The aging process is a secret to exactly no one: Skin will eventually succumb to the pull of gravity, once imperceptible lines will inevitably deepen, and faint discolored spots will gradually darken. As tempting as it is to obsess over every pore or crease in front of that damn magnifying mirror, nothing will be gained from it except time wasted.
It’s hard to rewire the way we think (young good, old bad), but recognizing and accepting two things, 1. aging is natural and a gift and 2. our skin evolves over time, feels infinitely more positive and liberating than fruitlessly fighting the unavoidable. What we can do is take care of our skin to the best of our ability, using products that address the most common skin-care concerns prevalent in every age group, and embrace each passing decade along the way. And because Sephora strives to be one of the most age-inclusive brands in the space, we partnered with the beauty emporium to tap five women from different life stages to open up about their incredibly relatable skin-care journeys, the lessons they’ve learned through the years, the products they swear by, and their thoughts on aging gracefully.
Biggest skin-care concerns: Acne, scarring, and hyperpigmentation
Her skin story: "I started breaking out when I was 12, but it wasn’t too bad until I reached eighth grade. I was one of the few kids in my grade who was breaking out, and at that point, I stopped consuming meat and dairy products, and I was going to a dermatologist every month. Nothing seemed to be working. People would come up and say to me, ‘You know you’re breaking out a lot, right?’ or ‘Maybe you should try washing your face.’ By eleventh grade, it got even worse and I started taking doxycycline [doctor-prescribed antibiotics to treat acne], which helped, but now I have hyperpigmentation from scars. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s genetic — my mom had acne when she was my age, and so did my siblings. Their acne cleared up when they reached 18, so I know it will go away eventually."
How she learned to accept her acne: "It wasn’t until recently that I finally realized acne is normal. One of my favorite people to follow on Instagram posts a lot about acne, but for years, she always photoshopped her images, and when I was younger, I wished my skin looked like hers. A few months ago, she started posting unedited pictures of her skin, and it was like a breath of fresh air to know her skin is like mine. No one’s skin is flawless. For so many, it’s a big insecurity. I work in the performing arts industry, so I felt a lot of pressure to always cover up my acne with concealer and color-correctors, but it only made my breakouts worse. I want acne to be seen as normal and not ugly or something to be ashamed of."
Her thoughts on aging: "I’m excited to get older. I saw pictures of my mom when she was my age, and with every passing year, her skin has gotten better and better. She’s taught me a lot about skin care, so I definitely look up to her. I’m excited for the aging process."
When she learned the importance of a skin-care routine: "My routine is so extra. I've learned early on to take care of my skin because of my acne, and it took time to develop one that worked well — one that didn’t dry out my combination skin but also helped treat my breakouts. I use a gentle cleanser, clarifying drops, spot treatment, and a light moisturizer."
Hero products: This mattifying, salicylic-acid-infused serum from Sephora Collection that fights blemishes, excess oil, clogged pores, and blackheads while maintaining the skin’s hydration levels. And this Peace Out set of two types of dots: one formulated with salicylic acid, vitamin A, and aloe vera to fight acne; another with niacinamide, licorice extract, and tranexamic acid to brighten dark spots and even skin tone.
Biggest skin-care concerns: Sun damage, sun spots, fine lines, and dark circles
Her skin story: "All my life, my skin care consisted of using whatever cleanser was there and applying body lotion to my face. I only used sunscreen when I knew I was going to be out in the sun for three-plus hours. My mom is Hawaiian-Chinese and my dad is white; I come from a family of surfers, and we grew up in the sun, so we’re all freckly by nature. I never really took care of my skin because I didn't have to, but in the last year, I’ve noticed little fine lines and wrinkles, dark circles, and my freckles are starting to merge into bigger freckles."
Her skin-care regrets: "I wish I had worn more sunscreen [earlier]. I grew up in a beach town and my mother never wears sunscreen. You inherit your habits from your parents, and she’s probably worse than me when it comes to skin care."
Her thoughts on aging: "I’m the youngest of four, and I have two older sisters. I remember when I turned 25, they said, ‘Everything is downhill from here.’ But I’m in better shape, I’m happier, and I’m healthier now than I was at any point in my early 20s. I look forward to getting older and to hopefully aging gracefully like my parents, both of whom have aged really beautifully. I like myself way more than I did even a couple of years ago, and I can only imagine how much more I’m going to continue to love myself as I get older."
When she realized the importance of a skin-care routine: "About a couple of months ago, I started to develop more of a routine and take better care of myself. I went home to Hawaii for a month, and my skin, after being in New York, was so much more sensitive to the sun. In a matter of weeks, I noticed more sun spots and fine lines around my eyes and mouth. One of my friends is 43 years old, and her skin looks amazing. She told me that the biggest thing is to have a routine, stick with it, do the exact same thing every day, and make adjustments based on the season. I double-cleanse with oil and a foam cleanser, an exfoliating treatment, followed by an essence, a serum, eye cream, a moisturizer, and sunscreen."
Hero products: These cult-favorite AHA/BHA-laced exfoliating peel pads by Dr. Dennis Gross that are pre-soaked with seven powerful acids to visibly diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, scars, dullness, and clogged pores. For the eye area, this all-in-one Kiehl’s Since 1851 serum that harnesses the power of pure vitamin C to help reduce the look of both brown and blue dark circles, lines, and puffiness.
Biggest skin-care concerns: Fine lines, adult acne, and loss of elasticity
Her skin story: "I never experienced acne as a teen, but as soon as I hit 32, my skin just decided, ‘We’re going to do adult acne.’ I broke out along my cheeks, on my forehead, and on my chin. I’ve also developed one line on my forehead. And my cheeks, which are full, seem less plump."
