By Tracy Ho Lung
Armed with an action plan, you can have radiant skin through the decades. To get (and keep) your best complexion, read on.
Your skin glows at this stage. However, it’s a different story below the surface. Cell turnover and collagen production can start slowing down in your late 20s, causing the skin to thicken and become dull. “A lot of damage happens at this age because we tend to be careless – especially when it comes to sun protection. The skin suffers UV trauma and isn’t able to repair itself, resulting in the spots, uneven pigmentation and fine lines we see later on,” warns Daniel Maes, global vice-president of research and development at Estee Lauder.
Freckles (from sun damage) and acne that can lead to pigmentation problems (red and brown marks). At this tender age, wrinkles and fine lines seem like decades away.
1. Sun protection – of course. All dermatologists agree that daily SPF protection is your best skin-saver. If you already have freckles caused by sun damage, the spots at this stage are close to the skin’s surface and topical bleaching creams are a good option.
2. Antioxidants (such as vitamins A, C and E, selenium, and green and white tea) that help combat damage caused by smog, smoke, pollution and the ozone.
3. Water-based and oil-free products if you’re acne prone. You want to prevent moisture loss, but it’s not necessary to use rich lotions thinking they’ll work better. “Often they’re too rich for the skin and can lead to breakouts,” says Dr. Lisa Kellett, a Toronto dermatologist. Try Clear Gel Moisturizer, 30 mL, $49.
Did you know? Dermatologists can’t agree on the importance of eye cream. Some feel you don’t need it until you start seeing fine lines, while others say it’s ok to take preventative measures.
Rx: at the derm’s office Q-Switched Ruby Laser can remove freckles caused by sun damage. “At this age, freckles are fresh, so only one treatment may be needed to remove them,” says Dr. Lisa Kellett, a Toronto dermatologist. For acne, you can try Levulan, an aminolevulinic acid (a topical photosensitizer), combined with light (intense pulsed light, laser or blue) to decrease oil-gland output.
You’re older and wiser and are taking skin care seriously. Along with low collagen production and cell turnover, the skin loses moisture and collagen fibers break apart, resulting in loss of tone and firmness. You may need richer creams than the ones you used in your 20s. Fine lines start to show up in those with fair skin (their skin is thinnest and most susceptible to damage) or appear in all skin types because of facial movements.
Dryness, roughness, uneven pigmentation and fine lines. Also, one too many drinking benders could cause facial blood vessels to dilate, causing permanent red spider veins on your cheeks. Acne, caused by stress, hormones and the environment is still a problem.
1. Sun protection (a minimum SPF15) is still a must, as well as a cream that injects moisture, combats moisture loss and stimulates collagen production (vitamin A, hyaluronic acid and peptides are a few star ingredients).
2. Skin roughness means it’s time to start thinking about daily exfoliation if you’re not doing it already. Remove dead skin cells with a good exfoliation or a cream with alpha-hydroxy acid.
3. Combat fine lines with a skin-renewing night cream and eye cream.
4. Treat brown spots with a prescription or over-the-counter bleaching cream. Some spot reducers include licorice root, kojic acid and hydroquinone.
Did you know? All your skin concerns can’t be solved with one jar of wrinkle cream. “Combat a wrinkle when it’s a fine line. Anything deeper means the collagen is badly damaged,” says Dr. Nowell Solish, a Toronto dermatologist.
Rx: at the derm’s office If you’re intent on removing any deep lines that have formed, you can look at more aggressive treatments such as Botox (relax lines caused by facial movements) or injectable fillers like Restylane, Juvederm or Radiesse. Intense pulsed light erases brown and red spots, smoothes skin texture and reduces pore size. Microdermabrasion and chemical peels improve skin texture and fine lines.
This is a critical time and your skin is preparing for the worst, says Maes. The impact of stress, sun and the environment, plus menopause, makes skin extremely dry and susceptible to inflammatory reactions. Fine lines turn into deeper wrinkles and skin begins to sag. “You start to lose the fat and plumpness in the skin – it’s similar to letting the air out of a balloon. You’ll need richer ingredients with more oil content,” says Dr. Nowell Solish, a Toronto dermatologist.
Desert-like skin, deep wrinkles around the nose and mouth, more fine lines and irregular skin texture. Jowl and neck skin sagging.
1. Increase your dose of moisture with richer (slightly oily) creams. But don’t think of oil as bad for your skin. “At this age it won’t clog pores, but helps maintain skin’s moisture,” says Dr. Solish.
2. Day cream with SPF should always be in your medicine cabinet, along with a lotion or serum that contains a high percentage of peptides, antioxidants, prescription tretinoin or vitamin A to help repair sun-damaged skin.
Did you know? You should stick with a product for at least one month. “Skin doesn’t like change and can become stressed if you continuously change your routine. You don’t need to use something different if your current moisturizer is working for you,” says Maes.
Rx: at the derm’s office Deeper lines can be treated with injectable fillers or Botox. Thermage (a treatment that stimulates skin tightening using radio frequency) or invasive surgery will help with jowl and neck sagging. If age spots become raised, it’s not necessarily a health concern. “Many of these are cosmetic and not threatening,” says Dr. Kellett.
“Repair, repair, repair,” stresses Maes. But be gentle – at this age your skin is more fragile, is prone to injury and infection, and bruises easily. You’ll start to see the effects of chronic and genetic aging. Even if you’ve treated your skin with the utmost care, your genetic makeup has a huge impact on the final appearance of your skin. Take a look at your mother or grandmother and see how their skin has aged. Chances are your skin will always look similar or, hopefully, better, if you’ve stayed loyal to daily sunscreen use.
Dryness and chronic aging. Cancerous and precancerous spots.
1. Maintain skin-cell activity. Think of it as putting oil in the engine. You want to ensure skin-cell turnover and lipid production are maximized. “As you age, you don’t need to add more skin-care products. Typically, those that work for women in their 40s also work in their 50s,” says Maes.
2. Vitamin A. If you’ve had precancerous cells in the past, vitamin A has been shown to help them normalize, says Dr. Kellett.
Did you know? The dermis (the lower level of your skin) is constantly producing collagen, even well into your 50s. The only difference is that as you age, your collagen turnover goes from a healthy jog to a snail’s pace.
Rx: at the derm’s office Laser resurfacing smoothes wrinkles, or intense pulsed light increases smoothness and texture, and eliminates dark spots. Dr. Kellett recommends Levulan plus light to treat cancerous and precancerous spots.