BY Anne-Marie Guarnieri
FASHION STYLING: Heather Levine
HAIR: Eloise Cheung at Walter Schupter
MAKEUP: Ingeborg at Opus Beauty, using Kevyn Aucoin and Tata Harper Skincare
It’s hard to believe, in this era of wearable computers (Google Glass) and at-home DNA testing (23andMe), that researchers have yet to bottle the Fountain of Youth. As the US anti-aging skincare market balloons, however, brands seem intent on experimenting until they do just that. According to market research firm NPD, 52 percent of the skincare products sold in the US from September 2012 to 2013 had some kind of anti-aging benefit, up eight percent from the previous calendar year. It’s not just women in their 60s and up who are buying these products. Women ages 25–34 are enlisting anti-aging skincare in nearly equal numbers.
Most dermatologists agree: You can buy all the lotions, potions, and creams in the world, and they won’t do a bit of good for your complexion without a solid foundation—meaning you don’t smoke, wear sunscreen religiously, get enough sleep, and maintain a healthy diet. “Every decade has its own special qualities, and each one can build on the last,” says New York City dermatologist Dr. Doris Day. “But each one can, in its own way, be more beautiful. Your genetics and lifestyle affect how aging progresses.”
Here, we’ve assembled a comprehensive guide to skincare through the ages, complete with all the products and procedures (non-invasive and surgical) the will prove of maximum benefit to women of every decade. Whether you’re in your 30s and noticing the first signs of aging, in your 50s and curious about lasers, or in your 70s and contemplating a surgical option, the top dermatologists have plenty ofg recommendations for you and your skincare needs.
Primary Skincare Concern: This varies, according to Dr. Jeannette Graf, a dermatologist in New York City. “It depends on how they’ve aged until then,” she says, “but many of them will have adult acne or combination skin, and aren’t really that concerned with aging, but they will start to ask questions about it.” Scars and redness from acne, large pores, and early sun spotting are common issues.
Key Products: “I really have to train women in their thirties to have a routine,” says Dr. Graf. “My job is to get those patients to really take care of their skin.”
A Deep Cleanser: If you do have issues with acne, use one with salicylic acid, such as Murad Acne Complex Clarifying Cleanser, twice a day. “But if you’re really lazy, you have to remove your makeup, at least” she says. “Get some makeup remover wipes.”
Sunblock: Graf likes EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 for under makeup, or Avene High Protection Tinted Compact SPF 50, for when you’re working out or outdoors for an extended period of time, as it’s easy to reapply and you can also use it on and around your eyes.
Serum: Choose one with antioxidants to protect against harmful free-radical damage, which can lead to premature aging. Graf likes Glytone Antioxidant Anti-Aging Facial Serum.
Retinoids: “My number-one requirement is to use some sort of a retinoid,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be prescription-strength, it can be an over-the-counter option.” Try StriVectin-AR Advanced Retinol Night Treatment.
In-Office Treatments: Focus on ongoing, monthly pore-tightening procedures, says Graf, such as light chemical peels and microdermabrasion. “Depending on how the skin ages and behaves, these can treat acne, oily skin, and clogged pores.”
Primary Skincare Concern: Loss of hydration. “Perimenopause starts anywhere from your early 40s to your early 50s,” says Dr. Graf. “That means your skin is going to get drier and you may notice more rosacea-prone skin. You might be getting superficial breakouts—not the inflammatory ones, but surface pimples. But on the whole, your skin gets drier and more dull.”
Key Products:Your regimen will remain more or less the same, but you may need to start making tweaks to your regular products if hydration is a concern, and add in an eye cream.
A Lighter Cleanser: If you notice that you’re starting to experience dryness, look for a cleanser that’s less foamy (the more suds a cleanser makes, the more dehydrating it can be) and more moisturizing, such as CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser or Nuxe Comforting Cleansing Milk with Rose Petals.
Sunscreen: Go for an option with that’s hydrating but non-greasy, like Perricone MD Photo Plasma Broad Spectrum SPF 30.
At Night: Keep using retinol, but on certain nights swap it for a moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid, which can help the skin retain water. “You want to see it at the top of the ingredient list,” Dr. Graf says. We like Peter Thomas Roth VIZ-1000 Hyaluronic Acid Complex.
In-Office Treatments: In addition to regular facial chemical peels (“They’re simple, they’re inexpensive, they make a difference”), Dr. Graf recommends Glytone by Enerpeel TCA-LP System for intense, dark under-eye circles—the kind that can no longer be hidden with even the best concealer. It contains a low percentage of TCA, or trichloroacetic acid, which is frequently used in a higher concentration in chemical peels. “This delivery system bypasses the outer layers of the skin,” Graf says. “It really gets to the deeper layers where the pigment is. And there’s really no downtime with it.”
Clients in this age group also start looking into Botox and fillers, says Dr. Graf, such as Juvéderm, Belotero, or Sculptra. “You’re going to start noting that your frown lines, Crow’s feet, and mouth lines are deeper,” she says. “People are using fillers earlier. The younger you are when you start these procedures, the longer they last, and they do have collagen-stimulating effects. We can do a lot with fillers today—they’re totally different from the ones we used when they first came out.”
Primary Skincare Concern: Dullness and first signs of volume loss. “My patients say, ‘My skin doesn’t have a glow and it’s not plump any more,’” says Dr. Marko Lens, a London-based plastic and reconstructive surgeon, and the founder of the skincare line Zelens. “The wrinkles are not so much a concern as the loss of plumpness.”
