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06th Oct 2023

Skincare by age: Irish expert explains what your skin needs at each stage of life


Finding the correct skincare routine can be a minefield of confusion, no matter what age you are.

Depending on where you’re at in life, your skincare needs chop and change as you age further.

Whether you need hydration, a collagen boost or it’s time to phase in retinol, Founder of AYU and renowned Irish makeup artist, Suzie O’Neill, has you covered.

She boasts over two decades of expertise in the beauty industry and has laid out exactly what our skin needs at each milestone in life.

“Exercise, hydration, and a good skincare routine can completely transform your body,” Suzie said before adding, “as you age, a solid skincare routine can keep you looking younger for longer. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and it’s vital to look after it at the earliest opportunity.

“In your 20s, you may be able to get away with washing your face with soap and water, but as you age, you might need richer, and more gentle products. Of course, everyone’s skin is different so the best skincare products for you will vary depending on your own skin type and concerns.”

She went on to say that the three most essential products that should be part of everybody’s skincare routine are a moisturiser, a cleanser, and an SPF sunscreen.

“Moisturiser helps to hydrate your skin and keep it looking plump and healthy, whilst a cleanser removes dirt, oil, and makeup from your skin,” Suzie explained.

“SPF protects your skin from harmful sun rays which can cause premature ageing and skin cancer. Other than these three products, everything else is a bonus.”

Speaking about the specific products and concoctions we need according to our age, Suzie says:

In your 20s

This is often regarded as the most important decade for your skin.

As your skin is still producing collagen, it’s the ideal time to establish a basic skincare routine.

You won’t need a complicated routine, simply wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser and use a moisturiser that is right for your skin type. These products will keep your skin hydrated and clean.

You should also start using a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, regardless of the weather, as it will help to protect your skin from premature ageing, the AYU owner advised.

The number one complaint at this age is pimples. They can be the result of acne but are often due to using too many products, combined with an unhealthy lifestyle – with increased drinking and a lack of sleep common in your 20s.

This can cause dullness and breakouts. Drinking enough water, practising a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking can also keep your skin looking young.

In your 30s

As you age, your skin will begin to lose elasticity and crucial oils that give it a youthful glow. Incorporating more hydrating products into your routine is key if you want to hold onto your skin’s natural oils and protect the outermost layer from water loss, which can make your skin look dry and flaky, Suzie explained.

She went on to say that even if you’ve taken good care of your skin in life so far, you could start to notice fine lines and wrinkles around your eyes and mouth, “due to genetics, pollution, sun exposure, and stress”.

Skin is more delicate and cell turnover is slowing down, which can make your complexion look a little dull – “keeping your skin hydrated and exfoliating often can keep it supple and soft”.

Suzie advises using products rich in antioxidants Vitamin A, C and E – such as retinol – as they can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles by boosting collagen production.

The skin underneath your eyes is some of the most delicate on your body, which is why it’s one of the first areas to show age.

The skincare expert advises using a nourishing night cream and a peptide eye cream will provide extra hydration and repair.

In your 40s

In your 40s, it’s time to supercharge your current skincare routine.

You can boost moisture by including toner, and begin using neck and décolletage products to improve elasticity and overall skincare.

Using serums containing hyaluronic acid and peptides increases collagen and plumps skin, whilst glycolic acid helps to exfoliate skin and remove dead cells, Suzie said.

It’s normal to notice hormonal changes due to perimenopause, which can cause acne, red patches, or broken blood vessels.

Focusing on deep hydration and moisture retention will eliminate these worries – creams and serums can provide rich hydration as well as target specific skin concerns, such as dark spots or uneven skin tone.

Facial oils are another great way to lock in moisture and help to nourish and restore your skin’s natural barrier.

Including a hydrating sleeping mask in your routine once or twice a week will help brighten your skin and fade hyperpigmentation.

Your 50s and beyond

Hormonal changes during menopause can cause noticeable changes, such as a dryer and more sensitive skin.

You should begin using gentle cleansers to avoid stripping the skin of natural oils and plumping moisturisers to combat dryness and sagging.

Look for skincare products with ingredients like peptides and retinoids for firming and lifting effects. Continued use of antioxidants, like retinol and vitamin C, will maintain your skin’s integrity, and a hydrating serum should be integral in your skincare routine.

Amino acids and peptides can help stimulate collagen production, improving skin elasticity and reducing the appearance of wrinkles.

My most valuable tip is to truly embrace your natural beauty as you age. A daily skincare routine, personalised to you, plays a valuable role in self-care as it gives you a moment to focus on yourself – but growing older gracefully is a beautiful thing.”