Best Skin Care for Your 20’s, 30s and 40s

Cynthia Bailey, MD|April 24, 2012

A 40-year-old patient with beautiful skin said to me:

Everyone I know that has good skin wears sunscreen every day. My mom told me when I was young that I should wear sunscreen daily and I’m so glad I listened. She said, “I don’t tell you a lot of things, but you’ll regret lying in the sun. You should wear sunscreen and stay out of the sun for your skin.” Since then, I’ve worn sunscreen every day and people are always curious how old I am. I just turned 40 and just recently someone at my son’s new school was surprised at my age. Also, my girlfriend, who is an aesthetician in the city, is stunning and she wears sunscreen every day - aestheticians know what to do for their skin.”

This patient’s skin really is beautiful, and she doesn’t look anywhere near 40. She was raised in California, which can really age fair skin, but she has sun protected her skin for years. It shows.

If you only do one thing for anti-aging skin care, it needs to be sun protection!

To understand why, you need to understand how the sun ages and breaks down your skin. 

UVA rays are the longest of the aging sun rays; they're out intensely from sun up to sun down all year round, AND they penetrate deeply into the second layer of your skin (the dermis).

When UVA rays shine into this layer of your skin they permanently damage the main cells of your dermis that make your collagen and elastin (cells called fibroblasts).

Your UVA-damaged fibroblasts:

  • Don’t work right.
  • Start making funky collagen and elastin, which gives your complexion a sallow-gray look instead of a healthy warm hue.
  • Can't keep your dermis healthy and it becomes thin, fragile and wrinkled.

Both the UVA and UVB exposure (UVB is the mid-day sunburn rays) causes brown age spots, uneven skin color and red "broken" capillaries that show through your skin too.

Both UVA and UVB rays also damage the top living cells of your skin (called keratinocytes), which makes your skin texture dry and leather-like, yet thin. This causes the sallow-colored collagen and elastin layer to show through even more.

Most people who have had sun exposure in their childhood and teen years start to show the early signs of these changes in their 20s. You may think it’s too late, but it can always get worse! Sun protection NOW is important. Plus, there are products you can use to help reverse the changes. The sooner you make these changes the better.

There are things you can do to protect your skin and reverse sun damage now.

First, use sun protection.

Wear broad spectrum sunscreen every day, all year. Be sure to:

  • Choose a mineral zinc oxide sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher.
  • Apply your sunscreen after your therapeutic skin care products and before makeup, if you wear it.  Don't ever miss a day - seriously.

When you're really out in the sun, add a hat, sunglasses and sun protective clothing - yes it takes planning, but it will be huge for your skin.

Second, use anti-aging skin care products.

Find a product regimen that fits your skin type, budget and degree of "maintenance energy."

Choose products that have:

  • Antioxidant protective benefit.
  • Collagen and elastin producing benefit. (Merely having these ingredients in a product adds NO benefit because they can't penetrate your skin from the outside. Be sure to use products that tell your fibroblasts to make some new and normal collagen and elastin.)

Click the blue links below for some of my favorite anti aging and sunscreen products.

My Facial Anti-Aging Antioxidant Skin Care Kits and Glycolic Acid Anti-Aging Kits

My Anti-Aging Body Skin Care Kit

Anti Aging Body Skin Care Products

My Dermatologist Recommended Sun Screen Kits

dermatologist recommended zinc oxide sunscreens

My other sun protection products

natural ewg rated zinc oxide sunscreen

This strategy works and I, too, am a evidence of it. I’ve sun protected my skin since I was 28, and before that my skin was extremely sun damaged for my years. 5 years ago when we moved into our new office, my staff found my old dermatology residency application photo in a file. I was about 27 years old and my skin looked worse than it does now at 53! It's never too late. I've seen patients in their 30s and 40s transform their skin and take a decade off the wear and tear with good sun protection and the right anti-aging skin care regimen.

Photo thanks and gratitude to Tommerton2012