THE CHANGE UP
Your skin transforms as you move through your 30s, 40s and 50s — but is your beauty routine transforming as well? Here’s how to tailor your skin care to the demands of each decade.
The skincare products you need in your 30s, 40s and 50s to meet the demands of each decade.
JUST WHEN YOU think you’ve got your skin-care routine nailed down, there’s a wrinkle. And a zit? Your skin’s needs change as you age, and what worked in your 20s probably isn’t resulting in complete perfection (many) years later. Certain skin-care practices should be lifelong — hello, SPF! — butwe went to the experts for the lowdown on what your skin really needs, decade by decade.
In your 30s…
This is the decade to get serious about skin care. “In your 30s, you may start to notice the effects of lifestyle choices and genetics: sun damage, environmental dulling of the skin, lines around the eyes and dark circles,” says Shoppers Drug Mart beauty pro Sarah Aubert.
Now’s the time to focus on preventing further damage — and to start maintaining what you’ve got. “Your 30s are your sweet spot for fat and collagen production,” says Dr. Julia Carroll of Compass Dermatology in Toronto. “People tend to look more sculpted, and your face tends to look more mature, in a good way.”
In the morning
A gentle face wash will help protect your skin’s natural barrier. A daytime moisturizer is also essential, so opt for a lightweight cream that suits your skin type. And bonus points if it contains SPF 30, which allows you to skip the extra step of applying a sunscreen. Women with dark skin should avoid the mineral-based SPF products — “they can make dark complexions look dull or ashy,” says Carroll — and go for sheer chemical UV filters. If your skin is showing signs of hyperpigmentation, apply a vitamin C serum before your day cream to help minimize dark spots.
If you’re experiencing dryness, smooth on a few drops of facial oil as well before your face cream to seal in moisture, plump the skin and provide a healthy-looking glow.
A few times a week, after cleansing, use a product containing alphahydroxy acids (or AHAs), like glycolic acid, or a mild scrub to help boost skin cell turnover. Opt for a mask containing glycolic acid, or try a one-and-done night cream that works while you sleep. But be wary of overuse, especially if you have dark skin, because the brightening effects can cause postinflammatory hyperpigmentation in complexions with higher melanin content. Another must is an undereye cream containing ingredients like retinol (to boost collagen), caffeine (to de-puff the area) and niacinamide (to reduce redness).
In your 40s...
These are the years when deeper wrinkles tend to set in around the eyes and mouth. There can also be an overall loss of volume in the face, as we start to lose subcutaneous fat (the fat below the surface of the skin that battled gravity better in our 20s). “As you hit your 40s, that delicate balance starts to tip a little bit, and you begin to break down more fat and more collagen than you’re producing,” says Carroll. Plus, acne seems to spike in this group due to fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels. This can lead to big-time breakouts, especially the large cystic type, that tend to appear along the jawline. “And they can leave spots and scars behind too,” says Carroll.
In the morning
If you’re dealing with hormonal acne, or even “maskne” from wearing a face mask, cleanse with a face wash containing salicylic acid to help minimize breakouts. “Retinol is also something you can add in for sure in your 40s,” says Carroll. Layer on a retinolbased serum daily (or every few days, depending on the dosage strength of the product and your skin’s reaction to it) before your moisturizer, to help improve skin tone and target fine lines. You can also buy face creams that contain retinol, if you want to reduce the routine by a step. In your 40s, “it always comes back to the basic three: sunscreen, vitamin C and retinol,” says Carroll.
Now’s the time to shore up your efforts. Antioxidants like resveratrol, growth factors and peptides can all help turn around dipping collagen production, making them important ingredients to look for in a night cream. Be sure to moisturize nightly before you tuck in, and don’t forget to apply the products down your neck as well. It’s also a good idea to dab a rich eye cream around your peepers. “Eye creams with active ingredients such as vitamin A can help with dermal thickness, making circles less visible, as well as under-eye darkness by promoting drainage and microcirculation,” Aubert says.
“Acne can spike in this group, due to fluctuations in hormones.”