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Skincare routines are a hot topic these days — and for good reason. One that’s perfected means less makeup and clear, glowing skin. And it’s never too early (or too late!) to tackle anti-aging. With all of the information swirling around out there, we set out to get to the bottom of it once and for all. We have enlisted Nashville’s skincare experts to weigh in on the topic. Breaking it down by two categories — essentials and optional add-ons — for each decade, 20s through 60s plus, we’re making it as digestible as possible. Here’s to achieving that dreamy glow!

Bring out your best skin at every age with these expert recommendations.

Skincare Routines for Every Age

20s: PREVENT

ESSENTIALS

  • Cleanser
  • Moisturizer
  • Antioxidants
  • SPF 20+

What’s the number one thing someone in their 20s should do for their skin? Avoid sun damage at all costs! Dr. Grayson Woods of Woods Aesthetics emphasizes, “Sunscreen! Sunscreen! Sunscreen! Finding a daily sunscreen you love and consider part of your morning routine rain or shine will take years off your look down the road.”

Skincare in your 20s should be relatively simple, with some additional special treatments if you’d like to go the extra mile. Heather Happy of Cool Springs Plastic Surgery breaks it down: “Cleanse morning and night; use a moisturizer that contains antioxidants like Vitamin C, peptides and hyaluronic acid; and a daily SPF between 30-50. Find products suitable for your skin type … and makeup doesn’t count as adequate sun protection!”

EXTRAS

  • Retinol/Retin-A
  • Botox to prevent wrinkles
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Derma-planing
  • HydraFacial

Casey Nolen of Image Surgical Arts notes that your 20s are a great time to start doing regular facials monthly. She recommends microdermabrasion, derma-planing facials and superficial peels to start. And while it might feel early, many recommend Botox as a preventative measure. Kate Meriwether, a nurse practitioner at SkinMD, says, “You could consider using small amounts of neurotoxins (Botox/Dysport/Xeomin) for prevention of wrinkles on the forehead, 11s and crow’s feet.”

RELATED: Wellness Diary: Sharon Ball Shares Her Self-Care Routine


30s: PREVENT + CORRECT

ESSENTIALS

  • Cleanser
  • Exfoliator
  • Moisturizer
  • Antioxidants
  • SPF 20+
  • Eye cream/gel
  • Retinol
  • Chemical exfoliation

In your 30s, there is still time to prevent aging and sun damage. Maintain avid use of SPF and sun avoidance. For many 30-somethings, sun damage has already occurred and might need correction. Kate tells us, “Topical serums can be utilized to address many skin concerns as well for fine lines, pigmentation, acne or redness. Eye creams/gels should also be added in your 30s to help with dark circles, puffiness or fine lines.”

Dr. Woods adds, “Add retinol and antioxidants to your mix. Powerful anti-aging elements, these will both reverse skin damage (irregular pigment, fine lines) and prevent new damage. Be sure to get prescription strength to make it worth your while.” And with the use of retinol means increased importance of SPF.

Heather recommends beginning chemical exfoliation in your 30s. These exfoliants are smooth in nature (unlike a scrub), and they are more gentle than physical exfoliation. Acids help turn over skin, but there are lots of options out there. Heather breaks it down by skin type for us: “Add daily chemical exfoliation: glycolic acid for dry and sun damaged skin, and salicylic acid for blemish prone or sensitive skin.”

EXTRAS

  • Laser photofacial for pigmentation
  • Laser hair removal
  • Microneedling
  • Regular facials/HydraFacials
  • Chemical peels
  • Botox

40s: REPLENISH + CORRECT

ESSENTIALS

  • Cleanser
  • Exfoliator
  • Moisturizer
  • Antioxidants
  • SPF 20+
  • Eye cream/gel
  • Retinol
  • Chemical exfoliation
  • Adult acne treatments, if needed
  • Additional hydrating serums + moisturizers (with hyaluronic acid)

Our experts agree that in your 40s, one of the most important steps is a highly effective moisturizer. Kate tells us, “Skin in the 40s can start to change with hormones and peri-menopause causing the skin to become dryer. These ladies may need to start using a moisturizer that hydrates, plumps and creates a barrier to protect dry/irritated skin. If that wasn’t enough, women in their 40s start losing 5 ml or 1 tsp of subcutaneous fat from the face every year. This creates a sunken look, jowls can develop, and the shape of the face can even change.”