Key Products: Keep using your preferred daily cleanser, sunscreen, and nightly retinoid.
Chemical Exfoliant: Add in an option that contains alpha-hydrodxy acid, such as Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Peel, to address lingering dullness issues. Alternate it with your retinoid to prevent irritation or redness until your skin can tolerate both.
Richer Moisturizer: Now, your daily moisturizer should provide more intense hydration and contain stronger anti-aging ingredients, like Olay Regenerist Deep Hydration Regenerating Cream, which is formulated with peptides to help boost collagen production and can temporarily give the appearance of plumper skin. “When you’re young, you just need a couple of things and you’re good to go,” says Dr. Lens. “At this age, you want something much richer. Peptides in combination with retinol give you the most visible results in terms of anti-wrinkling and anti-sagging.” He recommends his own Zelens 3-T Complex Essential Anti-Aging Cream, which contains ursolic acid extracted from rosemary, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
A Hydrating Mask: Lens suggests using a moisturizing mask at night, or anytime the skin feels particularly parched or tight. “Those give you a benefit right away,” he says. “You feel that the skin is hydrated; you feel that you look better.” Try SK-II Facial Treatment Mask (a sheet mask) or Juara Avocado Banana Moisture Mask (to be tissued off after about 15 minutes).
In-Office Treatments: The majority of women in this age group typically don’t want a major surgical procedure, as they have no time in their schedule for recovery. According to Lens, “They want alternatives to full face-lifts.” In addition to fillers, eyelid surgery, or blepharoplasty, is a popular request. “Because it’s minimally invasive and there’s less downtime,” he says. The neck area also becomes a focus during these years. Dr. Lens likes the Titan laser for tightening loose skin around the neck and jowls—which requires up to three sessions over the course of six months. “I’ve had good results,” he says. “It’s not for lifting, but for what it does, it does a good job.”
Primary Skincare Concern: Increased sagginess around the eyelids and the neck. “The eyelids tend to get a little heavier and the neck gets wrinklier because they didn’t protect it from the sun as much as their face—or as much as they thought,” says Dr. Day.
Key Products: At this point, the focus of your daily regimen should be on adding and retaining moisture. “You’re stepping up your hydrators in both your cleanser and moisturizer,” Day says. “You have to supplement the skin a little more so that it has all the nutrients it needs to repair.” Look for a thicker, cream-based cleansing formula that won’t strip the skin of essential natural oils, like Dr. Haushka Cleansing Cream. For your moisturizer, options with glycerin—which can be too heavy for normal or combination skin types—are ideal for aging skin. Try Lancôme Absolue L’Extrait.
Keep up with the Sunscreen: “You have to be as religious, or more, about your sun care because your skin is even more vulnerable—you’re not repairing it as well,” says Day. “Don’t think, Oh, all the damage is done. You have to be even more careful about using the proper type of protection all year round.”
An Emollient Retinoid: Switch out a gel-based formula, which can be too drying, for a creamier option, like ReFissa or Renova. “They’re better tolerated in drier skin.”
A Potent Eye Cream: Day recommends Revision Skincare Teamine Eye Complex, which is packed with peptides, antioxidants, and natural brighteners, to help diminish both dark circles and puffiness.
In-Office Treatments: To address slackening skin in the neck area, Day uses the Ulthera ultrasound technology system. “Depending on the quality of the skin, I think it’s a great option.” For patients with dark spots or deep lines around the forehead or mouth, she recommends the TotalFX CO2 tightening and resurfacing laser. “I love that one,” she says. “You can do a full-face resurfacing from the deeper lines to the more superficial lines and sun spots. And it helps with stimulating new collagen. You’re removing damaged skin, so all that sun damaged skin that’s on its way to becoming pre-cancerous or cancerous is gone, and you’ll have younger, better skin.” The recovery time is about a week to ten days, but the results can last for up to a year.
Primary Skincare Concern: Sallowness, significant wrinkling, and significant volume loss. “The question, ultimately, is whether you want surgery or a non-invasive approach to try to improve your skin,” says Dr. Neil Sadick, a dermatologist in New York City.
Key Products: “There’s a lot of overlap in skin quality in the sixties and seventies,m” Sadick says. “There’s not that much separation, like in dealing with someone in their twenties, thirties, or forties. When you reach the sixties and seventies, it’s pretty much a homogenous story.”
While your cleansing and sun care regimen looks similar to what you were doing in your 60s, you will want to start rotating your skin care products with a greater frequency, or using certain ones less often to stave off redness or dryness. “It’s good to alternate a retinoid for collagen stimulation a couple times a week at night, an AHA with hydroquinone for pigmentation-reduction and cell turnover, and an anti-inflammatory extract for redness and the improvement of sallowness in the skin,” says Sadick. For the latter, he recommends Dior Capture Totale Multi-Perfection Crème, which he helped develop.
In-Office Treatments: For patients looking for a non-invasive approach, Sadick recommends a number of options—Ulthera (ultrasound), Thermage (radio-frequency), PrecisionTx (laser), or Venus (laser)—either alone or in tandem, depending on a patient’s goals and the quality of her skin.
But if you’re ready, surgeries, like an endoscopic brow lift, rhinectomy (nasal reconstruction), or a full-face lift are all worth investigating. “By the seventies, many women consider themselves too old for surgery, which is wrong,” says Day. “But when they get it, it lasts a lot longer. They don’t have to go back every ten years for more. They can continue with their skincare and minimally or non-invasive procedures, and get a lot more longevity out of the treatments that they do.”