We Compared a Gen Z-er’s Skin-Care Routine to a 50-Year Old’s—This Is What a Dermatologist Said

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We Compared a Gen Z-er’s Skin-Care Routine to a 50-Year Old’s—This Is What a Dermatologist Said featured image
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Over the past few years, the beauty industry has gone through a dramatic shift. According to Tylt.com, nearly 61 percent of Gen Z and millennials—two generations known for their need-it-now outlooks—are willing to carve out a large portion of their day to partake in a multistep skin-care regimen.

Couple that with the addition of beauty influencers, new social platforms and thousands of products, skin-care routines are getting more elaborate at an even younger age. To see how complexion care fares by generation, we interviewed skin-care lovers on both side of the age spectrum—and asked Santa Monica, CA dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD to give the routines her expert review. Here’s what we found.

Age: 16
Daily Evening Routine: Garnier Skin Active Micellar Cleansing Water ($9), Elta MD Foaming Facial Cleanser ($28), Glamglow BerryGlow Probiotic Recovery Mask ($49), Glossier Soothing Face Mist ($15), I Dew Care Brightening Vitamin C Eye Cream ($20), Glossier Super Glow Vitamin C and Magnesium Serum ($28), La Mer Moisturizing Soft Cream ($180), Doctor Rogers Restore Healing Balm ($30) and Starface Acne Patches ($20)
Time: 15-20 minutes

“For the past few years, I have struggled to find a consistent and effective skin-care routine for my face. Breaking out and having dry skin is a major struggle and finding the right products was always hard for me. After talking to my dermatologist, as well as finding inspiration online, I have finally found products that have helped eradicate my breakouts as well as focusing on brightening and hydrating my skin.”

Derm Review: “There are a few things here that aren’t totally necessary but, overall, it’s OK.”

Rethink: Dr. Shamban says adding a salicylic cleanser in the mix would be helpful. “I would recommend looking into the Eminence Organics Skin Care line. It is great for this age group and patient population suffering from acne, breakouts, skin changes and skin stressors. More specifically, tea tree oil and willow bark are natural astringents that are gentle and calming and an ingredient like licorice is great for inflammation.”

Age: 16
Daily Evening Routine: First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser ($21), Moon Rivers Naturals Coffee Grapefruit Scrub ($18), From Molly With Love Rosewater Facial Cleanser ($30), Charlotte Tilbury Multi-Miracle Glow ($60), Dior Multi-Perfection Cream ($237), Mario Badescu Facial Spray ($7), Dior Capture Dreamskin Youth-Perfecting Mask ($75) and PCA Skin Weightless Protection Sunscreen ($44)
Time: 15–20 minutes

“Picking the right products for my skin has proven to be ineffective and stressful for me over the past few years. After trying many different products, I finally have my ideal skin routine that is effective for my sensitive and breakout-prone skin. Two standout products are the The Charlotte Tilbury Multi-Miracle Glow Mask, which immediately adds moisture to leave my skin soft and glowing, and the From Molly With Love Rosewater Facial Cleanser, which I use twice a day—its natural, simple ingredients help calm my sensitive skin.”

Derm Review: “Keeping balance is key at this age,” Dr. Shamban says. “Our sebaceous gland network is attached in the skin to our pores and their function is to release sebum, which travels through the pore onto the skin’s surface as our natural lubricating system. This sebum is essential to our normal skin function, because it aids in the skin barrier function and helps to allow the elimination of unwanted cells, pathogens, and toxins from the body. It is composed of cholesterol, wax esters, squalene, fatty acids, triglycerides and diglycerides. An imbalance and overproduction wreaks havoc on skin and hormonally, combined with bacteria, sweat and environmental factors that heightens during the teen years.”

Right On: “These are good selections for her age and condition. I would also recommend making a conscious effort to eat clean. That is what makes such a difference in the skin.” 

Rethink: Adding in an SPF. “This patient population needs sun protection—it is when most of the damage is incurred and is cumulative over our lifetime,” Dr. Shamban says. “And, something like Differin Gel, which contains a prescription-strength acne-fighting retinoid, might be a good addition, especially during times of more active acne.’

Age: 30
Daily Evening Routine: ZO Skin Health Gentle Cleanser ($45), ZO Skin Health Growth Factor Serum ($148), ZO Skin Health Recovery Cream ($106), Valmont Eye Cream ($230), Mario Badescu Drying Lotion ($17) and HydraFacials (Two times per month; $150–$350)
Time: 20 minutes

“Overall, my routine is based on clarifying and brightening. ZO Skin Health is an important asset to my nightly skin-care routine because it is efficient and not as harsh as many of the other brands I have tried. It is also an accessible price point and because it is very highly dosed, you do not need to use a lot of it, so the products last me a long time. All of the products I use complement each other and I get the best result when I use them together in a consistent way.”

Derm Review: “This is the ‘tipping point’ age. Our habits here really help change the trajectory for rejuvenation and makes a big difference, as the changes in our natural collagen and elastin are when we experience our first ‘drastic’ level drops. Encouraging the body to continue to produce and training it to act younger helps now and in the future.”

Right On: Dr. Shamban says clarifying, brightening and toning are all good formulas for success. “Fine lines and wrinkles start to develop here, so mild ongoing exfoliation is recommended.”

Rethink: “Bring in more botanicals and start introducing in-office treatments; consult your board-certified dermatologist about toxins as a preventative measure against dynamic wrinkles becoming static wrinkles. And don’t forget that vitamin C: It is the ride or die for repair, discoloration and hyperpigmentation and brightening!”

Age: 50
Daily Evening Routine: Dermalogica Soothing Eye Makeup Remover ($25), Fresh Black Tea Eye Serum ($72), Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème ($39), SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Acid Serum ($166), Crème de La Mer The Neck and Décolleté Concentrate ($90–$2400), and Sara Happ Lip Slip Balm ($28)
Time: 15–20 minutes

“I use products that both brighten and firm my face, neck, and chest areas. My favorite products at the moment are the Banana Bright Eye Crème and SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic. Both are super lightweight and great for the summer.”

Derm Review: “This is the age where you want to have your skin—and your products—working harder for sure.”

Right On: “Keep up the brightening, it is so important!”

Rethink: “What is missing here are some additional big guns for pigmentation issues, pore size and overall cellular turnover,” Dr. Shamban says. “A high-level retinol, multicomplex peel pad for weekly use, and a high-efficiency exfoliating serum could be added to round out this selection. And don’t forget a top-notch moisturizer at night—this is something we can’t forget as we age.”


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