These days, when it comes to our skincare routines, we’re pretty clued up. Searches for “vitamin C skincare” on Pinterest were up by 3,379 per cent year-on-year in 2018; most of us know our hyaluronic acid from our salicylic acid; and we’re probably all aware that we should be using an SPF daily. However, knowing when to use which products in order to best support your skin is the real trick of the trade. It’s also something that beauty giant L’Oréal Paris has ploughed a lot of time and funding into. The result of a 30-year-long research project, its Skin Atlas launched last year and is a study that looks in detail at how different skins age, taking into account internal and external factors including lifestyle, ethnicity and life-stage. The goal, according to Dr Steve Shiel, scientific director at L’Oréal, is to get a better understanding of the skin in order to create targeted products that are more effective.
According to most experts, your 20s are the decade in which to maintain and prevent, so hydration and sun protection are two absolute necessities. Hyaluronic acid is the gold standard for this, and, best of all, it works for every skin type and tone. Look for formulas that combine molecular weights for both instant surface and deep-down hydration; Tan-Luxe’s Super Glow is one such formula that also imparts a natural sunkissed look. When it comes to preventative measures, SPF is non-negotiable. “It is very important to prevent premature skin ageing as the last step in our skincare regime,” advises dermatologist Dr Marko Lens. Also common during your 20s is the onset of adult acne, even if it was never a problem before. To help deal with this, look for products that restore sebum balance, and soothe breakouts with salicylic acid and zinc.
Between your 30s and 40s, you’ll start to notice considerable differences in your skin, so it’s time to take corrective as well as preventative steps. Up until your mid-30s, most damage is extrinsic ageing caused by external factors, such as sun damage, but after that intrinsic ageing, such as internal glycation, starts to take effect. “What this means for skin is a deterioration in the quality of its connective tissue, which causes deeper lines and increased sagging,” says Linda Blahr, education and science manager for SkinCeuticals. Accordingly, ramp up your routine with punchy actives such as L-ascorbic acid – an antioxidant that’s a pure, potent form of vitamin C – which will make a visible difference to skin: brightening, firming and protecting.
In your 40s, the signs of ageing are more definite. “Physiologically, skin becomes thinner and less elastic as collagen is systemically broken down, resulting in loss of volume,” says Atoshi George, L’Oréal senior scientific advisor. “It also gets thinner and produces less oil and sweat.” Add to this increased dryness, dark circles, enlarged pores, crepiness around eyes and a rougher skin texture, and it means extra hydration plus hard-hitting skin-renewing ingredients are vital. “Find a cleanser that will deeply cleanse your skin, without irritating or stripping it,” says Kevin Mun, co-founder of Korean-inspired skincare line Venn. “Also, it’s time to use products with powerful antioxidants and other actives, such as peptides, that can help stimulate and increase collagen and elastin production.”
Your 50s are typically the decade when huge hormonal shifts in your body cause noticeable changes. “The epidermis contains precious lipids including free fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides. They give skin that cushioned feel, but at this age, their synthesis has started to decline,” says SkinCeuticals’ Linda Blahr. To counteract this, incorporate rich moisturisers to help rebuild volume from within. It’s not just the skin on your cheeks and forehead that is susceptible to this; you may notice your lips and under-eye area become drier and thinner. Veneffect’s Anti-Aging Lip Treatment uses phytoestrogen technology to help minimise lines.
At this time, lack of elasticity will be visible both in the face and the neck, due to thinner skin and weaker muscles. If you’ve been slapdash about taking your SPF right down to your décolleté, then prolonged UV exposure will also have had an effect. If you haven’t already started, use a strong active such as retinol, a wonder ingredient that helps support collagen production to improve plumpness. Hydrating serums that can be layered under other products are also ideal.
A loss of elasticity can still be addressed in your 70s. “Ideally, you want a formulation that helps the skin aid its naturally slowing repair process,” says L’Oréal’s Atoshi George. “Active hydration, barrier repair and nourishment help to plump and provide tone and firmness for better radiance.” Look for powerful natural ingredients to help lock in moisture, such as the manuka honey in L’Oréal’s Age Perfect Intensive Re-Nourish range – “It’s known for its reparative properties, is antioxidant, antibacterial and actively moisturises,” adds George. At 70-plus, avoid harsh treatments, too.
From British Vogue