Chances are the wardrobe choices you made in your twenties isn’t what you’re reaching for in your forties. And the hairstyle you sported in your thirties isn’t quite working out the same way for you in your fifties. The same can almost be said of your skin.
The only major difference being that there are some issues your complexion has to deal with — UV rays and pollution for example — whatever your age and on a day-to-day basis. This is why it’s essential that the one constant in your skincare arsenal, regardless of the number of decades passing by, is a good, broad-spectrum SPF. However, the rest is a constant changing mix according to the phase you are in. Read on to find out what you and your skin needs now and in the future.
What’s going on? If there’s ever a time to party first and sleep later, it’s in your energetic 20s. However you can’t have all the fun and not expect your skin to pay the price.
‘Hectic lifestyles, not wearing SPF daily, travelling and addiction to smart devices all get reflected in this young skin type,’ says Dr Preema Vig, medical director of Dr Preema London Clinic (drpreema.com).
So what are the major concerns of millennial skin? ‘The common skin concerns can range from dull, uneven complexions and sun damage to the skin, to premature ageing beginning to start to make an appearance,’ she says.
What to do: Perhaps more importantly for this age group we need to look at what not to do first. ‘Avoid harsh ingredients like Glycolic acid and doing anything too invasive like facial peels,’ advises Preema. She suggests delaying these until late 30s or early 40s to resurface the skin. So, what is good for young skin? ‘Vitamin C is an important ingredient for women to look out for in their 20s. It helps protect the skin from sun damage and it also promotes collagen production, evens out the skin tone so is ideal for keeping your skin looking younger for longer.’
Cleansing is of course also key at this stage. Ensuring the dirt and grime of the day is off the skin as well as removing all make-up, means that anything that’s applied afterwards will be far more effective. This is also the age group that has time and inclination to indulge in weekly face masks so slather one on that will drench the skin in hydration.
The skincare kit:
What’s going on? Your lifestyle may have mellowed but that doesn’t mean your skin has. ‘This is the age when fine lines and wrinkles will start to appear on the face,’ says Preema. Throw-in hormone changes if you have been pregnant and had a family, and other skin issues such as pigmentation and congestion can also appear.
Something else can start to happen in your 30s too, especially if you are a gym bunny or exercise fanatic. ‘Excessive cardiovascular exercise, like running, cycling and endurance training, raise the heart rate and widen blood vessels to get oxygen flowing around the body. But after about 15 minutes, when muscles need more oxygen, blood starts to be diverted from the face, which causes fat pads in the cheeks to be deprived of oxygen and to slowly diminish. This causes facial volume loss, particularly in the cheek area, which then makes your face look prematurely aged – also called Gym Face.’
What to do: At this stage it’s all about getting your skin to retain as much moisture as possible. Why? The more hydrated your skin, the fewer fine lines that will appear and the plumper and fuller it will look. And the ingredient that will help you with this is hyaluronic acid. This very clever ingredient can retain over 1000 times its weight in water. Again a gentle but deeply cleansing cleanser is essential. At this stage your skin will thank you for using a balm or gel consistency which is great for all skin types but contains hydrating ingredients to nourish the skin and is ideal if your skin has become oilier and more congested post pregnancy. Next, a serum filled with hyaluronic acid and antioxidants to counteract against sun damage and the amount of blue light your skin has been exposed to from your laptop, tablet and mobile. A simple facial oil is a great product to have on hand at all times.
The skincare kit:
What’s going on? This might be the era where your career gets well and truly established but unfortunately so do a few other things, such as your wrinkles and pigmentation from too many years of sun exposure. ‘Most of my patients in their 40s want to tackle a dull complexion, skin laxity around the mouth, cheek and jaw area and deep wrinkles in areas of repetitive expression such as the forehead, brows, and crows feet,’ says Preema.
What to do: It’s easy to take your foot off the gas when it comes to your skincare, but consistency and continuity are key for making any real kind of change to your complexion so keep at it. And one of the best ingredients that will help your 40-year-old skin do this is glycolic acid. ‘Glycolic is a fantastic resurfacing ingredient. Improvements in ageing, hyperpigmentation, acne, and other conditions can be seen with appropriate resurfacing, especially if combined with other ingredients targeting the other processes involved in the cause of the individual conditions,’ explains Preema. It’s always best to use glycolic acid exfoliants in the evening so your skin isn’t exposed to sun as it peels away the top surface, avoiding the eye area. Treat this with a lightweight, wrinkle plumping eye cream instead. And make sure you treat your skin to a massively hydrating moisturiser, containing SPF, the next day.
The skincare kit:
Fantastic 50s and onwards
What’s going on? Hormone fluctuations, thanks to menopause, play a huge part in what your skin is like in your 50s and upwards. ‘Menopause creates a drop in the level of oestrogen, this makes it difficult for skin to retain moisture, resulting in dry and sagging complexion, which gives skin a duller and more sallow appearance,’ says Preema. It also means that those fine lines that had been creeping in become more deeply set and a lack of elasticity can cause folds, deep wrinkles and sagging skin.
What to do: Menopausal skin can get very dehydrated so avoid foaming cleansers that can dry out the skin and choose rich cream options instead. Whilst it’s also still essential to be layering on serums packed with active ingredients, your skin may need richer day and night creams too. ‘Retinol is also a key ingredient as it promotes cell regeneration and can stimulate the production of new collagen, which decreases the appearance of wrinkles and smoothes the skins surface,’ says Preema. Also known as Vitamin A, Retinol is the gold standard anti ageing ingredient and has been clinically proven to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. You can get medical grade Retinol prescribed by a dermatologist, but it can be a balancing act to make it work for your skin without aggravating it too much. Otherwise the big beauty brands all offer Retinol based products with a lower concentration that is still very effective.
The skincare kit: