Your Skin and your face Over Time:
To select the best skincare regimen for your face, you must understand your skin type and the changes that occur in your skin and on your face over time as you advance in age.
Before you turn 18, hyaluronic acid, collagen, elastin fibers, and water are the main constituents of your skin. These skin components keep your face looking youthful, glowing, and radiant. When you turn 18, your skin starts to lose 1% of its collagen every year. Although it may not show, this loss of collagen marks the first step of your skin’s aging process.
Collagen loss will continue as you grow into your 40s and 50s. Then, when you reach menopause, collagen loss speeds up dramatically in response to the drop in your estrogen levels. Within the first 5 years of menopause, you will lose as much as 30% of the collagen in your skin. This causes your skin to become thinner and to lose volume resulting in fine lines and wrinkles. You will continue to lose an additional 2% of your collagen per year in the following years causing you to notice visible wrinkles and sagging skin on your face.
While aging of the skin and soft tissue is progressing on your face, the bones of your skull and of your face begin to shrink; your eye socket becomes longer and wider. The bones of your middle face likewise change and your nose becomes wider. The angles of your jaws substantially change, causing your lower face to sag and more wrinkles to appear on your neck. The reduction of your head (face and skull) bones allows for more redundant skin to become available for draping the facial platform, and, in turn, creates more wrinkles and sagging skin on your face.
Meanwhile, as you age, the cells on the surface of your skin change much more slowly. When you were younger, these cells on the skin surface would slough off every 4 to 5 weeks and were replaced by the cells at the base of the dermis. However, as you get older, it may take up to 12 weeks or more for those cells on top of your skin to slough off. This slow skin cell turnover leads to a build-up of dead skin cells on the skin of the face, causing the skin to look dry, dull, and rough to the touch.
At Anoki Skin Clinic, we recommend that every young woman start to include anti-aging products in their skincare regimen when they turn 20. At a minimum, this regimen should include a cleanser appropriate for your skin type, an antioxidant, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Your choice of products should depend on your age, your skin type, and any specific skin problems you may have. Starting a great skincare regimen early in life can help you maintain your skin smooth and to look years younger for at least a while until you reach age 60 and beyond. Therefore, from age 20 and on, your best skin care regimen must focus on: Cleanse, boost collagen formation, hydrate, protect and exfoliate.
First Things First:
Whether you are 20 or 60, you should never start using multiple new skincare products at once. Only use one product at a time until you are sure you are not reacting to it. Then introduce a new product one week or so afterward. Once you’ve determined that your skin is responding well to a certain product, you can then gradually increase the strength of the product if necessary.
Step 1: Cleanse your face morning and night
The first step to creating your best skincare regimen is to use a cleanser appropriate for your skin type. If you have dry skin, choose a cleanser that will hydrate your skin. If you have oily skin, you should opt for a foaming cleanser. If you have sensitive skin, you might opt to only use water in the morning and a mild cleanser at night. If you have normal skin, a hydrating cleanser will work best. Avoid using bar soap on your face because it will dry out your skin promoting fine lines and wrinkles. It is essential that you cleanse your face morning and night. At night when you sleep, bacteria and oil accumulate on your skin which requires cleansing your face in the morning. During the day, pollution, oil, dirt, and make-up accumulate on your skin which requires cleansing your face at night.
Step 2: Boost collagen formation
Once you finish cleansing, apply an antioxidant to your face and neck. This product will fight against the free radicals in your skin.
Free radicals are chemicals that cause your skin to age by causing damage to the cells of your skin and body. They are constantly being generated in your body and are the natural byproducts of your body’s metabolic processes. Free radicals are generated when we breathe, exercise, and during digestion. Free radicals are also generated from our environment, from cigarette smoke, when we consume ultra-processed foods, refined sugar, from heavy alcohol use, from pollution, sun rays, etc. Usually, your body is able to neutralize these free radicals. However, if your body is overwhelmed by them because of repeated exposure to environmental sources, this will cause a process called oxidative stress in your body. Oxidative stress can cause skin cell damages and collagen destruction leading to premature aging of the face and body. At its worse, continued cellular damages can lead to the development of cancer. Using topical antioxidants every day will neutralize the free radicals in your skin, thereby slowing the aging process of your face and neck.
At Tardieu Skin Clinic, we recommend incorporating both oral and topical antioxidants into your skincare regimen. One of the most popular antioxidants used in skincare is vitamin C serum. This should be in the form of L-ascorbic acid or ethyl ascorbic acid. There are a number of other topical antioxidants such as vitamin B, vitamin E, and ferulic acid available. While consuming whole foods rich in Vitamin C and taking oral vitamin C can work as an effective antioxidant for the body, applying topical vitamin C on the skin is one of the most effective ways to boost collagen production. It helps rejuvenate the skin by improving collagen synthesis, which slows the aging process of your face and neck. Topical vitamin C also protects the skin from UV damage, improves skin texture and reduces fine lines and wrinkles. When choosing topical vitamin C, a concentration of 10 to 20% is ideal. A higher concentration can cause significant irritation to your skin, particularly in women with sensitive or dry skin. The ideal topical vitamin C should also be combined with Vitamin E, B, and ferulic acid, which promote stability and increases absorption of the vitamin C into your skin.
