You used to be able to wash your face and go, but lately your skin has needed a little extra help. Once you turn 40, the products you turned to in early adulthood may be too harsh or drying. If possible, consult a dermatologist to create the best strategy for your skin type, and ask your doctor about lifestyle changes which benefit your skin, as well as your overall health.
Older skin experiences the decreased production of collagen and elastin, the two elements responsible for firmness in younger skin. As skin ages, it becomes less elastic, resulting in wrinkles and sagging. Your skin also produces less natural oil, so it can't "plump up" those fine lines the way it used to. While you probably aren't seeing deep wrinkles and serious sagging in your 40s, you may have crow's feet, blotchiness and less firm skin than you did 10 years ago. If your adulthood has also included a decade or two of smoking, excessive sun exposure or an unhealthy diet, you may have a few extra lines or age spots to contend with.
Your daily routine should always include either a separate sunscreen product or makeup and moisturizer with added sunscreen protection. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser in the morning and evening, or just at night if you have excessively dry skin. Apply moisturizer after washing or rinsing your face in the morning, and use either moisturizer or a night cream in the evening after washing your face. A non-drying toner may help close pores and draw moisture to the surface, making skin look smoother and tighter, notes natural health author Kathi Keville. Keville recommends a toner geared to mature skins, or a homemade formula which uses aloe vera gel, orange blossom water and essential oils such as rose geranium, carrot seed and frankincense.
Exfoliating your skin once a week if you have dry skin and up to twice a week for an oily complexion may help diminish fine lines and help your skin absorb moisturizing masks and creams. A weekly steam and mask may also be helpful, especially if you use a mask geared to your skin type. Alternatively, use two masks if you're prone to wrinkles and dryness in some parts of your face but oily skin and acne in others.
You'll need professional treatment for dramatic improvements, but some over-the-counter products may produce "slight to modest" changes in your skin, according to CNN Health. Look for moisturizers and anti-aging serums with hydroxy acids to exfoliate your skin, retinols to fight the environmental factors that contribute to wrinkles, coenzyme Q10 to reduce fine lines, tea extracts to reduce redness and boost antioxidant protection and copper peptides for collagen production. Purchase sunscreens with an SPF factor of 30 or higher and which include the term "broad spectrum protection" on their labels.
Your skin care routine should extend to prevention, as well as repair and maintenance. If you smoke, kick the habit as soon as possible. While your lung health is more important that the skin-deep consequences of smoking, knowing the cosmetic consequences may give you extra impetus to quit. Smoking causes not only mouth pucker lines and crow's feet from the muscle movement involved in smoking and squinting from the smoke, but also slows collagen and elastin production, according to CNN Health. Combining sunscreen with sunglasses and hats further protects against the sun. Helpful foods to keep skin healthy include lean proteins and fruits and grains with the vegetables B3, A, C and E.