I hope this blog post will help readers make smarter choices on how to care for their skin. Between the thousands of skincare products and the billions of dollars spent advertising those products, it’s daunting to decipher what you really need to do for your skin. The goal with this post is to help you figure that out.
Life looks and feels different at every age—and so does your skin. Here’s a glance at what a skin care regimen should include from teens, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and beyond.
By the time you can drive:
All skin care regimes must start with excellent broad spectrum sunscreen that should be worn year round. Yes, you heard me, year round. Protecting yourself from the sun decreases your risk of getting skin cancer and slows the signs of aging. Studies show that the sun’s UV radiation causes 90% of skin aging. It’s never too early to start protecting your skin and a great habit to start young.
Also non-negotiable: Washing your face before bed. You need to get the day’s grime off, including make-up, oil, pollution and dirt to decrease the risk of skin irritation, clogged pores and acne. It is also the first step in helping your skin cells in their efforts to reverse the day’s wear and tear.
By the time you can legally drink:
Skin cells have a lot of work to do while we rest up—and they function better in a moist environment. Applying cream before bed protects the skin from dehydration as you sleep making it easier for them do the repairs they need do. Despite the common myth, face creams do NOT cause pimples. If you have oily skin and are worried, pick a product that is oil-free. If you have acne or redness, pick one with Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), to combat that redness.
By your 30th birthday:
Multiple studies show that antioxidant serums with Vitamin C and E protect your skin against photo-aging. They work because these vitamins function as antioxidants, neutralizing the damaging free radicals created by the sun and pollution before they activate the breakdown of collagen. It’s important to know that the skin is very good at keeping things out, so these antioxidants need to be in a well formulated vehicle that absorbs easily into the skin to ensure those important and expensive vitamins get deep enough into the skin to protect it.
By your 40th birthday:
- Day Treatment (Antioxidant/Vitamin C)
- Sunscreen every morning
- Wash your face every night
- Night Treatment (retinol/bakuchiol/AHA)
- Face cream before bed
We have 30+ years of data showing that night treatments like retinol/bakuchiol/AHA help with reducing fine lines by increasing collagen synthesis and decreasing collagen breakdown. They also correct sun damage, and improve skin texture and discoloration. These repair treatments increase cell turnover, which is why some people experience irritation if they use too much or do not follow it with a moisturizer.
There is a lot of “concern” about sun sensitivity with repair treatments. Because they increase cell turnover, the top layer of dead skin is less thick. This layer can provide an SPF of 2 to 4. Provided you are using daily sunscreen, it is ok to use repair treatments year-round. But if you love to bask in the sun and not wear sunscreen, then don’t bother with the repair treatment, you have issues to work on!
Also, there is no harm in starting day and night treatments earlier. These products are typically more expensive and not sought out until the first signs of aging begin. But they are safe to use at any age—unless you are pregnant. In fact, many teenagers are prescribed tretinoin (the prescription form of retinol) in the form of Retin-A for acne.
The rest of the stuff out there-- the eye cream, neck cream, toners, mists, face oils, growth factors, peptides, sheet mask… Yes, they are fun but they are not required. If, after you get your perfect 5 product skin care regime going, and you want more then go for it. BUT know, the more products you use, and the more ingredients you expose your skin to, the more likely it is to become irritated. When it comes to skin care, more does not mean better. Even as an aging dermatologist who has access to everything, I stick with my 5 product skin care regimen because that is when my skin looks its best.
Based on my experience and education (and frustration with the industry trying to constantly upsell and push bad products), I've created a skincare line of products to help people get their best skin. You can check it out here.
Meet the Author: Heather D. Rogers, MD, founder of Doctor Rogers Skin Care, is a double-board certified dermatologic surgeon who sees patients full-time at her practice Modern Dermatology in Seattle, WA. With over two decades of experience, Dr. Rogers' year-long waitlist stems from outstanding results and her candor about what the skin really needs for life long beauty and health. She is a graduate of Stanford University, the University of Washington School of Medicine, and completed her dermatology residency and fellowships at Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan. She is regularly quoted as the expert in national press and lectures internationally on skincare, aesthetics, surgery, and improving patient outcomes. Dr. Rogers is fortunate to be perennially listed as a Top Doctor in Seattle and among the top 1% most awarded physicians in the US.