In your 50s
"I need a drink." Sebum (natural oil) production is decreasing yearly. "This is when you start to see significant changes in the deeper facial structure," says Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "You will have some collagen and even bone loss, which translates into looser skin and decreased volume—especially in the mid and lower sections of the face." Decreased oil production also means that skin is more sensitive to changes in climate or season.
"Plump me up!" Step up your regimen, including the staples from previous decades—a retinoid in an emollient base (like Renova or Avage) as well as alpha hydroxy acid exfoliators, which can be used four or five times a week now, if your skin can tolerate it. Day creams should be cocktails loaded with antioxidants (vitamins C and E) and anti-inflammatory ingredients. And upgrade to more moisturizing bases across the board. "It makes sense to switch to the most emollient forms of every skincare product—creamy cleansers as well as moisturizers," says Heidi Waldorf, MD, director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. If you're looking for a big bang, book a trichloroacetic acid (TCA) or 70% glycolic peel. "It's a great way to get rid of fine lines, uneven skin tone, and brown spots in one treatment," says dermatologist David Bank, MD.
"Ommm." Take up yoga, meditation, or another form of effective, daily stress relief. "As we age, our bodies become less efficient at fighting the stress hormones that age us prematurely," says dermatologist Nicholas Perricone, MD. "If you stress a 20-year-old and a 50-year-old, the younger woman's cortisol level returns to normal more quickly than that of the older woman." In other words, the cumulative effects of daily living, gravity and UV damage could be offset by a regular dose of relaxation in a quiet room. At least that's what your skin would tell you.