The science of skincare according to your age

You are almost 30 years old and your first disturbing wrinkles appear. Various thoughts go through your mind, such as: should I now start with an anti-aging cream, or no, BOTULIN TOXIN? Everyone secretly hates skin care according to your age. An explanation for this is that it feels stigmatizing, because you feel younger than your calendar age.

At my consultation hours, I regularly come across vital 80-year-olds who feel 20 years younger. A nice Danish study investigated calendar age and subjective emotional age. 1470 Adults aged between 20-97 years old were interviewed. The researchers concluded: people over 40 feel 20% younger than their calendar age.

The clock is ticking and physical aging continues

In addition to physical aging, your skin will also undergo changes from one decade to the next. That hormonal teenage acne can turn into dark under-eye circles by your 30s. And in the 40th and 50th year of life you suffer more from dull and dry skin. It is possible to keep your skin as healthy, nourished and fresh as possible and age gracefully. It is possible to keep your skin as healthy, nourished and fresh as possible and age gracefully.

Skin care and timeline

From birth – skin barrier and sun protection

The barrier of a newborn is different from that of an adult. One of the biggest differences is that baby skin is better hydrated. However, it loses more fluid, also called transepidermal fluid loss (TEWL). A baby’s skin area is relatively larger than that of an adult. There is a greater risk of skin absorption of unwanted skin care ingredients. Make sure baby products are as gentle as possible; avoid substances such as sodium lauryl sulfate.

Maintain a skin-neutral acidity with a pH of around 5.5. Human skin is slightly acidic, also called your natural acid mantle. Slightly acidic skin is better for your skin barrier, and your skin’s own protective microbiome thrives best in an acidic environment. Read more about: the ideal acidity.

Sun protection is a no-brainer. In addition to protective clothing, sunscreen and possibly sunglasses are advised. The skin barrier up to age 18 is vulnerable to ultraviolet radiation. And unfortunately: skin cancer in children is prevalent. Use a mineral sunscreen because it works immediately after application and is not absorbed by the body. Learn more about sun protection and sunscreen.

Care advice: skin hydration and sun protection

Teens and twentysomethings – acne, acne, acne

Hormones rush through your body, and stress and regular snacking can trigger acne breakouts in the teens and twenties. In addition to maintaining your skin barrier and sun protection, acne treatment is also a way to take care of your skin. Light peels and good cleansers cleanse impure skin and remove dead skin cells, make-up, and air pollutants on the skin.

An interesting 2006 study examined the effect of facial cleansing on acne vulgaris. This single-blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial was conducted in men with mild to moderate acne vulgaris. The subjects washed their face twice a day for 2 weeks with a standard mild cleanser. They were then randomized to one of three groups, in which the face (group 1) one, (group 2) two or (group 3) had to be washed four times a day for 6 weeks.

The conclusion of the study: A worsening of acne was observed in the study group who washed once a day, with significant increases in erythema, papules and inflammation. Significant improvements in both open comedones and total non-inflammatory lesions were observed in the group that washed twice a day. The study’s recommendation, due to practicality and convenience, was to wash the face twice a day with a mild cleanser.

Advice care of your skin: cleansers and light skin peelings

Read more about acne and nutrition

In the thirties – fine lines and wrinkles

If you conquered your acne as a teenager, it’s suddenly time to fight wrinkles, fine lines and circles under the eyes. Sun protection is and remains the most important remedy against wrinkles. There are two types of ultraviolet sun rays: ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B.

The intensity of UVB depends on the season, location in the world and time of day, and causes skin burning. Although less intense than UVB, UVA rays are present with relatively equal intensity during all daylight hours throughout the year. These can penetrate through clouds and glass.

UVA penetrates deep into the dermis, and affects your collagen and elastin skin fibers

The elastin and collagen fibers provide the elasticity of the skin. In the long term, UVA rays can lead to skin aging such as wrinkles, fine lines, skin discolorations and even skin cancer.

UVB rays reach the epidermis and are responsible for our vitamin D production. Too much UVB causes DNA damage, redness, sunburn and, in the long run, skin aging and skin cancer. Unlike UVA, UVB does not penetrate glass.

Sun Strength, Uva, Uvb Rays Skin Care

Anti-aging ingredients

There is a group of antioxidants consisting of vitamins such as C, E, Niacinamide, polyphenols, flavonoids. This group reduces collagen degradation by targeting the ROS (free radicals). The other group are cell regulators. Examples include vitamin A, peptides and growth factors. They have a direct effect on collagen stimulation in the deep layer of the skin. This is a gradual process.

Advice care of your skin: anti-aging fine lines and wrinkles

Read more about: skin and wrinkles

The forties – eye bags and dark circles

The skin gradually becomes thinner and your skin support layers are reduced. This happens all the way to your lower eyelids, because that’s where the skin is thinnest.

The causes of eye bags are:

  • Fat bulge due to a weaker lower eye muscle; through cracks, fat bulges out in the deeper skin.
  • Fluid accumulation due to disturbed lymphatic drainage, due to too much salt in the diet, stress or insufficient sleep.
  • Volume loss due to aging, increasing the transition from the lower eyelid to the cheek.
  • The combination of bone loss and reduction of your skin support layers (collagen and elastin) creates a groove.

