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Secrets of Great Skin

In your twenties, think sunscreen. In your forties, eye cream.Here’s good advice on beauty products to use at every age.

Dermatologists say that the best thing you can do for your skin is to put on sunscreen. Now there’s new reason to listen.

Last year the Food and Drug Administration approved the ingredient mexoryl for use in sunscreens in the United States. Mexoryl, which has been available in sunblock in Europe, gives wider coverage against UVA rays, the ones responsible for skin aging.

The only sunscreen currently on the US market with mexoryl is Anthelios SX by LaRoche-Posay. An SPF 15 version sells for around $30 for 3.4 ounces.

The only FDA-approved UVA blocker before was avobenzone, which is not stable in light and can become deactivated when most needed. Dermatologists Michelle Rivera, of Arlington, and Melda Isaac, in DC, both recommend Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock, which contains helioplex, a stabilizing ingredient that allows avobenzone to block UVA more effectively.

While sunscreen is a good idea for people of all ages, we asked area dermatologists to recommend other skincare for each decade of life. The products doctors recommended are sometimes sold in their offices, but we highlighted ones easily available over the counter.

In Your Twenties

The twenties are the time to focus on prevention. “You don’t see signs of aging, but it’s a good time to think about it because there is a lot of free-radical exposure,” says DC dermatologist Tina Alster.

To combat this, use topical antioxidants like vitamin C (often listed as ascorbic acid) or products with vitamins E or B (niacin). Dr. Isaac likes antioxidant products by Kinerase as well as Oil of Olay Total Effects.

Acne, a common annoyance at this age, has one benefit: Using a retinoid like Differin to fight acne can prevent future wrinkling.

In Your Thirties

Past age 30, skin can get drier and duller. The first signs of aging—fine lines and uneven texture—appear because of slower cell turnover.

McLean dermatologist Amir Bajoghli recommends applying moisturizer within minutes of emerging from the bath or shower to seal in moisture.

Alster says this is the time to stop using gel cleansers and scrubs and use a more moisturizing cleanser. Topical vitamin C will help with fine lines around the eyes.

Many doctors advise patients in their thirties to use a prescription retinoid like Retin-A, Tazorac, or tazarotene; the vitamin A improves fine lines and speeds cell turnover.

Retinoids can irritate sensitive skin. Nonprescription retinol is another option. Bajoghli says that over-the-counter retinol has not been scientifically proven to do anything beyond moisturizing. But, says Isaac, “something in the family of vitamin A is better than nothing.” She likes RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream and Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Intensive Serum with retinol.

If you’re a woman who is nursing, pregnant, or considering becoming pregnant, some physicians advise against using retinoid or retinol products.

In Your Forties

This is when it’s smart to add a firming and antiwrinkle treatment. Lines become more visible as collagen and elastin fibers decrease and cells retain less moisture. A few physicians we spoke with like SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic. Alster likes a new line by Nia24 that contains niacin, a B vitamin, and encourages cellular renewal.

Alster recommends adding an eye cream that contains plumping ingredients like hyaluronic acid. Green-tea extracts help lighten dark circles and decrease puffiness.

She also suggests using a product with glycolic acid, a fruit acid that causes cells to turn over more frequently and is less drying than Retin-A.

Fifties and Beyond

Look for a moisturizer with something more. Alster suggests products with hyaluronic acid, while Isaac recommends growth factor or pentapeptides, which, she says, stimulate collagen production.

One such product is Topix Citrix 20-Percent Serum With Growth Factor. And in its January issue, Consumer Reports rated Olay Regenerist, which contains pentapeptides, the best wrinkle cream.

Alster also likes Remergent DNA Repair Formula, which, she says, helps prevent and may reverse sun damage.

Anthelios SX is the only sunscreen sold in this country with mexoryl, which gives more protection from UVA rays, the rays that cause skin aging.

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