The skin of the generations: needs of different groups?

As a dermatologist, I have noticed the changes in skin care habits among Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z over the years. Each generation has developed its own unique approach when it comes to caring for their skin. In this blog we delve deeper into these differences and investigate whether there are specific skin problems that have attracted my attention across different generations.

It’s interesting to see how skin care needs and priorities vary between different age groups. For example, with Generation X I often see the emphasis on coping with premature signs of aging, while Millennials may focus more on preventive measures and natural ingredients. For Generation Z, the youngest generation, technology seems to play a role in their approach to skin care. Let’s explore further how these generations approach their skincare journey and what specific challenges they may face.

As someone who belongs to Generation born between the 60s and 80s, and also as a dermatologist, I note that stability is a crucial aspect in the skin care routine of this generation, including myself. In our busy lives, many of us recognize the importance of protecting against premature aging and the harmful effects of sun exposure.

Sun protection awareness was later introduced into the skin care routine of Generation X, especially after many of them faced sun damage and even skin cancer. Previously, this extra step was not self-evident, because this generation had grown up without adequate sunscreen, with products such as Nivea SPF8 and olive oil as the only protection against the sun on the beach. There were simply no other alternatives at the time.

Since 1990, most sunscreen products on the market have an SPF between 15 and 30. Avobenzone (with added octyltriazone for photostability) is the most common ingredient for Ultraviolet A (UVA) protection, while octyl methoxycinnamate is the most common ingredient for Ultraviolet B (UVB) protection.

As a result, we see more signs of sun damage in this group, such as pigment spots and wrinkles. The growing awareness of fine lines and pigmentation has led to people embracing nourishing creams and specific sun protection as an integral part of their daily routine.

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While Millennials may focus more on preventive measures and using natural ingredients, they experience specific challenges. Born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s, they make up the Millennials. Growing up in the digital age, many of us are faced with prolonged screen use and increased stress levels, which can directly impact our skin.


In my practice, I often see recurring concerns about acne and sensitivity among Millennials. These problems are taken seriously, and as a dermatologist I understand the importance of finding effective solutions. Many Millennials are actively looking for skin care products with specific ingredients such as salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid and soothing products to target these problems. It’s not just about taking care of the skin; it is a pursuit of healthy and balanced skin.

2020 study showed that Millennials are increasingly interested in ‘prejuvenation’, meaning they want to undergo corrective treatments to prevent aging. Injectable treatments such as neurotoxins and fillers have become particularly popular in recent years. Another common treatment among millennials is vascular laser therapy, which is used for a variety of aesthetic purposes. About 16% of millennials in our survey opted for laser tattoo removal.

Less commonly performed procedures include ablative and non-ablative resurfacing, body contouring and sclerotherapy. This lower popularity can be explained by the fact that these treatments focus on specific aspects of the aging process that may be less relevant for this generation, currently between 24 and 39 years old.

Also known as the iGeneration or Zoomers, includes individuals generally born from the mid-90s to early 2010s. This youngest group has a unique view on skin care and approaches this aspect of self-care with fresh perspectives.

Compared to previous 2 groups, Generation Z strongly embraces diversity and inclusivity. These young people have grown up in a world that pays more and more attention to different skin types and colors. They are aware of the diversity of beauty standards and recognize the uniqueness of individual skin needs.

Specific skin concerns within Generation Z may vary, such as acne, which remains a common concern. However, what is striking is the growing attention to products that are suitable for all skin tones. This group values ​​inclusive beauty standards and seeks products that meet their diverse needs.

The expectations of this group are largely influenced by the virtual world, where they spend significant time on social media such as the most used Youtube, Tik Tok, Instagram. Constantly seeing their own image on screens leads to increasing dissatisfaction with their appearance, which resulted in increased interest in beauty treatments and aesthetic procedures.

Non-invasive cosmetic procedures such as injectables, chemical peels, laser skin rejuvenation and microdermabrasion are often used. In addition, daily skin care routines, healthy lifestyle choices and social media trends such as viral skin care routines, face masks and innovative beauty gadgets include common approaches to maintaining a youthful appearance.

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There have been no good scientific studies between the different groups, but a number of things stand out to me.

Allergic reactions, such as eczema and hives, are more common among millennials and generation Z than among the X. This is probably because these generations are more exposed to allergens, such as pollen and dust mites. In addition, exposure to many different cosmetic products may also contribute to the increasing prevalence of allergic skin reactions in younger generations.

Scabies occurs most often in generation Z. This group mostly lives in densely populated areas, such as student houses. They have more contact with people from different social classes and cultures. More about self-diagnosis scabies test.

Skin conditions caused by stress, such as acne and psoriasis, are more common among Millennials and Generation Z than Generation X. This is likely because these generations experience more stress than previous groups.

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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