What Skin Needs At Every Age

The skincare routine that worked wonders in your 20s might barely make a difference in your 30s. Make sure your skincare is working hard for you with ingredients that meet age-specific requirements.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

In your 20s

“In general, the first signs of ageing will start to appear in your late 20s. This may vary, as it depends on genetics and environmental factors,” says dermatologist Dr Eileen Tan from Eileen Tan Skin Clinic and Associates and Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital. “At this age, the epidermal layer starts to thin, which weakens your protective skin barrier and causes increased UV exposure,’’ she adds.

To combat the ageing effects of UV rays, Dr Tan recommends using skincare with vitamin C, which offers protection against sun damage. For better results, combine it with other antioxidants like vitamin E. 

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From left: Elizabeth Arden Vitamin C Ceramide Capsules Radiance Renewal Serum, $153; Kora Organics by Miranda Kerr Noni Bright Vitamin C Serum, $89; Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate 12.5%, $105 

In your early 30s

According to Dr Tan, cellular metabolism begins to slow down at this stage, causing visible changes to your skin. Due to a gradual loss of skin elasticity, you may notice more prominent dynamic wrinkles – lines that appear when you make facial movements – as well as resting wrinkles that appear even when you’re not moving.

To help soften their appearance, Dr Tan advises incorporating retinol into your routine. “Retinol has been scientifically proven to improve skin’s appearance because it helps stimulate cellular turnover, improve circulation and boost collagen production,” she says. In addition, retinol can also be used to treat acne and reduce the severity of dark spots and fine lines. 

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From left: The Inkey List Retinol, $20; Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum, $128; Pixi Retinol Tonic, $24 

In your mid-30s

At this point, skin barrier function starts to go downhill. “As your skin barrier gets weaker, trans-epidermal water loss increases and skin becomes drier,” says Dr Tan. This is when you should work in skincare with hyaluronic acid – a humectant known to hold 1,000 times its weight in moisture. When skin is adequately hydrated, fine lines and wrinkles also appear less obvious. 

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From left: Chanel Hydra Beauty Camellia Water Cream, $96. Clinique Fresh Pressed Clinical MD Multi-Dimensional Age Transformer (Revolumize), $120. IDS Skincare Recovery Serum, $80 

In your 40s

“Your skin barrier weakens further in your 40s, and this leads to skin becoming even drier and more rough,” says Dr Tan. “Due to the gradual loss of fatty tissues through the years, you’ll also notice a loss of volume, sagging and more pronounced wrinkles.”

To tackle these changes, she suggests skincare with peptides. When applied topically, peptides have been found to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, thereby improving skin’s texture and firmness for a more youthful-looking complexion. 

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From left: Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream, $96; Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte’s Magic Cream, $150; L’Occitane Divine Cream Mask, $189 

How Old’s My Skin?

Go by your skin age rather than your “real” one. The former is affected by variables such as your genes and lifestyle, so it could be lower or higher than your chronological age. Here’s where you can go to find out your skin age, which starts with a therapist taking a picture of your skin via a device, and then comparing it against the brand’s database of images and skin profiles to see where your own skin stands.

Where: Shiseido counters

What: Handy Skin Sensor A handheld photographic device takes a picture of skin with polarised light. Using data from 25 years of research and over 10,000 images, the device measures skin’s age by looking at its moisture and melanin levels, firmness, clarity and texture.

Where: Porcelain Spa

What: Skin Discovery ($65 for 45-60min, or free with a first trial facial) A machine with a high-res cam zooms into moisture and sebum levels, and pores, dark spots, acne and wrinkles. Its database has over 80,000 images and skin profiles to use as a benchmark for your results. It also gives you a lifestyle and skincare assessment.

Where: SK-II counters

What: SK-II Magic Ring The Magic Ring analysis is complimentary. It takes 10min to scan and analyse skin age and condition – texture, firmness, wrinkle resilience and more. SK-II has a multi-ethnic database with skin profiles of over five million women worldwide, including Japan, Korea, China and South-east Asia.