In Your 40s...
Those great beach vacations you took in your teens are showing up on your face: You're beginning to see cumulative sun damage in the form of blotchiness, red spots, and ruddiness. You're also losing more collagen and elasticity, and your skin retains less moisture. Because it doesn't reflect light evenly, your complexion is losing some of its glow. (See "I'm Too Old for Acne!" and Seeing Red)
Your No-Fail Plan
Cleanser: Use a creamy (rather than gel) cleanser morning and night, unless you can tolerate one with a mild AHA or salicylic acid once a day, says Ava T. Shamban, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA.
Moisturizer: Supplement your broad-spectrum moisturizer, which should contain SPF 15 or 20, with a couple of creams, lotions, or serums containing at least two types of antioxidants, such as lycopene, green tea, or soy, alternating them every other day, says Shamban. You'll get a wider benefit from switching off, because different antioxidants address different problems, says Shamban. Or, if your skin is beginning to look crepey, try a formula with peptides, which have been shown to strengthen collagen, says Hirsch. Treat dryness with a rich moisturizing cream that contains hyaluronic acid, petrolatum, shea butter, or oils.
Nighttime treatment: A prescription retinoid is the way to go, say both Hirsch and Shamban. It reduces brown spots, increases exfoliation and collagen production, thickens the epidermis, and can reverse precancerous sun damage. If your skin can't tolerate a retinoid every night, use it every other night.