Beauty for every age: what products really work hardest for you?
Skincare needn’t be complex – you just need to know which products are right for your age. Our expert shows you how to create the perfectly tailored regime
The world of skincare can be a confusing place. When you're not trying to decipher befuddling acronyms (would madam prefer an AHA or BHA with her exfoliator?), you're wondering what on earth a pentapeptide is (a protein fragment that supports the skin’s building blocks, FYI.) And if that wasn’t enough, the scariest-sounding ingredients are often the gentlest (yes, you, hyaluronic acid).
But it’s also full of amazing innovation, with new ingredients being discovered every day, often as a byproduct of the field of medicine. The latest buzzwords in beauty? Pre and probiotics, which work in a similar way on our skin as they do in our digestive systems, maintaining a healthy bacterial balance to offset inflammation and breakouts (the ESPA Tri-Active Advanced ProBiome range helps to protect troubled complexions from the effect of stress).
So, which of the multitude of brightening, tightening, all-singing, all-dancing ingredients is right for you? In theory, you could keep layering products indefinitely (as proven by the Korean 11-step regime). But to keep things simple, we’ve enlisted the help of top skin experts to explain the skincare that works hard for each age category. Because just as you might adjust your wardrobe to suit your age, you need to tailor your products to the changing needs of your skin. ‘As we age, levels of our naturally occurring “building blocks”, including collagen and elastin, steadily decrease,’ says cosmetic doctor Sherina Balaratnam. ‘So, at set milestones in our lives, we should focus on adding some key ingredients into our skin regimes.’
‘For this age group, the focus should be on prevention,’ says Rebecca Hopkins, co-founder of Balance Me, ‘so an SPF to protect from UV damage is key. Then there’s pollution and lack of sleep due to stress and excessive use of electronics.’ Antioxidant-rich serums should feature in your routine. Team Omorovicza Daily Vitamin C Serum and Eve Lom Radiance Antioxidant Eye Cream for free-radical fighting power, and follow with an SPF such as Ren Clean Screen Mineral SPF30 (available from April). Leave serum to absorb for 10 minutes before applying SPF on top.
‘Women in their twenties are also typically still experiencing breakouts,’ says Dr Howard Murad, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Murad skincare. ‘Hormonal fluctuations due to menstrual cycles or hormonal birth control mixed with stress are often the cause of adult acne.’ He says the key actives are glycolic and salicylic acids to gently exfoliate and clear pores. Try Sunday Riley Good Genes Glycolic Acid Treatment. Our advice? Alternate your actives, allowing your skin to work with a single ingredient at a time to avoid over-stimulating it.
‘To soften the appearance of first fine lines, use light creams and masks packed with vitamins and plant extracts,’ says facial therapist Nataliya Robinson, aka The Skin Whisperer. Elemis Superfood Vital Veggie Mask can be used a couple of times a week and is packed with green goodness and nourishing omega acids, plus vitamin C and passionfruit acids to exfoliate and brighten.
In your thirties
This is the decade when most of us see an increase in fine lines, pigmentation and uneven texture as natural collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid levels begin to drop, so it’s also the right time to bring out the anti-ageing arsenal. ‘Retinoids [vitamin A derivatives] are among the best-investigated anti-ageing skincare ingredients on the market and, ideally, everyone over 30 should be using one to support collagen production and a healthy dermal matrix,’ says Dr Stefanie Williams, specialist dermatologist. ‘However, they can irritate, so should be introduced gradually and only used as tolerated.’ Add a retinol to your evening regime – try ESPA Tri-Active Advanced Night Booster with Philosophy Anti-Wrinkle Miracle Worker+ Line-Correcting Eye Cream. Another anti-ageing ingredient to look out for is niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, found in bareMinerals SkinLongevity Vital Power Infusion. ‘B3 helps to refine skin texture, increase radiance and boost cell turnover while promoting a clearer, more even skin tone,’ says Dr Murad. Alternate with retinol to keep your skin on its toes.
And then there’s hyaluronic acid (aka the super hydrator), which is packed into Caudalie Vinosource SOS Thirst Quenching Serum. ‘After you hit 30, the skin becomes more fragile because of a lack of moisture levels in the epidermis, so switch to balm cleansers and keep hyaluronic acid levels topped up with a dedicated serum,’ says Nataliya Robinson. Slather on as and when your skin needs it.
For your forties
Retinol should now take centre stage in your regime as skin is hit with a triple whammy of ageing. ‘Women in their forties are experiencing a combination of genetic ageing, environmental ageing and hormonal ageing,’ says Dr Murad. Hit back with Origins Plantscription Retinol Night Moisturizer with Alpine Flower, or, if your skin already tolerates retinol well, Rodial Retinol Drops 10% Retinol Complex Facial Treatment.
For an anti-ageing boost, add in some peptides – try cult classic Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair. This should be layered over your chosen serum. ‘You should be opting for peptides, retinol, antioxidants and ceramides, but SPF creams are still extremely important, as skin is more photosensitive due to oestrogen declining,’ says Nataliya Robinson. This means choosing a dedicated sunscreen that specifically states that it protects against UVA – the ageing rays – which means even an SPF50 foundation probably isn’t going to cut it (look out for a UVA circle or stars on the packaging). Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily UV Defense SPF50 absorbs instantly, making it the perfect primer for your make-up.
If you’re over 50
‘Hormonal changes tend to be the primary concern for women in their fifties, when elastin and collagen levels decrease as the perimenopause/menopause sets in,’ says Balance Me’s Rebecca Hopkins. ‘This can cause the skin to look and feel quite different,’ adds Dr Murad, who recommends looking out for products containing exfoliating acids such as AHAs, found in Disciple Night Shift AHA Cleanser Oil & Cloth. AHAs have been shown to stimulate collagen while addressing the common concerns of uneven texture and hyperpigmentation.
Hydration should be the main focus of a skincare routine for post-menopausal women in their fifties, sixties and beyond. ‘Opt for richer cleansers to maintain the skin’s lipid barrier, which often becomes sensitised with the onset of the menopause,’ says Rebecca. ‘Hyaluronic acid is still important, but couple this with skin-strengthening peptides and nourishing oils.’ (Always layer your serums under creams and oils.) Evolve Organic Beauty Multi Peptide 360 Moisture Cream contains both peptides and hyaluronic acid, while Clarins Super Restorative Day Cream is a good all-rounder for skin challenged by hormonal changes. For night, try a facial treatment oil like Lixirskin Night Switch Essential Lipids or treat your skin to a sumptuous overnight mask such as Sisley Black Rose Face Mask.