Changing Skin Care as the Seasons Change (the age-related seasons this time)- Part Three
As thirty is the new twenty, forty is the new thirty, and fifty is the new twenty-five (who knows what sixty and seventy are then, right?), do we really need to change up our skincare routines that much for these decades? The short answer is yes. While age is just a number, and you’re only as old as you feel (and I really do believe that), our bodies do change as we reach these decades, and so we must adjust accordingly. So what are our new best practices?
By this point, ladies, we’re dealing with increased job stress, marriage stress, child-rearing stress, and you-name-it stress, all things in life that can cause skin woes. We’re also seeing the very real accrued impact of genetic and environmental aging, plus slowing skin cell turnover. Fine lines, dull skin, and dry skin start making an appearance more regularly. Hormone levels decrease, as do collagen and elastin levels, and skin isn’t quite as firm as it used to be. We go from the porcelain finish we probably took for granted when we were fifteen to enlarged pores. And believe it or not, skin type can change now too- dry can become oily and vice versa. As many of us probably didn’t listen to the advice offered to us in our twenties (and definitely not in our teens), now is a good time to start anti-aging routines and products on targeted areas. Our overall focus then should be on supporting those diminishing collagen levels and repairing existing damage, protecting and preserving fullness and elasticity with products designed for prejuventation. So what exactly should we be doing?
1. Definitely see a dermatologist- many women start seeing issues like adult acne, pigmentation, and rosacea to go with the biological changes at this age, so if you want to nail the right products and routines specific to you and only you, complete this crucial step first.
(courtesy of Us Weekly)
2. Be gentle- per a survey by La Roche Posay, 62% of women say their skin becomes more reactive, irritable, and intolerant with age, so choosing the right products becomes even more important. Take it slow, try one new product at a time, do spot tests before using something all over your face, wait at least a few weeks to see results, and be patient- you’re not going to nail the right skincare the first time around.
3. No more wipes- they’re too abrasive, especially as skin is no longer as resilient. So it doesn’t matter how busy you are now (probably even more so than in your twenties because now you’re balancing getting kids to school while getting yourself ready too- not a fun chore), take the time to treat your skin right.
4. Micellar water is no longer an adequate cleanser- to remove your makeup yes, but not to actually cleanse skin of all impurities.
(courtesy of Tribune Content Agency)
5. Do a light morning cleanse- overnight, your skin has been undergoing a renewal process while you dreamt of rendezvous with Ian Somerhalder (or Harry Styles, Ruby Rose, or whoever), so you’re gently cleansing away that debris and those leftover toxins with a light choice.
6. Use your toner- to tighten pores before applying makeup, eliminate any toxins your cleanser missed, and rebalance your skin. Clarifying toners and antioxidant-based toners which return your skin’s PH level to 5.5 are good choices here, and this step will prep your skin for those that come after, allowing serums and whatnot to penetrate more deeply and therefore work more effectively than all on their own.
7. Spend money on the middle of your routine- on serums and active ingredients, not cleansers and moisturizers, of which there are countless great drugstore alternatives. Moisturizers do a great job of hydrating and protecting skin, but if you want to see real results, you need this step, but which of the many serums out there should you choose? It all depends on your particular skin woes of the moment.
(courtesy of NME)
L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C)- this one is an antioxidant that brightens skin and helps repair free radical damage. An antioxidant isn’t a bad idea to protect skin from the oxidative stress that comes from metabolism, pollution, and UV rays throughout the day.
PHA/ BHA/ AHA- these are exfoliating acids that can help with skin texture and balance.
Salicylic acid- it kills bacteria and dissolves the kind of debris that can lead to acne.
Ferulic acid (vitamin C and E)- this one is an antioxidant that boosts collagen and evens out skin tone.
Hyaluronic acid- these plump skin and combat dehydration, strengthen epidermal barriers and boost collagen production.
8. Moisturize and your skin will thank you for it- if you didn’t notice, we’re moving from lighter to heavier in terms of the creams, so serum, moisturizer, and then SPF. This way, the lightest liquid will penetrate the deepest, and the others will sit on top of those like protective sumo wrestlers, nourishing skin, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to combine moisturizer and SPF into one product. If dryness is a big concern for you, you might add a few drops of facial oil into your routine right before this step to give you a healthier glow.