Her skin-care regrets: "I wish I had had a better skin-care routine. Back in the day, I would only wash my face in the morning, and there were plenty of times when I didn’t moisturize at all. I just didn’t feel like I needed it."
Her thoughts on aging: "First, how am I almost 40? Where did the years go? I don’t have any fears about aging. You see so many celebrities who are 45, 50, 55, 60 years old, and they look so good. And if I can continue to maintain my energy, eat well, exercise, and take care of myself, then I can look good as well. I don't necessarily look like I’m almost 40, but I’m proud to say I’m almost 40 and I’m able to represent this age group. I love that the industry is recognizing beauty of all ages."
When she realized the importance of a skin-care routine: "I became more consistent with a routine in my late 20s: I wash my face morning and night, and I moisturize daily. Having a routine keeps my anxiety in check, too — it gives me a feeling of having more control over what’s happening to my skin. A couple of months ago, I started breaking out again, and instead of going to the doctor, I started buying simpler, more natural products that were free of harsh chemicals, and I’ve found that it helps."
Hero product: A 1% vegan retinol cream from clean beauty brand Drunk Elephant that visibly firms and improves the look of uneven skin tone, sun damage, and fine lines and wrinkles. And because of its tri-peptide blend and vitamin F formula, it helps calm signs of sensitivity.
Biggest skin-care concerns: Dryness, dullness, and age spots
Her skin story: "I’ve always been happy with my skin, but I’ve noticed signs of aging in the last two or three years. I have all these age spots on my face, and as I get older, they’re starting to spread everywhere."
Her skin-care regrets: "I didn’t take great care of my skin when I was younger. The one good thing I did was wear sunscreen every day, but then I would go to bed with makeup on. When you’re young, you don’t think your skin is going to age until one day you start seeing lines and age spots."
Her thoughts on aging: "I want to age as naturally as I can and for as long as I can. It’s a journey you need to go on to feel confident and accept you for who you are at any age. I hope we get to a point where women can feel beautiful as they get older, where society lets you age without rejecting you at the same time. And it starts with changing how we think. I see photos of myself when I was 25 and I look young, and when I see photos of myself now, instead of saying I look old, I can say I look different, and that’s okay. You can be in your 40s and still look beautiful, healthy, and happy."
When she realized the importance of a skin-care routine: "I had a makeup artist tell me: For every night you sleep with your makeup on, it adds a day of aging to your skin. I’ve always been cognizant about the importance of a beauty routine, but I’m a tomboy — I grew up with three brothers — and skin care was never important to me. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when I noticed that my face was starting to age, that I actually started a routine: retinol a couple of times a week, a moisturizer, and masks."
Hero product: This hydrating gel moisturizer from Caudalie — made with viniferine, niacinamide, natural pearlizers, and hyaluronic acid — brightens, diminishes the look of dark spots, evens skin tone, and is so lightweight it can be seamlessly integrated into a daily beauty routine.
Biggest skin-care concerns: Wrinkles, sagging, dryness, and dullness
Her skin story: "I had very oily skin in my teens and 20s, and I struggled with blackheads and blocked pores. I was modeling at the time, too, so I really had to maintain my skin and use products that wouldn’t clog my pores. But I’m incredibly thankful for it, because as you get older, your skin dries out. I really started to see my skin changing in my 40s. Now, my skin is nowhere near as oily as it used to be, especially in the winter — it's much drier now. I still get clogged pores, but my main concerns now are dark spots, an uneven skin tone, dullness, wrinkles especially around my eyes and forehead, and sagging around the jawline."
Her skin-care regrets: "I’ve always been fanatical about my skin, but I do regret picking at it because I can see enlarged pores where I’ve squeezed. I’ve also been sunburnt — I’m from Australia and the sun is so strong there. Growing up in the '70s, I got a few unnecessary sunburns from the times I didn’t protect my skin."
Her thoughts on aging: "My attitude is quite accepting. I would drive myself crazy if I wanted to look like I did when I was 20. I have a platform called The Silver Women, which celebrates women over 40. I admit, the aging process is quite daunting, seeing yourself change — all of a sudden you’re 50, but you don’t feel like you’re 50. I modeled from when I was in my teens until I was 27, and I never thought I would be modeling again. I don’t think you should have to look a certain way at a certain age — everyone ages differently. And I want young women to know that it’s okay to age. I’m a big believer in acceptance and prevention. When you meet women who accept their age and take care of themselves, you’re awestruck because they look fantastic."
When she realized the importance of a skin-care routine: "I learned how to take care of my skin when I was 15, because it was oily. When I would go out, I would always come home and take off my makeup. I was really into skin care, even at a young age, and I liked to try everything. Now, my routine is more minimalist with minor changes depending on the season, but I mostly rely on rosehip oil, a toner or glycolic acid, a serum with collagen, a moisturizer, and retinol. Keep it simple and be consistent."
Hero products: A super-hydrating serum from Algenist that uses naturally sourced algae to minimize the appearance of wrinkles, patented vegan collagen to visibly firm the skin, and microalgae oil to restore radiance. And this gel cream from Fresh that may feel lightweight, but it delivers intense hydration through a combination of hyaluronic acids, soothing rosewater, and nourishing vitamin E. It also features time-release technology for moisture for up to 24 hours.
Sephora recognizes that skin concerns evolve over time, which is why the beauty emporium has grouped the most effective beauty products by age for a more comprehensive shopping experience. Shop skin care by age at Sephora.com.
DESIGNED BY SEETA KANHAI