There are a lot of factors that go into determining a skin-care routine that’s right for you. Your skin type, for one. Your environment and lifestyle habits, for another. But arguably none is more important than—drumroll, please—your age. Yep, deciding your skin-care routine by your age can be a top notch way to put together a product assortment.
Our skin changes as we get older. Collagen production and cell turnover slow down around the time we hit 30. Then, as our hormones shift the closer we get to menopause, natural oil production can subside, leaving skin feeling drier. As all of this happens within our bodies, external factors such as sunlight and pollution can result in discoloration on the skin, if it isn’t protected properly with SPF. The good news, though, is that there are ingredients on the market meant to combat exactly these issues.
To help you suss out exactly which ones to use (and when!), we chatted with the pros about how to put together a skin-care routine at any age. And the best part? All of the products are on super sale right now at Sephora. Keep scrolling for the products to add to cart.
In your 20s: SPF
In your 20s, your skin is at its peak of being strong and healthy—which means the most important thing you can do is protect it. “The more you protect your skin, the better your starting point,” says board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. “Unfortunately, most people in their 20s are not thinking about what their skin will be like decades from now, and they are creating damage that will have long-lasting effects. In your 20s, wearing sunscreen is by far the most important thing you can do protect your skin.”
If the thought of layering on a heavy sunscreen every morning is enough to make you want to skip the stuff altogether, allow us to introduce you to this sheer pick. In addition to protecting skin with SPF 40, it leaves a radiant finish that will render your usual glow-inducing primer obsolete. It’s lightly tinted, but goes on so smoothly you’ll hardly notice it’s there.
Coola LipLux SPF 30, $12
Protecting your lips from UV damage is just as important as protecting the rest of your face. Do it with an SPF-packed balm, like this one, which will help prevent discoloration in the future.
In your 30s: Retinol
During your 30s, collagen production and cell turnover begin to slow down, and the best remedy is retinol. “Retinol is the best studied ingredient we have over the counter to fight the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as it binds to retinoid receptors in skin cells to stimulate collagen production,” says Dr. Zeichner, adding that the best time to start using it is as soon as you see those fine lines start to appear. “Don’t wait too long, because if they become deeply etched in, you won’t be able to treat them as well.”
This retinol is gentle enough even for the most sensitive skin types thanks to its creamy formula, which is packed with antioxidants (chamomile, green and white tea extracts, to be exact) which serve to soothe and protect your skin barrier.
Combining two of the most potent actives out there—retinol and ferulic acid—this serum stimulates cell turnover and brightens skin at the same time. The result? A clear, smooth complexion without a line in sight.
In your 40s: Antioxidants
When you get to your 40s, it’s time to start playing aggressive defense against the environment. “By the time you hit your 40s, your skin’s natural antioxidant defenses have started to weaken,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes free radical damage to protect the skin from environmental damage from the sun, pollution, and even blue light.” Other antioxidants like vitamin E, resveratrol, and niacinamide can help to do the same.
Argan oil, like this one from Josie Maran, is rich in vitamin E, making this oil the perfect pick to slather on your skin every morning to help protect from environmental stressors. It’s highly potent, and its oily texture will add extra hydration to dehydrated skin. Win-win.
The skin on your body deserves just as much love as the skin on your face, particularly as it gets older. Apply this oil—which is made with a high concentration of vitamin C, holy basil, and other antioxidants—to soothe skin from head to toe.
In your 50s and beyond: Hyaluronic acid
As you get older, your skin barrier loses some of its function, which is when dryness starts to set in. “Hyaluronic acid is like a sponge that binds to water to plump and re-inflate dehydrated skin,” says Dr. Zeichner. “It can help improve light reflection off of the skin to enhance radiance, offer moisturizing benefits, and even minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.”
This esthetician-crafted serum has been lauded for its hydrating abilities. It’s highly concentrated, and combines short- and long-chain hyaluronic acid to penetrate skin and deliver moisture at multiple levels. The result is moist, plumped skin at any age.
Getting your daily dose of hyaluronic acid doesn’t have to be limited to skin-care. This hydrating tint delivers the ingredient while also evening skin-tone and covering dark spots. It can stand in place of your usual foundation or tinted moisturizer, or act as a primer to provide an added layer of radiance underneath them.
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