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6 of the Best Skincare Options by Decade - Your 20s

To those of us in our 30s and beyond, it can often feel like the aging process begins literally, overnight.

One day, you're young and carefree and waking up with flawless skin (ifyou're lucky) despite late nights, poor dietary and lifestyle choices. It feels like no matter how poor the choices, our body and skin will keep up.

Then suddenly, one day, whether that is in our late 20s, or our 30s, the signs of ageing seem to magically appear:

  • pigmentation in patches on our faces
  • early lines and wrinkles when we smile, frown and laugh
  • if stress is a constant, skin issues including acne
  • signs of sun damage, including less commonly, skin cancer
  • dark circles under the eyes due to a combination genetics and choices leading to volume loss under the eyes and pigmentation that gives us a chronically tired look
  • We could go on and on and on but let's not dwell...

    As a primary care doctor ie a GP, my passion is preventive care. I feel SO HAPPY when people see me for preventive care BEFORE (any) disease begins to take hold, when it often becomes a case trying to minimise ongoing damage, often incompletely.

    The solution, as always, is to begin before you think you need it, to maintain what you have and to capitalise on building what you do not have to see you through your 20s, 30s and well beyond with judicious tweakments. The benefit of this of course, is also some other key factors:
    by starting young you need less so can afford to budget for it.
  • you learn how to budget effectively for self care and for the things that make you happy
  • you learn to get comfortable with being held accountable to someone who will hold you to your goals and nudge you along through accountability you build consistency, a lifelong habit that often means the difference between those who see success and those who don't

After all, any treatment you begin with that is tailored for and personalised to you, is going to stimulate your own collagen that will last you for years to come.

So what are the best treatments that you should be focusing on in your 20s?

So first the basics that you must get right or work on while planning your in-clinic treatments:

  • daily SPF, regardless of the weather, especially in sunny cities like Sydney and really, most of Australia barring Tasmania. Even on cloudy days, the UV index is usually well above 3, leading to inadvertant sun exposure and damage.
  • If you smoke, let's start working on quitting. Smoking depletes your own collagen and stains teeth and gives skin a sallow appearance.
  • eat well, most of the time
  • watch the alcohol consumption

exercise is not only good for your heart, it's also great for your skin

That being said, what are the best 5 in-clinic treatments in your 20s?

1. Small doses of anti wrinkle treatments - if you're open to it

No two faces are the same nor are two skin types. If you have a very mobile face, you may find that you form deep wrinkles when animating that begin to set grooves in your skin over time. This is the perfect time to consider small doses of anti wrinkle treatments to limit the degree of animation without freezing movement completely.

By the time most people present for anti wrinkle treatment, it's due to lines that are deep, etched into the face even at rest, and which bother them; at this stage, it usually takes a year of regular treatments to soften these etched-in lines. Starting younger keeps the worst of these at bay.

2. Laser genesis/ toning

Also known as a laser peel, this is a gentle laser treatment that will help improve pore size by inducing collagen, improve fine lines and skin texture. There is no downtime unlike more intense lasers, so this is perfect for maintaining and improving skin quality and inducing your own collagen over the years.

If wanted, you can also combine it with an LED treatment to add to the benefits and make it the ultimate relaxing treatment that will continue to reap benefits long after the appointment itself.

3. Chemical peels

Not just for acne prone skin, light chemical peels are great when beginning to work on acne prone skin for adolescents and for adults alike.

While a bespoke skincare plan, which may include prescription medication is important, a series of chemical peels will begin to work on the acne already present and lighten existing hyperpigmentation on the surface of the skin, reducing ongoing damage to the skin surface while the skincare and medication takes its time to work from below (typically 6-12 weeks to begin to show effects).

Equally, depending on the formulation used, there are other chemical peels that work well for other skincare concerns in tandem with personalised skincare including pigmentation as well as early signs of ageing such as lines and wrinkles and smoothing overall skin appearance.

4. Bespoke skincare tailored to your skin concerns

Given that our skin makes up 90% of our faces it is entirely appropriate that we feel self conscious when our skin doesn't feel at its best.

Contact dermatitis due to excessive use of cosmeceuticals, or mixing the wrong products is common and something I see more often than I'd like to and most of this is because the skin is a living breathing organism, that is not just an inert blank canvas for the products we slather on it.

The best way to invest in your skin now and well into the decades to come is through a personalised skincare regimen, especially if you have skin issues already, be it sensitivity, acne, or other concerns. Let a professional assess your skin and suggest a bespoke treatment plan. Once you find what works, it becomes a simple enough matter to stick to it for best results, until circumstances change eg pregnancy, ageing or any new concern.

5. Regular skin checks

Australia alongside New Zealand, is the skin cancer capital of the world. We are a nation of sunlovers and as such, unintentional sunburn is a common problem doctors such as I see regularly.

Exposure to UV radiation causes 95% of melanomas. In Australia 1 in 8 adults and 1 in 5 teenagers are sunburnt on an average summer weekend. Many people get sunburnt while partaking in water sports and activities at the beach or a pool as well as gardening and at a barbeque.

Sunburn is also more common on cooler and overcast days. Sun exposure that doesn't result in sunburn can still cause damage to skin cells and increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

While fair skinned people are most at risk, the truth is none of us is at zero risk, even those of us with the darkest skin tones, and we would all benefit from regular skin checks especially in our 20s such that it becomes a regular habit given 80% of all new cancers detected yearly in Australia are skin cancers.

6. Broad Band Light (BBL)

Also known as a photofacial, BBL uses intense pulsed light (IPL) sending light to the deeper layers of the skin where it addresses pigmentation (in fairer skinned people) as well as for patients with acne and rosacea.

There's usually no downtime, so like with laser toning, you could have it on the day and be out for the evening with friends. Usually done 1-2 times a year, this continues to have ongoing benefits for long after the treatment itself.

So now you have some ideas of what to look for and into if you are in your 20s and planning to age well in the decades to come, though it is never too late to begin!

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