Sponsored by Balance Me
Whether you’re prone to pre-period or post-cycle breakouts, it’s not just hormones that alter the skin. The largest organ in our body is constantly renewing and with that, naturally, comes change.
Age is a key factor (gah) and one that we can’t really avoid, so it’s good to get an understanding of why these changes are happening, right? They’ll seem much less daunting and you’ll be able to wear your skin with an extra sprinkle of self-esteem.
So, as part of June’s PP Skin Clinic, we get the low-down from dermatologist Dr Adam Friedmann, from the Harley Street Dermatology Clinic, who talks us through exactly what actually happens to our skin in our 20s and 30s, and how we can give it a helping hand...
In Your 20s
“Whilst you might think acne breakouts are reserved for your teens, the most common skin problem for women in their twenties is acne,” says Dr Friedmann.
He explains that acne is often caused by genetics or hormones; not something we can really control. It’s not all bad news though, peeps. Don’t fret too soon.
“Acne usually gets better over a year or two, so the first line of treatment is to simply suppress the inflammation until the acne disappears naturally. Pimples, pustules and blackheads can all be very easily treated.”
Aside from over-the-counter solutions, dermatologists can also prescribe antibiotic and peroxide creams if things get really bad. Sun exposure can also play a part in premature ageing, and the development of wrinkles, freckles and sunspots.
“The good news is you shouldn’t yet see the effects of sun damage on your skin in your 20s and you still have time to minimise your skin’s exposure to the sun. The levels of collagen (which keeps the skin firm, taut, and resilient) and elastin (which gives skin its flexibility) is also good [in this decade].”
In Your 30s
Dr Friedmann reveals that eczema is more common in those over thirty. If you are suffering, he recommends washing with soap free products, such as aqueous cream. Sounds strange, we know, but it soothes without irritating the skin.
“This is also a period of time when most women start a family and some women may experience a skin condition called Melasma during their pregnancy. It’s a dark skin discolouration – a combination of female hormones and sun exposure. Estrogen and progesterone interact with sunlight giving pigmentation on the skin, typically found on the cheeks, nose, lips and forehead.”
The effects of sun damage do start to take hold towards your 40s, so it’s important to try and minimise this in your 20s and 30s.
“Prolonged exposure to the sun is the primary factor in skin ageing and therefore affects the natural skin cycle. It will lead to premature wrinkles and loss of plumpness. Skin can also get dry following sun exposure, as it dries out the natural moisture and, in conjunction with mild sunburn, can cause scaling and dryness.”
Dr Friedmann expressed his hope that if the risk of skin cancer wasn’t enough to deter people from over-exposing their skin to the sun, then hopefully the signs of premature aging will.
Unless you have totally unshakeable confidence, you’re probably worried about wrinkles. Although you can use products to reduce their appearance, wrinkles are pretty hard to undo completely.
“Collagen gives the skin its normal elasticity and smooth texture. Normally under the microscope, collagen looks like thick healthy elastic fibres. The worst ageing is caused by the sun’s damage to collagen fibres.
“Ultraviolet light damages the collagen in skin, which causes it to thicken in an abnormal fashion and then gradually fragment over time. This abnormal collagen causes increased wrinkles, frown lines, crows feet and so on.”
What else affects our skin?
Like we didn’t already know that being tense isn’t great for our health, it’s also (surprise, surprise) not great for our skin. As is pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“Stress and anxiety can exacerbate most skin conditions including acne, eczema and psoriasis. Eating a healthy diet and keeping well hydrated is a good way of maintaining the skin in good condition.”
We also know that skin can flare up during our periods. Whilst Dr Friedmann says that hormonal changes don’t affect everyone, if you are prone to acne or dry skin, your body may react more sensitively to the fluctuations in hormones. Some women find the contraceptive pill helps clear up their skin.
“About a week before your period, when testosterone levels are at their highest, the grease glands - called the sebaceous glands - will become more active, causing an excess of oil. This can clog your pores and feed acne-causing bacteria.”
“The week after your period is when your estrogen and progesterone levels are more balanced and this equilibrium in theory should help the condition of the skin.”
Dr Friedmann also hails moisturiser as one of the most important products. Dermatologists tend to like simple moisturisers like without too many fragrances – Balance Me have some fab ones online RN so get shopping, girls!
There you have it. Although, your skin will face a whole load of changes in your 20s and 30s, it is not all doom and gloom. There are actions you can take to protect your skin and, when flare ups occur – such as acne, eczema or psoriasis – there are viable routes to take that will stop you having a proper freak out.
And, on those random days when you don’t feel like you want to embrace the change, just smile and thank the Insta-Gods for filters.