Building a skincare routine is one of the most frequently asked questions we get over here at Go-To HQ. (Followed closely by, “Hey, do you guys have any cake left over?” (No.) (No.) (Leftover cake is a myth.)
It’s a simple question with a complicated answer. Your skincare routine is going to depend on your skin. So when you’re looking to build a routine, you should take into account your age and your stage (amongst many, many other things like price, goals, shelfie potential, etc etc) to make sure it’s going to be effective for you.
With that in mind, we reached out to skin expert, Dr. Imaan Joshi to help pull together a helpful guide to tackling skincare based on what your skin is likely to experience over the decades. I say likely, because, skin is incredibly personal. Which means that your experience may look a little different. And that’s very okay.
Let’s get into it!
The Teen Routine
Teens get a, um, rough welcome to the world of skincare courtesy of all of those cute/raging hormones that can cause excess oil production and congestion. As a result, teen skin needs a simple routine that focuses on cleaning, calming and balancing. Reach for a pore-clearing, gentle cleanser (something with salicylic or willow bark is ideal) and a face oil to help regulate oil production and soothe any irritation.
Don’t: Use toothpaste as a spot treatment. Please. Use a dedicated spot treatment that’s been made for your skin. Kaolin clay is 148% gentler and excellent for soothing angry spots.
Do: Pay attention to your skin. Learn what it likes, what it dislikes, and what its favourite pizza topping is. (Psssst. It’s potato and rosemary.)
The 20s Routine
Hopefully when you shimmy into your 20s, grumpy teenage skin is behind you, but don't panic if that's not the case. “Acne may persist in one’s 20s, leaving marks, scars and uneven pigmentation,” explains Dr. Joshi. Get familiar with cleansing for your skin type, exfoliate regularly and add in serums, especially ones that are loaded with antioxidants which are enormously effective for fighting free radical damage. Oh. And for the love of Harry Styles, take your makeup off before bed.
Don’t: Get active-happy too early. We know, we know. It can be very tempting when you’re hearing about fancy new skincare ingredients left and right, but introducing them to your skin too early and overdoing it can do more harm than good.
Do: Find a sunscreen you love and wear it every single day. Yes, even if it’s wintery and the weather sucks. “Cumulative sun damage over decades leads to the appearance of age spots and pigmentation as early as our 30s,” notes Dr. Joshi. Which is why getting in the habit of wearing SPF everyday is the single most important thing you can do to protect your skin. Future You will thank you. And so will Present Us: Hey! Thanks!
The 30s Routine
In your 30s, elastin and collagen production will begin to decline, and cumulative sun damage and hormonal changes may cause hyperpigmentation. Dr. Joshi also notes that you may begin to notice “more pronounced static (facial) lines, hollows under eyes, and some volume loss in the midface leading to skin sagging around the mouth.” Now’s the time to be proactive with actives (Retinoids!), brightening (Vitamin c! Lactic acid!) and hydration (Hyaluronic acid! Niacinamide!).
Don’t: Forget that hormonal fluctuations can turn skin into a cranky, breakout-y stranger. This is totally normal and (although potentially frustrating) checking in with a trusted skin professional can be very helpful to get these issues under control.
Do: Remember your face stops at your boobs. Which is to say that you must (must!) be applying your skincare products on your face, neck, and dec.
The 40s Routine
Hydrate! Nourish! Hydrate again! That’s the mantra for 40-somethings and it's likely your skin won't let you forget it. You may begin to notice your skin feels and looks drier. Double cleansing may become a daily ritual and layering antioxidant-loaded, richer textures will serve you well. You may also be ready to introduce peptides or growth-factors and reach for high concentrations of actives.
Don’t: Skip your exfoliants. Exfoliation can be enormously helpful as cell turnover continues to decline.
Do: Consider investing in professional treatments like LED, DermaFusion or even botox.
The 50s Routine
Menopause, that wildly delightful guest, will affect most women in their 50s. As oestrogen levels drop, skin becomes drier and thinner. Rich night creams, replenishing oils and ultra hydrating masks will help soothe dry skin and lock in moisture. Collagen production also slows right down after menopause. Dr. Joshi explains “From our 20s, we lose collagen production by 1% per year. This accelerates after menopause, with up to a further 30% collagen production loss in the first five years following menopause and thereafter at 2% per year.”
Don’t: Skip your actives. They can be enormously helpful for helping you target and treat any individual skin concerns you may be experiencing. Just make sure to be mindful that your skin may be more sensitive than ever before. (Fun!)
Do: Supplement your routine with anti-inflammatory ingredients (think vitamin e, camellia oil, green or chamomile tea) to help soothe and replenish your skin and keep any irritation at bay.
The 60s Routine
Post-menopause, drench skin in humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin daily to help firmly lock moisture in the skin. As we age, Dr. Joshi adds that our skin becomes “thinner, drier and more frail” so it’s essential to incorporate replenishing ingredients as much as possible. Likewise, topical ceramides will help support skin barrier function as there can be an increase in redness, sensitivity and inflammation.
Don’t: Reach for ingredients that target sebum production. Instead opt for products that will replenish and moisturise your skin.
Do: Support skin health and clarity with a cocktail of skin-loving antioxidants and gentle actives. (And also the other kind of cocktail. You deserve it.)