Life Transitions: From Babies to Aging & How That Affects Your Skincare
Change is inevitable, but your skin freaking out to change doesn’t have to be. Some advice on how life transitions can affect your skincare and keeping your skin stable when life isn’t.
The one constant in life is change. Nothing ever stays the same, and even when things feel as permanent as they could be, changes are brewing beneath the surface. Those changes can affect your skincare, too, sometimes in major ways. Life (and your skin) are always in flux, so embrace flexibility to be more ready to adapt when the time comes.
Moving someplace new
The most common life change I get asked about is the major move. Maybe you’ve spent a decade in the desert, but new opportunities are bringing you to a cooler, damper climate, or the other way around. Can you adjust your skincare preemptively to ease the transition for your skin?
You can, to a point. While I don’t recommend committing to any changes or buying many new products before you even move — there is a chance your skin won’t need much different after all — it does help to know what you’re getting into.
Get a sense of the weather. With higher humidity, you can expect to maybe ditch a few layers or switch to a lighter moisturizer; with lower humidity, prepare to add an extra hydrating layer or two. Frigid, windy winters may call for very heavy, balm-like creams even during the day. Do some research to find potential products that sound like they’d work well with your skin.
Look into the water quality in your new home, particularly whether you’ll be dealing with hard water. Hard water, characterized by a relatively high concentration of dissolved minerals in the water, can do a number on skin, making it harder to get clean and increasing the risk of irritation, clogged pores, acne, and possibly even premature aging. Water softeners and shower filters can help.
Having a baby
The second most common life change I get questions about is having a baby. These questions are particularly difficult for me to answer, because I am not a doctor (SORRY, MOM AND DAD, I’M VERY SORRY, I’LL STUDY HARDER IN THE NEXT LIFE) and am not qualified to give medical advice to you, let alone to you for both you and your baby.
What I can say is this: Have a conversation with your OBGYN specifically about skincare. They can provide you with up-to-date information on what ingredients are and are not recommended for topical use during pregnancy (and, if you choose to do so, breastfeeding). If you’d like a good starting point on what to ask, you can check out this MD-authored guest post on pregnancy skincare on my blog, but even that is only a starting point. No online advice can substitute for the advice of your doctor.
While you’re pregnant, the most important skincare you can use is sunscreen. I found this out the hard way when I developed melasma, big blotchy dark patches across my cheeks, during pregnancy. Sun exposure causes melasma; sun protection can help prevent or minimize it. It took years of strong actives and religious sunscreen use to fade mine. You can avoid my fate if you act now.
Once you’ve spoken with your doctor and gotten a sense of what ingredients and products get the green light, you can prepare some pregnancy and early motherhood skincare for yourself. I strongly believe that committing to small acts of self-care before and during early motherhood can do wonders for maintaining sanity during these momentous periods of life. Assemble a skincare basket for ease of use during the hours you’ll spend sitting on the sofa holding a sleeping baby that you don’t dare put down in case that wakes them up. Stock it with sheet masks. You will most likely be spending long periods of time totally immobile. At least your skin can stay hydrated!
Starting a new job
The skincare changes caused by starting a new job will probably be far less major than those caused by a major move or the ejection of an entirely new person from your body, but can still create a little havoc.
Schedule changes are the most likely culprits here. Are you going from an early start to a late one, causing the end of your day to come later, too? Consider shifting some of your evening steps into morning wherever you can, since you’ll have more time then, or vice versa if your schedule is shifting in the opposite direction.
Will your new job change your discretionary budget at all? If you need to make cuts, think ahead to which products you can eliminate or downgrade most painlessly so you can start researching alternatives before the last minute. On the other hand, if you get to afford more than you could before, it’s time to bring out the wish list and give yourself a celebratory treat!
Finally, the one life change we all face, even if we stay in the same place and same job our entire lives and never have a baby: getting older.
Time will change all of our skin. It can change our skin far less dramatically if we avoid the extrinsic aging caused by smoking and sun damage, but intrinsic aging can’t be stopped (yet). What each of us does to adjust to this will depend on our own circumstances, goals, and comfort with a changing face and all that that means. In general, collagen-stimulating actives like retinoids and vitamin C, paired with generous daily use of sunscreen with reapplication when needed, will benefit us the most.
Beyond that, the most helpful advice I can offer is to be comfortable with inevitable changes. The holy grail products you’ve been using in your 20s may not be what your skin needs in your 30s. What works for your skin in your 30s may not carry through to your 40s. That is absolutely natural and absolutely fine. Keep an open mind about products you may not have considered before, and don’t mourn too much for what you don’t use anymore — there will always be something new and interesting to try.
Change can be hard, but change can also be freeing, providing us opportunities to explore things we never would have before. The more open-minded we are to the inevitable, the better off we’ll be (and that includes our skin). So be prepared, and embrace those changes when they come!
Are you going through any life transitions right now? How do you change your skincare when you change your life? Let us know in the comments!