Every year we grow older, the importance of anti aging skincare begins to weigh on us. As teenagers we spend all our time fighting acne. But when that finally comes to an end, it’s time for us to start paying attention to aging. It feels like an ever-ending battle against our skin. Being the skincare lover I am, I wanted to discover once and for all the best way to establish an anti aging skincare routine and the products I should be using to keep my skin looking it’s best.
I do think a large part of anti aging skincare is actually accepting what happens as our body inevitably ages. I personally want to understand so I can parse through the lies and insecurities that marketing companies pray on. This way I can make an informed decision for me and my skin how to best handle my aging gracefully. Honestly, I’m not so anti aging. I find it to be such a negative term. I’m much more pro-glow. So this post will help you understand the steps necessary to promote a glow in your skin and keep it looking it’s best as the signs of aging inevitably start to appear.
What Exactly Happens to Our Skin As We Age?
If you’re going to create an anti aging skincare routine that’s meant to erase all signs of aging, then I think you should know exactly what it going on in the first place. How can you treat something you don’t understand after all?
This is one of the biggest signs of aging we all hope to avoid. They are often found in areas of facial movement (eyes, mouth, upper lip) and places of expression (forehead, outer corners of the eyes, either sides of the mouth). They are the result of numerous factors such as a reduction in muscle mass and skin thickness, breakdown of collagen and elastin and dehydration.
Out of all of the signs of aging, this one is the least worrysome in my opinion. There’s something poetic about our skin forming lines that reflect years of smiling and laughing.
Hyperpigmentation spots are the result of cumulative ultraviolet (UV) exposure. There’s also a decrease in melanin as we age (hypopigmentation), which decreases our skins protective capacity against UV exposure. They’re not kidding when they say the sun ages you.
Breakdown of Collagen and Elastin
A lot of aging happens in the dermis which can lost from 20-80% of its thickness in the aging process. This is due to changes in the fibroblasts which are cells responsible for collagen, elastin and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) biosynthesis. Essentially fibroblasts produce these important elements that keep your skin plump and healthy. As we age, collage and elastin are produced at a slower rate which impacts the skin’s ability to repair itself. Exposure to UVB rays is known to activate enzymes that break down collagen and elastin which only speeds up the aging process. Noticing a trend here?
The intercellular glue that holds collagen and elastins in place also begins to diminish as we age. There’s also less distribution of GAGs as we age, one of which is hyaluronic acid. If you know anything about skincare that acid likely sounds familiar. Between the loss of GAGs and a reduction in Stratum Corneum lipids, our skin has an inefficient ability to bind and retain water.
Slowdown of Cell Turnover
Studies show that the epidermal turnover rate slows 30-50% between our 30s and 80s. This means our skin takes more time to heal and turnover as we grow older. This results in the characteristic dull and rough skin surfaces seen in maturing skin.
Understanding the biochemical reactions that occur in the skin will give us a better chance of finding skincare that keeps our skin happy and healthy as we age. Sure, there’s no avoiding the tell tale signs. But with preventative care we can help support our skin and allow it to function better for longer than it could without our help.
The #1 Most Important Product for Anti Aging Skincare
Alright we’re entering a topic I’m just a little bit passionate about. When it comes to skincare, I feel that most companies focus on treatment rather than preventative care. They don’t want to help us before the problems come up. They’d rather we go about our days until we start to develop spots and wrinkles and issues that they can sell us products for. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather treat my skin right and prevent those deep wrinkles and dark spots that these skincare companies will sell you super expensive products to fix. And I’m sure you would too. So we’re going to start with preventative care.
Preventative Care is Better: Turn to SPF
I hope this doesn’t come as a shock. But after discussing everything that happens when we age, a few elements should have jumped out at you: UVA AND UVB. These dangerous rays come from the sun and penetrate deep into our skin. Sure they can make us super tan and sexy. But they also make you look super wrinkled and mess with the pigmentation of our skin as we age. Take it from me, someone who has always been incredibly pale, I’d much rather look like a ghost and be protected from these rays then be a bag of wrinkles and age spots when I get older.
