The Key Skincare Ingredient You Need At Every Age

Just like our taste in music, food and adult beverages, our skin is an ever-evolving entity (as much as we hate to admit it). And while age-defying A-listers like Naomi Campbell and Jennifer Lopez seem to be the exceptions to the “time marches on” rule, there’s actually great care and diligence that goes into keeping their complexions healthy and radiant throughout the years. And since every decade brings with it new skincare needs and priorities, we thought we’d take the journey with you and give you some insight on the ingredient that will be of most help to your skin in every stage of life. Let’s keep it glowing, shall we?

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Skincare Evolution

Carefree days in the sun. Long cocktail-filled nights. Lost weekends. Falling asleep as the sun comes up (with our makeup still on). Our 20s—for most of us, anyway—are typically about as reckless and hedonistic as we're gonna get, particularly when it comes to our skin. This is mainly because our complexions are at their most resilient and seemingly untouchable at this age. Sun damage, fine lines and hyperpigmentation are just words tossed around and not anything we're actually experiencing just yet, right? Wrong.

Believe it or not, this is the decade to start establishing some preventative practices to keep your face radiant and healthy for years to come. According to a study by the American Society for Photobiology, Americans acquire 23 percent of their sun damage by age 18 and get about 10 percent more every decade after that. So, by 30, you're looking at around 43 percent of damage done. So, at the risk of sounding like our mothers, you need to do your due diligence and embrace some good ol' SPF. Yes, a solid sunscreen should be the most important piece of your skincare puzzle by this decade of life. Whether infused in your moisturizer or layered under your foundation, do your face a favor and slather on an SPF of at least 30 every day to prevent sagging skin, fine lines and sun spots.

Your 30s are great in that you start to settle a bit more comfortably into your skin and body. You know the skincare and makeup that works for your skin type (now that you finally learned your skin type) and you might even be willing to dole out a bit more cash for formulas that really work with your complexion.

That said, a lot of changes can begin to occur around this time. First of all, your hormone levels will decrease and your collagen and elastin production will lower, leading to less firmness in skin texture. Also, many find a renaissance of their teen years occurring as breakouts start to become more frequent, as a result of slower cell turnover. To keep things balanced, we recommend working retinol into your skincare regimen, preferably in the evening. The concentrated form of vitamin A is a beauty powerhouse in that it stimulates collagen and elastin production, fades hyperpigmentation and can treat and prevent wrinkles. Try applying a retinol serum or moisturizer before you hit the hay and keep your skin youthful and glowing for years to come.

According to dermatologists, by our 40s, skin turnover rate has slowed more than double than that of our early 20s. Yikes. This means we are much more susceptible to scarring, wrinkles and pigmentation. That said, there are definitely measure you can take to prevent this from happening.

Just like SPF was a key form of protection in your 20s (and should be the rest of your life), antioxidants—found in nutrient-rich foods like grapes, blueberries and raspberries—serve a similar purpose in your 40s. They help retain the skin's collagen levels and serve as a shield from free-radical damage that can lead to pigmentation and wrinkles. Opt for serums and moisturizers infused with ingredients like lutein, resveratrol and alpha lipoic acid to keep your complexion hydrated and properly protected.

Moisture should be your main focus in your 50s. If you haven't already, ditch all those oil-free products (yes, all of them) and get ready to embrace richer, concentrated formulas that will pack your skin with all the nutrients. Ingredients like coconut, olive and moringa oils should all be household names to you and your skincare routine. Keep one in stock at all times and either apply it before or mixed into your moisturizer and night creams in the AM and PM. These oils will help retain the moisture levels in your face, keeping it supple and hydrated throughout the day.

Your quest for hydration continues in your 60s (and beyond), and at this point, it's time to bring out the big guns. While not as well known as other ingredients like hyaluronic acid and retinol, ceramides can definitely hold their own in the skincare world. (For reference, ceramides are lipid molecules that hold skin cells together, forming a protective layer that plumps the skin and retains moisture.) When infused in skincare, they can help replenish the natural lipids that are lost due to sun damage, aging and free radicals.

When applied regularly, ceramides can effectively restore the skin's surface and natural barrier, improving hydration and overall texture of the complexion. Yes, please.