It’s never too late to start to love the skin you’re in!
This women’s history month we are excited to celebrate the very personal journey we experience through skin changes as we age. Through every period of our lives, we rely on this beautiful, amazing—and essential—organ for our health, and some of our happiness, too.
When we say our skin feels good, that’s usually a sign that it’s smooth and supple to the touch—yet often it’s also that we don’t feel anything at all. We start to pay attention when it feels dry, has painful or itchy breakouts, is burned, or has a rash, cuts or scrapes—or as age reveals dark spots, wrinkles, lines or sagging skin.
Caring for our skin, whether we notice it or not, is similar to nurturing any living thing: the cumulative effects of daily care throughout our lifetime help make our healthiest skin possible. The good news is, it’s never too late to start to love the skin you’re in!
Skin is a complex organ
Did you know?
- The average human has 1.6 trillion skin cells—about 16% of our body weight.
- We shed 30-40,000 skin cells per minute!
- While skin is a primary protective-barrier organ, the health of our skin is significantly affected by both what’s going on inside us, and how we treat it on the outside.
Hormonal changes across every stage of a woman’s life influences skin health:
- Starting in our teens, with the onset of puberty, hormones called androgens (one of which is testosterone) are believed to make oil glands larger, produce more natural oil and cause inflammation—all of which leads to acne. Oily skin, especially in the T-Zone (Forehead, nose and chin) is common.
- In our 20’s our skin is usually plump and resilient, though active glands still stimulate oil production that can lead to acne.
- In our later 20s and 30s, exposure to sun begins to accumulate; and childbearing can re-energize hormone activity; pregnancy can cause pigmentation changes, stretch marks, and varicose veins—but also an enviable glow!
- As women enter their 40s and 50s, we leave acne behind. The natural thinning and flattening of the surface layer of the skin (the epidermis), and decline in elastin, start to cause wrinkles, lines and sagging skin.
- Menopause causes further changes to the skin, reducing plumpness and increasing drying and thinning—even translucency. Age spots and skin tags increase, and we’re more susceptible to bruising. Some women also see an increase in acne during this time thanks to an imbalance between the hormones estrogen and androgen.
What supports—or disrupts—our skin’s good health?
The best way to think about nurturing skin health is to emphasize the “care” in skin care. Focus on gentle natural products that nourish, restore and feed your skin’s ability to renew, rejuvenate and protect. So what gets in the way of our skin’s natural health?
- Harsh products and scrubbing.
- Chemicals (ingested in processed foods, as well as those from fertilizers used in growing foods we eat; inhaled in tobacco and vape liquids; or applied as skin treatments) disrupt the natural balance of your skin’s “ecosystem.”
- Insufficient variety of healthy foods; too many high-fat, high-sugar, or processed foods.
- Foods high in hormones—dairy, meat or even eggs—can disrupt skin’s balance.
- Too little water.
- And of course… stress.
Simple, effective routines to care for skin changes as we age
To care for your skin from decade to decade, stick to a basic routine of cleansing, moisturizing, and sunscreen. Toner, vitamin-rich serums, gentle exfoliation and acne treatment may be added, but in moderation. High cost potions and chemical treatments are just not necessary.
For best results, keep your basic skincare routine simple:
- Cleanser: gentle cleansing with a pure product geared to your skin type. Never scrub at your face; use your fingers and rub in circles for 30-40 seconds to help break up oils, before rinsing with lukewarm water.
- Moisturizer: lock in moisture (and a nutrient-rich serum if you use one). Choose noncomedogenic and oil-free ones if you have oily skin; richer blends or even facial oil for dry skin (particularly overnight when makeup isn’t applied on top).
- Sunscreen: essential for all ages, apply a high SPF sunscreen liberally. Products that combine moisturizer and sunscreen are fine too, but beware of applying too little, or relying on thin layers of makeup which will wear off after a few hours.
Incorporate these on an as-needed basis, as described:
- Toner: while not essential, a toner can support the pH level of your skin. If you wear heavy makeup or have been sweating, and feel the cleanser alone is not enough, a toner may help. Aim for one that reduces oil and/or breakouts if you have oilier skin; shift to more hydrating options as your skin thins and dries later in life.
- Exfoliation: Once or twice a week, using a gentle exfoliator can help rub away lingering dead skin cells and make way for new ones—but more isn’t better.
- Acne spot treatments: can be very effective for those prone to breakouts, regardless of your age, particularly if applied overnight.
- Serums: most of us can benefit from a little protection from pollutants and sun. Many experts recommend a Vitamin C-based serum, especially at night.
Last but not least, in addition to topical skin care, it’s so important to be aware of ways we can support our skin’s health from the inside:
- A balanced diet rich in nutritious food choices.
- Drinking plenty of non-sugary fluids (especially water).
- And daily mild exercise that will help us sweat out the toxins that cause many skin problems.
What questions do you have about skincare? Feel free to drop your questions here! Next post, we’ll look at our hair, and how care for it changes over the years.