Developing a skincare routine is important, no matter how old you are — and it is never too late to start. Over time as your skin changes, your routine will need to change as well.
The first step, according to Michael Noparstak, board-certified dermatologist at Acadia Dermatology in Ellsworth, is to see a board-certified dermatologist to get an individualized approach based on your skin and your specific concerns.
“I would start with a board-certified dermatologist because certain therapies can only be given via prescription [and] understanding the skin on a histologic and physiologic level to aid in discussing and recommending treatments is paramount,” Noparstak said. “There are also many products that I commonly see used incorrectly. A simple explanation can go a long way.”
Mackenzie Kelley, owner of M Kelley Skincare in Bangor, agreed that seeing a professional is an important first step. She said that consulting with an esthetician after you see a dermatologist will help you to address some of the more aesthetic concerns you may have about your skin, while dermatologists focus mainly on the health of your skin and any diseases.
Whatever you do, though, resist the urge to get skincare tips from social media.
“Try not to get information from the internet, social media or someone trying to sell you something,” Noparstak said. “Avoid clicking on ads for skincare.”
“Most people just do what they see on TikTok and they get fed through their Instagram feed but a lot of times that product isn’t that great,” Kelley added.
What happens to skin as you age?
As you age, your skin will change in many ways as your body changes.
“Every 10 years, your skin has a hormonal change,” Kelley said. “They’re kind of just phases of your life.”
Noparstak said that changes to the skin will vary depending on factors like stress, diet, genetics, underlying medical conditions and other environmental exposures, but there are some general trends that everyone can expect.
“Bone resorption and changes to the underlying fat pads of the face cause significant changes from a cosmetic standpoint,” Noparstak said. “Skin can become drier and develop more lines [and] wrinkles. Over time, it is normal to develop benign growths, especially once one reaches the fourth decade of life.”
“As people age usually they lose elasticity and collagen volume,” Kelley added. “[As skin thins], more hyperpigmentation comes to the surface. Skin damage is done when you’re young, and as you age, it comes up to the surface.”
Skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis — which Noparstak said can change with age — are best selectively targeted with a treatment plan designed by a dermatologist.
Another issue as you age: skin cancer.
“It is more common to develop skin cancer the older you get,” Noparstak said. “Squamous cell carcinoma, now shown to be the number one killer in the United States when it comes to skin cancer, is more common in elderly people with lighter skin types and an extensive amount of cumulative sun damage to the skin.”
Skincare in your teens and 20s
In a person’s teenage years, they should develop a solid foundation for a skincare regimen.
“I think it’s a good idea for teens to start with a very basic skincare regimen,” said Linda Forgues, owner and esthetician at About Face Skin Care Salon and Cosmetic Boutique in Damariscotta. “Cleansing the skin once in the morning once at night [and I would] definitely suggest a moisturizer, but it would have to be something according to their skin type. It’s fine to add a toner to absorb the oil but just to keep in mind not to overdry the skin. If you take away the oil, the body is going to produce more oil.”
The teenage years are a great time to get into the habit of wearing sun protection every day.
“Get into the habit of wearing a lotion or moisturizer with an SPF in it,” Forgues said.
As you move into your twenties, Forgues said that you will begin to lose collagen and elastin in your skin. As such, there should be some adjustments to your skincare routine.
“There is no too early time to start with anti-aging,” Kelley said. “It’s all preventative. Using more moisturizer as you age is really important. Start getting facials. Start using anti-aging serum such as retinol or vitamin C. A teenager doesn’t really need anti aging serums but in your 20s is definitely fair game.”
“I would probably recommend the vitamin C [serum] first,” Forgues added. “Most people in their 20s are not that dry so I think the vitamin C is probably a little bit more important. It keeps skin bright [and] prevents it from sun damage [and] premature aging.”
Forgues suggested adding an eye cream as well.
“The difference between eye cream and moisturizer is that there may be ingredients in moisturizer that you don’t want close to your eye because the skin around your eyes is thin and very delicate,” Forgues said. “Keep that skin moisturized and hydrated.”
