Skincare secrets for your 20s, 30s and 40s
Welcome to our no-bull guide to the skincare you need now (and later!). Follow this expert guide to nail your age-appropriate routine and you’ll have #skingoals for life.
In your twenties
According to Olay skincare specialist David Kohn, our twenties herald the early signs of ageing, so if you don’t want creases before you’re 40, listen up! “When women enter their twenties, fine lines around the eyes begin to appear, as do sun spots and dry skin,” he explains.
Your skin’s production of antioxidants will begin to slow too, which means SPF protection is an absolute must. “The sun is the biggest skin ager and source of damaging free radicals, so it’s the number one thing you should be protecting yourself against,” Kohn notes.
You might’ve graduated from those dreaded puberty blues, but there’s a chance your skin is still sporting breakouts. To keep blemishes at bay, wash your face every morning and make no exceptions when it comes to an evening cleanse. “Double cleanse at night,” tips Nichola Joss, Sanctuary Spa skin expert and celeb facialist. “Use an oil cleanser to grab the day’s grime, then a cream formula for a deeper clean.”
To balance your oil flow, nix dry skin and clear congestion, Joss recommends exfoliating twice a week. “Look for exfoliants with witch hazel and salicylic acid to fight pimple-causing bacteria, then follow your exfoliation with a detoxifying charcoal face masks,” she instructs.
Invest in a daily serum or face oil loaded with antioxidants to counteract late nights and sun damage. It’ll keep the structural integrity of your skin cells in good nick and prevent dehydration, which can lead to wrinkles down the track. In your mid-twenties? Then yes, you do need an eye cream. The skin around your eyes is super thin, so it loses moisture fast. Apply a light formula enriched with nourishing ceramides and energising caffeine to de-puff before bed.
Much like your cleanser, a high-quality moisturiser is something you need at every age. A cream or gel infused with hyraluronic acid should be your go-to, but feel free to bypass prods with retinol – you don’t need them just yet. Since suncare is your top priority, look for a day cream with SPF 30 or above.
The golden rule
Heed this advice: do not sleep in your make-up. Please. Your future self will love you for it. “Your skin rejuvenates during the night, so removing all traces of make-up prior to sleeping gives your skin its best shot at absorbing the nutrients from your evening skincare,” advises Kohn. If you’re six tequila shots past being able to operate a shower, grab a face wipe instead.
In your thirties
Once you hit the big 3-0, fine lines and wrinkles start to deepen and your skin becomes thinner and more dehydrated. Your bod’s production of new cells also slows down, leaving your complexion a little lacklustre. Sheesh!
If you failed to slip, slop and slap back in the day, you may notice sun spots and pigmentation. But the good news is: it’s totally treatable.
Dissolve pigmentation and speed up your skin cell turnover by introducing a cleanser with lactic or salicylic acid into your daily routine. Just don’t over-treat your skin – swap your active cleanser for a gentler one at night.
If you want to make the most of those anti-ageing lotions, toning after cleansing is crucial. “A toner will improve the absorption of the ingredients that follow it and can also reduce the look of pores and wrinkles,” Kohn explains.
Your skin gets thinner as you age, but since it doesn’t renew itself as often, it can get clogged by dead cells – which you’ll need to slough away for a healthy glow. “Your skin loses elasticity in your thirties, so you can’t be rough with it,” warns Joss. “Swap gritty scrubs for a chemical or cream exfoliant twice a week,” she tips.
If you don’t have a dedicated night cream, it’s time to invest in one. As you get older, look for thicker moisturisers containing vitamin C, E or niacinamide to ease inflammation.
Since sun damage will only exacerbate wrinkles and sun spots, make sure your day cream comes with antioxidants and a high SPF.
Swap the basic hydrating serum you used in your twenties for one infused with retinol (vitamin A) and peptides (chains of amino acids). These anti-ageing champs will boost collagen, repair cell damage, soothe breakouts and even out pigmentation. As retinol is less active in sunlight, pop it on before bed, but since it increases your skin’s photosensitivity, you need to ensure your wear sunscreen during the day!
You should still be using an eye cream too, so keep applying it day and night and opt for one with retinol or vitamin C to soften lines.
The golden rule
It’s all about SPF! “Don’t think that serums and creams alone will prevent your skin from ageing in your thirties,” says Kohn. “Protection against UVA and UVB rays is a vital step.”
In your forties
Heading into your forties, your skin will become less firm and begin to wrinkle. “Combat this by keeping the skin hydrated,” says Joss. “Oils will help keep the skin plump and dewy.”
“Deep lines are caused by the overuse of muscle combined with a lack of moisture and collagen,” says Joss. Soften them with an anti-ageing serum filled with peptides and retinol.
“A poor diet, lack of moisture and stress will lead to a loss of radiance,” warns Joss. “Avoid sugar and processed foods, get some quality sleep and go for regular glycolic peels.”
This story appeared in the March issue of Women’s Fitness