Our skin changes as we get older, and so do the mistakes we make with it. We asked some of our favorite dermatologists to break it down for us. Here’s what you shouldn’t (and should!) be doing to get the skin of your dreams.
Skin Mistake #1 in Your 40s: Not moisturizing enough.
Regardless of your skin type (yes, even those who battle acne), now is the time to add an extra dose of hydration. According to Dr. Batra, “hormonal changes in our 40s make skin drier and decrease its ability to keep moisture in.” Another downside to dryness? It makes lines and wrinkles look way worse. To boost hydration without clogging pores, switch to a milk or cream cleanser and layer a lightweight serum under a noncomedogenic moisturizer like Neutrogena Deep Moisture Night Cream ($13, ulta.com) before bed.
Skin Mistake #2 in Your 40s: Cocktailing too many products.
This is one of those situations where too much of a good thing is bad. “Piling on multiple active ingredients can often lead to redness, inflammation, and peeling,” says Dr. Batra. And while it’s true that antioxidants work best when combined (vitamins C and E are an especially powerful duo), retinols paired with acne treatments and alpha hydroxy acids are a recipe for disaster. Her rules for minimizing irritation: Introduce one new product at a time, wait a full minute between layering products to buffer interactions, and go for formulas that are fragrance-free.
Skin Mistake #3 in Your 40s: Skipping eye cream.
“It’s OK to use a serum or moisturizer around your eyes, but you’re better off going with something that’s specifically formulated for that area [usually fragrance-free with a lower concentration of active ingredients] to avoid irritation,” says Dr. Batra. And don’t forget an eye cream with sunscreen (try Shiseido Sun Protection Eye Cream SPF 34, $35, sephora.com) for day. “Your eye area is so thin that even a few minutes of sun exposure can cause collagen and elastin to start breaking down,” she says.
Skin Mistake #4 in Your 40s: Banking on products to perform skin miracles.
As far as anti-aging products go, no amount can completely obliterate wrinkles or bring back the chiseled cheekbones of your 20s. For that, you’ll have to see a dermatologist. “In-office procedures can help where topical formulas leave off,” says Dr. Zeichner. A few effective fixes worth exploring: Fraxel laser treatments to even out skin tone and texture (about $1,500 per session), Juvéderm Voluma XC to plump up cheekbones (about $700 per syringe), and Botox to soften wrinkles (about $300 per syringe). He adds: “Treating aging skin is a marathon not a sprint, so maintain the benefits by sticking to a solid at-home regimen—even if you don’t see immediate results.”