9. But your skin will not thank you for sun exposure so SPF galore- gauge what level you need based on the duration and intensity of your exposure and how fair your skin is/how easily it burns (so you fellow gingers out there like me, go SPF 1,000 if you can find it). Women with darker skin should avoid mineral-based SPF because it can make skin look dull and ashy. Try sheer chemical UV filters instead. And if you’re prone to darker spots as a result of the sun, vitamin C will be a good serum choice for you.
(courtesy of Variety)
10. Alternate heftier cleansing alone with cleansing and exfoliating- NEVER exfoliate daily, but once, maybe twice, maaayyybe thrice per week is plenty. And it’s okay to use a more heavyweight cleanser at night because you’re cleaning off a lot more gunk at this time of day. However, if you’re using a lot of serums and active ingredients elsewhere in your routine, you might stick with a gentle cleanser here- try not to overload your skin, especially as you get older. A few times a week, you should also use a product containing alpha-hydroxy acids like glycolic acid to boost cell turnover, perhaps in mask form to give them plenty of time to work. Although if you have darker skin, start out with just once per week and increase slowly, being wary of over-brightening.
11. Revisit your serums- Retinol (vitamin A) is an anti-aging product, and this one can also help reduce the appearance of larger pores and pigmentation. It should only ever be used at night.
But you’re welcome to also incorporate any of the other serums from your morning routine here depending on their individual application guidelines.
For your retinol, try starting slow and light with something around the .3% mark, building up slowly and reducing the chances for skin irritation. The 1% option is the other end of the spectrum which you should reach very gradually as you age.
If you’re pregnant, try bakuchiol as a safer alternative, and as it’s gentler, if you suffer from sensitive skin woes, you might choose this plant-based product instead of retinol.
Especially when you first start off on retinol, many dermatologists recommend using a peptide cream on your nights off as you’re building up. This product can help smooth expression lines and minimize wrinkles.
And as most of your active ingredients will come into play during your night routine, a calming face mist isn’t a bad idea either, something anti-inflammatory to soothe and repair skin.
(courtesy of She Knows)
12. Get out the big guns night cream- not only to moisturize but also to help support skin as it regenerates, to make it do so more efficiently while you snore, drool, steal the covers, kick your partner, and sleep ramble about your dreams (if you sleep anything like I do). Ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamides are key ingredients here.
13. Give your eyes some love too- check the ingredients in your preferred night cream against what you’re hoping to purchase as an eye cream. A lot of the time, the ingredients are actually exactly the same, so you can use one for both, and save up your money for that serum splurging instead. Or if you’re particularly concerned about issues like crow’s feet and dark circles, then you might stick with two separate here. Caffeine especially works well for this part of your body. But make sure that you gently and thoroughly cover the sensitive skin around your eyes with something because age shows there first. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to carefully massage your creams into the skin on your face slowly, spending more time on this step than any other. This practice strengthens the muscles in your face and encourages collagen production, fighting the signs of aging.
14. And your neck- again, you have a decision to make: either use your night cream on your neck as well, or choose a separate product. Read the ingredients and go from there. Just make sure that you apply cream to your neck as a separate step, as opposed to swiping leftover face cream downwards and inadvertently leaving blank spots or not saturating skin thoroughly enough to help.
(courtesy of Money Inc)
Until next time…
Sources: Eden Skin Clinic, Women’s Health, Dr. Anita Sturnham, Caroline Hirons, In Style, Dr. DiAnne Davis, Dr. Ava Shamban, Best Health, Sarah Aubert, Dr. Julia Carroll, Oprah.com, David Bank MD, Nicholas Perricone MD, Marisa Garshick MD, Devan Jesmer MD, Huffington Post, Cristina Psomadakis MD
(P.S.- all of the actresses whose images appear in this blog are gorgeous and thirty, so you can be too)
Blog #26- A-Z Skin Care Continued: Changing Skin Care as the Seasons Change (the age-related seasons this time)
A-Z Skin Care Continued: Changing Skin Care as the Seasons Change (the age-related seasons this time)
Hormones, pimples, and zits galore. Pizza face, crater face, or poxy. Late nights out partying, even later nights up studying in the library, and therefore a terrible lack of beauty sleep. A grimy smoky eye look that’s really just yesterday’s leftover makeup, stress-related breakouts, or an immediate concern about wrinkles past 22. Troubling thoughts like is it really the new 20, am I too young for plastic surgery or is it already too late, and insisting that you’re just 25 again each time your birthday rolls around. Retraining yourself to not sit with your legs crossed for fear of causing varicose veins, slathering your face with Vaseline to cure wrinkles, stressing out over gray hairs which you just know will multiply if you pluck one out, or desperately trying a variety of face exercises to prevent sagging.