Skincare in your 30s and 40s
In your 30s, your skin will likely start to develop more lines and wrinkles, and the texture of your skin will be a little duller and not as smooth.
Forgues said that adding a chemical exfoliant like alpha hydroxy acids, particularly glycolic acid, which can be found as individual serums or incorporated into night creams.
“They gently exfoliate the skin and simulate cellular turnover,” Forgues said. “As we get older we don’t slough off the dead skin cells naturally like we used to when we were young. We need help to get rid of those dead skin cells so those new cells will come to the surface. I would recommend that to be used at night.”
Kelley said that you might want to start doing more regular anti-aging facials and peels — a good rule of thumb, she said, is to get a facial for every seasonal change.
“Your skin is affected by the environment every season,” Kelley said. “As you get older, I start recommending facials once a month.”
You may also consider starting some Botox or collagen injections, as well as facial yoga, which will help you work out and tone your facial muscles.
“Any time you put a moisturizer on, you should give yourself a pretty good facial massage,” Kelley said. “You want to rub in an upward motion, and then drain it down through your sinuses and lymph nodes.”
In your 40s, Forgues said your skincare routine will remain relatively the same.
“You may want to add a retinol if you’re not sensitive,” Forgues said. “If you are sensitive, stick with a glycolic [acid]. They kind of do the same thing. If someone has really sensitive skin, I probably wouldn’t suggest a retinol or try it very slowly and use a time release retinol which will not be as irritating.”
Forgues said you also might want to swap in a heavier night cream.
“We lose moisture in our skin [at night], so it’s a good time to use a night cream that might have a few more active ingredients,” Forgues said. “It might be a little heavier, [and] might have some ceramides that add more moisture and things like that.”
Skincare in your 50s and beyond
In your 50s, you will focus more on the skin’s increasing dryness.
“Women mostly in their 50s are going through menopause and our skin because of hormones will definitely change,” Forgues said. “We want to concentrate on hydrating. I definitely suggest that age group add a type of hyaluronic acid to retain moisture, in addition to a vitamin C serum. Usually you want to put on the product that is the thinnest. Vitamin C is really liquidy [and] hyaluronic [serum] is a little bit thicker.”
Forgues said to let one serum absorb for a few minutes before applying the other. A stabilized vitamin C serum may help promote absorption as well.
In your 60s and beyond, Kelley said you may experience volume loss and consider doing face lifts, collagen injections or Botox.
“I personally don’t love the frozen look,” Kelley admitted. “Too much Botox isn’t a good look. I always recommend facial exercises. You can take collagen chews or capsules. We just up the ante on everything.”
Also, Forgues said to concentrate on hydration even more than you have in the past.
“Adding a facial oil to your regimen might be nice, too,” Forgues said. “It causes a barrier so that your moisturizer will soak in better. Argan oil type things are good to add just again to add more hydration.”
And, of course, keep up the sun protection.
“No matter how old you are, always use your daytime sun protection, whether it’s a chemical sunscreen or mineral based sunblock,” Forgues said.
Keeping up the healthy skin
Forgues said that perhaps the most important element of your skincare routine is maintaining the habit.
“Just keep it as a habit,” Forgues said. “It does help through the years as we start at a young age and get into the habit of following a good skincare regimen. I definitely see the difference in my clients who have been practicing a skincare regimen since they were in their early 20s. Their aging process has definitely not happened as quickly.”
Noparstak noted that everybody is different, though, and the way you adjust your skincare routine may be different than somebody else’s.
“Everyone’s skin is different and certain changes can happen throughout multiple decades,” Noparstak said. “I have seen young patients with genetic conditions that are covered in skin cancers and 90 year old patients who barely have any growths on their skin. I have 20 year old patients whose skin is so dry they need to moisturize five times a day, and 80 year old outdoorsmen who can get along just fine without any moisturizer. Age is just a number.”