Look for moisturizers or serums that have hyaluronic acid listed as a primary ingredient. Dr. Woods shares that this special ingredient adds plumpness to your skin, which can help combat the fat loss that comes during this decade.

If you experience adult acne, and many women do due to hormonal changes, consider adding a topical or prescription medication to aid in the treatment.

EXTRAS

  • Laser photofacial
  • Laser treatment for broken capillaries around the nose
  • Microneedling with radio frequency heat
  • Sclerotherapy and/or laser for leg veins
  • Higher percentage peels
  • Intense pulsed light/Broad band light photofacials
  • Fillers and neurotoxins for wrinkles

RELATED: What’s the Difference Between Premenopause & Perimenopause?


50s: CORRECT + MAINTAIN

ESSENTIALS

  • Cleanser
  • Exfoliator
  • Antioxidants
  • SPF 20+
  • Eye cream/gel
  • Adult acne treatments, if needed
  • Retinol
  • Chemical exfoliation
  • Additional serums for hydration + anti-aging
  • Lighter moisturizers

In your 50s, continued use of products like retinol and antioxidants can reverse skin aging and damage. This decade is your peak use of those products, using as often as your skin allows. Heather gives us a unique tip. “In your 50s, avoid heavy moisturizers over larger pore areas, which can slip in the pore, making it appear larger.” She continues, “Additionally, increase the percentage of prescription tretinoin or retinol, and use it nightly if possible. Continue using Vitamin C and pigment correctors.”

Kate recommends adding serums for hydration and anti-aging, as well as the consideration of more fillers and neurotoxins to compensate for the additional volume loss in the face.

EXTRAS:

  • Body contouring for stubborn post-menopausal fat
  • Microneedling with radio frequency heat and or growth factor
  • Ultherapy (skin lifting and tightening)
  • Sclerotherapy and/or laser for leg veins
  • Higher percentage peels
  • Intense pulsed light/Broad band light photofacials
  • Fillers and neurotoxins for wrinkles

60s and beyond: GENTLY MAINTAIN

ESSENTIALS

  • Cleanser
  • Gentle exfoliator
  • Antioxidants
  • Eye cream/gel
  • Adult acne treatments, if needed
  • Chemical exfoliation, three to four times a week
  • Retinol, lowered percentage + usage
  • Serums for hydration + anti-aging

In your 60s, skin becomes more delicate. Consider backing off of some of the more intense products like chemical exfoliants and retinol. “As skin becomes more delicate, be kind to it with gentle, exfoliating cleansers and polishes,” says Dr. Woods. Maintain the use of powerful antioxidants and periodically use microneedling and laser therapy to stimulate natural collagen.

Beyond your 60s, your skincare regimen should go back to square one. Heather recommends lowering your percentage of retinol and using just two to three nights per week, applying chemical exfoliation three to four times per week and continuing the use of Vitamin C.

EXTRAS

  • Cosmetic “clean up” for skin tags, barnacles, brown spots every 6-12 months
  • Microneedling with growth factor or platelet-rich plasma
  • Intense pulsed light/Broad band light photofacials
  • Fillers and neurotoxins
  • Surgical procedures

Casey recommends consideration of more aggressive treatments such as surgical procedures, skin tightening and facelifts, which should all be discussed with your doctor or medical professional.

Special thanks to the experts, Dr. Grayson Woods of Woods Aesthetics, Heather Happy of Cool Springs Plastic Surgery, Casey Nolen of Image Surgical Arts and Kate Meriwether, nurse practitioner at SkinMD, for offering their insight! 

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