it is critical that you use a daily SPF moisturizer of 15 or higher as a prevention mechanism. It is also smart to utilize skin care products with protective ingredients, such as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Ingredients to look for include green tea extract, alpha lipoic acid and vitamin E.
Here are some other tips for caring for your skin in your twenties:
- In your twenties, the rate of cell turnover in the outer skin layers is still high. As a result, most twenty year-olds do not need to exfoliate more than once a month.
- Dry skin is uncommon in the twenties because hormone levels are high and sebaceous glands are still largely undamaged. Thus, a daily moisturizing sunscreen is generally all you need to keep your skin moist.
- On the other hand, your skin’s “oil resources” are not unlimited, so you should avoid stripping away too much of the oil your skin naturally produces. Therefore, be sure to use gentle, PH balanced cleansers that are sulfate free, and avoid harsh soaps, alcohol-based toners, and other drying agents.
- A significant proportion of 20 year-olds have some degree of acne (albeit most cases are mild). When looking for acne products, it is best to use noncomedogenic skin care products.
Your thirties are a time when the first visible signs of aging typically begin to manifest. Hormone levels and growth factors begin to decline (some faster than others) metabolism and cell turnover rate begin to slow down. Your skin may be beginning to show sun damage, visible roughness or fine lines and discolorations.
Thus, in your thirties you will need to make your skin care regime more comprehensive by:
- Hydrating Regularly. Skin tends to lose its natural moisture starting in your early thirties, so you need to add a good moisturizer to your daily routine. Even though proper hydration alone is insufficient for optimal anti-aging routine, it is needed for all other steps to work properly.
- Exfoliating 2 Times Per Week. In the thirties, as your epidermis (the outer skin layer) becomes drier and thicker because cells are not replaced as quickly as before, your skin may look dull and have drier, more uneven texture. If you notice these changes, periodic exfoliation may help restore a more youthful feel by removing the excess of dead cells from your skin’s surface. I recommend exfoliating two times per week.
- Treating/preventing wrinkles. Many thirty year-olds start noticing fine lines and slight wrinkles, so your thirties is a good time to start using skin care products shown to have wrinkle reducing effects. Ingredients to look for include those in the vitamin C family (L-ascorbic acid), lipoic acids, idebenone and copper peptides. I personally do not recommend retinoids (e.g. tretinoin a.k.a. Retin A) because they can irritate and thin the skin, causing it to have a paper-like texture and become sallow and dull over time. For my clients in their 30’s I recommend our Ester C Cream or DMAE Cream.
Starting in your forties your physiology changes dramatically, especially if you are a woman. If you are to retain as youthful a look as possible, your skin care regime will have to change as well. The main skin changes that start in your forties is a marked decline in the levels of various hormones and growth factors. Cell damage has accumulated in many tissues and the skin is one of the most affected. As a result, the rate at which the skin renews and repairs itself becomes much slower. Also, women in their 40s and 50s experience particularly dramatic hormonal changes because they either approach or undergo the menopause, which causes a dramatic decline in the hormones produce by the ovaries: estrogens and progesterone. The loss of these hormones causes a decline in the synthesis of collagen, elastin and other components of skin matrix, reduces the production of skin oil and thus leads to skin thinning, dryness and other negative changes.
Another problems of older skin is excessive inflammation. Inflammation increases the production of harmful free radicals and leads to increased cell damage, degradation of skin matrix and other problems. The following is my recommendation for a comprehensive skin care regime for your 40s plus:
- Continue to hydrate and exfoliate regularly.
- Use a more aggressive anti-aging cream. Select a specialized anti-aging cream that targets specific problem areas, such as wrinkles or fine lines around the eyes. Retinols, while effective, can cause redness and thinning of the skin tissue over time, so I recommend products with Idebenone, a relatively new and very powerful anti-aging antioxidant that does not irritate the skin. Also, look for serums that can seal in moisture and deeply penetrate the skin. I recommend Vasseur’s Idebenone Cream, Green Tea Serum and Eye Q Gel.
- Treat pigmentation problems. Skin pigmentation problems, such as blotchiness and age spots, are exceedingly common after 40. Most are caused by abnormal (usually increased) production of the skin pigment melanin. Often, this problem can be improved by topical skin lightening agents, such as our Fade Cream.
- For extra care, get a chemical peel, laser resurfacing treatment, or botox/fillers. Motion wrinkles, very common after 40, are the stubborn and relatively pronounced wrinkles that develop in the area where facial movements result in skin folding. These wrinkles generally cannot be treated by topical treatments alone so for deeper wrinkles, its best to get a deeper penetrating or corrective treatment such as a chemical peel, laser rejuvenation and or botox.
I hope that you learned something and feel more empowered and educated to select the correct skin care products to meet your skin needs as you age!
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