Skin aging (and what to do about it) has been an elusive and puzzling topic to the masses for ages.
Do I use this product? Or that one? Do I use the same products for the rest of my life? Do I need to switch things up as I get older? SO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS.
Because of how confusing it can truly be, we’ve put together this skin aging list for each decade: their issues and what you can do about them. Plain, simple and straight-forward.
The roaring 20s. When your skin is beautiful and tight and you have no idea what you’ve got until it’s gone. I’m talking about elasticity and firmness. PROTECT IT WHILE YOU’VE GOT IT, PEOPLE.
The 20s are usually when most people start to notice wrinkles forming when they move certain parts of their face. These lines are called dynamic wrinkles. Harmless really, because the wrinkled skin goes back to being smooth once the muscle contraction is over.
If you’ve also experienced a lot of sun exposure (like most of us have- circa high school beach/lake trips when we were too cool to put on SPF), you may also begin to see more pigmentation on sun-exposed areas. The damage we see on our skin is on average 10-15 years old. So please, please, please start protecting it now.
On top of sun-damage, if women are on birth control pills or pregnant, they may start to notice a type of hyperpigmentation called melasma, which are medium to large brown patches on the face caused by hormones.
As we age, our skin’s cellular turnover also begins to decline- and with it, that glorious youthful glow also begins to fade. When we are kids, our skin turns over every 14 days, but by the time we reach our 20s, it reduces to 24-30 days. Those aren’t some great stats.
Also by our mid-twenties, collagen breakdown begins to outpace its own production. Meh.
What you can do about it:
If you aren’t using sunblock, you need to start now. Unfortunately, it will not get rid of the damage that is already done, but it will prevent future damage. Kind of like switching to water when you’re already 4 drinks deep at happy hour. Your body will thank you.
Antioxidants, like Vitamin C, also help protect against damage from sun and pollution. You may also hear the term ‘free-radicals’ floating around the internet or in magazines. Antioxidants are great to combat the damage and skin aging from these too. Especially if you live in a smog-filled city like LA.
Your 20s are also a great time to begin using a Retinol to help slow skin aging. Retinol speeds up cell turnover, giving your skin the helpful boost it needs as it begins to show signs of aging. Using a retinol consistently can help with fine lines, dull skin, and minimize the appearance of pigment.
Want to get serious about reducing the damage of days past? Chemical peels are a great tool to combat hyperpigmentation and dull, tired-looking skin.
On to the 30s. Hopefully a decade that feels less frantic than its predecessor.
The 30s are when most start to notice static wrinkles, or lines at rest. These are those wrinkles that don’t go away even after you’re done scowling at the person who just cut you off. You may also notice that your foundation or makeup gets ‘stuck’ in certain fine lines.
Pigment issues and dullness increase. Average skin cell turnover now takes 28-35 days.
You might also start to notice dilated blood vessels, especially around the nose.
Loss of collagen becomes more apparent, resulting in more laxity and noticeable skin aging. You know those shots in shows and movies that have the aging star looking in the mirror and pulling her skin up and back only to watch it fall down to where it now calls home? Loss of collagen and elastin are to blame.
We also start to lose volume in the fat pads of our face. This can be most apparent in the mid and lower face. The formation of ‘jowls’ *shudder* can be just around the horizon.
Our body’s Hyaluronic Acid production begins to decline too. This results in less plump and overall drier skin. Remember that youthful glow we mentioned earlier? This is when you need to get serious about prolonging and protecting it.
What you can do about it:
Add a topical Hyaluronic Acid to your daily skincare routine. This will give your skin the added boost of hydration it’s probably craving. You can find Hyaluronic Acid in many different forms. If you aren’t super dry, try a Hyaluronic Acid Serum. If your face is like the Sierra Desert, try a moisturizer (cream) with Hyaluronic Acid as a main ingredient.
Continue to use the SPF, Antioxidants and Retinol that you started using in your 20s.
To stimulate collagen and elastin production, consider adding a product with Growth Factors. Not to be mixed up with the ever-confusing and negative-connotated Growth Hormones. Growth Factors in skincare are proteins that signal healing and promote cell turnover.
If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve probably seen gorgeous faces of influencers everywhere receiving Microneedling treatments. These photos and videos are usually a bit shocking because Microneedling does typically cause irritation to the skin and minor bleeding. This is due to the nature of the treatment though and you shouldn’t be alarmed.