No matter what age we are, ladies, there are aging and skin-related issues galore to constantly obsess over. Teens wish they were in their 20’s and past acne, those in their 40’s wish that “40 is the new 20” were true, not just the new 30 as though that will magically erase crow’s feet, and those 50 and older fear that no one will ever compliment their beauty again. But the bottom line is this: every decade of our lives comes with skin struggles. All hope is not lost though. Once you understand how to make your skin healthy at any age, then natural beauty, the best kind, will inevitably follow.
So today and the next time few times around, we’ll be looking at how our skin care routines should be changing as we age, for optimum skin health and natural beauty from sixteen all the way up to eighty-five.
Troubled Teen Years
School stress, lack of sleep, grab and go meals, crazy schedules- these are the woes of your teen years, the things that directly affect how healthy and clear your skin stays (or doesn’t). Hormonal surges equal enlarged oil glands, and the most common problems at this age are 1. Acne, 2. Blackheads, and 3. Oily skin. While there’s only so much we can do about things like teachers who assign too much homework (or any at all- isn’t schoolwork supposed to be done at school- am I right?), we can talk about some simple do’s and don’ts that will keep you looking clean, fresh, and gorg. Starting with always following this basic mantra: Cleanse, tone, exfoliate, moisturize, and SPF- always, every day, and in that order. But we can also break that down into a lot of other advice:
1. Do NOT try old wive’s tales solutions- toothpaste will NOT get rid of your pimples, girls. In fact, if you can’t verify a skin care suggestion with a doctor, even one that’s just reviewing articles online, then do NOT try this at home (I don’t care how many TikTok posts you saw about it).
(courtesy of Medical News Today)
2. Talk to your doctor- but it never hurts to consult your family practitioner or even a dermatologist when you hit puberty and the skincare issues that result from it to get some good, reliable advice that’s tailored just for you, especially if the acne you’re experiencing is red, pus-filled, painful lumps under the skin, or leaving behind scarring.
3. Understand YOUR acne and choose the right acne products- take what the doc says into consideration, but there are still countless issues that many dermatologists disagree on. For example, most consider plain, gentle, and “for sensitive skin” products to be a gold standard. But they vary on whether acne products such as benzoyl peroxide should be spread all over or just on targeted areas, whether or not to use salicylic acid in cleansers and whatnot, whether or not to use sonic cleaning brushes to help exfoliate. So through careful trial and error, choose what works for you. A basic best practice is wash + toner + medicated acne gel. You can’t really go wrong there.
(courtesy of Style Craze)
4. Be smart with your acne products- these are designed to be uber strong, so it’s easy to end up leaving skin more red and irritated than just plain acne is. Plus, it’s a vicious circle: you use it, your skin gets irritated, you no longer want to use it, but then suddenly you need it, and you’re back at square one. So let’s break this down:
- If you use prescription strength topicals- put your moisturizer on first to keep skin from getting irritated. Use products for skin barrier repair. And start out slow to let skin get accustomed to the harsher products. Try ⅛ teaspoon, wait 3 days, if you’re still okay then follow that practice for 2 weeks, and then increase to every night.
- If you use OTC retinols- start slowly, but this time, put your moisturizer on top of the acne product. These are good because they’re milder, anti-inflammatory, and they reduce zit redness and oil production, refining pores and banishing black/whiteheads.
- And if you use benzoyl peroxide- though this one kills the bacteria that causes zits, it can lead to really dry skin and even bleach your clothes. So get dressed and then apply. And moisturize first, then apply product.
