California-based dermatologist, Dr. Annie Chiu gives us the scoop on anti-aging, adult acne and everything you need to know about skin during the decade of change.
It's no secret that your body undergoes a number of changes as you get older. Your waistline may fluctuate, your hormones may take on a mind of their own, and your skin may undergo some changes. As a result, you will have to adjust your skincare accordingly, or as board certified dermatologist, Dr. Annie Chiu puts it:"You don't wear the same clothes you wore at twenty when you turn thirty—the same goes for your skincare." Read through to find out Dr. Chiu's tips on how to treat your skin in this era of change, what preventative measures you should take now (if you're in your 20's) and what habits you should embrace if you're already in your 30's.
ESSENCE: How should your skincare regimen change as you reach your 30's— is it necessary to change your products?
DR. CHIU: In your 30's you definitely want to be more proactive in terms of combatting anti-ageing and photo damage that may have occurred in your earlier years. Studies have shown that we receive 90% of our sun exposure even before the age of 19. So, you're paying for it later.
ESSENCE: Do you recommend differentiating between day and night creams— is there really a difference between the two?
DR. CHIU: Your 30's is a decade of change. In the late 30's some people may opt for a heavier nighttime moisturizer just because during the day your oil glands are a bit more active, so you may not need a heavy moisturizer. But at night, because your skin dehydrates and it's undergoing repair, you may opt for a slightly heavier option. It really depends on your skin type.
ESSENCE: What about skin turnover, can you define what that is and how it changes with age?
DR. CHIU: We renew our skin at a certain rate, and over time [skin turnover] gets slower. The top layers of the skin slough slowly over time and that's what keeps it shiny and glowing and that rate actually slows with every decade of life. So a little more exfoliation may be beneficial or incorporating products with exfoliating properties.
ESSENCE: You mentioned sun damage as a primary source of aging, are there any other extrinsic forces that factor into aging?
DR.CHIU: Yes. Extrinsic aging is the result of environmental agents that effect the skin— the sun is the [primary] one that we talk about, but there are other things like pollution, there's a lot of oxygenated stress that occurs in the environment and that can break down the collagen. We have natural defenders against this but they weaken over time.
ESSENCE: What are the common skincare mistakes that you see patients make during this period of transition?
DR. CHIU: I think in your 20's you're almost afraid of using products because you don't want to breakout. So they find something that works for them and they just carry it forward in their thirties, when really, that’s the decade that a lot of the intrinsic aging occurs and again, you really want to boost up your regimen. The other thing is compliance. In your 20's you get away with inconsistent product use and your skin still looks great, but in your 30's, your really need consistency. Let's say that your skin turns over every thirty days, to see the effects of a product, you really do need to use that product consistently for 30 to 45 days.
ESSENCE: How often do you recommend using an AHA?
DR. CHIU: It depends on the strength of the AHA. In your 20's a mini home peel once a week is amazing if you can do that. I would probably go up to using a product that contains an AHA either daily or doing a more treatment-like AHA once a week in your thirties. So a little bit more aggressive with it in your thirties. I like a lot of AHA products, [but] I like a lot of AHAs in once product. I think people in their 30's don't want a 50-step regimen. So, I like Skinceuticals serum.
ESSENCE: What would you consider to be the most important aspect of skin care in your thirties?
DR.CHIU: All dermatologists across the board will say having good routine skincare— [having a] good cleanser and a good moisturizer is important—moisturization is in important. Sunscreen, obviously, will always be number one, but the most proven anti-aging ingredient is a retinol. Adult acne can also become a problem. As early as our 30s, our estrogen levels start dropping very, very slightly and relative to the body it looks like testosterone levels are rising and that slight imbalance can cause what we call adult acne. There are great prescription products on the market; I love Aczone. I've found it to be great in [treating] female hormonal acne because it's a non-irritating, anti-inflammatory product that [really] works to decrease the inflammation of acne.
ESSENCE: Are certain skin types prone to specific signs of aging more than others?
DR. CHIU: Darker skin types often deal with hormonal pigmentation and certain areas of the skin can become uneven over time, which is called melisma. Hormonal discoloration can be very distressing to women which can really manifest in your thirties. It is often attributed to hormonal changes or the birth control pill. It's difficult to combat, but should be discussed with your dermatologist.
ESSENCE: Are combination sunscreens—products that are both cosmetic and SPF— efficient?
DR. CHIU: Simplicity is great. The Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF 30 or above for daily use. What you might want to be careful of is [cosmetic products] that have SPF. It's often 15 or below because it get hard to formulate a product that's as elegant when you use an SPF higher than 15. It's fine to use combination products but you do need SPF that is at least 30 and above.
ESSENCE: Can you build-up your SPF protection using various products? For example: will a moisturizer with SPF 15 layered with a foundation with an SPF 15 equate to having the protection of SPF 30?
DR. CHIU: No, SPFs are not additive. You should assume that you are getting the protection of the highest product that you are layering.