Thankfully, the stigma attached to women turning 40 is quickly becoming a thing of the past. There remain, however, certain undeniable physical changes that come along with entering your forties. Some of the most visible have to do with our skin.
The body produces less collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid as we age. As a result, our skin’s elasticity diminishes and our cheeks, face, and neck start to show signs of laxity. While these changes are perfectly healthy, they can catch many of us off-guard as they become more apparent in our forties.
To demystify these common skin matters, I’ll be answering some of the most frequently asked questions by 40-something patients in my next two blog posts. I’ll also get into what you should be including in your routine to treat them.
Is there anything I can do about my fine lines and wrinkles?
Wrinkles are usually at the top of the list for over-40 patients who want to discuss age-related skin concerns, whether it’s the deep creases that can form between the eyebrows, a.k.a. the “11s,” or fine lines around the eyes.
On this front, alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) and beta hydroxy acids (BHA) should be your first line of defense. AHA are water-soluble acids made from sugary fruits. They help loosen dead skin cells, making way for new, more evenly pigmented skin cells – and lessening the appearance of fine lines. BHA are oil-soluble acids. They can get deeper into the pores to remove dead skin cells and excess sebum.
What role do antioxidants play in treating over-40 skin?
A critical one. Specifically, antioxidants, which also include vitamins A and E, in addition to C, play a big part in protecting our skin from the effects of air pollution, as well as aging cells. Even more specifically, they help block the formation of free radicals and oxidative stress, two factors responsible for signs of aging.
Retinol, a nutrient in the vitamin A family, is another key ingredient to plumping up wrinkles. It works by stimulating collagen production, which reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time.
But what about retinol’s side effects?
The possible side effects of retinol include irritation and sun-sensitivity. A board-certified dermatologist can help you assess your vulnerability to them.
One potential alternative is a gentler, plant-based retinol product called Bakuchiol. It’s a derivative of the Babchi plant, which has been used for generations in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat a wide variety of skin conditions. Over the last couple of years, it’s become more common in a broadening range of mainstream skincare products.
In my next post, I’ll address under-eye circles, age spots, adult acne, and how to shape a preventative skincare routine.