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Tips to anti-aging skin care in your 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s

Skin isn’t static. As your body’s largest organ, it is a curious blend of strength and delicacy, both a fortified barrier and one of the first areas to show damage. Oily or dry, blemish-prone or dewy and clear, skin is constantly changing as you age, and what constitutes proper skin care for you at 20 won’t cut it at 40.

To best address your evolving epidermis, you should first understand the underlying causes. Use the following tips to identify your skin type by age and issue — then follow the corresponding advice to assemble a skin care system that changes as you do.

Skin care tips if you are in your 20s…

Woman in 20s washing face

Problem: Acne Vulgaris

Forget what you’ve heard about pizza: Despite common belief, eating oily foods won’t make you break out. Instead, acne is related to hormone levels (thought to be caused by a sensitivity to testosterone, found in both men and women). This leads to the overproduction of sebum, an oily substance secreted by the sebaceous glands, which clogs and causes pores to swell, resulting in the characteristic red bumps we know as acne.

The solution:

Cleanse face twice a day with a salicylic acid acne wash, and then apply benzoyl peroxide, an ingredient found in many over-the-counter products that unclogs pores and kills acne-causing bacteria. If blemishes persist, your dermatologist may recommend oral or topical antibiotics for a stronger treatment regimen.

Skin care tips if you are in your 30s…

Woman in 30s applying eye cream

Problem: Dull complexion, light wrinkles

Though you still feel young and chipper, skin can begin to show its age during this decade. Years of sun damage, aided by decreased cell turnover, can cause your complexion to appear dull and mottled. And look out for those first telltale wrinkles, usually showing up around the eyes and mouth.

The solution:

The 30s are a great time to start a DNA repair regimen. The new frontier in skin care is all about addressing aging at the cellular source — and there are plenty of affordable products to help. Look for moisturizers with retinol (active vitamin A) and vitamin C to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and use a high SPF sunscreen daily to avoid amassing additional damage.

More: stopping wrinkles in your 30s

Skin care tips if you are in your 40s…

Woman in 40s taking care of skin

Problems: Age spots (melasma), dry and uneven texture

If you sunbathed, smoked and spurned good skin care for the first half of your life, this is the decade where that damage becomes evident. Even if you were meticulous in your preventative care, though, hormonal shifts and inevitable sun exposure can create brown spots and leave skin looking dry.

The solution:

Whoever said that 40 is the new 30 must have been exfoliating. For older, drier skin, physical exfoliants can be irritating. Instead, reach for a chemical exfoliant containing an alpha-hydroxy or polyhydroxy acid to remove wrinkles and increase collagen production. Be sure to follow with an antioxidant-rich moisturizer and high SPF sunscreen to maintain proper hydration in a thinning epidermis.

Skin care tips if you are in your 50s…

Woman getting Botox in 50s

Problems: Deep wrinkles, loss of subcutaneous fat

At this age, especially with the onset of menopause, you may begin to experience facial hollowing (most noticeably in the cheeks and around the eyes), which can cause skin to sag and wrinkles to deepen.

The solution:

A class of cosmetic treatments, known as “dermal fillers,” can fill in wrinkles, lift and support sagging skin and even help promote the growth of new collagen, all of which will improve an aging complexion. Popular brands of injectables include Juvederm and Sculptra, treatment is non-invasive and results can last up to a year or more. Be sure to choose an experienced and board certified plastic surgeon for your procedure.

More anti-aging advice

Don’t look 40 at 30: Skin care tips from a pro
Steal vs. splurge: Anti-aging eye treatments
The lunch hour facelift

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