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How Skin Care Needs Change as You Age

November 13, 2018

Happy senior woman using skin care products

At every stage of life, your skin needs care that is specifically tailored to the intrinsic changes that occur through the years. Aging skin produces less collagen and elastin, is thinner and more fragile, and produces less oils leading to dry skin. In order to keep a healthy, youthful appearance as long as possible, you should be aware of changes to the skin at each life stage. It’s not always possible to reverse the signs of aging, but with proper skin care, you can slow the aging process and look your best for longer.

Skin Care in Your 20s

In your 20s, you have plenty of healthy collagen and elastin to maintain a youthful glow, but you will begin producing less collagen at this point. About 1% less collagen is produced each year beginning in your 20s. In the mid 20s, you’ll also begin to see slower shedding of skin cells, which can lead to uneven skin tone, and some people begin to see wrinkles in the skin.

Skin Health Difficulties

  • For most people, hormone levels that cause acne have started to even out, but acne can still be a problem for many adults in their 20s. This can be especially true for women as hormonal fluctuations throughout their menstrual cycle or pregnancy can lead to increased oil production.
  • Slower skin cell turnover can also present challenges. You may begin to see dry patches or flaky areas of skin.
  • As new skin cells are produced less frequently and collagen and elastin diminish, fine lines may begin to appear.

How to Care for Skin

The keys to skin care in the 20s are protection and moisturization. Exposure to natural or artificial UV rays at this stage of life cause many of the wrinkles, pigmentation irregularities, and other signs of aging that appear in your 30s and 40s. Some important skin care basics include:

  • Sun protection – exposure to UV rays leads to 90% of the symptoms associated with skin aging. You should wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen anytime your skin will be exposed to sunlight. You should also avoid direct sunlight during peak times whenever possible.
  • Moisturizing – keep your skin cells plump and hydrated to maintain a more youthful appearance and prevent dry skin.
  • Cleansing – you should use cleansing products that contain lactic, glycolic, or salicylic acids to increase cell turnover and reduce the appearance of lines in the skin and antioxidants to prevent fine lines from developing into deeper-set wrinkles.

Skin Care in Your 30s

If you took great care of your skin in your 20s, you’ll start to see the benefits in your 30s. If you haven’t been taking great care of your skin, it’s not too late to start taking steps to improve your skin care routine and slow the signs of aging.

Skin Health Difficulties

  • The decreased production of collagen and elastin that begins in the 20s continues into the 30s. This leads to changes in the appearance of the skin. Specifically, you will begin to see sagging, drooping, and deflated skin.
  • Kids, adolescents, and adults in their early 20s see complete skin cell turnover every 10 to 20 days. In your 30s, this turnover can take 30 days or longer. This leads to a duller appearance, uneven skin tone, and thickening patches on the skin.
  • Many adults are waiting until their 30s to start their families, and pregnancy can impact the skin in many ways. The most obvious being that hormonal fluctuations change the way your skin produces oils and pigment. Additionally, you are more likely to see stretch marks during pregnancy that do not go away after you give birth.
  • Melasma or hyperpigmentation are patches of dark, discolored skin, usually on the face, that appear in the 30s. These spots occur due to sun exposure, so using sunscreen and avoiding UVA/B rays whenever possible is important. These spots may also appear during pregnancy, but they typically clear up after giving birth.

How to Care for Skin

In your 30s, you should continue applying sunscreen and moisturizing as was recommended for people in their 20s. Additionally, your 30s is the time to start introducing anti-aging products into your skincare routine. Many anti-aging creams and serums contain high levels of antioxidants like vitamin C. This boosts the production of collagen and helps to maintain skin elasticity. As your skin cell turnover rate continues to slow down, you need to use an exfoliating product on a regular basis. This removes dead skin cells that may build up, giving you a healthy, even skin tone.

Skin Care in Your 40s

In your 40s, you’ll see the positive cumulative effects of your skincare routines in your 20s and 30s, but you’ll also start to see the negative accumulation of sun damage in the form of fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone.

