Skincare through the ages

Beautiful skin is a life-long pursuit. Here's a skin care regime to last you several decades.

Cold air bites your cheeks. UV rays sink into your skin. Thick smog hugs your face. Whether you’re turning the corner on 22 or 42, our skin confronts the same elements each day. Yet, how to fight these elements through proper cleansing and care varies by age. Here’s your decade-long plan on how to keep your skin in tip-top shape.

Your 20s
Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! Layer on SPF 15 every day, suggests Dr. Ian Landells, a St. John’s-based dermatologist. “Most of what we attribute to aging is sun and ultraviolet radiation damage,” he adds. Skip makeup with SPF blended in it—we don’t apply it as thickly as we should for proper protection.

For cleansing and moisturizing, keep it light. After removing makeup each night (a must!), follow with a gentle cleanser and a lightly textured moisturizer. Your skin might still be oily thanks to your teen years. If this is the case, use a toner. “If you’re getting blackheads and closed pores, you’re using products that are too oily,” says Dr. Janice Liao, an Edmonton dermatologist. If blackheads dot your skin, try a moisturizer with salicylic or glycolic acid.

Tip: Birth control can affect your skin’s health. Products such as Diane-35, Tri-Cyclen and Alesse can help clear acne-prone skin, but other brands or forms of birth control, such as Depo-Provera, can trigger acne since they make skin oilier.

Your 30s
Larger pores, rosacea, fine lines and dark circles start to emerge as we age. Stick to those gentle cleansers and products containing glycolic acid to help diminish fine lines. Vitamin C-based products can also help prevent wrinkles and lighten-up circles around the eyes.

“For larger pores, exfoliate more and use products with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) to minimize pores,” says Dr. Liao. Stick with those lighter-textured products of your 20s to avoid clogging pores further.

A common complaint in the 30s is melasma, a.k.a. the “mask of pregnancy.” Looking like an odd tan, this facial discoloration can appear on pregnant women or women taking the birth control pill. A good SPF prevents further darkening. It’s also helpful to limit your sun exposure.

Tip: For more skin help, light-based treatments can reduce melasma pigment, freckles and broken blood vessels, which might also emerge. For fine lines, glycolic-acid peels are an option.

Your 40s
Expect exaggeration of the lines, broken blood vessels and dark circles you spotted in your 30s. Keep using your AHAs, suggests Dr. Liao, and try products with retinol at night to further lessen these effects. They shed dead outer skin layers, leaving you with a fresher face.

“Your skin might also be drier, so use products with a higher concentration of glycolic acid—about 15 per cent,” suggests Dr. Landells. Prescription vitamin A creams will also help reduce spots, wrinkles and lines.

Tip: Watch for skin cancer and signs of sun damage—look for areas that become scaly and disappear (and then reappear) or shiny bumps. Signs of melanoma are A-B-C-D moles: asymmetrical, have irregular borders, colour variation or a diameter greater than 6 mm.

Women of this age group will notice that their skin is noticeable dry. Think about switching to unscented products—scented soaps, detergents and the like can irritate skin further. Retinols and AHAs will continue to keep your skin looking its healthiest. “You might also start to get unwanted facial hair around menopause,” says Dr. Landells. Laser or even intense pulse-light hair removal may be suitable for people with light skin to help with this.

Timeless skin care reminders
· Keep hydrated—if you’re thirsty, your skin is parched too, so make sure to swig your eight glasses a day.
· Stress shows on your skin—it causes the pores to get wider, and thus, more oily and greasy. It can also trigger problematic skin conditions.
· If you’re not logging enough sleep, dark circles under the eyes can form as well as swelling.
· Wash your face with room-temperature water—water that’s too hot will promote broken blood vessels.