Our Skin Throughout the Ages
Should we treat our skin differently as we move throughout the decades of our lives? The simple answer is YES! However, since everyone’s skin is unique with distinct genetics as well as variations in lifestyle, climate/humidity, and one’s priorities, the answer is also unique. Despite these differences, we each experience a 1% decline in collagen production for each year that we live…… the protein-producing functions found in the skin of a 20-year-old are vastly different from that of a 60-year-old and we will all have more sun damage to deal with in our skin 20 to 30 years from now. Let us look at the common changes that occur throughout life and the best ways to use modern, effective skincare as well as clinical treatments to affect the look and health of the skin in a positive way.
In our 20s, we enjoy the most beautiful, vibrant skin. At this point in life, one should begin a skin care regimen to protect and preserve the natural beauty and youthful glow of the skin. It is worth the investment. When shopping for anti-aging products, ditch the drugstore and overpriced department stores and look to a reputable dermatologist’s office to find products with real scientific evidence of efficacy. Look for a nighttime product containing a mild retinol or alpha-hydroxy acid such as Triacneal Night by Avene or Age + Blemish defense by Skinceuticals to exfoliate skin, prevent acne, and support strong collagen production. A must for all ages is using a high quality sunscreen every day with at least an SPF 30.
A recent trend for people in their 20s is to begin Botox to prevent dynamic wrinkles or wrinkles caused by over expression with facial muscles. It is easier to prevent these lines rather than treat them after the fact. To decide whether this is a smart step for you, take a good look at your mother’s skin. Genetics determine a lot when it comes to the way our skin ages. If your mother has noticeable expression lines between the brows or across the forehead, it may be worthwhile for you to take this preventative measure.
In our 30s, we start to notice fine lines, especially around the eyes and lips. Some tend to buy expensive products which make empty promises and are ineffective. Instead of frantically spending money on such underperformers, this is the time that you should adopt a great aesthetician as your partner in aging successfully. A professional will be able to guide you to the best dermatologic products and services for your unique skin type that have scientific research that demonstrates anti-aging by exfoliating and inducing the synthesis of new collagen which truly makes the skin younger. A retinoid does just this and is a must to prevent aging. Of course, any retinoid such as retinol, retinaldehyde, and tretinoin causes sun sensitivity. Again, one must use a daily sunscreen with a minimum of spf 30. At this age, it is also good to incorporate an antioxidant such as CE Ferulic or Phloretin CF by Skinceuticals or C-Clarifying Serum by Obagi Medical to assist the skin’s natural ability to counteract harmful environmental stressors which damage the skin.
Monthly glycolic peels are a very smart move at this age and can really take years off of your complexion. These in-office, professional treatments involve the application of a mild acid to the skin that causes exfoliation and increases cell turnover rate. The lower layer of the skin becomes slightly inflamed in this process, resulting in healthy circulation and increased collagen production. A little Botox at this age is also good to prevent the initiation of lines from expression. Caution should always be taken to keep a natural appearance and not produce a frozen, artificial look.
The biggest mistake at this age is not using sunscreen. Women spend millions on the latest anti-aging night creams, but often will not wear a daily sunscreen, which is a necessity to prevent further breakdown of collagen and elastin. Some of my favorites include Weightless SPF 45 by PCA Skin, Physical Fusion SPF 50 by Skinceuticals, and Sun Shield Matte SPF 50 by Obagi Medical.
If your skin is able to tolerate one, it is best to use a prescription strength retinoid, known as tretinoin, to exfoliate and induce synthesis of new collagen. It decreases splotchiness and irregular pigmentation and induces plumper, healthier skin.
The addition of serums or moisturizers with peptides and growth factors as well as antioxidants helps to round out a complete skin care regimen. Some of the best include CE Ferulic by Skinceuticals, TNS Recovery Complex by Skinmedica, and Hydrate Luxe by Obagi Medical.