Skin Health Difficulties

  • As is the case in the 20s and 30s, the production of collagen and elastin continues to decrease as does the turnover of skin cells.
  • Your lymphatic system will begin to change in your 40s. This system helps to remove the toxins from your skin and body. As we age, these toxins are secreted more slowly, causing a buildup of toxins in the skin. This can lead to inflammation and puffiness, especially around the eyes.
  • Decreased sebum (skin oil) production in your 40s leads to dryer skin and the more obvious appearance of fine lines.
  • For women, perimenopause leads to decreased estrogen levels that can cause dryer, thinner skin.

How to Care for Skin

As is the case in the 30s, you should continue to apply sunscreen and moisturizer on a daily basis. If you didn’t start using an anti-aging cream or vitamin C product in your 30s, these products should be introduced in your 40s. At this point, your body can begin to struggle with retaining moisture, making dehydration a problem. You should drink plenty of water at all stages of life, but this becomes especially important in your 40s.

Skin Care in Your 50s

In the 50s, your skin will begin to show prominent signs of aging like wrinkles, sagging, and changes in pigmentation. While you can’t turn back the clock in your 50s, you can continue to properly care for your skin in order to slow the signs of aging.

Skin Health Difficulties

  • Collagen, elastin, and moisture production all continue to decline in your 50s, leading to sagging and loosening of the skin, especially on the face, neck, and décolletage.
  • Thinning of the skin also continues, leading to an elevated risk for bruising, bleeding, and inflammation.
  • Hyaluronic acid found in the dermis (secondary layer of skin) starts to diminish in the late 40s or early 50s, and this can further increase the risk for skin damage.
  • Most women enter menopause in their late 40s or 50s. The decrease in estrogen levels leads to numerous skin health concerns, including dry, thin skin and uneven skin tone. Menopause also increases your risk for adult acne.
  • Inflammation increases as we age. This leads to conditions like arthritis, but it also impacts the appearance of your skin. Inflammation puts you at greater risk for damage from sunlight, chemicals, and pollution.

How to Care for Skin

In your 50s, you should continue wearing sunscreen and moisturizing daily, staying hydrated, and using your anti-aging products. Additionally, you should try to limit inflammation by reducing your consumption of large levels of alcohol and caffeine, limiting sun exposure, and avoiding hygiene products that are irritating to the skin. You can also use calming products like chamomile and oat extracts to sooth the skin.  Circulation can also become an issue in your 50s. Cells are reliant upon blood flow to deliver necessary nutrients. When circulation is impeded, the result can be less healthy-looking skin as the skin cells are not receiving the nutrients they need to maintain their youthful appearance. You can improve circulation by remaining active. You can also directly stimulate circulation by gently massaging skin during cleansing.

Skin Care in Your 60s & Beyond

In your 60s and later in life, it’s increasingly difficult to change the appearance of your skin, but you can continue to slow the signs of aging with proper care. At this point, the goal should be to maintain skin and whole-body health. People who have good relative health are more likely to maintain a younger looking appearance.

Skin Health Difficulties

  • All of the previous skin health concerns, diminished collagen, elastin, moisture, and circulation as well as hydration and pigmentation changes, continue into your 60s and beyond.
  • Additionally, you will be at a greater risk for skin growths. Most of these growths, like skin tags and papules (oil-filled bumps), are benign, but they change the appearance of your skin.
  • Postmenopausal women will continue to see changes in skin health due to decreased estrogen levels.

How to Care for Skin

Continue all previous skin health steps – sunscreen, moisturizer, anti-aging products, hydration, exfoliation, anti-inflammatories, and circulation. Additionally, you can further boost collagen production and These ingredients are often found in vitamin C serums.

How a Dermatologist Can Help

No matter what your skin’s age, a dermatologist can help you to maintain the healthiest possible appearance. In addition to partnering with you to find the right at-home skin care products and techniques, a dermatologist may also recommend more advanced interventions like chemical peels or microdermabrasion to further improve the skin’s appearance. If you want to learn more about how a dermatologist can help you slow skin aging, complete our simple request form to contact a U.S. Dermatology Partners location near you. One of our professionals will be in touch with you shortly to discuss potential treatment plans.

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