40s: This is the decade in which the breakdown of collagen is most apparent, making loss of tone and blood vessels increasingly visible. It’s also now that poor lifestyle choices, such as smoking, irregular sleep and UV damage can exacerbate skincare (read: aging) issues. Skin is also losing elasticity, meaning crow’s feet, dark circles and puffiness around the eyes are pronounced.
Slather on the retinoids
Consider retinoids your complexion’s new best friend. Prescription versions yield noticeable changes after six to eight weeks, while retinol, the most potent over-the-counter option, shows noticeable affects after 12 weeks, says Dr. Cohen. For best results, look for a product with up to one per cent retinol, and apply it to skin two or three times a week for two weeks. If your skin shows no signs of sensitivity, apply it every second night for two weeks and work your way up to a nightly application. Finally, don’t forget to use sunscreen on a daily basis, adds Dr. Cohen, since retinoids remove the top layer of skin, leaving it exposed to potential damage.
Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate
Once you’re using retinoids nightly, add a twice-weekly application of alpha-hydroxy acid to the mix. Though both ingredients exfoliate and reveal brighter, smoother skin, they stimulate cell renewal differently, so using both will deliver better results, faster. For drier skin, try using a formulation with moisturizing lactic acid.
Fade dark spots
Though hydroquinone is one of the most effective ways to fade noticeable pigmentation and blotchiness, it’s best used for no more than three months, and only if you’re diligently protecting your skin from the sun. Licorice extract or kojic acid also offer skin-lightening benefits, and are both good ingredients for long-term results.
Products to try: AquaUNDE Enzymatic Exfoliant Step 1&2, $134; Primavera Revitalizing Serum, $80; Life Brand Vitamin A Night Cream, $11
It’s typical for women in their 40s to see deepened creases, lose volume in the mid-face area, and to experience hollowing under the eyes and in the cheeks, says Dr. Cook. Restoring volume with injectable fillers like Restylane helps return fullness to the face, while Botox is the surest way to smooth lines you already see – and prevent more. As an added bonus, it can also be injected into the muscle around the eyes to produce a non-surgical brow lift, says Dr. Cook. Most patients need two to three sessions of injectables and Botox a year, with each lasting approximately four months. Fillers can last up to 18 months, depending on the product and site of injection.
Lighten dark patches
Reducing sun spots and melasma can be done via the Clear and Brilliant Laser, which zaps them away while improving the texture of skin and reducing pore size. At least four monthly sessions are needed to even your complexion, followed by a maintenance session every six to 12 months for upkeep.
Refresh your complexion
A painless light energy that minimizes sun spots and broken blood vessels, broadband light (BBL) does so without pain or downtime. Though the number of 20-minute sessions needed are based on a patient’s degree of damage, three-to-five monthly treatments are usually required for optimal results. One or two yearly maintenance treatments are recommended.