Step 3: Hydrate
The third step is to keep your skin hydrated by applying a non-comedogenic (non-pore-blocking) moisturizer with or without sunscreen. Although moisturizing your skin cannot prevent or revert this aging process, it is necessary to keep your skin healthy and to allow your skin to function effectively as a barrier to prevent water loss. Moisturizer also helps in protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. Fine lines caused by dehydration can be reduced significantly when you apply a good moisturizer regularly. Your moisturizer should have hyaluronic acid or glycerin to help water bind to the collagen in your skin. For very dry skin, you may even opt to use a moisturizer that is petrolatum-based or that contains ceramide to seal moisture into your skin. Use a heavier moisturizer for your arms and legs, because they tend to become dryer than your face.
Step 4: Use sunscreen
UV Sun damage is one principal cause of premature aging, therefore using sunscreen is the most important step you can take to prevent your skin from developing fine lines and wrinkles. You should use a sunscreen with SPF 30 protection or above. Wear your sunscreen every day, no matter the season or forecast. Apply it at least 5 minutes before leaving home and after you’ve used your moisturizer. You should reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours if you are going to be outdoors.
Step 5: Exfoliate
If you have normal or oily skin, exfoliation should be a part of your skincare regimen. Exfoliation removes dead cells from the surface of your skin to optimize and even out your skin tone.
Your skin is constantly renewing itself by shedding dead cells. As your skin sheds the dead cells, it grows new ones to replace them. When you were younger, your skin made a fresh new layer of skin cells every 4 to 5 weeks and cleared your dead skin cells more rapidly resulting in more radiant skin. As you age, it takes longer for your skin to produce and clear dead skin cells, taking up to 10 to 12 weeks to turnover. The result is a build-up of dead cells on the surface of your skin making your face look dull, dry, and lackluster. Exfoliating your skin once or twice weekly accelerates this dead skin cell turnover and prevents the skin from looking as dull.
There are 2 types of skin exfoliators on the market: mechanical and chemical. Both types of exfoliators will give you softer skin, lighten brown spots, and improve skin texture. The mechanical exfoliators such as dermabrasion, use brushes, tiny particles, and electronic devices to rub off the dead skin cells from the skin surface. When performed appropriately by a qualified skincare professional, you end up with skin that glows and looks radiant. Chemical exfoliators clear away the dead skin cells also, but by weakening the bonds between the skin cells from the top layer of your skin. Popular chemical exfoliators include alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) and beta hydroxy acids (BHA). Salicylic acid, which is commonly used in acne treatment, belongs to the beta category. It penetrates the pores to dissolve sebum and dirt. Lactic and glycolic acids are AHA. They are made from fruit extracts. They are great options to treat fine lines and sun-damaged skin.
Likewise, retinoids (both tretinoin (Retin-A) and retinol-based creams) can also be used to promote exfoliation and stimulate collagen production and elastin fiber formation. Retinoids are a synthetic form of vitamin A, which can irritate the skin. It should only be used under the strict guidance of a physician and can only be obtained with a prescription. It should not be used with topical vitamin C. Likewise, retinoids should not be used in conjunction with or before mechanical or chemical exfoliation. Given that retinoids increase the skin sensitivity to the sun, it should only be used as part of the night skin regimen. You should not use retinoids if your job requires you to be in the sun. It should not be used if you have dry or sensitive skin. Retinol on the other hand is a natural form of vitamin A. It is less irritating to sensitive skin, and it can be obtained over the counter. Both retinoids and retinol reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve skin tone and texture and reduce the appearance of dark spots. Both of these retinoids are absolutely contraindicated if you are pregnant, plan to be pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
Putting it all together
Whether you are 20, 30, 40, or 60 it is never too early or too late to start caring for your skin. Furthermore, you must remember that as you age, proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle are essential to optimize both your metabolism and the quality of your skin. The good news is that by improving your diet and optimizing your lifestyle, you can look years younger than your actual age.
A few additional age-specific tips are worth mentioning. If you are in your 20s, even if you do nothing else, use sunscreen and an antioxidant like topical Vitamin C every day. Both sunscreen and topical antioxidants will protect your skin and maintain optimal collagen production, keeping your skin looking youthful and radiant.
If you are in your 30s, you may add retinoids to your skincare regimen in the form of retinol. Retinol will both exfoliate your skin and boost collagen production. This combo will keep your skin healthy, firm, and radiant at a point in your life where dead skin cell turnover starts to slow down. Remember that Retinoids are absolutely contraindicated if you are pregnant, plan to be pregnant, or breastfeeding. Therefore, you should talk to your gynecologist if you are sexually active and using these products to discuss starting highly effective and reliable contraception.
At 40, it is time to see a skincare specialist or dermatologist about upgrading your skincare regimen. Depending on the quality of your skin or any skin conditions you may have, you and your specialist can consider additional procedural options offered in the office to reverse or slow the aging process of your skin.
When you turn 50, it is time to use additional collagen-boosting ingredients and to consider upgrading your moisturizer to a heavier one that contains ceramide, hyaluronic acid, or dimethicone for your skin’s higher moisture requirements. Depending on your needs, you may also consider more invasive surgical options to promote a more youthful appearance.
Like what you read? Stay tuned for Part 2 of our blog post where we talk about the best lifestyle regimen to keep your skin and your face radiant, glowing, and years younger as you age.
The information in this article is not meant to be used for diagnosis or treatment. The information in this blog is meant for your education only. If you have a skin condition we recommend that you seek the consultation and care of a dermatologist or licensed skin care specialist. Additional information about this topic can be found on the Anoki Skin Clinic website where you can also contact a skin care specialist to plan a consultation to discuss your own skin needs.
Marie-Ange D. Tardieu, MD
Stephanie C. Tardieu, MD