In our 20s, we were busy figuring out “who am I?”. We were going to school, going out on the town, going on dates, selecting our chosen careers and deciding what direction our lives should take. There was a lot of uncertainty—and there should be at that age. It was our time to make mistakes, fall down and learn how to get back up.

Our 30s were spent with long, thankless hours at the office proving ourselves, raising kids, pediatrician visits, soccer games, work deadlines, ballet recitals, and sitting up all night when the kids had the flu—and I wouldn’t trade any of that for all the money in the world.
But I woke up on my 40th birthday feeling like a switch had flipped and a light had come on. The truth was that at 40, I had finally become comfortable with my own identity. It’s one of the most empowering and incredible feelings when one accepts and embraces themselves, their past and their future. I have never been happier in my life than I am in my 40s. I don’t question or base my worth on the perception of others. I feel really good: Liberated. Solid. Confident. Content.

Conversely, when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t recognize the person looking back at me. When did my lips start turning downward and these lines on my forehead begin to look so harsh? Suddenly, this newfound confidence 40 years in the making took a little hit.
The sad truth, my friends, is that aging happens to all of us. And while we don’t have to like it, we also don’t have to accept it; in fact, we can match what we feel on the inside to what appears on the outside. Together, we can help correct some of this aging nonsense with just a few simple modifications.

Each decade our hormones change, and this is probably the biggest factor in our skincare frustrations. There are, of course, both intrinsic (genetics) and external factors (UV exposure, lifestyle) that contribute to accelerated skin aging. And while no two people are the same, we all share commonality in the aging process.

Women in their 40s and 50s fall into the category of peri-menopausal, which refers to the timeframe (up to 10 years before actual menopause) when estrogen production slows down.
Estrogen production affects very key functions in the skin. It helps regulate the rate of skin cell turnover, or how quickly our skin produces new cells. When our bodies produce less estrogen, it signals to the skin to slow down its cellular turnover process.

This means that dead skin cells are collecting on the surface of the skin, making lines look deeper, brown spots darker and, generally, the skin appear duller, less plump and less youthful overall.

In addition, collagen loss starts to manifest during our 40s, causing wrinkles to appear more prominent. This loss of underlying structure prompts a thinning of the epidermis, which can cause skin to look crepey, and may lead to sagginess and neck wattles. We may also develop shadows, blotches and dark under-eye circles as a result of thinning skin and volume loss.
We’re also left with the tell-tale signs of accelerated photo-aging on our faces, arms, hands and legs as those once-darling freckles and brown spots that have accrued from years of sun exposure start to darken.

Now that we know the specific skin care issues we face in our 40s and beyond, let’s talk about the key ingredients that can help to correct them.

Free radicals can be introduced in many different ways: via the environment in the form of UV radiation or pollutants, for example, or through lifestyle in the form of smoking. These scavenger particles of oxygen start to destroy organic substances (like proteins) in your body and skin. Once the proteins are damaged, the result is oxidation, which is similar to the process of metal rusting or apples browning after being cut. In the skin, free radicals lead to oxidative destruction characterized by loss of collagen, skin wrinkling, and darkening of pigment.
The only way to neutralize free radicals is to employ antioxidants (think vitamins C and E), which act as free radical scavengers. Regardless of how cleanly you eat or how healthy you are, only about 20 percent of antioxidants you take orally will make it to your skin; your body will disperse them elsewhere. Therefore, you need a strong topical antioxidant to deliver the benefits directly on top of the skin.

Growth factors are the proteins responsible for rejuvenating skin. Topical growth factors are absorbed into the skin and then trigger a signal cascade to help support proteins in the extra cellular matrix: collagen and elastin. Peptides, too, help support collagen and elastin.

Vitamin A, or retinol, is one of the only vitamins our bodies cannot produce naturally, and yet it is essential to maintaining the integrity of the skin. It plays a key role in the growth, elasticity, strength and renewal of skin tissue. Retinol stimulates cellular turnover, resulting in a refinement of texture as well as a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and pigmentation.

PRODUCT PICK: Retinol Complex
SkinMedica’s new Retinol Complex helps to renew the skin and improve its texture and tone without the irritation common with so many retinol products. It is available in three strengths: 0.25 (low), 0.5 (medium) and 1.0 (high). Your dermatologist or skin care specialist can determine which formula is best for your skin type.

When committing to a healthy skin care routine, an SPF of 30 to 50 is a necessity. Broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against UVA damage, the primary cause of skin aging, as well as the UVB rays that lead to sunburn. And there’s no need to go beyond SPF 50: You won’t get more protection, just additional chemicals on the skin.

PRODUCT PICK: TOTAL DEFENSE + REPAIR Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 34 For daily use
This Revolutionary superscreen goes beyond UV protection to defend against harmful infrared rays while supporting the skin’s ability to restore itself.

Work these ingredients into your daily skin care routine, and you’ll have all your bases covered with the best products on the market. And ask your skin care specialist about in-office treatments to help fight aging and keep skin looking its best.

Authored by Michelle Palcic; Posted by SkinMedica.

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