Prevent Damage Before it Even Happens
I’m reminded of a certain skincare company that parades images of women who have reversed the look of their skin. With the help of these (expensive) products they went from a face full of spots and hyperpigmentation to a more even tone. I can’t help but think how they could have prevented any of that damage in the first place by using SPF when they were younger. Sure, you may have the type of skin that “never burns and tans perfectly without any SPF” but you’re also going to be the wrinkly old lady who’s spending thousands of dollars on treatments trying to reverse years of UV damage. Emphasis on trying. There’s only so much you can do.
Here’s some tough love: Stop caring about your tan and start taking care of your skin before its too late. I’d take pale skin over wrinkles and age spots (or even skin cancer!) any day of the week. You’re going to spend way less money on SPF than all of the crazy skincare to try to erase your age spots and wrinkles anyways.Here's some tough love: Stop caring about your tan and start taking care of your skin before its too late. I'd take pale skin over wrinkles and age spots (or even skin cancer!) any day of the week.Click To Tweet
What To Look For when Choosing a SPF
When choosing a daily SPF, look for a physical sunscreen (sometimes called “scattering”) as opposed to a chemical one (also known as “absorbing”). Chemical sunscreens, which are often spray sunscreen, contain nano-particles that absorb readily into your skin and spread through your entire body. While we can’t understand exactly what these particles do to your body chemically, I’d rather be safe than sorry and avoid these sunscreens. I’m always wary of anything that takes chemicals created in a lab somewhere and spreads them through my entire body incredibly fast through the use of nano-particles. As always, I’ll leave the decision whether to use them up to you, especially now that you have some information about it and can make an informed decision.
An important ingredient to look for in SPF is zinc oxide. It’s a well loved physical (scattering) sunscreen so it sits on the surface of your skin to keep you protected from the sun’s rays. It’s a popular choice for natural sunscreen as provides a number of awesome benefits to your skin while also providing broad-spectrum sun protection. Luckily, I’ve written a guide to natural sunscreen to help you learn everything you need to know.
Active Ingredients to Look For in Anti Aging Skincare
I wasn’t going to write a post about anti aging skincare and only discuss SPF. While it’s incredibly important to be as preventative as we can be when it comes to skin damage, our skin is still going to age as we do. So I wanted to discuss the active ingredients that are perfect for our skin and the different biological changes as we age.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
AHAs are naturally occurring acids derived from the sugars in particular plants or fruits. These acids can include Glycolic, Citric, Lactic, Malic and Tartaric. Effective for skin care, these acids break up the “glue” that holds together skin cells which allows dead skin cells to be released from the surface of the skin and fresher skin to resurface. When used correctly, these acids can smooth the surface of the skin, help with dehydration, and fix some skin discoloration. By the way, honey is a natural source of AHAs.
Caution: AHAs can be very harsh in high concentrations and are not an ingredient to play around with. Pay attention to your skin as you use them and take note of any reactions. If you have any irritation, stop using them immediately. Also be sure to use SPF when using AHAs because they make your skin extra sensitive to UV light.
Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins. By communicating with our skin’s fibroblasts, these peptides encourage our skin to produce more collagen to make your skin more firm and show less signs of aging. So this ingredient is a no brainer for helping our skin cope with breakdowns in collagen and elastin which will keep your skin looking younger for longer.
Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)
BHAs do a lot of similar things to AHAS. However while AHAs are water soluble, BHAs are oil soluble. This makes them better at penetrating pores. So if you have oily skin and frequent acne, then products with BHA will be a better fit for you. However not all BHAs are natural. So be sure to check the source of these acids in the product you want to use.
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamic C)
Vitamin C is a well known antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables. It does wonders in aiding cell repair and stoping free radicals. When applied topically it can reduce fine lines and wrinkles while aiding the development of collagen. In it’s L-ascorbic acid form, it can also have a skin lightening effect that can help with spots of discoloration.
