As we approach our 40s, many of the words used to describe our skin begin to sound quite negative – dull looking, uneven, more lined. This can partly be attributed to perimenopause, the years leading up to menopause during which estrogen levels decrease and our skin behinds to lose its glow and elasticity. We believe that ageing is a natural, beautiful and privileged experience, and not something that should be dreaded or feared. In saying that, we also understand the desire we all feel to look and feel our best.

As any dermatologist will tell you, it’s never too late to start taking care of your skin. But of course, the sooner you start, the better! That means that whether you’re exploring the world in your 20s or blissfully coming into your own in your 30s, taking the time to develop a skincare tailored to your skin is the best thing you can do for yourself before you reach your 40s to ensure bright and healthy skin.

When tailoring your perfect skincare routine, dermatologists recommend that you create one that best suits you and your lifestyle. If you enjoy your routine and it feels maintainable to you, you’ll be better able to stick with it. If you’re curious to know what are the most important products, habits and ingredients to adopt, we have you sorted. We spoke with the expert team at Westside Dermatology to find out what we should be doing to cultivate healthy skin throughout our 20s, 30s and into our 40s. Scroll on to find out.

Just a heads up: selecting the right skincare products and routine for your skin might involve some trial and error. To ensure you get the best results, make sure you chat with your dermatologist to get their professional opinion!

1. Make sunscreen the centre of your skincare routine

As any skin expert will tell you, a good quality sunscreen should be the foundation of your skin routine. A good quality sunscreen will help prevent sun damage to your skin, helping to keep your skin glowy, youthful and safe. Opt for a sunscreen that is at least SPF 50 and apply it first thing in the morning before your makeup. Be sure to apply to your face, neck (front, sides and back), ears, décolletage, forearms and shoulders and hands. If possible, reapply during the day.

If your only experience with sunscreen is the thick Banana Boat variety, don’t fret. There is a wide range of make-up friendly sunscreens that won’t cause you to break out! One of our favourites is La Roche Posay Anthelios SPF 50+.

2. Get regular head-to-toe skin checks

While preventive habits are always preferred, it’s still important to ensure that regular skin checks are still part of your routine. Rather than waiting until it’s too late, getting regular checks means you can catch something early and treat it before it’s too late. Make sure you check in with your dermatologist once a year (or more, if melanoma runs in your family) to ensure that there are no early signs of precancerous skin changes. And stay out of the sun!

3. Step-up your moisturising game

It’s no secret that as we age, our skin begins to get drier, flakier and duller. To keep your skin plump, hydrated and healthy, it’s important to strengthen your moisture barrier and use products that will keep your skin hydrated. Moisture-trapping lipids (such as heavier emollients) mimic the natural lipids in skin that help keep skin silky and soft, but which deteriorate as we age. Moisturisers such as Obagi Hydrate help to restore good lipids to the skin and to improve smoothness, laxity and overall radiance.

If you don’t like the feel of a thick moisturiser, sodium hyaluronate (a derivative of hyaluronic acid) helps attract and hold onto water, making it the ultimate skin moisturiser. It penetrates deeper than hyaluronic acid and is especially useful for minimising fine lines around your eyes.

4. Incorporate vitamin C and retinol into your skincare routine

Vitamin C is one of the most powerful skincare ingredients you can use as it works as a melanin inhibitor meaning it helps to prevent dark spots before they appear. It can even help support collagen production, which is especially important in your 30s and 40s. Vitamin C helps to brighten your skin while also minimising the appearance of fine lines. Opt for a high-potency serum and apply in the morning before your moisturiser and sunscreen. We love the Aspect Dr Vitamin C.

Retinol is a must-have product when you’re in your 20s and beyond. The vitamin A derivative boosts collagen production, which helps to prevent fine lines and cultivate a plump, healthy complexion. It’s known to prevent and minimise acne, oily skin, fine lines, and even rosacea. If you’re a retinol newbie, be sure to use it sparingly in the first few weeks until your skin gets used to it. Make sure you use a high-quality product; your dermatologist can advise you on a good pick, but we love the entire range from Biopelle. As retinol can make your skin more susceptible to sun damage, make sure to use it at night-time and always use in conjunction with a sunscreen.

5. Add exfoliation to your skincare routine

As we get older, our dead skin cells don’t shed quite as fast. This results in dull, lifeless and textured skin, and even discolouration, as excess pigment is often stored in dead skin cells. Thankfully, exfoliating two or three times a week at home and getting bi-monthly spa treatments can help maintain a youthful glow. Physical exfoliators include products such as Aspect Dr Cellablation and treatments such as Fractional Laser. For chemical exfoliation, AHA and BHA masks, peels and serums work wonders (NeoStrata, Aspect Dr and Obagi all have products that will suit your needs), but it’s definitely recommended you speak with your dermatologist about getting regular chemical peels in their clinic.

Bonus: regular exfoliation can help other products in your skincare routine (such as your vitamin C serum) penetrate your skin better, resulting in better overall results!

6. Get regular skin treatments

Treating yourself to semi-regular Chemical Peels or Hydrafacials is a good way to stay on top of your skin health and to give it a pick-me-up when needed. Whether you opt for laser therapy, a HydraFacial, a Chemical Peel or something else, these additional treatments can help enhance the work of your skincare routine while also targeting things that your regular routine can’t tackle on its own. As you regularly meet with your dermatologist, use this opportunity to discuss the health of your skin and learn how you can continue to keep your skin healthy and thriving. Plus, it’s an excuse to enjoy some relaxing downtime every couple of weeks! That’s a win-win in our opinion.

7. Develop a daytime and night-time skincare routine

Getting into the habit of a morning and evening skincare routine is an important part of skin health. Just like brushing your teeth, skin care is a two-time-a-day practice! Your daytime routine should focus on protecting your skin from damage (due to pollutants and sun exposure) while your evening routine should focus on repairing your skin. Whatever you do, make sure you cleanse your skin, morning and night. This helps to clear your pores, revitalise your complexion and overall help prevent your skin from ageing faster. From here you can develop a complete skincare routine!

As we said above, be sure to speak to a professional to make sure you’re tailoring the right routine (with the right products and treatments) for your skin.

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