It can be challenging to find a skin-care routine that works for your skin, regardless of your age. As you enter middle age, though, the challenge can definitely increase as your skin begins to change and visible signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles start to make themselves more apparent. The key to developing a skin-care routine at mid-life is choosing products that help protect your skin from additional damage while they improve the appearance of skin that is already damaged. It may seem like mission impossible, but with the right ingredients, you can develop an effective skin-care regime for the skin that has served you so well.
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As you hit middle age, your skin typically becomes drier and more sensitive. The potent cleansers that you used in your 20s and 30s to keep excess oil and acne at bay are probably too harsh for older skin. Instead, switch to a gentle, fragrance-free facial cleanser that’s formulated for all types of skin. Choose a formula that’s soap-free as well to avoid drying out your skin. For the evening, you may want to add an oil-based cleanser to your skin-care routine, which is extremely effective at dissolving makeup, dirt and oil so you don’t need to use a separate makeup-remover product. When you wash your face, use lukewarm water to avoid drying out your skin, and pat your face gently with a towel afterward to dry.
Boost Moisture with Antioxidants
As you enter your 40s, your skin's oil production begins to diminish, so it becomes noticeably drier. That's why moisturizer is vital to your skin-care routine. Look for a formula that contains hyaluronic acid, which is a moisturizing agent found naturally in the body. However, in addition to hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin and shea butter, your moisturizer should also contain antioxidants that can help prevent free-radical damage and reverse damage that has already occurred. Antioxidants also keep the collagen in your skin from breaking down, which can cause wrinkles and sagging. Key antioxidants to look for in your moisturizer -- and other skin-care products -- include vitamins C and E, green tea, polyphenols and resveratrol. You can also help keep your skin properly moisturized by avoiding dehydration -- drink plenty of water. While there are no concrete guidelines for how much you should consume a day, drinking about eight glasses is a good start.
Practice Sun Safety
No matter how old you are, sunscreen is a must-have in your skincare routine. As you reach middle age, though, it is especially important. UVA and UVB rays from the sun actually age skin cells, causing the loss of collagen, which, in turn, contributes to the development of fine lines and wrinkles. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every day -- even in winter and on days when you plan to be inside. If you have sensitive skin, avoid chemical-based sunscreens, though. Opt for a natural sunscreen that uses titanium dioxide as its active ingredient.
To soften the look of fine lines and wrinkles and help to prevent new ones from forming, you should incorporate a retinol product into your evening skin-care routine. Cellular turnover begins to slow in the 30s and 40s, and retinol actually stimulates cellular turnover deep within the skin, so it can help smooth the skin's texture and lighten areas of hyperpigmentation. It can be a potent ingredient, though, so over-the-counter products like creams, lotions and serums with retinol are best for sensitive skin. Apply every other night to start -- if flaking, redness or other irritation occurs, reduce your application to twice a week. If your skin shows no ill effect, you can bump up your usage to everyday. For skin that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter retinol products, visit your dermatologist to ask about prescription retinoids, which are even stronger. Retinol can also help the delicate skin around your eyes where fine lines and wrinkles usually show up first. Look for an eye cream that combines retinol with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin or niacinamide.
Don't Neglect Your Body
While the skin on your face may be your biggest concern when you hit middle age, take time to care for the skin on your body too. The oil production of your body skin slows as well, so the skin can become dull, dry and itchy. Instead of a drying bar soap, wash your body with a fragrance-free shower gel or cream containing moisturizing ingredients like shea butter, olive oil or jojoba oil, and rinse with lukewarm water to avoid drying the skin. Follow up with a body cream while your skin is still damp to lock in moisture. A lotion that contains alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) is a good option because AHAs help exfoliate dead skin cells so your body skin is smoother and brighter. Regular excercise, such as jogging or biking, can also help the skin on your body to glow and look healthy by increasing blood flow so oxygen and other nutrients reach the skin more easily.