Skin After 40

By Monica Corcoran Harel

After 40, our skin throws us some curveballs. But a new protocol and the right makeup puts you back in charge.

Maybe the fact that our eyesight starts to falter after 40 is not such a bad thing. It makes the mirror more merciful, right? The first time I noticed a quantifiable difference in my skin was at the age of 46. Overnight, or so it seemed, a patch of visible pores had appeared on my chin. Intellectually, I knew my skin was aging. But until I looked in the rearview mirror of my Mini that morning, I hadn’t realized that my face resembled the lunar landscape.

“Our skin thins with age,” explains Dr. Heather Furnas, a renowned Santa Rosa-based board certified plastic surgeon. “After 40, sun damage accumulates, leading to lines, pigmentation changes and a change in texture.”

This is probably not news to you. After all, anti-aging marketing and products constantly bombard us. Still, these changes in our skin are typically as insidious as sneaky middle age weight gain. You see a sunspot over here, a wrinkle or two over there. Whatever. Who’s counting? But eventually, these physical betrayals add up and we also see a loss of luster and some sag too. (By the age of 40, we have lost 10% to 20% of our collagen and that depletion accounts for the deflation in our cheeks and around our eyes.)

Okay, enough bad news. Besides, would you ever trade the kick-ass confidence that comes with your 40s and 50s for a few smaller pores and less laugh lines? Nope. Me neither. The key, says Dr. Furnas, is to calibrate your skincare routine to address your concerns. Even tried and true beauty products, much like booty shorts, don’t always age with us. She recommends a professional skin analysis to assess your sun damage and other skin issues. FYI: You can see a dermatologist just to discuss a new protocol for your skin.

When it comes to adding specific products to your regime, SPF will always top the list—no matter your age or where you live. (According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, clouds filter less than 25% of skin-damaging UV rays so rainy days are conspiring against our skin too.) But most skin specialists—and as a beauty writer, I have interviewed a lot of docs—also nod to Retin-A as the most proven topical agent to increase cell turnover and thicken your dermis. “It also improves fine lines,” says Dr. Furnas.

While your skin deserves attention, your makeup probably calls for an overhaul too. It gets tricky though: it may be counterintuitive to assume we need less coverage when we have more skin concerns—but it’s true. Celebrity makeup artist Patrick Tumey refreshingly urges his clients in their 40s and 50s to get extra sleep instead of splurging on a new pricey moisturizer.

“But when it comes to foundation, spend the money. You can cheat and spend less on lipsticks and glosses and shadows,” he says. Tumey loves Best Skin Days because the finish is soft and dewy, not matte. Thicker, opaque formulas settle in fine lines and accentuate enlarged pores. Tumey adds: “Best Skin Days is like a moisturizer meets a foundation meets a concealer and you can control the coverage.” Using his advice, I apply it evenly to my face and neck and then dab a bit more on pesky sunspots. Do my laugh lines completely disappear? Of course not. I’m not trying to turn back time—sorry, Cher. I just want to look as unstoppable as I feel. And I do.

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