Spoiler: Skin-care routines don’t age well. While it’s true that any skin routine is better than none at all, Bloomfield Hills, MI dermatologist Linda Honet, MD explains that in order to see the line-reversing, firming results we’re after, it’s crucial to transition our skin-care routine as we age.
“Because our skin, being a unique living organ, is continuously changing along with us,” says Dr. Honet, “I often tell my patients that every decade reveals a new ‘you,’ with new skin issues and new skin-care needs. What worked for you in your twenties or thirties will no longer be appropriate or even relevant for your over-forty skin.”
Here, Dr. Honet explains the ins and outs of how skin ages, and why a proper skin-care routine is crucial to get ahead of the anti-aging game.
The Genetic Factor
“Although we all age differently, the aging course largely dictated by our genetics, referred to as intrinsic aging, shows the general processes of aging skin are very consistent,” says Dr. Honet. “Even though the actual number of various skin cells, pigment cells and oil glands do not decrease in number over time, their functionality and integrity do gradually decrease as the years go by: the layers of the skin get thinner, pigment gets irregular, collagen and elastin production decrease and lose their structural ability, the oil glands produce less oil, the subcutaneous fat layer diminishes, and even our facial bones resorb and cave in as we age.” The result, according to Dr. Honet? An aged appearance when we look in the mirror—think: more wrinkles, sagging skin, sallowness, uneven pigment, etc.
Another layer that deeply affects the health of our skin is hormones. “Although everyone ages, women have the special privilege of having to deal with the added variable of fluctuating hormones. No matter what stage of life women are experiencing, hormones have a deep impact on the skin and aging.”
The Lifestyle Link
However, it’s not just genetics and hormones that decide our skin’s fate. Enter extrinsic aging, which Dr. Honet describes as what we do to ourselves to cause more aging. “Our lifestyle and environment have enormous impact on how our skin ages. It is no surprise that factors like pollution, diet, sun damage, smoking, alcohol, and numerous other elements can accelerate how fast we age,” she says.
A-Plus Skin Care
Now for the good news. “Effective, smart skin care alone can have a tremendous impact on diminishing the signs of aging and vastly improving the quality and health of the skin,” says Dr. Honet. “If one takes the next step and then combines this effective skin care with in-office procedures and treatments, one can literally turn back the hands of time.” According to Dr. Honet, a proper anti-aging skin-care routine consists of the following five steps.
Sunscreen (SPF 45 or higher)
“I am very much a big fan of ISDIN’s Eryfotona Actinica ($55), because it is an all-mineral, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 50+ and also contains vitamin E and DNA Repairsomes. I use this daily as my last layer alone or under my makeup.”
Retinoid or retinol (vitamin A derivative)
“Vitamin A is a powerful multitasker, able to reverse sun damage, stimulate collagen production, decrease wrinkling, retexturize the surface of skin and even out pigmentation. Although retinoids are hard to initiate, once the skin acclimates to it, you will reap the benefits. For those with sensitive skin or who have never tried a topical vitamin A, I often recommend SkinBetter Science AlphaRet ($125) because it is so well tolerated and very effective.”
Antioxidant serum with vitamin C
“This is an essential element because it boosts the effects of sunscreen while protecting the skin from other damaging effects of the environment. My current favorites are ISDIN’s Flavo-C Ultraglican ($112) and SkinBetter Science Alto Defense Serum ($150). I actually use both every day, one layered on top of the other.”
“This is like the cherry on top in a skin-care routine. The brilliance of peptides is that
it they can boost collagen and elastin production and mediate healthy skin functions and processes. I am especially partial to Alastin’s Restorative Skin Complex ($195), and it is also part of my regimen.”
Dr. Honet explains that exfoliating with a glycolic acid or enzyme-based exfoliator is key for luminous, more radiant-looking skin, but reminds us that over-exfoliating might have the opposite effect on skin, leaving it damaged and looking older. “My favorite exfoliating skin-care line is Restorsea, where the active ingredient is a salmon-egg enzyme that exfoliates your skin continuously but very gently. I recommend it to all my patients because it is well tolerated by all skin types and works well with other skincare lines.”
Dr. Honet says cleansing twice a day with a gentle facial cleanser and an emollient moisturizer appropriate for the skin type are essential. “If there are any other skin issues or conditions, like melasma, pigment irregularity, rosacea, acne, etc., then additional prescription or over-the-counter serums, lotions, gels or creams may be incorporated as well.”
The Bottom Line
Instead of increasing the quantity of products in your regimen as you age, Dr. Honet says to focus on the quality of each product, paying special attention to science-driven, results-oriented formulas.
“Start a good habit by starting a smart skin-care regimen today,” adds Dr. Honet. “It is never too late to start.” And for extra credit: “Partner with a great board-certified dermatologist who will help you on your journey to beautiful, healthy skin.”