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Adjusting your skin care to fit your age

How to optimize your skin care to fit your age? This issue raises both much interest and much confusion. Some experts declare that the need to adapt a skin care routine to fit a particular age is marginal because the essential physiology of the skin does not change all that much. Others assert that your skin care routine should account for every hormonal change in the body, especially those associated with aging.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. The core mechanisms of skin physiology are the same at any age. Yet, many things do change, including metabolic rate, cell turnover rate, hormonal levels, accumulation of damaged cells and molecular garbage, prevalence of inflammation and so forth. Taking those into account is likely to provide extra benefits.

Biological vs. chronological age

The age of your skin should be judged based on biological factors rather than simply your date of birth. Biological and chronological age are rarely very far apart but they are not the same. The rate of aging varies among people due to genetic and lifestyle differences. The variation in the rate of skin aging is particularly high (compared to other tissues) because the skin is more exposed to the environment. When optimizing your skin care, you can use your chronological age as a starting point but you should also take into account biological factors that may have affected your rate of aging. For example, if you are in your twenties but your skin has suffered a lot of sun damage, you may benefit from the anti-wrinkle treatments (e.g. tretinoin a.k.a. Retin A) that are otherwise best used later in life. If you are undergoing early menopause in your late thirties, you might benefit from topical estrogens and/or progesterone even though such treatment are typically contemplated in late forties.

You need the basics at any age

A number of basic practices are essential for optimal skin care at any age. Skipping them is likely to undermine the rest of your routine. Make sure you protect your skin from avoidable damage, particularly sun damage. Establish a sensible basic daily routine matching your skin type. Then determine whether you need any age-specific steps (see below).

Age-specific steps and considerations

The following articles cover the key issue of skin care specific to a particular age group. Please select what's applicable to you.

Skin care in your twenties

Skin care in your thirties

Skin care in your forties, fifties and beyond

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