I don’t editorialize here a lot, right? So I’m going to take advantage of whatever goodwill I’ve built up, and do a little bit of editorializing now.
In addition to all the awesome and positive comments I get on this blog, which I always read unless they’re spam that gets whisked into the spam folder, I get a good number of emails from readers. One recurring theme is that of the over-30 reader who’s intrigued by skincare but worried that “it’s too late” for her to start.
Yo, I didn’t start taking care of my skin until I was 33, almost 34! And before then, I’d spent my adult life racking up a pretty impressive list of skin sins (and accumulating the damage that comes with them). These are just some of the things I’ve done in my time:
- Worked 10-hour+ days outside in the SoCal sun, without sunscreen
- Spent hours a week walking around outdoors, without sunscreen
- Thought that a pea-sized dab of SPF 15 moisturizer counted as adequate sun protection
- Went out in the sun very frequently without protection while pregnant, resulting in a nice hearty case of melasma
- Smoked. For…uh…13 years altogether, not counting the break I took while sharing body with baby? Something like that
- Used tanning beds enthusiastically several times a week
The damage was totally starting to show by the time I started looking into skincare, and I won’t lie, I definitely also had moments where I was sure there wasn’t really much I could do anymore. But as it turns out, even someone who’s been nothing but abusive to her skin for all her life can turn things around and make it better. At 35, I’m happier with my complexion and more confident in my appearance than I was at 25, and even more so compared to when I was 15. There is hope, so don’t let your age get you down.
I’m not the only late-blooming skincare enthusiast to see good results, either. Over on Reddit’s Asian Beauty community, this weekend turned into an impromptu celebration of the over-40 face, with multiple over-40 members posting their gloriously radiant and beautiful faces and discussing their routines. A little digging reveals that many of these beauties didn’t start taking serious care of their skin until they were already in their thirties, too.
The reason it’s never too late to get into skincare isn’t because there’s some magical ingredient, product, or combo of ingredients or products that will turn back time and enable anyone to achieve some totally flawless, poreless, “perfect” PhotoShopped ideal of 21-year-old skin. Because that’s not possible, and perfection isn’t the point.
That is, I think, the most important thing to realize. I have a feeling that a lot of people who aren’t interested in skincare see skincare enthusiasts as crazy people chasing perfection. In reality, it isn’t about that at all, and most of us realize it. It isn’t about finding a time machine in a bottle. Instead, it’s about making the most of the skin that you have, making it the best that it can be. No, you can’t erase all visible signs of aging, nor can you stop them. We’re dealing with processes here that have no “off” switch (at least not yet). But you can:
- Prevent the vast majority of future damage through the use of antioxidants and sunscreen
- Minimize the appearance of past damage using actives like vitamin C, AHAs, and retinoids
- Improve skin cell function with proven cell-communicating ingredients like niacinamide
- And help your skin look its smoothest and firmest on a day-to-day basis by repairing and protecting your acid mantle and supplementing your skin’s natural moisture levels, which dwindle with age, with a deeply hydrating daily skincare routine that regularly adds and binds water within your skin.
On top of that, you can reap all those benefits at a variety of budgets. I’m not sure how many of you have noticed, but I very rarely review anything that’s particularly expensive. I can’t really think of any “prestige” brand or product that I’ve reviewed, let alone reviewed positively. (Actually, I just had a pretty bad run-in with a very famous product from a very prestigious brand, so there’s that.) I’ve observed that many of the luxury and prestige brands load their products up with a bunch of fancy-sounding ingredients that have little to no proven benefit to skin. Meanwhile, there are many products at midrange or lower that deliver proven actives without price-inflating extras. Yeah, COSRX’s AHA doesn’t contain magical spring water sourced from the faery glaciers of upper Iceland (note: not a thing. I don’t think), but it does contain an AHA at the correct concentration and pH to produce a visible effect on skin. That’s what matters.
So if you’re worried that it’s too late for you to start improving your skin, just know that it isn’t! You can make your skin the best it can be no matter how old you are.
And if you’re in your twenties or younger, uh, you should be wearing sunscreen every day. And don’t smoke. And don’t use tanning beds. Just don’t do it.
What do you think about starting a skincare routine in one’s thirties or beyond?