What Your Skin Needs During Your 30s, 40s And 50s

It's something different every decade.

Foaming washes, exfoliates, serums, scrubs, spot treatments, masks -- whatever your skincare routine consists of, there's a good chance it's the result of much trial-and-error before you settled on your perfect combination of products and processes. However, as dedicated as you are to this finely tuned routine, it's also important to understand how our skin's needs change as we age. What you should focus on in your 30s, for example, is quite different than what you should focus on in your 40s.

Here's what dermatologist Jessica Wu says we should all incorporate into our skincare routines as we enter each different decade.

In your 30s

Dr. Wu's tip for those in this age range is quite specific; she suggests you start using a skin-brightening Vitamin C product that's packaged in an opaque airless pump. Here's why:

"Chances are, by your 30s, you've got some sun damage and discoloration somewhere on your skin. Now's the time when you need to undo that past damage, to try to get a more even skin tone," Dr. Wu explains. "Also, with a Vitamin C brightener, you can even prevent future discoloration."

And, yes, the packaging does matter, she adds.

"Vitamin C is a very unstable product. It starts to break down the minute you open that jar," Dr. Wu says. "Be sure to look for a product that's packaged in an opaque airless pump because that way, the Vitamin C stays fresh until you're ready to use it, and the dark, opaque container will ensure that even the last drop is still effective."

In your 40s

By the time you hit your 40s, you may start to notice more fine lines and wrinkles begin to form, especially around your eyes. It's not just in your head, Dr. Wu says.

"This is the time of life when your skin starts to lose its collagen, making the skin more delicate," she says.

Your best defense? Retinoid cream.

"Retinoid creams help your skin to produce its own natural collagen. The end result is thicker, smoother skin," Dr. Wu says. "I recommend using a thin layer on clean, dry skin -- and you've got to wait at least 15 minutes after washing your face before applying it. Even if your skin is a tiny bit damp, you might get irritation."

In your 50s

At this age, hormonal changes come into play and make an impact on your skin. "This is a time when your oil glands are less active -- during and after menopause -- so your skin can really become dry and sensitive," Dr. Wu says.

To combat this feeling, ditch your foaming cleanser and switch to a cream or oil cleanser instead.

"Many foaming cleansers tend to strip your skin of its natural oils and this can leave it feeling dry and tight," Dr. Wu says. "A cream or oil cleanser is much more hydrating and does a really great job at dissolving and lifting dirt, grime and makeup without that tight feeling."

Bonus tip for all ages: If you struggle with acne and inflammation, try eliminating dairy from your diet; after about 12 weeks, you may see significant improvement.

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