By the time you reach the golden years, you hope that you are pleased when you look into the mirror. No, we’re not suggesting that the image you see won’t show time; however, it can reflect the beauty of a life well lived, especially if you start taking care of yourself in your teens and early 20s, then build upon that solid foundation through the next few decades.
“Protecting your skin with the goal of maintaining youth is a goal for all of us,” says Dr. Todd Stoeckel of Wake Plastic Surgery. “But the path of success in achieving this common goal is different for everyone.”
That being said, there are some common threads that link us all as we age. Here, our panel of local experts offers advice on how to look your best at every age.
For your 20s, the key is protecting your skin and laying the groundwork for a solid skin regimen. “Sunblock cannot be emphasized enough to age gracefully,” says Kile Law, President and Founder of Blue Water Spa. She stresses the importance to choose a physical sunblock over a chemical sunscreen. The difference? Sunblocks act as a barrier preventing UV radiation from reaching the skin while sunscreens absorb the UV radiation. Law warns that some ingredients can be irritating to sensitive skin so if you see a word that resembles “cinnamon” don’t use the product.
Also, invest in a good pair of sunglasses. “Not only are they protective of the internal structures of the eye, but they also minimize squinting which can lead to the early development of ‘crow’s feet,’ wrinkles along the outer edge of the eyes,” says Dr. Stoeckel.
Breakouts can also be a big issue for those in their 20s so it’s important to find a course of treatment that is customized to your skin. “Keep it simple,” advises Law. You don’t need nine different products; instead focus on using a cleanser that cleans without stripping skin, she says, and a moisturizer that hydrates without clogging pores.
“Some skin is dry, some skin is oily, some skin is highly sensitive, and others are rigid and minimally responsive. This explains why a customized approach is typically the most effective approach,” says Dr. Stoeckel.
Set up an appointment for a facial or chemical peel, such as salicylic acid peel that can help control acne, and ask for a detailed evaluation to choose the right skin care regimen. Microdermabrasion can also be a great non-aggressive tool to improve complexions at this age.
Assuming you’ve taken care of your skin in your 20s, you should be in good shape by the time you get to your 30s. You may start seeing some sun damage though: “What once was a cute freckle might now look like a brown spot,” says Anna Churchill, Founder of Synergy Spa and Aesthetics. Those with more
extensive sun damage might be candidates for laser resurfacing, specifically an IPL or Intense Pulsed Light laser, while facials and peels can help with less significant damage.
Those in their 30s may also want to consider using Botox on fine lines and wrinkles on the forehead, at the outer corners of the eyes (crow’s feet) or in between the eyes. “Our facial expressions are important, but judicial control of the expressions with neuromodulators like Botox can effectively maintain a youthful appearance” says Dr. Stoeckel.
You might also add a few more targeted products to your skincare regimen as you enter your third decade. Churchill recommends adding a retinol-based product at this stage: “Look for retinol in the first five ingredients,” she says. “The further down it’s on the list the more it is diluted.” Dr. Stoeckel recommends adding products with Vitamin C and Vitamin A to your skincare regimen. “Vitamin C is an effective antioxidant which protects, brightens, and hydrates skin,” he says, recommending Revision Vitamin C 30% as a solid option. While Vitamin A as an ingredient helps improve the rate at which cells turnover.
“By the time we reach our 40’s, the effects of gravity, time and life start to show in almost all of us,” says Dr. Stoeckel. Volume loss in the cheeks and mid-face is one of the most significant changes. “It no longer has the fullness and youthfulness,” says Churchill. Dermal fillers, such as Juvederm and Restylane, can help combat the effects of time and restore some of the fullness. The treatment is particularly effective around the lines from the nose to the corners of the mouth and “marionette” lines from the mouth to the middle of the jawbone. “This crease of skin can be almost erased with the effective use of these injectable products,” says Dr. Stoeckel.
Not everyone wants or needs dermal fillers; for some, the changing texture of their skin is a more important issue to remedy. Light resurfacing or chemical peels can help “get rid of that dry, dull look,” says Churchill. She recommends a fractionated laser, such as Fraxel. These types of lasers are considered non-ablative, a non-wounding laser that can still stimulate collagen; however, you can expect to show some redness or puffiness for up to four days.
At home, the biggest issue most contend with is TEWL, trans-epidermal water loss, or the inability of skin to hold on to moisture. “People tend to go for heavier creams, but they don’t structurally change the way the skin behaves,” says Churchill. Instead, she recommends using a serum containing hyaluronic acid that can help improve moisture retention. Make sure the ingredient is in the top three or four listed on the product, she says, adding that one of her favorites is Skinmedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator. Also, don’t ignore your neck as you might start seeing sagging under the chin. Dr. Stoeckel recommends Nectifirm, a product that delivers “peptides into the skin which boost collagen build up and turnover.”
50’s and Beyond
Let’s face it, by the time you get to your 50s, there aren’t any miracle products. You’ve either taken care of your skin, and already started aging gracefully, or you’re turning toward more aggressive treatments, such as plastic surgery. When it comes to creams and serums, the skin or DEJ (dermal-epidermal junction where the inner layer of skin meets the outer layer) no longer transmits products efficiently. However, Dr. Stoeckel does recommend trying Revision DEJ Face Cream. “This product basically enhances the effectiveness of other skin care products in the advanced aging skin patient,” he says.
Those who have been taking care of skin can continue with some of the same treatment options they may have used in the past, including laser resurfacing and Broadband Light, a therapy used to treat freckles and age spots, dermal fillers and/or Botox. When it comes to surgical options, they range from the more invasive such as face or neck lifts to more directed results, for example, eyelid surgery.
“For many, just a deeper laser peel, deeper chemical peel, or deeper dermabrasion treatment is all that is required to smooth out mild facial wrinkles or eliminate ‘age spots’ on the skin. But others will only achieve their desired results with a well-performed facial surgery,” says Dr. Stoeckel. “For patients that are ready and appropriate for surgical options, the results can be literally life changing.”