The best skin care for your 20's 30's and 40's will help to stop the signs of skin aging that start showing up in these 3 critical decades of your life. It is obvious what works when you see someone who is 40 or older, has great skin, and tells you what they've used over the years. If they spend time outside, it always involves sun protecting their skin!
A 40-year-old patient with beautiful skin said to me:
Everyone I know that has good skin wears sunscreen every day. My mom told me when I was young that I should wear sunscreen daily and I’m so glad I listened. She said, “I don’t tell you a lot of things, but you’ll regret lying in the sun. You should wear sunscreen and stay out of the sun for your skin.” Since then, I’ve worn sunscreen every day and people are always curious how old I am. I just turned 40 and just recently someone at my son’s new school was surprised at my age. Also, my girlfriend, who is an aesthetician in the city, is stunning and she wears sunscreen every day - aestheticians know what to do for their skin.”
This patient’s skin really is beautiful, and she doesn’t look anywhere near 40. She was raised in California, which can really age skin, but she has sun protected her skin for years. It shows.
80% of skin aging comes from sun damage. If you only do one thing for anti-aging skin care, it needs to be sun protection! - Dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey
To understand why, you need to understand how the sun ages and breaks down your skin.
Skin aging from UVA
I like to say that UVA is the 'all day and all year' UV ray. UVA rays have the longest wavelength of the UV rays. This allows them to penetrate deeply into your skin. They are out intensely from sun up to sun down all year round, AND they penetrate deeply into the second layer of your skin (the dermis) where your skin collagen making cells live.
When UVA rays shine into this layer of your skin, they permanently damage the fibroblasts that are entirely responsible for making your skin's collagen and elastin. Note the word 'permanently'.
- Don’t work right.
- Start making funky collagen and elastin, giving skin a sallow-gray hue.
- Are unable to keep the dermis healthy, resulting in skin thinning, crepey skin texture and fragile wrinkled skin.
Skin sun damage from both UVA and UVB
UVB is the 'sunburn ray'. It has shorter wavelengths than UVA and penetrates skin less deeply. UVB intensity varies by the season, time of day and where you are on earth relative to the sun. UVB is more intense mid-day, in the summer, at high altitudes and near the equator.
Both UVA and UVB exposure cause brown age spots, uneven skin color and red "broken" capillaries that show through your skin. These changes happen high up in the epidermis and superficial dermis.
Both UVA and UVB rays also damage the top living cells of your skin (called keratinocytes), which makes your skin texture dry and leather-like, yet thin. This causes the sallow-colored collagen and elastin layer to show through even more.
Most people who have had sun exposure in their childhood and teen years start to show the early signs of these changes in their 20s.
You may think it’s too late, but it can always get worse! Sun protection NOW is important. Plus, there are products you can use to help reverse early signs of sun damage. The sooner you make these changes in your skin care, the better.
The best skin care to protect your skin and reverse sun damage now.
First, use daily sun protection.
Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, all year. Be sure to:
1. Choose a broad-spectrum mineral zinc oxide sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher and wear it on all exposed skin daily. I make it my top priority to have the most trustworthy zinc oxide sunscreens. My Sheer Strength line of invisible mineral sunscreens has products for all skin types and activities.2. Apply your sunscreen after your therapeutic skin care products and before makeup, if you wear it. Don't ever miss a day - seriously.
3. When you're really out in the sun, add a hat, sunglasses and sun protective clothing - yes it takes planning, but the anti-aging benefits will be huge for your skin. Wear a water resistant SPF product for sweaty and wet activities.
4. Reapply sunscreen if you are out for extended times in the sun. A powder sunscreen is great for this. My SPF 50 Refresh Powder Sunscreen also includes iron oxide to block visible and blue light that contribute to uneven skin pigment problems and cause damaging free radical formation in skin.
Second, use anti-aging skin care products.
Best products to fight skin aging in your 20's 30's and 40's
Choose products that have:
Antioxidant protective benefits to fight skin aging caused by free radical damage.
Antioxidants help slow skin damage from free radicals that form due to UV rays, pollution, illness and stress and just normal cellular metabolic processes (aka 'life'). You want to keep your skin's antioxidant reserve always tanked up on 'high'.
The best antioxidants to fight skin aging are the Green Tea Polyphenols, in my opinion. Green Tea is the antioxidant that I've included in my Ageless Rejuvenation Skin Care Kit. I've combined it with a compatible pH balanced skin cleanser, moisturizer and Sheer Strength Sunscreen.
Collagen and elastin replenishing benefit to fight skin aging, wrinkling and thinning.
The best ingredients to stimulate and protect skin collagen are retinoids and glycolic acid. They are included in my Ageless Rejuvenation Skin Care Kit. Other trendy ingredients like peptides and vitamins are far less effective and have weaker scientific proof in my opinion. I see the best results with retinoids and glycolic acid. In fact, almost every dermatologist uses a retinoid product at bedtime to keep their skin looking young.
My Ageless Rejuvenation Skin Care Kit is a dermatologist's Complete Skin Care Routine to fight skin aging and it is ideal for your 20's, 30's and 40's.
It is the most current version of what I've used through these decades. Here I am at 62. This is an entirely untouched photo. I have not had any major cosmetic surgeries, just good skin care and some minor cosmetic injectable and laser/light procedures from time to time. I'm OK with how my skin looks in my 60's!
I and my patients have proven that this skin care strategy works and it's never too late. I’ve sun protected my skin since I was 28, but before that my fair skin was extremely sun damaged from years of tanning.
Click here to learn more about my Ageless Skin Care Rejuvenation Kit, including how I combine the products into a Complete Skin Care Routine that works.
Author: Dr. Cynthia Bailey M.D. is a Board Certified dermatologist practicing dermatology since 1987. She has done well over 200,000 skin exams during her career and authors the longest running physician written skin health blog in the world.
“I love empowering people to take good care of their skin by educating them and putting the ‘self-care’ into their skin care so that they love the skin they’re in!” Dr. Bailey