No matter their age, everyone wants complexion perfection. But how do you know when to start applying anti-aging serums? And when should you begin using glycolic peels? Because each phase of life has specific imperfections to deal with, the dilemmas you face in your twenties can be far different from the ones that crop up in your forties. We chatted with Washington D.C.-based dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, M.D., about what is going on with your skin by decade so you can customize your skin care routine.
Just because we all know the sunscreen commandment by heart (“Thou shalt never leave the house without applying sunblock!”) doesn't mean we always stay true to it. But blocking harmful rays in your teens is essential for healthy skin later in life. Dr. Tanzi suggests using “SPF 30 or above and trying zinc-based products which will also help dry up oily-acne-prone skin.
Beautylish recommends: Neutrogena Sunblock Lotion for Sensitive Skin, SPF 60
Stress, hormones, and late nights (which, let's be honest, often include fatty foods and alcohol) all contribute to unpredictable acne breakouts. The solution? “Be sure your daily face wash contains either 2% salicylic acid or 2.5% benzoyl peroxide,” says Dr. Tanzi. These two must-have ingredients zap zits and declog oil and dirt from pores without drying out your skin. So you can still have that natural radiant glow.
Beautylish recommends: Clean & Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser
In your thirties, uneven skin tone and dark spots are common woes that can be blamed on the sun damage accumulation from your teens and twenties. Reverse these pigment problems by “using a night serum containing hydroquinone (or HQ), which works by shutting down melanin-producing cells,” explains Dr. Tanzi. It also lightens brown blotches, especially when combined with glycolic acid or a retinoid (Both of which increase penetration). Another great spot-removing ingredient? Kojic acid, which is gentler than HQ but has a similar effect.
Beautylish recommends: Murad Post-Acne Spot Lightening Gel
As you get older, wrinkles begin to appear as a result of your skin's collagen and elastin fibers breaking down. Look for products that contain vitamin C and retinol, which boost collagen production and cellular renewal. “There is nothing better than tretinoin (the generic term for prescription Retin-A) for wrinkles,” says Dr. Tanzi. “However, it can be irritating. If you have sensitive skin, an over-the-counter retinol is a gentler version.” Although wrinkles are a big concern in your forties, it's important to start prevention in your thirties and continuing to do so in future decades.
Beautylish recommends: SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream