Young Adult Essentials
Following my post on teenage skin some weeks back (here) a number of parents and young adults alike have been asking for recommendations for young adult skin. The following are a few pointers to help keep skin fresh, clean, vibrant...and protected through your 20s and thirties in particular. Much of this is extracted from my forthcoming book GLOW: 4 weeks to better skin - due early next year.
My biggest concern for the many well meaning young adults is their overuse of often inappropriate skincare - skin acids in particular - that may feel great at the time (as long as skin does not react immediately) but can literally tear away the fragile outer acid mantle of the skin leaving it dangerously thin and delicate. By 'acids' I mean AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids - glycolic and lactic acid in particular) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acids also known as salicylic acid) - these are extremely potent, so unless professional prescribed are best avoided until your late thirties and beyond. Acids help slough away dead skin cells lending more radiance to the face and are found in an increasing number of skincare products from face washes and toners to serums, masks and peels.
This said, if you insist on using acids, start slowly, at a very low dose and see how your skin reacts. Seek advice from a trusted beauty expert as for people with very fine skin (which seems to be a trait among many Irish women in particular) and other sensitive skin types, acids will do more harm than good and leave your skin thinner and even more sensitive.
While every skin is different, the following is a general overview of some of the typical changes skin undergoes as we move through our young adult life. None of this is predestined however, but what is assured is that by protecting and nourishing skin with colourful skin-loving foods during the earlier years, the better our skin will look and feel as we grow older.
Regardless of skin type, once we reach adulthood, skin becomes a little drier every day. For people with naturally dry skin, some dullness, rough texture, flaking and skin tightness may be evident even at this young age. It is during the latter part of the twenties that natural biological ageing slowly sets in with biochemical changes in the skin’s collagen and elastin fibres and the once neat architecture very slowly starts to degrade.
Skincare through the 20s: Gentle - Natural - Nourishing - Protecting
Excessive sun exposure during these years will exacerbate skin ageing and leave young skin looking and feeling at least a decade older - so its broad-spectrum UVA/UVB SPF30+ from here on in!
What to use
Thorough cleansing and adequate sun protection are non-negotiable throughout the twenties - and indeed during every life decade. Choose light, primarily natural products that are gentle on the skin. If you wear a lot of make up or are exposed to high levels of environmental pollution double cleansing your skin at the end of the day is well worth the time and investment (see here for more). Invest in a gentle, light and pure face oil and apply it over a cleansed and toned face and around the eyes, especially at night.
Food: Eat plenty of healthy fats and essential fatty acids (think avocados, oily fish, nuts (esp walnuts and almonds), seeds and whole grains. Drink plenty of water and, if you seriously care for your skin, limit your alcohol intake and get adequate sleep and rest.
Throughout the 30s the natural rate of skin exfoliation starts to slow with a slowing in collagen and elastin fiber production. The skin starts to lose water and its natural protective barrier weakens. Sun-induced damage can become more apparent too with an increase in dark sunspots and damaged pores. The skin under the eyes slowly starts to thin too, leaving fine lines and puffy dark circles. These and other more subtle changes can become more pronounced with stress, late nights, alcohol, lack of exercise etc.
Skincare through the 30s: Natural-Nourishing-Protecting-Active (serums)
What to use
Keep skin well hydrated with nurturing foods (as above), water and appropriate skincare. Now is the time to invest in a targeted serum rich in active essentials (niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C etc), especially at night, to repair and nourish while you sleep. Vitamin C-enriched products can protect skin from daily environmental aggressors and when used in masks can help bring back the glow. Continue to lather on natural face oils, especially if skin is feeling dry and parched which often happens during cooler winter months. Find a brand you trust with a commitment to quality oils and to the environment (I have listed many over the past months on my website) ). This is a good time to consult a trusted cosmetic dermatologist rather than relying on the sales representative at the local beauty counter.
Get it right now - Reap the rewards later!