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It’s a fact of life: Our bodies change as we age.

Hormones, genetics, and age-related bone and muscle loss can affect multiple areas of the body, including the skin.

Some of these changes are noticeable — perhaps most notably, the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Others, like collagen loss, might not be noticeable for decades.

The aging process may be inevitable, but there are some preventive measures you can add to your skin care routine to boost your skin health throughout your life.

Here’s what dermatologists and researchers suggest doing during each decade of your life to help keep your skin healthy at every age.

When you’re in your 20s, wrinkles might be the furthest thing from your mind. But your skin is changing, even if it’s not noticeable yet.

Collagen production

Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, a board certified dermatologist based in NYC, notes collagen decreases by 1 percent each year, beginning in your 20s.

“The loss of collagen may contribute to fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging,” Garshick says.

Sun safety

Garshick says people in their 20s can avoid speeding up collagen loss by protecting their skin from the sun.

“Sunscreen can be very important for those in their 20s, as we know UV exposure can contribute to collagen breakdown,” she says.

Garshick suggests using a moisturizing sunscreen, such as DRMTLGY Physical Universal Tinted Moisturizer SPF 46 or EltaMD UV Daily Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen SPF 40.

Michele Green, MD, recommends people ask their primary care doctor or a dermatologist to do a skin cancer check each year starting in their 20s, particularly if the disease runs in the family.

Acne

Though acne is sometimes thought of as a “teenage problem,” it can continue into the 20s and beyond. Green says the stress 20-somethings experience from finishing school and starting their careers can worsen acne.

A 2017 study of women ages 22 to 24 suggested that stress increases the severity of acne.

Green advises people experiencing acne to:

  • select a gel-based cleanser
  • use toners with alpha hydroxy acids (like glycolic acid) or salicylic acid
  • find a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid

Sleep

Green says sleep can benefit the skin. She explains that your skin naturally replaces dead cells and restores new ones as you’re getting shut-eye.

“Inadequate sleep will deprive the body of its regenerative cycle,” Green adds.

In your 30s, you may begin to experience fine lines and signs of sun damage.

Even more sun protection

Fine lines are often an early sign of sun damage.

A 2013 study of nearly 300 white women aged 30 to 78 suggested that UV exposure seems to be responsible for 80 percent of noticeable symptoms of aging in the skin on the face.

“Overexposure to the sun during your teens and 20s can contribute to the formation of wrinkles, dark spots, and increase the likelihood of developing skin cancer,” Green says.

Continued skin care checks are essential for this reason.

Volume, collagen, and exfoliation

Green says people may also notice a loss of volume around the cheeks and eye area because of collagen loss.

“This is the time to ramp up your skin care routine by adding exfoliation after cleansing… and eye cream,” Green says.

Garshick adds that exfoliants can remove dead skin cells and keep the skin glowing.

Vitamin C

A 2017 review suggested topical use of vitamin C could have anti-aging benefits, including the ability to increase collagen synthesis.

Garshick recommends Skinceuticals CE Ferulic or Drunk Elephant C-Firma Fresh Day Serum.

Green says laser therapy may be a good choice for people in their 30s. Still, it’s essential to speak with a dermatologist about options first.

Laser therapy may help reduce:

Green also notes that some people may want to start Botox at this time around the forehead and eyes, two areas where persistent facial expressions may begin to create wrinkles.

Sleep routine

Maintaining a good sleep routine or starting one if you did not do so in your 20s is also important to help your skin repair, Green notes.

Green says her patients are often most concerned with loss of elasticity and wrinkles as they hit their 40s.

Skin building-blocks

There’s a science behind these issues, Green explains. The skin’s supportive tissue has three building blocks:

The body produces less of them as time goes on, reducing your skin’s elasticity. It may be particularly noticeable on the face and neck, according to Green.

Sun damage

Sun damage could begin to show in the 40s if it didn’t happen in your 30s.

“Hyperpigmentation can become more prominent during this time as well, largely due to accumulated sun damage over time,” says Peterson Pierre, MD, a board certified dermatologist of the Pierre Skin Care Institute.

Hydration

“Swap out your cleanser for a cleansing balm to hydrate your skin as it cleanses,” Green says. “Your toner should also rebalance your skin, so use a toner that will replenish lost moisture.”

Green suggests a toner with aloe.

Consider trying ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm and Mario Badescu Aloe Vera Toner.

Cell turnover

Exfoliation is also a key step in your 40s,” she adds. “Your skin needs all the help it can get to stimulate cell turnover. This will help maintain a healthy complexion.”

Consider trying DRMTLGY Microdermabrasion Scrub.

Plant-derived stem cells

Plant-derived stem cells are undifferentiated cells. These stem cells come from many plants, and they each have different benefits.

For example, grapeseed may help with protection from sun damage and can be found in some sunscreens.

A 2011 study suggested grapeseed oil may reduce the number of UV rays the skin absorbs.

Garshick says other common benefits of plant-derived stem cells may include:

  • protecting against free radical damage through antioxidant activity
  • boosting collagen production
  • providing anti-inflammatory benefits.

Many products claim to contain plant-derived stem cells, but a 2017 review indicated these items mostly contained plant-derived stem cell extracts. The study suggested live versions are better for skin and that more studies were needed.

Peptides

Garshick says using products with vitamin C is still a good idea, but she suggests also looking for items with peptides.

“When peptides are incorporated into skin care products, they tell your body to produce more collagen,” she says.

A small 2020 study of 22 healthy Asian participants over 40 suggested the use of peptides for 2 weeks could reduce wrinkles.

