We know staying out of the sun and moisturizing is good for our skin, but at what point do we need to kick our skincare up a notch? Does our routine need to change as we age? We asked Dr. Neil Farnsworth, a board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology, to share his expert advice.
What happens to our skin as we age?
Over time our skin thins and loses the collagen and elastic fibers that had given it suppleness and resilience, leading to fine wrinkles, crepey texture, and easy bruising. Ultraviolet rays are a primary driver of these changes, causing discoloration, broken capillaries, enlarged oil glands, and premalignant and malignant lesions.
What is your advice for women in their 20s and 30s?
I advise my younger patients that they have the invaluable opportunity at their stage in life to prevent signs of sun damage in their later years. They should be using a daily moisturizer every morning with broad-spectrum sun protection of SPF 30 or above and reapply again in the afternoon. If they are going to be in the sun, wearing sun-protective clothing and broad-brimmed hats can minimize the deep-penetrating UV radiation.
Does this advice change as we get into our 40s and 50s?
As women reach middle adulthood, undoing existing photo-damage is essential. The backbone of any regenerative and restorative regimen is a topical vitamin-A derivative called a retinoid. Prescription and non-prescription strength retinoids can undo cellular changes brought on from UV exposure, lighten dark spots, and thicken the collagen and elastin of the dermis to improve texture and thickness.
Is there anything else we should know as we enter our 60s?
For patients in their 60s and beyond, the ability of the skin to retain moisture becomes increasingly compromised. Cleansers that have been used for decades may become intolerable, and moisturizing all over needs to become part of one's daily routine.
Are there common skincare mistakes women tend to make regardless of age?
Perhaps the most common mistake I see is falling for the allure of "natural" personal-care products. Natural plant extracts commonly cause irritation and even allergic responses. I remind my patients that seasonal pollen, poison ivy, mercury, uranium, and grizzly bears are all "natural", but not so good for your skin. Processed and chemical-sounding ingredients shouldn't be feared, as most of the incredible advances in rejuvenation, sensitivity, and protection have come from cosmeceutical laboratories.
Dr. Neil Farnsworth is a board-certified dermatologist who has practiced the full range of medical and surgical dermatology since 2010. He completed his internal medicine internship at Tulane University Medical Center and his dermatology residency at LSU Health Sciences Center. He is also a graduate of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
Westlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, is a private, physician-owned practice with 17 locations statewide, with its second Houston location opening this summer at 3636 Westheimer Road in River Oaks
For more information, visit www.westlakedermatology.com.