Soft skin doesn't have to disappear with age. Use these dermatologist-recommended tips to stay soft and smooth in any decade.
In Your 30s
What’s going on: Blame the breakdown of collagen and elastin—two proteins that keep skin smooth and elastic—for any fine lines around eyes and lips, and pores that seem to appear overnight. Men are naturally blessed with thicker skin (literally, not necessarily figuratively), so wrinkles are less of a concern than skin cancer prevention, as more men than women die from the disease each year.
What to do: Battle fine lines and boost collagen production with moisturizers containing vitamin C or retinol and an SPF of at least 15. Twice a week, use an exfoliating cleanser with an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) like lactic acid or a fruit enzyme to keep pores clear (try Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle SPF 15, $13.99 at drugstores). Guys: Stash a stick-formula sunscreen (like Coppertone Sport Stick, SPF 55, $4.99 at drugstores) in your car or golf bag for quick applications to key areas like the nose and ears. And schedule a skin check (if you don’t already have them regularly). Skin cancer is the number one cancer among guys over 50.
In Your 40s
What’s going on: Women (not to mention those who live with them) start to notice swings in their hormone levels, as they enter perimenopause. These hormone shifts can lead to acne, a problem for 50 percent of women at some point in their adult lives.
What to do: Avoid products containing benzoyl peroxide — this acne-fighting ingredient is better for teens with oil issues. “Products that contain salicylic acid are gentler on dry skin, as are those with Alpha Hydroxy Acids, or AHAs,” says Dr. Rebecca Tung, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. (One to try: Olay Total Effects Cream Cleanser + Blemish Control, $7.99 at drugstores.) An exfoliating cleanser twice a day removes bacteria and gets rid of dead skin cells that may cause even more breakouts.
In Your 50’s
What’s going on: Among its many other talents, estrogen maintains your complexion’s moisture balance; as levels decline, skin becomes dehydrated and produces less oil. And, while skin cells shed every 28 days when we’re younger, in your 50s, the turnover rate is closer to every 40 days.
What to do: “With a drop in estrogen, skin tends to require a lot more attention,” says Dr. Kenneth R. Beer, a dermatologist in Palm Beach, Fla. He recommends creams with petrolatum or glycerin to draw moisture to your skin and seal it in. Stay hydrated from the inside, too, by drinking plenty of water. At-home microdermabrasion kits and creams (like Kiehl’s Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion, $40 at department stores) can help compensate for a slower skin cell-turnover rate.
In Your 60’s
What’s going on: Hormones level off (thankfully), but lower estrogen stores leave your skin pretty parched. It also becomes thinner and more delicate due to the continuing loss of collagen and elastin.
What to Do: Stick with fragrance- and alcohol-free products that might irritate your more sensitive skin. Avoid harsh cleansers and scrubs, as well as excessively hot water, all of which can further dry you out. “Keep your regimen as streamlined as possible,” Tung says. The basics: an exfoliating cleanser in the morning (like Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser, $7.49 at drugstores) followed by a moisturizer with SPF; in the evening, a gentle cleanser plus a firming night cream.