Each decade brings its own beauty challenges. But there are certain things you can do during each new chapter -- whether it's your 20s and 30s or your 40s, 50s, and beyond -- to make sure your skin has a fighting chance at staying healthy and beautiful!
Cleanse your skin every night to remove the dirt, oil, makeup, and stress of the day. Exfoliate weekly to remove dead skin buildup that contributes to congested pores, a dull texture, and acne. "And, no matter what, don't pick at blemishes," warns organic esthetician Andrea DeSimone. Poking and prodding at pimples can lead to scarring that can take months to get rid of.
A study published in Pediatrics found that only 25 percent of teens wear sunscreen regularly. If you were that 16-year-old, you may have some catching up to do. Regular sunscreen use (think: anytime you're outdoors) protects against wrinkling, spotting, and loss of elasticity caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
Researchers at Colorado State University found that when people consumed a diet of protein, fruits, and veggies (and no simple carbs), they had fewer breakouts. Full disclosure: The study group were native hunter-gatherers in New Guinea. DeSimone suggests that the modern girl take a probiotic supplement to keep intestinal flora balanced and maintain regular elimination, which is crucial for good skin.
30s and 40s: Be Proactive
If your diet consists of popcorn, cupcakes, and macaroni and cheese, it may be time to clean things up for the sake of your skin. Start the day with hot water and lemon or chlorophyll to drive the system's alkaline, which helps flush out skin-dulling impurities. Or, drink a juice boosted with protein powder -- it's a skin-saving alternative to bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll, DeSimone says.
Start using a serum rich in antioxidants (we like Neutrogena Ageless Intensives Deep Wrinkle Serum). Antioxidants slow and prevent the effect of free radicals, which start oxidation -- a process that causes damage from oxygen that can lead to cell damage, showing up as skin spots and fine lines.
Dermatologists also recommend using a night cream made with a retinoid. Retinol and retinoic acid -- forms of vitamin A -- have been shown to plump wrinkles and kick start the release of collagen in the skin.
Be more diligent with sunscreen. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, most people only apply 25-50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen (one ounce for the entire body). As a general rule of thumb, use enough SPF to generously coat all of your skin that will not be covered in clothing.
40s and 50s: Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
Take showers using lukewarm instead of very hot water, because hot water removes the natural protective lipids on our skin and dries it out, says Indy Chabra, M.D., a dermatologist in North Sioux City, South Dakota. Also, opt for fragrance-free soaps, which are less irritating to aging skin.
Start popping omega-3 fish oil supplements, which contain an ingredient called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) that regulates oil production, boosts hydration, and prevents adult acne. It will hydrate and plump the cells from the inside, DeSimone says.
Don't get into a skincare rut. If you've been using the same products for the last two decades, it's time to make some adjustments. Take your products to a dermatologist, who can advise on what to keep using and what to toss in order to get softer, smoother skin.