Microneedling is a treatment that through the use of a hand-held device with itty-bitty needles produces miniature wounds to the skin, therefore causing your body to produce more of its own collagen and elastin. These treatments are great for the reduction of fine lines and acne scars.
Neuromodulators, such as Botox and Dysport, are one of the best tools to combat those pesky aforementioned static wrinkles. They work by preventing the underlying muscle from contracting, therefore inhibiting the overlying skin from folding/wrinkling. This is why you may hear the term ‘preventative Botox’. It physically reduces the amount of static wrinkles on your skin for multiple months at a time, which prevents the emergence of new and deep wrinkles. They never have a chance to form.
Volume loss in the under-eyes, cheeks, or lips can be easily remedied by the use of dermal fillers. Dermal fillers, which last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, are Hyaluronic Acid based gels that literally replace lost volume in the skin. They are truly gifts.
At some point along the way you begin to realize that you’re not 25 anymore even though you mentally still feel like you just graduated college. Seriously, where did those years even go?!
Regardless of this feeling- now is not the time to neglect (or to continually neglect) your skin! Your 40s are a wonderful decade full of life achievements, and honestly- you’re probably pretty thankful that you’re not 25 anymore. *remembers the many poor life decisions… *cringes*
Along with your mental maturity- your skin has also been maturing too, unfortunately. Broken blood vessels become more apparent. More areas of hyperpigmentation can appear.
Skin cell turnover has decreased to every 30-42 days. GUYS. Make it stop.
Collagen and hyaluronic acid production is further reduced.
On top of these things, volume loss becomes more noticeable. Fat pads are further reduced, especially around temples, cheeks, and in front of the ears.
Due to the combination of volume loss and decreased collagen, sagging of the skin becomes more apparent.
The tip of the nose and mouth begin to turn downward due to loss of support. Unfortunately, this is NOT A DRILL. These things really happen.
As estrogen levels drop in pre-menopausal women, dryness becomes more of an issue. Some women can also see a resurgence of acne. Yep- acne.
Those mind-numbingly irritating pimples can make a resurgence long after your teenage years.
Static wrinkles that appeared in your late 20s or 30s can become deeper in the frown, crow’s feet, and forehead.
You may even start to notice “Smoker’s Lines” around the mouth. Even if you’ve never smoked.
Dermal Fillers can help restore the volume loss and even stimulate collagen and elastin production. While many patients fear “looking done”, fillers done correctly can look extremely natural. A good Injector will leave you looking refreshed, not different.
If you haven’t started with Neuromodulators by your 40s, it’s not too late to see great improvement in static wrinkles. Most worry about looking too frozen from Botox or Dysport, but again- in the right hands- refreshed, not different.
Additional skincare to consider: a gentle cleanser containing exfoliating acids to reduce hyperpigmentation, a potent eye-cream to diminish puffiness and dark circles, or a clinical-grade benzoyl peroxide acne treatment if you suffer from adult acne.
50s & Up
You’re probably fairly comfortable with your skin at this point. You know what it ‘likes’ what it doesn’t.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add things to your routine that can really benefit specific skin aging concerns.
Now skin cell turnover has further reduced to every 45-84 days.
Skin is thinner, which paves the way for broken capillaries to appear. Areas of hyperpigmentation can become darker and newer areas of pigment will likely continue to emerge, contributing to visible skin aging.
You may experience increased skin dryness due to hormonal changes and your skin can also become more sensitive.
Because of the loss of elasticity and volume in your skin, you may experience more sagging or laxity- especially in the lower face. Volume loss will also contribute to this as your temples and cheeks won’t ‘anchor’ your face the way they did when you were younger.
What you can do about it:
Use a combination of skincare including SPF, Retinol, Hyaluronic Acid, Antioxidants, Growth Factors, and Gentle Exfoliating Acid Treatments.
You may also need to incorporate a denser moisturizer to ward off excessive dryness, especially at night-time.
If you struggle with redness and sensitivity in the cheeks or across your nose, you can consider adding a clinical-grade calming cream to your daily routine as well.
Neuromodulators, like Botox and Dysport, will diminish the appearance of wrinkles in you frown, forehead, and crow’s feet.
There you have it. Skin aging through the decades.
If you take one thing away from this article, hopefully it’s that you realize that you have the power and the right to self-care. You can make small improvements to your routine that result in huge improvements to your skin. These improvements not only have physical benefits (reduced pigmentation, firmer skin, etc.), but they can have huge improvements on self-esteem and confidence- regardless of decade.