How Your Skin Changes as You Age
By: Vanessa Gibson
In your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond. Our skin changing as we age is one of the most beautiful (and inevitable) parts of our nature. In simplest terms, our skin loses fat, collagen, and elastin as we age, making skin appear looser and less smooth and plump than it once was. Our skin also thins, becomes less padded, and is more prone to injury (which explains why the skin takes longer to heal when we’re older than when we’re children).
And while this sounds easy enough, the constant change in our skin is complex, and we often don’t see signs of skin aging until later down the road (since most things are happening behind the scenes). Below, we’ll walk you through what skin changes you can expect as you age, so you can love and learn to best nurture your skin along the way.
There’s no doubt that your skin is still incredibly youthful when you’re in your 20s, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some skin changes happening. For one, you may be experiencing acne breakouts, even if you never had troubles with acne in the past. This frustrating and all-too-common occurrence is most often due to fluctuations in hormones, especially around your period when estrogen levels dip and testosterone revs up.
If acne in your 20s isn’t something you deal with (props to you!), then anti-aging efforts should be your number one concern. The first big spikes in collagen loss happen at age 25 and continue to decrease as we age. That’s why it’s ever so important when you’re in your 20s to be preventative and start forming good skincare habits (i.e., using a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, even when you don’t go outside).
By the time we’re in our 30s, certain skin concerns like sun damage and hyperpigmentation can become more obvious. Especially since sun damage that occurred in your early teens and 20s can take years to show up as fine lines, pigmentation, and loss of volume (crazy, we know).
And not to sound scary, especially since aging is a natural and beautiful process, but if you are concerned with collagen supplies, in your 30s is a great time to keep at it with anti-aging ingredients like antioxidants. Antioxidants are one of our favorite ways to keep the body and skin healthy and vibrant because, in regards to skincare, they help treat current signs of skin aging like fine lines and pigmentation (think vitamin C).
Antioxidants are also incredibly beneficial for preventing further skin cell damage that leads to aging and collagen loss by neutralizing oxidative stress and combating free radicals. When shopping for skincare, look for natural and organic ingredients products full of antioxidant-rich extracts, oils, and vitamins that will help protect and heal skin.
Most skin experts agree that by the time we’re in our 40s, the skin changes we saw in our 20s and 30s (aka fine lines, sun damage, and collagen loss) accelerate. Decreased skin volume and loss of elasticity, skin thinning, wrinkles, and pigmentation concerns like melasma become more pronounced. Keep at it with your antioxidants, hydrators, and moisturizers, and consider adding a gentle exfoliator into your routine to boost skin cell turnover. This will help with reducing any hyperpigmentation, softening fine lines and wrinkles, and brightening skin dullness.
Premenopausal skin in your 40s can also experience more dryness, which means using hydrating, nourishing topical skincare that replenishes the skin’s natural building blocks like cholesterol, ceramides, and fatty acids is essential. And don’t forget to bring those hydrating serums and regenerative moisturizers down onto the neck and chest! These neglected areas tend to show just as much (sometimes more) signs of aging than our face, so it’s important they get love too.
It's also vital during your 40s to maintain a healthy lifestyle, not only for your livelihood but for your skin too. Getting good quality sleep, eating a balanced diet full of antioxidants and whole foods, limiting sugar, exercising regularly, staying hydrated, and finding ways to reduce stress will help slow signs of aging and boost your natural glow factor.
For most women, they’ll be hit with another huge shift in hormones as menopause begins, causing levels of estrogen to decrease and androgens to rise. Estrogen drops directly affect the skin’s collagen supply, making volume loss and skin thinning more apparent. This decrease in estrogen also means skin will be drier and less plump, which is where keeping up on your hydrating skincare habits can help.
Your 50s mark a milestone in your life that should be celebrated and revered for all the beauty and wisdom you’ve gained along your journey. But with that life experience comes another decade where checking in on your skin health—particularly when it comes to sun damage and UV-ray exposure—is vital. In your 50s, you’re likely to see more developed signs of pigmentation like age spots and should be on the lookout for any moles or areas on the skin that seem out of place.
Your 60s—and Beyond
With a lot of the hormonal waves out of the way, your 60s is a relatively simple time in your skincare journey. Meaning that less is typically more and sticking with a simple yet effective routine that’s hydrating, nourishing, and protective will help skin retain the moisture it needs. Many people in their 60s tend to use a thicker, more decadent night cream for this very reason since it will help restore the skin’s moisture levels and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Of course, skin thinning and collagen loss are still prominent (and they’ll continue to be as you age). And while you can’t undo any skin damage done in your younger years, you can prevent future damage by making sure sunscreen is a part of your daily regimen. It’s also vital that you or a dermatologist regularly check in with your skin to examine it for any signs of skin cancer,