Using a gentle cleanser or cream cleanser will prevent dryness which can accentuate fine lines and wrinkles. A great moisturizer, such as Triple Lipid Repair 2:4:2 by Skinceuticals, applied to damp skin will trap the water in the skin from cleansing and give a dewier, vibrant appearance to the skin.
Adding in office procedures such as chemical peels on a monthly basis can bring about marked change without having to get a more aggressive procedure which can have greater risks. While monthly glycolic peels are great at this age, it is also smart to incorporate some more aggressive treatments such as the Obagi Blue Peel Radiance, SkinMedica Vitalize Peel, or the Glytone Peel Series for Eyes and Lips. These peels exfoliate to restore smoothness as well as decrease pigmentary changes and stimulate new collagen production which decreases with age and sun exposure. Another effective and safe way to restore firmness to the skin is with a series of micro-needling treatments. This is a unique way to injure the skin and in turn dramatically improve collagen production rates.
Your 50s should be one of the best decades of your life! This is a great time to focus on your health and fitness, and it is the ideal time to really invest in the health and beauty of your skin. At this age, one must not over treat the skin, which can precipitate a dry, dull skin. Again using a creamy cleanser or non-soap cleanser is best. Moisturizing to damp skin is essential. Adding serums with peptides, antioxidants and mild alpha hydroxy acids can make the skin age better. Always use a daily sunscreen.
Many of us find our past sun damage appearing at the surface of the skin in the form of unwanted brown pigmentation. To ward off age spots and decrease pigmentary abnormalities, the addition of a hydroquinone preparation is warranted. If pigmentation issues are affecting the beauty of your skin, the most effective treatment is the Obagi Medical Nuderm System which incorporates tried and true ingredients to thoroughly treat unwanted pigmentation.
As the hormones shift in menopause, a 50 year old may have more facial hair or peach fuzz. Dermaplaning is a fantastic procedure that exfoliates and removes facial hair which yields an unbelievable freshness and glow. For a more aggressive, anti-aging treatment, consider a micro-needling series of 3 treatments to reawaken the collagen production in your skin.
One may consider fillers, such as Juvederm XC and Juvederm Voluma, at this point to correct and decrease the deeper wrinkles and loss of collagen. Hyaluronic acid fillers are nice because this ingredient is normally found in the skin, incorporates into the collagen to add volume and stimulates new collagen synthesis. The combination of Botox can produce a younger, better you! Always taking care to look completely natural is a must!!! A better you is in store, not a stranger looking at you in the mirror!!!
60s and 70s
The biggest mistake at this age is panic!! If one has been laying the foundation of great skin since the 20s, no problem. If one is just getting in the game, it’s not too late!!
Products mentioned earlier are still the foundation of beautiful skin. A program should be designed specifically for one’s skin. Retinoids, antioxidants and sunscreen are critical. A heavier moisturizer may be warranted and used underneath any anti-aging treatment to enhance penetration of the active products.
If changes of aging are moderate to severe, a resurfacing LASER or a vascular LASER may be used for more immediate results in the treatment of lines, pigmentary problems and broken capillaries or telangiectases. An in office microdermabrasion with or without a chemical peel can “open the door” in aging skin for the penetration of active serums and moisturizers to better treat aging skin. If your skin is strong and resilient, micro-needling is a safe and effective treatment for mature skin.
More liberal use of fillers including Juvederm and Voluma can restore the lost volume of older skin. Voluma is a wonderful filler to enhance the cheekbone area and cheeks that have become hollow with age. These fillers look natural and give a lift to improve the look of sagging and sadness that happens in the lower face with aging. Of course, all care should be taken to look natural and restorative instead of overfilled and puffy!!
These products and procedures not only turn back the clock on aging, but also help to prevent precancerous lesions as well as skin cancer!
Dr. Melissa Langley is board certified in dermatology and internal medicine. She practices medical dermatology as well as cosmetic dermatology. Langley aesthetics incorporates the best in skin care and services.