Here’s How You Can Expect to Age Each Decade, According to the Experts
Main image – Ohlamourstudio/Stocksy
Let’s get one thing straight. Everyone ages. It’s the most natural, normal thing in the world and there’s absolutely no shame in it or getting away from it.
This doesn’t have to be a negative thing though. Because not only is ageing inevitable, it’s also gradual. You don’t just wake up one morning suddenly needing dentures and a walking stick.
But if you want to know a little more about how that process can look through each decade of your life, licensed aestheticians Laura Chacon-Garbato and Tyhira Stovall along with dermatologist Dr Geeta Yadav help me to unravel the mystery of ageing with the aim of making you feel less anxious, more empowered.
What is ageing?
You’ll already know that ageing means getting older (although personally I prefer to use the word ‘wiser’). And signs of ageing on the skin become more visible as the years go by.
This happens naturally anyway thanks to genetics, loss of collagen (the skin’s ‘bounce’ and what makes it look plump), slower skin cell turnover, loss of fat in our faces, and changes to the muscles under our skin.
But the effect on the skin can be made worse by long-term habits like excessive sun exposure, poor diet choices and smoking, according to the experts.
“It’s crucial to keep in mind that the earlier you establish healthy habits like skincare, exercise and a balanced diet, the longer you can postpone the ageing process,” explains Chacon-Garbato. “While you can’t completely stop it, you can certainly delay its onset.”
“Those who tend to avoid the sun and eat well, avoid smoking and are not subjected to environmental pollution may age ‘better’ than those who smoke regularly or love sun-tanning,” agrees Dr Yadav.
The ageing timeline and what to expect
Have a look at this break down of what to expect when you’re ageing. And remember everyone’s different.
“There are typical age ranges when individuals begin seeing specific signs of ageing, such as crow’s feet and laughter lines,” explains Chacon-Garbato.
“Nonetheless, it’s key to recognise that individual experiences can significantly change due to lifestyle choices, genetic variations and environmental effects.”
In your teens
Anyone over the age of 30 might sarcastically reach for a magnifying glass to spot any signs of ageing on someone within this age bracket. But believe it or not, ageing skin can even be visible here.
“Early signs like fine lines may appear in late teens or early twenties,” warns Chacon-Garbato. “[This is] often tied to eating habits, genetics and sun exposure.”
Rather than creating complicated teenage skincare routines though, the most important advice at any age is to wear sunscreen. Always. Yes, the sun gives your skin a beautiful glow but can also trigger early fine lines and pigmentation. Not to mention be detrimental to your skin further down the line.
In your twenties
Did you know the skin’s natural glow actually begins to reduce in your twenties? “You will begin to lose 1% collagen and elastin in your skin,” says Stovall.
But hey! Look at it as just a brilliant excuse to up your skincare game and start treating yourself. “This is a great time to get serious about your skin health.”
Chacon-Garbato adds that in your late twenties, “more noticeable ageing signs can develop, especially in areas prone to repetitive movements like the eyes and mouth, associated with by a loss of skin elasticity and firmness.”
As a result of this, drink plenty of water, introduce an eye cream to your regime and use a moisturiser containing hyaluronic acid. A great one for this age group is Balance Me Collagen Boost Moisturiser (£24.95 from Feel Unique UK /$34.80 from Feel Unique US) which isn’t too heavy or sticky as the range was created for all ages.
Also, get in the habit of wearing UV safe sunglasses in direct sunlight, and remember to apply a clear SPF lip balm too.
In your thirties
In your thirties, “your skin cell turnover slows down, leading to duller skin and dark spots or pigmentation issues may become more noticeable,” explains Stovall.
“In this decade of life, you’re going to want to continue a good skincare regimen that includes using a sunscreen and consider adding anti-ageing ingredients like retinol to your routine as well,” she adds.
Sounds serious, but it’s not bad serious. Ingredients like retinol are an excellent addition for helping to boost collagen production. Try La Roche Posay Retinol B3 Anti-Ageing Serum (£45 from Look Fantastic UK /$46.99 from Ulta Beauty US) which feels lovely when teamed with a plumping night cream.
In your forties
As if turning forty isn’t daunting enough for some, along come more of those pesky hormones to shake things up. According to Stovall, “during this time, you will experience hormonal changes that can lead to adult acne or uneven skin tone.”