5. Control oil + decrease shine but without being overly harsh (because no one looks good when they look like they’ve worked all night in a greasy pizza joint, even if you do part-time)- try using a salicylic acid cleanser, an oil-free primer, and blot oil throughout the day with specialized tissues or cloths.
6. Do not sleep on acne bacteria- washing your face once per day is not enough because existing bacteria spawns new baby bacteria every 12 hours (like bunnies), so use your big guns at night, and then the next day around mid-morning, try a milder OTC treatment such as a salicylic acid with colloidal silver spray which lowers the PH of your skin, making it less hospitable to bacteria.
7. Wash off makeup before bed- every night- at the very least, use a pre-moistened cleansing wipe to remove makeup, dirt, and oil. Even if you don’t wear makeup, there’s still plenty of bacteria on your face that needs off BEFORE bed.
(courtesy of NBC News)
8. Cleanse carefully and thoroughly- if you have oily skin, make sure you use a foaming cleanser or gel, whereas if you suffer from dry skin, try a milky product instead. Twice per day is your best practice regardless of skin type. Take your makeup off and THEN cleanse (those are two SEPARATE chores). Use your fingertips to gently rub in and then rinse off the product. And make sure that you cleanse both before AND after PE and sports (or at the very least, use facial tissues to blot away sweat and oil).
Pair cleansing up with a good toner. Use a hydrating choice for dry skin or a purifying one for acne-prone skin.
9. Exfoliate- this might be the step that dermatologists argue over the most. Should you exfoliate once per week? Twice? Always? Never? More because you have acne? Here’s my answer after perusing many, many, many sources: try once per week. If that solves your skin woes, then stop, and if it doesn’t, then try increasing to twice per week, and so on up the line, keeping your eyes peeled for red, irritated, dry, flaky, peeling skin. They do all agree that you should NOT scrub- don’t overdo it. And use milder products that exfoliate with gentle chemicals as opposed to small, hard particles.
(courtesy of Allure)
10. Keep your hands to yourself- touching acne, or even worse, “popping” something does NOT help- in fact, it hurts… A LOT. Instead, try pimple patches (they even have cute ones now, like those below from Target). It’s a lot harder to minimize a scar after the fact than it is to treat a zit right now.
11. Keep your hands clean- though none of us should be touching our faces throughout the day, you know we all do. So keep your hands clean to prevent spreading even more oil, dirt, bacteria and germs, and clean other things that touch your face regularly, such as your sparkly new pink iPhone.
(courtesy of NBC News)
12. Use spray hair products- these are less likely to break you out (especially if you’re prone to this on your hairline and forehead), and it’s a good practice to wash conditioner out of your hair and THEN cleanse your face in the shower.
13. Never share makeup- girls, I don’t care how best your bestie is, you use your eyeshadow palette and let her use her lip gloss- no switching.
(courtesy of Beautylish)
14. Moisturize no matter your skin type- skipping this step will not magically eliminate your acne. In fact, that could make it even worse. The more moisturizer you give skin, the less it will make all on its own, meaning it can balance your oily skin. So choose a light, comfortable, oil-free moisturizer, something with ceramides and niacinamides, and use it daily, no matter how greasy you feel.
15. Wear sunscreen- everyone. All the time. Even if you naturally have darker skin. Even black (and that’s coming straight from a Black dermatologist). Go for SPF 30 or higher, choose a mineral base like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, go for an oil-free version, and make it part of your regular morning routine. It also keeps acne from turning darker and therefore more noticeable. It couldn’t hurt to choose makeup that contains an SPF as well. And girls, NO TANNING BEDS… EVER! It doesn’t matter what you want to look like for prom or an important date. Be you, be your natural skin tone, not someone else’s. But if you must, use a self-tanner instead.
(courtesy of Cruelty-Free Kitty)
Remember- healthy habits start now. After all, you want to be the woman whose friends all hate her someday because she looks 20 years younger than them, not the other way around.
Sources: Dr. Geetika Mittal Gupta, Dr. Satish Bhatia, Jessica Wu MD, Peterson Pierre MD, Deanne Mraz Robinson MD, Debra Jaliman MD, Leslie Baumann MD, Seventeen magazine, Everyday Health.com, and Vogue magazine