As kids, we learn skin care habits best from the people we spend the most time watching: our parents, grandparents, and guardians.
That means practicing great skincare can be handed down from generation to generation.
Let’s chat with Marlise Fletter, Nurse Practitioner at Apex Dermatology in Solon, to understand all about how to treat your skin from generation to generation.
What are some basics that everyone needs, regardless of age?
Good skin care starts with a healthy diet that includes leafy greens, lean proteins and healthy fats, as well as plenty of water.
“A poor diet can contribute to acne, dry skin, accelerated aging and poor wound healing. Regardless of age, everyone needs to establish a regimen that they can stick to.”
This regimen should include a good cleanser, a sunscreen and a moisturizer. Finally, annual visits to a dermatology provider for a skin cancer exam is important to ensuring healthy skin.
What should we be concerned about for the Silent Generation (ages 72+)
“A good medical treatment for members of this group who have had a lot of sun exposure is photodynamic therapy. PDT works by directing wavelengths of blue, fluorescent light to activate a topical medicine called Levulan to target and destroy abnormal precancerous skin cells.”
Because PDT can identify abnormal cells before they are visible, it is a great treatment for the scalp, face, chest and arms, which are the areas where skin cancers are most prevalent.
What are some of the most common things you recommend for Baby Boomers (ages 57+)?
As we age, a loss of moisture causes our skin to become dry and dull. Years of sun exposure brings discoloration, and textural changes. Fine lines become deeper. Reduced collagen production causes loss of volume in the midface and sagging in the lower face.
“For baby boomers, I recommend products that restore moisture, lift and tighten the skin. An antioxidant moisturizer with vitamin C in the morning and a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 will help prevent further damage from the sun and free radicals.”
Additionally, every boomer should be using a retinol or retinoic acid at night. Retinols work by turning skin cells over more quickly, and they prevent debris from settling into pores. As a result, fine lines, bumpiness and discoloration are minimized. By increasing the creation of new skin cells, retinols can also help to prevent precancerous lesions and some skin cancers.
“Boomers may also benefit from some additional anti-aging treatments like chemical peels, Botox and injectable fillers. These procedures can relax facial muscles and eliminate fine lines, restore midface volume and help to encourage natural collagen production.”
What should Gen X (Ages 41-56) be doing for skin care?
Gen Xers are also experiencing some loss of moisture and discoloration. Oxidative stress causes the skin to become vulnerable as collagen and elastin, the supporting structures of the face begin to break down. Cell renewal slows down causing the skin to show signs of aging. Skin cancers often present in this age group. Visits to the dermatologist for skin cancer exams should be done yearly.
“Catching and treating skin cancers early is important to ensure long term skin health. Additionally, hormonal acne often becomes an issue for many women in this group. The goal for this generation is protecting, repairing and replenishing skin barrier function.”
Again, a good moisturizer, sunscreen and retinol are a must. Treating skin conditions like adult acne with appropriate medications becomes important. Skin brighteners, like vitamin C, and alpha and beta hydroxy acids brighten skin by increasing radiance and glow. Lightening products like hydroquinone and Kojic acid can fade hyperpigmentation caused by hormonal skin changes and adult acne.
Additional treatments that Gen Xers can benefit from include microneedling, which promotes the preservation of the skin barrier’s integrity and stimulates collagen production.
Microneedling with infusion of a growth serum or platelet-rich plasma is one of the most effective treatments for generating skin cell turnover and slowing the aging process. Chemical peels will also help to restore a more youthful, fresh-faced look. Finally, Botox and injectable fillers will soften fine lines and restore volume.
What should Millennials (ages 25-40) be doing for their skin?
The skin care regimen for Millennials is all about preventing premature aging and skin cancer. Judicious use of sunscreen is most important. Sunscreens with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are physical blockers which allow you to go outside as soon as you have applied them. The chemical sunscreens, avobenzone and Octinoxate, are also effective, but must be applied at least a half hour before sun exposure to offer protection.
“Acne and acne scarring are often problematic for millennials. Light chemical peels containing salicylic acid can treat acne and minimize the look of scars. Deeper peels containing trichloroacetic acid can be even more helpful with scarring and reducing enlarged pores.”
And an added benefit is the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles. Laser treatment with fractional skin resurfacing lasers can help to break down scar tissue and rejuvenate the skin.
Other skin treatments that appeal to Millennials include dermaplaning and Diamond Glow facials.
Dermaplaning removes unwanted facial hair, dead skin cells and debris that gets trapped in pores on the skin. It also helps to reduce the look of superficial wrinkles and allows makeup to go on smoother.
Diamond Glow works to deep clean, exfoliate and hydrate the skin making them an effective treatment for acne, dry skin and fine lines.
Microneedling to promote skin cell turnover is also a popular treatment for this age group.
Finally, millennials often request Botox and injectable fillers to add more contour to their faces. Lip enhancement is very popular with this group.
What are the most important things for Gen Zs (ages 9-24) to be doing?
For Generation Z, the most important thing is to establish a good skin care routine. The sooner young people commit to a daily skin care regimen, the more long-lasting the benefits will be. Maintaining their plump, smooth and luminous skin doesn’t have to be difficult.
“For the youngest of the group, a gentle cleanser and an oil free moisturizer morning and evening will help them maintain a healthy glow. The older members of Gen Z may benefit from an exfoliating cleanser and an antioxidant moisturizer. Daily sun protection is critical for this group. Skin cancer prevention can’t begin too soon.”
Gen Zers have grown up in the digital age. You will rarely find them without their phones, watching TikTok videos and sharing selfies on Instagram. The blue light that they are constantly exposed to can cause changes in skin cells including cell shrinkage and cell death. These skin changes cause premature aging and unwanted pigmentation issues. Certain sunscreens can protect skin from blue light damage.
Acne is a major concern for Gen Zers. Finding a good dermatology provider is important to get acne under control and prevent scarring. Managing expectations is very important, as well. It typically takes 8-12 weeks to achieve clear skin. Salicylic acid chemical peels are helpful. An occasional facial can be a real treat.
Finally, with the incidence of skin cancer rising in every age group, nothing is more important than applying sunscreen daily. The sun is a known carcinogen. If you plan to be outside, it is recommended to reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours.
Good skin care is important at every age. As the largest organ of the body, your skin is always on display. With a good skin care routine, you will always put your best face forward.