Try switching to oil-free makeup formulas and skincare ingredients like salicylic acid or beta hydroxy acids. These will help to prevent breakouts and even out the skin. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Lotion Exfoliant (£35 from Paula’s Choice UK /$35 from Paula’s Choice US) helps to gently buff and clean pores.
“In your 40s and beyond, collagen and elastin will continue to decrease, leading to more pronounced wrinkles and sagging,” Stovall says. “Your skin can start to become drier and lose elasticity, which would call for additional hydration.”
Stovall adds that as well as introducing more regular exfoliation on top of your anti-ageing products, “peptides, antioxidants and hyaluronic acid can help maintain skin health.”
In your fifties and sixties onwards
“In one’s fifties, sixties and beyond, ageing signs can become more pronounced, marked by deepening wrinkles, sagging skin due to decreased collagen and elastin and increased visibility of age spots and uneven pigmentation,” explains Chacon-Garbato.
Choose cream and liquid makeup formulas to bring back your glow (powders can dull it down) and opt for intelligent anti-ageing skincare with higher quantities of retinol, peptides or ceramides which should help to plump and firm the skin.
The Murad retinol collection is expensive but it has a wide range of products to choose from. You could start off with the Youth Renewal Retinol Trial Kit (£50 from Cult Beauty UK /$70.80 from Feel Unique US) which includes a mini face serum, eye serum and night cream.
Also, go for brightening ingredients like vitamin C and glycolic acid. The whole of the Caudalie Vinoperfect range is excellent for dark spots as most of the products contain skin brightening glycolic acid.
As Dr Yadav explains, factors like “your facial musculature and genetics,” will mean everyone ages differently. As she says, “some people are more prone to wrinkles than others.”
Having said that, lifestyle can have an impact. Here our experts lay out some of their advice on what can you do to help slow the ageing process.
Exercising plays a huge part in promoting more youthful skin. “It promotes blood circulation which can enhance the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to your skin cells,” advises Chacon-Garbato. “It can also help reduce stress, which can contribute to premature ageing.”
Good nutrition helps too. “Maintain a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains to support overall skin health,” says Chacon-Garbato.
“Antioxidants help combat free radicals which can damage the skin cells and accelerate ageing. Incorporate berries, leafy greens and green tea into your diet, as well as salmon, walnuts and flaxseeds which can help reduce inflammation and support skin health.”
And finally, smoking has a hugely negative impact on the skin, causing dryness, sagginess, dark circles and prominent lines.
Protect from the sun, daily
“Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every morning, even on cloudy days,” says Chacon-Garbato. “Sunscreen helps protect the skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, a primary cause of premature ageing, wrinkles and sunspots.”
Be savvy with your skincare
A regular skincare regime will stand your skin in good stead for the future. But there are three crucial steps that really help towards making it consistently healthy: cleansing, moisturising and exfoliating.
“Cleanse twice a day to remove dirt, makeup and impurities,” says Chacon-Garbato. “Choose a gentle cleanser suitable for your skin type to avoid over-drying or irritation.”
“Hydrated skin tends to show fewer signs of ageing,” she adds. “Use a moisturiser that suits your skin type to keep it hydrated and maintain its natural barrier function.” Vichy do a wide range of moisturisers to cater for each skin type, including those experiencing peri-menopause.
And finally, exfoliation buffs away dead skin cells and boosts cell turnover. “This can lead to smoother and instantly more radiant skin.”
Before you cry into your box of collagen supplements – because let’s face it, all this ageing business can feel rather bleak – remember that ageing can be beautiful, if you let it.
Every line tells a story. Laughter lines represent happiness. And it would look unnatural to not have any as you get older.
Imagine being completely line-free aged 90. You would be channeling a dull robot with no stories to tell.
That said, if you’re concerned about ageing at least you now know that some lifestyle changes can definitely help.
Eat your five a day – healthy food can be delicious too- and always wear sunscreen. Your future self (with the beautiful skin) will look back and be proud of you for it.
Meet the experts
Tyhira Stovall is a licensed aesthetician and root.d PR co-founder
Dr. Geeta Yadav is board-certified dermatologist and founder of FACET Dermatology
Laura Chacon-Garbato is a licensed aesthetician and has received post-graduate education from the International Dermal Institute in the US. She is a member of the Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP) and is Chairwoman of the Outer Nutrition Advisory Board.