Changing Skin Care as the Seasons Change (the age-related seasons this time)- Part Two
Most women, at least all the ones I’ve known over the years, when asked what age they would like to return their skin to, would answer with a resounding, “My twenties!” But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of those years are perfect, or that any of them are. There are different types of skin woes for every decade of our lives. Around 25, natural collagen and elastin production dips, which can seem really unfair if you’re still struggling with acne. Your 30’s will bring mild brown spots, crow’s feet, and dull skin because of what you did or didn’t do in your twenties as skin’s reparative ability weakens. So how should we change up our skincare routines when we hit this particular age to look good now and in the future ?
1. Never skip sunscreen- 90% of premature aging concerns come directly from UVA/UVB damage (which is why you see this listed front and center here), so don’t go crying to your best friend when you’re 30 and look 50 if you ignore what all the dermatologists agree on- SPF every day, all day (because the chocolate ice cream your bestie brings over to cheer you up after the fact will not help with this problem). The sun can also darken acne scars, cause hyperpigmentation, lessen your ability to fight off breakouts, and of course cause the big one, skin cancer. Zinc oxide and titanium oxide smooth out into a nice finish that’s all but invisible. Proper sun protection can even prevent breakouts. If you’re going to be outside, reapply every 1-2 hours, but if you’re indoors all day, just once in the morning will suffice. You have to watch out for indirect exposure too because sunlight can reflect off concrete, sand, water, and snow, and reflected UV rays are just as damaging. Wear a light cover-up while driving. Try a loose-fit ballcap when walking from store to store while shopping. Even pop open a sun umbrella for outdoor events like a summer concert.
2. Never go to bed with your makeup on (no matter what kind of mischief you’re up to)- this can stretch out pores, something you’re going to regret A LOT, later on in life. Witch hazel is a good product actually to combat this. It’s natural, an antioxidant, and an anti-irritant. Or you can go with willow herb extract which is an antibacterial.
(courtesy of Good Housekeeping)
3. Start cleansing PROPERLY and gently- properly means a double cleanse- an oil-based cleanser and a water-based cleanser, one and then the other (kind of like the Zombieland double-tap), to clean off oil, sweat, makeup, leftover SPF, and pollution, out of pores, even if you’re not prone to breakouts. That’s at night before bed. In the mornings, go gentle because all you’re cleaning off this time are the natural oils and leftover night products. Choices labeled for sensitive skin are always a good bet. We can’t use the same harsh products of our teen years when we were trying to dry skin out enough to avoid or treat breakouts because our oil glands are already shrinking.
4. But STOP scrubbing- especially with products designed to treat acne because those are already harsher to begin with, even the popular stuff recommended by anyone and everyone, especially the stuff that contains physical exfoliants. Those jagged particles scratch and tear the skin’s natural barrier and most of the time don’t even clean off all of what you’re trying to rinse away. Try exfoliating acids and targeted serums if you need them. Acids dissolve the bonds between dead and dry skin cells, and some are humectants too which combat oiliness and protect moisture. If you’re still struggling with acne, add in a salicylic acid cleanser every few days- don’t overdo it. And it’s not a bad idea to add in a niacinamide serum to your night routine. On the other hand, if you’re typically dry, add a hyaluronic acid serum to hydrate.
(courtesy of Healthline)
5. Vitamin C is your friend- it contains antioxidants and adds a layer of sun protection. No SPF is foolproof, a total block, so it’s good to have something under that to neutralize those damaging free radicals.
6. As is A- retinol is one half of the goodies contained in vitamin A, and this is the only treatment 100% proven to build collagen and reverse photoaging, so A is for ABSOLUTELY necessary to your regimen! Do stick with a mild OTC version that won’t be too irritating or exfoliating, and stick to application every other night to give your skin a rest in between doses.You might even mix in a bit of your moisturizer when you apply to make it more tolerable. If you get a jump start on this golden goose in your twenties, then you can up the ante to prescription strength in your 30’s or 40’s.
(courtesy of Vogue)
7. And acid too- a water-based hyaluronic acid product including things like rose water and chlorhexidine won’t overstrip your skin and can help prevent breakouts. And both retinol and glycolic acid are good for anti-aging. Those plus peels cross over- fighting age and acne simultaneously. Busy little bees, right?
8. Moisture, moisture, moisture- go with something containing humectants to absorb and retain moisture but not oil. And hyaluronic acid is good for this step too. It’s found in the body already, so it’s compatible with your skin, helping you avoid breakouts.
(courtesy of Today)
9. Focus on prevention- you know that saying about how asking for forgiveness is easier than asking for permission? That’s not at all true for skin care. It’s much easier to prevent beforehand than it is to recover and repair after the fact.
10. Get your beauty sleep- this one should be a no-brainer, but it’s a lot easier in theory than in practice. Your twenties is definitely a time to live it up. Just keep in mind that “damage” accumulates, and you will eventually be 40 and regretting it (see previous steps if you don’t believe me). The recommendation is 6-8 hours per night on a silk pillowcase on your back (at least in terms of skin care).
11. Focus on diet as well- another no-brainer, but just to review (pretending that you already know this because you’re already a beauty guru), Do’s include healthy fats, nuts, fish, avocado, olive oil, leafy greens, fiber, vitamin D3, and plenty of water- shoot for 2-3 liters with lemon squeezed in. It’s not a bad idea in this decade to start scheduling yearly physicals too, including a blood panel to identify any issues that might be affecting skin health, paying special attention to vitamin deficiencies and hormonal imbalances.
12. Don’t neglect your neck- since I was a little girl, I’ve been listening to my mother and grandmother both extol the virtues of moisturizing for good skin (and they’ve always looked about 20 years younger than they actually are, so I believe it), so I’ve always been re-li-gious about this step- body and face. And yet somehow, I’ve been missing my neck all along. At least until I noticed the first signs of slightly crepe-y skin. No thanks, Mother Nature. So everything that you do for your face routine, carry that on down to your neck- show it some love as well. And it doesn’t hurt to treat your upper chest with the same respect.
(courtesy of Harper's Bazaar)
13. Or your eyes- this is the thinnest skin on your body, so it needs the most and the gentlest TLC because it’s also the first place your age will start to show. A good eye cream will hydrate the skin, plumping it so that wrinkles show less when you’re older. And don’t be afraid to switch things up. For example, for the span of one container, you might choose an active ingredient like retinol to build collagen, and when that runs out, try hyaluronic acid to hydrate instead. After all, they say the eyes are the windows to the soul, and they’re the first thing many people look at when they meet you, so put your best foot forward here.
(courtesy of Wikipedia)
14. Proper exfoliation starts now- especially if you’re already seeing damage from sun and/or smoking. Once per week or per two weeks will suffice with an acid based product. Make sure that you cleanse gently and moisturize well afterwards.
15. And body polish isn’t a bad idea either- when we exfoliate, we’re removing the skin’s natural moisture, so use a gentle exfoliating body polish that moisturizes as it goes.
16. But don’t overdo anything- unlike teen acne, adult acne needs to be treated gently. Many dermatologists recommend Aczone 7.5%. It’s good but calm, without drying out skin. And too much of any of the above products or steps can cause irritation and damage, so moderation is the keyword for skincare. If you encounter problems, change only ONE product or ONE step, and give things a try for 4 weeks at a time before making alterations. Your patience will eventually be rewarded with beautiful, natural, glowing skin!
Sources: Alicia Barba MD, Elizabeth Hale MD, Rebecca Kazin MD, Craig Austin MD, Dennis Gross MD, Jeannette Graf MD, Annie Chiu MD, The Everygirl.com, Vogue magazine, Byrdie.com,