Dark circles occur in both men and women, with different ages and ethnic backgrounds. The causes are pigment, sunlight, lifestyle and superficial capillaries.

Suitable treatments for dark pigment circles are camouflage, injectables with a hyaluronic acid filler, CO2 fraxel laser and skin care ingredients such as retinol, vitamin C, E, bakuchiol, peptides, caffeine, niacinamide (vitamin B3).

Advice care of your skin: anti-aging focus lower eyelids

Read more about: eye bags and dark circles

Fifties – pigmentation spots and sun-damaged skin

Pigment spots become more noticeable and can appear on any part of the body, but most often on the face. Pigment spots are caused by excessive exposure to sunlight and by hormonal changes during the menopause, skin irritation by aggressive substances, various skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, and also by medicines (antibiotics: tetracycline/doxycycline/minocycline, heart medication: amiodarone). Read more about pigmentation.

Sun damage of the skin is also called actinic keratosis. These rough, scaly white to brown patches are precursors to skin cancer (actinic keratosis). They are caused by a chronic excess of ultraviolet radiation on sun-exposed skin. Over time, skin cancer can develop in these areas.

An Australian group investigated the effect of 1% niacinamide on skin and actinic keratoses. This randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study – one of the most reliable forms of research – showed a reduction of 22% within 3 months in the actinic keratoses group, versus 10% in the placebo group.

Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is an indispensable substance that maintains your cellular energy and DNA repair of, among other things, sun-damaged cells. In addition, niacinamide inhibits the pigment transfer from melanocytes (pigment production cells) to keratinocytes (skin cells). With the help of vitamin B3, pigmented related skin problems such as hyperpigmentation, after sun damage and melasma (pregnancy mask), for example, are reduced.

Skin care advice: sun damage limitation and pigment control

Read more about actinic keratoses and niacinamide

60 plus – dry skin and skin cancer

In women, the effects of menopause are more noticeable, and for men, dry skin, among other things, is noticeable. Dry skin, or xerosis cutis, is particularly common on the lower legs and forearms. Aging skin is known to lose its ability to retain water. The cause lies in the reduced barrier function of the epidermis. Read more about xerosis (dry) skin.

The sebaceous gland plays an important role in our natural skin protection. The formed sebum provides, as it were, a coating on our skin and hair to retain moisture in the skin, among other things. However, our own skin sebum production decreases by 23% per decade from the age of 20! We are slowly drying out and this is quite noticeable from the age of 60. That means applying a moisturizing cream or ointment more often every day. Read more about lotion, cream and ointment: what are the differences.

Active control of your skin. In the past decades you tried to make your skin firmer with better hydration, fewer spots and pimples. But now, at 60 and older, there comes a period when it is wise to have your skin checked annually. It’s worth inspecting stains and spots; skin cancer at an early stage often causes no symptoms.

Skin Care

The Netherlands scores high in skin cancer compared to European skin cancer registrations. In my experience, early detection is easier to treat and has a high rate of cure.

Skin care advice: more intense skin hydration and skin inspection


Rubin DC, Berntsen D. People over forty feel 20% younger than their age: subjective age across the lifespan. Psychon Bull Rev. 2006 Oct;13(5):776-80.

Telofski LS, Morello AP 3rd, Mack Correa MC, Stamatas GN. The infant skin barrier: can we preserve, protect, and enhance the barrier? Dermatol Res Pract. 2012;2012:198789.

Choi JM, Lew VK, Kimball AB. A single-blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trial evaluating the effect of face washing on acne vulgaris. Pediatr Dermatol. 2006 Sep-Oct;23(5):421-7.

Moloney F, Vestergaard M, Radojkovic B, Damian D. Randomized, double-blinded, placebo controlled study to assess the effect of topical 1% nicotinamide on actinic keratoses. Br J Dermatol. 2010 May;162(5):1138-9.

Navarrete-Solís J, Castanedo-Cázares JP, Torres-Álvarez B, Oros-Ovalle C, Fuentes-Ahumada C, González FJ, Martínez-Ramírez JD, Moncada B. A Double-Blind, Randomized Clinical Trial of Niacinamide 4% versus Hydroquinone 4% in the Treatment of Melasma. Dermatol Res Pract. 2011;2011:379173.

About Francis Wu

‘In my dermatology practice I often come across people who suffer from itching. I see what they struggle with and unfortunately too often notice that certain care products help someone from bad to worse. Because I want you as a user to be able to rely on the product you are applying, I have developed my own skincare line: Iconic-Elements. A complete skin care line that stands out because it works (evidence-based)!

Picture of Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu, een vooraanstaande dermatoloog, is de drijvende kracht achter Iconic Elements. Hij heeft sinds 2004 zijn expertise ingezet om een veilige en effectieve huidverzorgingslijn te creëren, geschikt voor zowel gezonde huid als huidproblemen. Iconic Elements, opgericht in 2016, is de eerste brede skincare lijn in Nederland ontwikkeld door een dermatoloog. Als medisch specialist streeft Dr. Wu naar het bevorderen van het welzijn van mensen door hoogwaardige en effectieve huidverzorgingsproducten te bieden. De proefdiervrije en vegan producten vermijden schadelijke chemicaliën en bevatten natuurlijke ingrediënten.
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