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There’s a reason people call it “baby-soft skin.” That silky texture is unique to well…babies! As the years pass, our skin changes—and that feathery smoothness fades. “Just as athletes train their bodies to endure the physical toll of running, so, too, must they take the necessary precautions to keep their skin healthy regardless of age,” says marathon runner and dermatologist Adam Friedman, MD. Here’s how to keep your glow going during every decade so you can look as fit and fabulous as you feel!
PROTECT AND PREVENT
Twenty-something skin hovers in the wonderland between acne and fine lines. Your levels of collagen and elastin—proteins that keep your skin supple— are high, and you’re less likely to experience breakouts than you were as an adolescent. But don’t take that youthful blush for granted. Because skin damage is cumulative, your habits now will show on your face forever.
“Use this time to get into the habit of never going outside without sunscreen,” says Amy Wechsler, MD, author of The Mind-Beauty Connection. Overexposure to sun and environmental pollutants can accelerate the signs of aging. Wechsler also recommends washing your face before bed (no exceptions!) to prevent clogged pores, which can lead to a less even-toned complexion.
ACE YOUR AGE:
• Retire the harsh astringents, drying anti-acne treatments and soaps of your teen years.
• Start your day with moisturizer and sunscreen. We like Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer SPF 15 ($21 for 2.5 oz., kiehls.com) layered with Aveeno Hydrosport Sunblock Spray SPF 30 ($9, drugstore.com).
• No more going to bed without removing your makeup! Use nonirritating face wash like Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash ($5, drugstores).
REGENERATE AND REPAIR
Our 30s are a powerful decade. While you might be starting to hit your stride athletically and professionally, there is one bummer when it comes to skin. Because production of collagen and elastin is starting to slow, those frustrating fine lines and wrinkles will surface. Skin also takes longer to repair itself, which can lead to dullness, discoloration and uneven tone. This means it’s time to step up your skincare.
“In this decade, the epidermis thins,” explains Friedman. Fight back by moisturizing and exfoliating to encourage skin regeneration. Choose products with peptides and retinols, which Wechsler notes “replenish collagen and undo sun damage.” Your 30s also mean a resurgence of acne, especially for women who become pregnant. Wechsler recommends “investing in cleansers with mild amounts of salicylic acid and continue moisturizing.”
ACE YOUR AGE:
• Start using a deep exfoliate once a week like Ole Henriksen Sugar Glow Face Scrub ($12, olehenriksen.com) to brighten and refine skin tone.
• Reach for retinoid-rich products such as Philosophy Miraculous Anti- Aging Retinoid Pads ($72, philosophy.com) to diminish the look of wrinkles and discoloration.
• Before you hit the hay, indulge skin with a formula that fights early lines and wrinkles like Clarins Multi-Active Night Youth Recovery Cream ($59, clarins.com).
PLUMP AND BOOST
In your 40s, fine lines often graduate into full-on wrinkles, but you can combat the creases. Transformations to the connective tissue in your skin create a phenomenon called elastosis. Friedman says, “Elastosis produces the weather-beaten appearance common to those who spend a large amount of time outdoors, such as runners.” Decreased circulation can increase redness, sunspots may grow larger and cellular changes lead to the appearance of thinner, more translucent skin.
The key is to avoid irritating skin with harsh chemicals, and focus on moisturizing which will offset the feeling of thinning skin. This is the decade to consider medical intervention. “Now is a good time to meet with your dermatologist and have an honest conversation about your skin,” says Wechsler who recommends asking for a prescription retinoid if needed. She adds that lifestyle changes can be nearly as effective as products in promoting a healthy glow. “Include feel-good activities like getting enough sleep, spending time with friends and exercising.”
ACE YOUR AGE:
• Increase your daily retinol dosage. If you’re not up for a doctor’s visit, lightweight and fast-absorbing Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum ($20, drugstores) is available OTC.
• Plump it up. A nighttime moisturizer like Olay Regenerist Micro Sculpting Cream uses sodium hyaluronate (a key ingredient for 40s faces) to increase elasticity.
• If dark spots are an issue, try a corrector such as Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Corrector ($50, kiehls.com).
50s and Beyond
MOISTURIZE AND SOOTHE
As your hormones change, so does your skin. “Women gradually produce less oil after menopause, which can make it harder to keep the skin moist, resulting in dryness and itchiness,” explains Friedman. In addition, the subcutaneous fat layer shrinks, reducing your body’s normal insulation.
Supporting skin’s moisture barrier will help protect it from the elements. Friedman advises following a “soak and smear” program. “Use a very mild cleanser, and prior to drying off, apply an emollient to your wet skin to inhibit the evaporation of water.” Look for skincare products that contain ceramides, glycerin and fatty acids, which help increase hydration and reduce in ammation.
By this decade, you’re savvy enough to know what works for your skin and understand the importance of daily sunscreen application. Make your street smarts work in your favor and continue to take great care of yourself as you run into the future.
ACE YOUR AGE:
• Lock in moisture. Fragrance-free and enriched with ceramides, Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream ($13, drugstores) relieves irritated skin with oatmeal.
• Switch to a milder face wash like soap-free Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($15, drugstores).
• Experiment with creams. Treat uneven tone, dullness and wrinkles with Borba HD-Illuminating Plasma Crystals ($32, borba.com), which uses plasma technology to retexturize skin. ■