Secrets to keeping your skin young in your 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s+
In your early to mid-twenties, hormones from the teenage years should finally start to level out (phew!). For normal skin, this means that breakouts should be few and far between.
However, fluctuations in hormone levels before and during your period can stimulate sebaceous glands to produce excess oil, leading to the much-dreaded hormonal blemish. Certain birth control pills can also cause breakouts, as they affect your natural hormonal balance. Still, aside from hormonal breakouts, the biggest concern is dehydration thanks to increased progesterone levels and decreased water retention.
What To Do
De-stress, get plenty of sleep, and talk to your doctor to assess if your preferred form of birth control could be the culprit of your breakouts. Lastly, load up on topical skin hydrators such as lightweight, oil-free moisturizers and serums formulated with hyaluronic acid.
For many women in their early thirties, growth hormones slow down, which can result in those little lines that develop under the eyes and around the mouth. As a matter of fact, many young women who never broke out in their teens can now start to in their thirties because of elevated stress levels — no fun, I know! — so from an anti-aging perspective, this means it’s time to get serious about caring for your skin.
What To Do
Manage stress to reduce breakouts, and hone in on a balanced, anti-aging skin care routine that you can stick to. If you're suffering from adult acne, switch to a lightweight moisturizer and sulfate-free cleanser with salicylic acid. This will destroy acne-causing bacteria and deep-pore cleansing without drying out the skin. This is often when brown spots may begin to appear — either from pregnancy or increasingly slow growth hormones — so now's the time to add a skin lightener. Look for formulas containing Vitamins C and E, as researchers from from the Duke University Medical Center at Durham found that when you use both vitamins under sunscreen it helps to provide four times the protection of sunscreen alone. Of course, make sure you’re wearing sunscreen (try one built into your moisturizer) 365 days a year — rain or shine!
These are the peri-menopausal years, and this stage of aging can occur up to ten years before actual menopause. Peri-menopause is when estrogen — the hormone that directly affects the function of key cells, including the ones that produce collagen and elastin, protect our skin, and keep skin color even — slowly starts to decline. During these years, you’ll see a loss of even skin tone, increased wrinkling, and possible skin growths (sebaceous hyperplasia and actinic keratosis) so it’s definitely time to get serious about caring for your skin if you’re not already doing so.
What To Do
Hopefully, you’re already using eye cream, a skin-appropriate serum, and an at-home exfoliating acid peel regularly. Also look for products that contain high-performance ingredients like peptides, retinol, and rice extract to boost cell metabolism, plump the skin and stimulate collagen production. Lastly, be sure to schedule professional skin care treatments like facials and chemical peels to ensure your skin stays smooth and glowing.
With menopause comes a serious drop in estrogen, a natural anti-inflammatory. As luck would have it, this means skin may become increasingly reactive and sensitive. Estrogen is also responsible for keeping water in the dermis (which makes skin look plump), so once estrogen declines, microcirculation becomes less efficient, the skin deflates, and wrinkles become more pronounced.
What To Do
Reduce inflammation wherever you can. Avoid irritating chemicals in products, overexposure to the sun, and limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol. Use products with soothing ingredients like white tea, green tea, licorice extract, and chamomile. Instead of over-moisturizing, increase your exfoliation to 2-3 times weekly — ideally, with a gentle, round beaded facial scrub — to reveal healthy and vibrant skin. Begin using an alcohol-free glycolic acid serum three nights per week. And, lastly, eat foods rich in healthy fats like almonds, salmon, and avocados to keep skin moist, supple and glowing from the inside out.
No two bodies are alike, and every person will respond differently to hormonal activity. When these changes start to occur, make certain that you're using products that address your skin's specific needs. Consulting with a trusted and experienced aesthetician or skin care professional is the best way to start to get your ever-changing skin in balance.
Sure, we'd all love to look younger than we are. And, even if you're diligent about taking care of your skin, a little thing called heredity - your genetic programming that controls the hormones responsible for aging - inevitably steps in.
Because hormones can fluctuate dramatically from decade to decade, your skin will behave differently as you age. Here, I've broken down what you can expect, along with my expert advice on how to keep your skin healthy, clear, and radiant - now and forever.
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Photo Credit: Illustrated by Sydney Hass, Courtesy of Refinery 29