Though you’ll notice shifts in your skin throughout your life, you’ll probably detect a big transition after turning 40. Here’s what you can expect — and what to do about it.
Career, travel, family, maybe kids: For the past 40-some years, you’ve been busy living life. Then, all of a sudden, you glance in the mirror and things look a little…different. Maybe your eyes appear more tired than before, or your complexion doesn’t glow the way it did in your 20s.
You’re not imagining things.
As we rack up birthdays, our skin is increasingly susceptible to extrinsic factors that cause skin aging, such as the environment (UV radiation, pollution) and lifestyle (poor diet, smoking, alcohol, stress and lack of sleep). Likewise, our complexions are affected by intrinsic skin aging, that is, chronological aging influenced by our genetics. For most women, this includes three or four years of perimenopause as ovarian function declines. And, as estrogen levels decrease, we’re left with reduced defenses against those external aggressors, too.
Wondering how all of these extrinsic and intrinsic factors impact your skin? Though each person will age differently due to genetics and lifestyle, you can likely expect these major changes in your 40s:
Youthful skin looks supple and smooth, partially due to the fact that its outermost layer (the stratum corneum) is intact and acts as a barrier that retains moisture. But as the years progress, the “glue” that holds our cells together diminishes, as do the lipids in our stratum corneum. As a result, the skin’s barrier function becomes compromised and loses its ability to hold onto water. Hyaluronic acid, a molecule found naturally in our skin that retains 1000 times its weight in water, also starts disappearing in our 40s. This dehydration causes skin to look dull and tired. It also helps to explain the appearance of fine lines.
Our skin gets its colour from melanin, a pigment produced by cells called melanocytes. When we spend time in the sun and get a tan, that’s our melanocytes releasing extra melanin as protection. The problem is that as we age — and rack up sun exposure minutes and hormonal fluctuations — our melanocytes can overproduce pigment in some areas, which creates freckles, sun spots and age spots. The result? Mottled skin that doesn’t glow.
If you start waking up every morning looking like you still need a few extra ZZZs, it’s likely due to one key feature: your eyes. The eye area tends to be the first to show signs of aging because the surrounding skin is so thin. Plus, the repetitive movements of smiling and squinting create deep expression lines, called crow’s feet, as the skin becomes weaker with age. The main issue is that cells called fibroblasts, which produce collagen and elastin, decrease in function. Collagen and elastin, which basically act as scaffolding to keep skin plump and give it the ability to stretch and bounce back, also start to break down. What we’re left with is skin that’s more prone to fine lines, wrinkles and sagging.
Loss of Radiance
Watch out, because cellular turnover declines over the decades — as much as 30 to 50 percent between the ages 30 and 80. In young adults, the stratum corneum regenerates in about 20 days, but it can take up to 30 days for older adults. That means skin cells sit on our faces longer and also take more time to slough off when they die. After 40, you’ll likely notice that your skin looks increasingly rough and less radiant.
As you can see, skin goes through considerable changes after 40, but it’s not all bad news. Our lifestyle choices, like wearing sunscreen, cutting down on sugar and getting more sleep, can make a positive impact. A consistent skincare routine that includes a cleanser, serum and moisturizer, like Riversol’s Anti-Aging Trio ($139), can also make a world of difference. The key is choosing hydrating products that are rich in antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, to help reduce the visible signs of aging.
The Riversol Anti-Aging Trio was created by Vancouver dermatologist Dr. Jason Rivers to help the patients at his clinic treat the appearance of skin dehydration, hyperpigmentation, loss of radiance, and fine lines.
Dr. Rivers insisted on offering a completely free 15-day sample kit — just enough to be sure that Riversol is right for your skin, with no strings attached.
Why not give it a try? By making a point to take care of your complexion, morning and night, the next time you look in the mirror you might be surprised by what you see — in a good way.
Intrinsic Skin Aging: The Role of Oxidative Stress https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Aleksandar_Godic/publication/232062534_Intrinsic_skin_aging_The_role_of_oxidative_stress/links/0912f512645925d9cd000000.pdf
Perimenopause: Rocky Road to Menopause https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/perimenopause-rocky-road-to-menopause
Estrogens and Aging Skin https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.4161/derm.23872
Structural Changes Associated with Aging Skin http://www.dermalinstitute.com/us/library/11_article_Structural_Changes_Associated_with_Aging_Skin.html
Introduction to Skin Aging
The Protective Role of Melanin Against UV Damage in Human Skin https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2671032/