Caution: Don’t use this product while using niacinamide. The two products do not mix well.
As mentioned before in the dehydration section, hyaluronic acid is wonderful at helping our skin retain moisture. So choosing a product with this ingredient in it will help keep your skin plump and moisturized.
This ingredient is a derivative of vitamin B3 and helps with skin discoloration. It suppresses melanin from reaching the surface of the skin and prevents UV damage, which is important as our skin ages. Not to mention it can prevent dehydration by keeping moisture in your skin. There are also studies that show it helps with acne by regulating sebum and minimizing pores.
Caution: Don’t use this product while using vitamin C. The two products do not mix well.
There’s a lot of confusion and drama around retinol and their use. Essentially these products are chemically related to Vitamin A and have awesome benefits like the improvement of skin texture and wrinkles, more even skin tone, and the management of sensitive or oily skin with its exfoliating effects. However there is a lot of misuse of this product, especially with the OTC and prescription versions of this product.
This article helped me understand all the problems a little better. But the biggest take away I got was that rosehip seed oil is a natural source of Vitamin A. So this is the ingredient I recommend you turn to for your anti-aging needs should you want some retinol goodness in your routine.
How to Create an Anti Aging Skincare Routine Perfect for You
It’s no surprise that our skincare routine changes as we grow older. So I wanted to outline some of the products that you should adopt into your routine at different ages. This should be the perfect combination of preventative care and supportive ingredients as our skin ages and biological functions shift.
Anti aging skincare in your 20s
This is the time when you can no longer use “being a teenager” as an excuse anymore and need to get serious about using SPFs and protecting your skin. I also recommend finding a moisturizer that works for your skin. These are the years when our skin starts to become a little more dry so I recommend you keep moisture content up so no fine lines begin to show.
Recommendations for your 20s: Use SPF daily, wear hats and protective clothing, find a good moisturizer
Anti aging skincare in your 30s
Much like your 20s, this is the time for preventative care. What you do for your skin during these years will set you up for success or failure when it comes to anti aging skincare. I highly recommend a good daily SPF so you keep preventing UV damage and discoloration. You can also begin to incorporate some AHAs and BHAs on a weekly basis to resurface your skin and keep it looking fresh. I’d also recommend turning to a source of hyaluronic acid to bring some serious moisture into your skin for a youthful glow.
Recommendations for your 30s: Dedicate yourself to using SPF daily, wear hats and protective clothing when outside, use AHAs on a weekly basis, adopt a good hyaluronic acid based moisturizer.
Anti aging skincare in your 40s
I’d recommend keeping up your skincare routine from your 30s. If you feel you have more signs of UV damage, then switch to a daily application of your chosen AHAs. I’d recommend making sure it’s a gentle formulation and you’re not overdoing it. If you’re going to start using AHAs daily, be sure to apply them only at night so you don’t expose your skin to the sun immediately afterwards. Also use an effective SPF every single morning to keep your sensitive skin (from the acids) protected.
Recommendations for your 40s: Continue with the daily SPF and moisturizers from your 30s. Possibly start using AHAs on a daily basis, however only apply them in the PM and be sure to apply a protective SPF every AM to keep your skin safe.
You can continue this routine well into your old age, with a focus on daily SPF and moisturization to keep your skin looking its best. With a good dose of preventative care, deep wrinkles and hyperpigmentation shouldn’t be a huge issue for your skin. However we can help our diminishing cell production with different AHAs to resurface skin and give it a healthy glow.
I hope this lengthy guide (as well as the sunscreen guide I wrote) is helpful for you in choosing the products that are best for your routine! Any products you’re adopting into your routine ASAP? Maybe a favorite SPF you use on the daily? Comment down below! I’d love to hear from you.
- Structural Changes Associates with Aging Skin
- Retinol – An Organic Skin Care Perspective on When it Might Be Okay to Use It