Garshick says there are various types of peptides, including:

  • Carrier peptides. These deliver minerals for wound healing, like copper, and promote collagen production.
  • Signal peptides. These send messages to the skin to stimulate the production of collagen, elastin, and other proteins.
  • Neurotransmitter peptides. These block the release of the chemicals that cause the contraction of facial expression muscles.

She says peptides may help with:

  • sagging skin
  • the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • elasticity

Consider Bliss Bright Idea Vitamin C + Tri-Peptide Collagen-Protecting & Brightening Moisturizer.

Consider Botox

Aside from products, Pierre says people may consider Botox at this time if they did not begin it in their 30s.

“Botox [can] relax muscles and improve expression lines, [and] filler injections [can] replace lost volume,” he says.

A 2019 literature review indicated Botox was safe and effective at reducing wrinkles.

PRP and microneedling

Green suggests combining microneedling with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, a treatment that uses a patient’s blood cells to aid in faster healing.

“PRP with microneedling utilizes the protein-rich plasma containing growth factors to stimulate cell turnover and collagen production by creating tiny micro-channels into the skin infused with PRP,” she explains. “As the skin heals, the cells stimulate collagen production. The result is younger-looking skin.”

Lifestyle changes

A few lifestyle tweaks may also help.

“As you get older, your metabolism slows down, and your body retains less water,” Green says.

Be sure to stay hydrated, and include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Green suggests cooking with healthy oils and fats and consuming foods high in vitamins and calcium.

Green suggests limiting alcohol intake. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two drinks maximum per day for men and one drink maximum per day for women.

Alcohol can dehydrate the body, including the skin.

Your skin concerns are likely to shift as you enter your 50s.

Skin texture

“As we age, there’s a decrease in the amount of hyaluronic acid because of slowed production and increased breakdown of our natural hyaluronic acid. [This] can lead to dry skin and loss of moisture,” Garshick says.

A decrease in ceramide levels can also weaken the skin barrier, she adds.

This may lead to:

  • increased sensitivity
  • redness
  • irritation
  • dryness
  • dullness

Garshick recommends boosting hydration with topical moisturizing creams containing hyaluronic acid and ceramides to combat this issue.

A 2020 study suggested participants with dry, atopic eczema-prone skin saw significant improvements in skin hydration and dryness for 24 hours after a single application of a cream and lotion containing ceramides.

Hormones

Menopause may also play a role in the appearance of skin.

“Fluctuations in hormone levels can cause facial fat to redistribute, potentially hollowing the face and causing it to appear thinner and more aged,” Green says.

She suggests dermal fillers can help the inner structure of the face and increase volume loss due to hormonal changes.

Nutrition and osteoporosis

Green also says following a nutritious diet can continue to help skin, particularly as individuals begin to feel and see the effects of bone density loss and osteoporosis.

A 2020 study pointed out that some dermatological treatments contain glucocorticoids and immunosuppressants that may increase the risk of osteoporosis. The study advised health care professionals to keep an eye on the bone health of these patients.

A 2017 study suggested that people with eczema are more likely to experience osteoporosis.

Green says individuals can try to reduce the risk of these issues through foods with:

  • high amounts of protein, like lean meats
  • high-calcium foods, such as yogurt and cheese
  • vitamin D, found in fish and eggs
  • vitamin K, often in green, leafy vegetables

Green says taking a collagen supplement and engaging in strength training are other lifestyle tweaks that may help.

Keep up the sun protection

As you move into your 60s, Garshick says the results of cumulative sun exposure may start to show in the form of dark spots.

“While these brown spots reflect prior sun damage that’s been done, it is just as important to continue to wear sun protection to prevent the spots from becoming darker,” she says. “At-home skin brighteners and lightening creams can be helpful.”

She suggests exfoliating a few times per week to improve skin tone.

Retinol

Garshick says retinol is still a key ingredient.

An older 2005 study suggested retinol and vitamin C could boost elasticity in postmenopausal women.

Whole-body skin care

It’s important to take note of more than your facial skin.

“It becomes especially important to also pay attention to your hands, neck, and chest, as these areas will continue to show signs of aging as they lose volume and the skin appears thinner and more crepey,” she says.

Moisturizing these areas can help. Garshick recommends Revision Skincare Nectifirm, StriVectin TL Advanced Tightening Neck Cream PLUS, and Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream.

In-office options

Garshick says in-office procedures may help with aging skin, including:

Embrace the skin you’re in

It’s also important to remember that aging is inevitable. Above all, focus on accepting yourself as you are.

“It’s OK to accept and embrace the changes we experience and to remember that it’s a privilege to live longer and get older,” Garshick says.

She emphasizes that there’s no right or wrong.

“While there are options to help people feel better about themselves while going through the process, people should not feel pressure to do any of it,” Garshick says.

Like the rest of your body, your skin will likely show signs of aging as you get older. Fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of elasticity are three of the more noticeable and common signs of aging.

The aging process starts in the 20s, when the skin begins to lose collagen. Damage from UV rays can speed up collagen loss, so wearing sunscreen is essential.

Using products with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and retinoids, can help slow the formation of or reduce the appearance of skin aging. In-office procedures, including Botox, may also help.

Getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, and keeping alcohol intake to a minimum are lifestyle tweaks that support the skin as you age.

That said, it’s essential to remember aging is inevitable, and it’s OK to embrace the skin you have.

Beth Ann Mayer is a New York-based writer. In her spare time, you can find her training for marathons and wrangling her son, Peter, and three furbabies.