What To Know About Caring For Skin In Your 40s

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
By age 40, you may feel you finally have an effective skin-care routine. However, the hormonal experiences that occur in the 40s may require some simple tweaks to your routine to ensure you make it through the decade with a youthful glow. Hormonal changes are common during this period and can create noticeable changes in the skin due to a decline in estrogen. The hormone directly affects the function of key cells in the skin, such as fibroblasts (which produce collagen, elastin, and keratinocytes that aid in skin protection) and melanocytes (which keep skin tone even, firm, and smooth).
While the hormonal changes may be gradual, many women will notice an increase in lines around the eyes, between the brows, on the forehead, and around the mouth. Brown spots may start to occur and, around age 45, there might be a loss in skin tone. Hormonal swings can even cause an increase in facial hair. The peri-menopausal years also trigger skin growths on the face and body that begin as small, rough bumps and over time can thicken, get larger, and become impossible to hide with makeup.
While these changes may seem a little daunting, if you pay attention to the following tips, you can ensure your skin stays healthy, smooth, and glowing.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Do Use A Skin Lightener To Fade Brown Spots
Did you know that melanocyte cells decrease about 10% every decade after the age of 30, resulting in irregular pigmentation? Using a natural skin lightener with vitamin C is important for brightening the skin and fading brown spots. However, not all types of vitamin C are equal. Some formulas can make the skin red, dry, and irritated. For sensitive skin, look for a serum that uses stable, non-acidic forms of vitamin C, like the ingredient magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, which is also a proven skin lightener. Use the serum under sunscreen and make sure it also includes vitamin E. The combination of vitamins C and E help provide four times the protection of sunscreen alone.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Don’t Forgo Wearing Sunscreen Every Day
Since the number one cause of premature skin aging is from UV light, apply a moisturizer with sunscreen every single day of the year — rain or shine. Incidental exposure — driving a car, sitting by a window — can cause damage to the skin, so don't think you're not at risk even when you're in your home or office. I always recommend an SPF moisturizer that contains zinc oxide for those in their 40s, as they tend to be lighter in weight and will not clog the pores.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Do Look For Ways To Manage Facial Hair And Peach Fuzz
With hormonal changes in the 40s, many will find their faces getting fuzzier. Most people don't appreciate this extra hair and turn to waxing, dermaplaning, or threading services to keep visible hair less noticeable. These are all considered safe methods of hair removal, and they will not encourage increased hair growth.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Don’t Neglect Your Neck
This area is often overlooked, but once you're in your 40s, this is where you may start to see the effects of aging and sun damage. Applying sunscreen generously to the front and sides of the neck is one of the best ways to prevent premature aging, so be sure to get into this habit daily when performing your morning routine. In the evening, a skin serum with retinol will help keep this area looking smooth and even-toned. Using a facial scrub a few times a week will also help keep your neck looking its best. Tip: When massaging a facial scrub over the neck, look upwards to keep the skin taut, thereby allowing for an easier and more thorough exfoliation.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Do Schedule Professional Skin Care Treatments
In your 40s, being diligent about using well-formulated, quality skin-care products at home is essential, but equally important is putting your skin in the hands of a professional who can dramatically improve your skin's texture and appearance. Treatments like facials, chemical peels, micro- current, and Bio Brasion (the next generation of microdermabrasion) all work to give the skin a boost of anti-aging results. Be sure to schedule a consultation beforehand with several professionals to determine who is the best fit for your skin's unique needs.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Do Start Using A Retinol Product
Retinol is a key ingredient in repairing, refining, and smoothing the skin. A product with retinol can address concerns such as sun damage, skin texture and tone, wrinkles, and large pores, as well as other signs of aging. With continued use, pores will appear smaller, brown spots will fade, and lines and wrinkles will soften, lending skin a more youthful appearance. If you're not currently using a retinol product, it's certainly not too late but be sure to look for a formula that won’t irritate your skin if you are prone to sensitivity. While retinol is a scientifically proven ingredient and can dramatically change the texture of skin with continued use, sensitive skin types may have a challenge finding one that doesn’t irritate skin. For those with sensitive skin, look for formulas with time-released retinol as the slower release prevents irritation. Additionally, look for retinol products that also contain soothing ingredients like algae or licorice extract that can calm sensitive skin. At the very least, look for products that are specifically labeled for sensitive skin.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Don’t Use The Wrong Acne Treatment
By the time you turn 40, regular, consistent breakouts should not be much of an issue, but monthly hormonal cystic breakouts (those deep, sore bumps under the skin) can still pop up. For some, cysts, which often appear around a menstrual cycle, can get even worse during this decade. Be sure to keep a spot treatment on hand for the occasional breakout. Look for a cyst-specific treatment and begin applying it to the area where you tend to break out a few days before your period begins; continue to use it throughout the week you're menstruating. It’s important not to switch up your entire routine exclusively for dealing with acne, especially if your breakouts are only occasional, since drying out the skin will compromise anti-aging efforts.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Don’t Overlook The Ingredients In Products
When trying to keep skin looking younger, it’s good to introduce potent and proven anti-aging formulas that boost cell metabolism, plump skin and stimulate fibroblast to lay down new collagen. Some of my favorite ingredients include peptides and red rice extract. I also recommend products containing exfoliating acids such as glycolic and retinol, which are important for cellular turnover. Women in their 40s should also consider using products with vasodilators, like peppermint and ginseng. When used topically, these ingredients work to gently dilate the blood vessels allowing the skin to accommodate more nutrient-rich blood and, with continued use, give the skin a glow. Above all, it's essential to make sure the skin care ingredients in your products are delivering what your skin needs. If you're unsure of what products you should be using for your skin type, consult with a trusted professional, who can help you develop a regimen.

Despite the ongoing changes your skin may experience throughout the 40s, following these tips will help ensure your skin ages beautifully. You may wish to read about skin care for women in their 30s, if that's you right now and, if you're navigating your 20s, I have some specific skin-care tips for your age group as well.

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