Here’s how to preserve the best skin of your life
If skin has a prime time, your 20s is it. The whirlwind of hormonal/teenage/problem skin is typically behind you and you’re yet to show the hallmarks of ageing. This decade can be make or break and your top priorities should be prevention and getting into the habit of following a consistent, quality skin care routine with the right products (and ingredients) in it.
But knowing where to begin and how to transition your skin care routine from your teen years to focusing on keeping the first signs of ageing at bay can be unfamiliar territory.
What’s so good about vitamin A
While a new buzzword seems to wow the beauty world more than we would think possible (particularly in the anti-ageing department), one ingredient that has stood the test of time is our old friend, vitamin A.
If you need a bit of an introduction, this anti-ageing gem is considered the gold standard in skin care – and for good reason.
“Vitamin A (also known as retinol) is one of the essential vitamins that our bodies need for embryonic development, bone formation and vision,” says Dr Elena Voskresenskaya, Global Education Director at SkinCeuticals. “Vitamin A is also a long-established treatment that combats and reverses the effects of photo-ageing in skin."
When added to your skin care routine in its topical form, vitamin A will help repair damaged skin and stimulate the production of new collagen, which effectively reduces the formation of those dreaded fine lines and wrinkles.
Yep, we told you it was worth knowing about.
Why you should start thinking about using retinol now
Throughout your 20s, you’ll start to notice a lack of radiance and glow and your skin may start looking a smidge on the dull side. According to Dr Voskresenskaya, these changes start to appear long before the first “traditional” signs of ageing, such as wrinkles or skin sagging.
“During the late 20s we start noticing the first fine lines, especially in the eye area, often accompanied by skin discolouration due to unprotected sun exposure,” she says.
Retinol has the wonderful ability to both address the lingering concerns of your teenage years (read: breakouts and clogged pores), as well as set you up to fight what’s around the corner – as in sun damage, brown spots, lines wrinkles and enlarged pores – in the one hit.
“It accelerates cell turnover up to six times the normal rate, which improves skin tone, texture and clarity. Retinol also regulates sebum production, controls inflammation and clears pores, which leads to improvement in acne-prone skin,” says Dr Voskresenskaya.
Important things to note when using retinol
#1 / Be liberal with SPF
It’s *so* important that while using retinol you wear SPF Every. Single. Day. Why? Because retinol increases sensitivity to ultraviolet light, meaning your skin is incredibly susceptible to burning. So be sure to reach for a high SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen and be cautious when you are outdoors during the peak hours of sun.
#2 / Start slow when using vitamin A
No matter what age you are, it’s important to proceed with caution when it comes to retinol. As it is a highly concentrated and powerful ingredient, it can result in tightness and flaking and can irritate your skin if you’re using the wrong concentration and applying too much, too soon.
Dr Voskresenskaya recommends using 0.5 per cent pure retinol twice weekly (in the evening to reduce the effects of sun sensitivity) before slowly working up to applying it every other night over a period of three to four weeks. “Only begin treating skin with retinol 1.0 per cent after skin [has been] pre-conditioned with lower concentrations of retinol.”
#3 / You can have too much of a good thing with retinol
You should apply no more than a pea-sized amount to the entire face and avoid getting too close to the eye area. It’s also important to only use one retinol product at a time (i.e. don’t double up on a serum and a moisturiser). Overusing retinol can cause the skin to become irritated, resulting in peeling and flaking. So, be warned!
Keen to boost your skin care routine with some vitamin A action? These are some of our favourite retinol products to combat the early signs of ageing: SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5, Medik8 Retinol 3 TR and Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment.
Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew, Beauty Editor for Women's Health magazine and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.