While you may be hitting your personal apex in terms of your career, confidence, and personal life in your 40s, not every part of your life will necessarily be as rosy. In fact, when it comes to your complexion, your 40s may bring about rapid change—and not always for the better.
“In your 40s, you can begin to say ‘farewell’ to estrogen,” says Dr. David Greuner, M.D., of NYC Surgical Associates. Unfortunately, this hormonal change can lead to a host of changes in your skin, from the minor to those you’re eager to get rid of in a hurry. Fortunately, if you want to ditch those less-than-desirable skin changes fast, a little knowledge goes a long way. From the uncomfortable to the unsightly, we’ve rounded up the ways your skin changes in your 40s. So read on and see why you needn’t book that Botox session just yet.
Your skin becomes drier.
While you may not be battling oily skin any more by the time you’re in your 40s, you’ve got a new problem to tackle: dryness. “Your skin will become even more dry and less firm,” says Dr. Greuner. The good news? A little extra moisturizer, some healthy dietary fats, and tons of water can help mitigate this often-annoying change.
You lose firmness.
If all you see when you look in the mirror is sagging skin, you’re not alone. “You will notice a decrease in your skin’s elasticity” in your 40s, says Dr. Greuner. This tends to be particularly pronounced around the eyes and jaw, where reduced fat deposits can make skin look especially baggy.
Your facial structure may change.
However, it’s not just the loss of fat, collagen, and elastin that causes changes in your face. According to Dr. Greuner, “[The] decrease in estrogen can also lead to bone loss, affecting the structure of your face and your appearance.”
You’ll see your first wrinkle.
While you may have spotted a few fine lines in your 30s, it’s likely that your 40s will be when deep grooves in your face start appearing and sticking around. “Wrinkles will become more visible” as your 40s progress, says Dr. Greuner.
You’ll develop more broken blood capillaries.
That sudden redness you’re seeing? Likely the result of some broken capillaries. As you get older, the stores of fat under your skin tend to deplete, as do the collagen and elastin keeping it firm. Unfortunately, this combination can make your skin more sensitive to damage, meaning you’re more likely to develop broken capillaries and visible blood vessels through normal wear and tear.
Your follicles are more likely to get irritated.
While shaving may have once been a simple proposition, that could change for the worse in your 40s. In fact, the sudden dry skin that often befalls people as they enter this decade can often lead to irritation when shaving, making hair follicles red or potentially spurring the development of folliculitis.
You’ll develop age spots.
Those days of being seemingly unaffected by unprotected sun exposure have come and gone by the time you hit your 40s. In fact, even the most minor sun exposure can create dark spots on the skin as you age. “The number one cause of skin changes is sun exposure, which directly causes visual changes in our skin as we age,” says Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, M.D.
Your glow may hit the road.
The loss of collagen and elastin does more than just cause your skin to sag: it can also mean your complexion lacks the luster it once did. “We lose collagen and elastin in our skin, which strips us of our youthful glow,” says Dr. Nesheiwat.
Your skin gets irritated more easily.
Unfortunately, those days when you could take off your makeup with a paper towel or use virtually any cleanser on your skin have come and gone by the time your 40s roll around. The extreme dryness that often picks up in your 40s can make it so your skin becomes irritated more easily, meaning that many of the same products you once used are suddenly too harsh for your skin.
You’ll get itchier.
A surprising side effect of the hormonal aging process over 40? Suddenly itchy skin. In your 40s, “Skin can become sensitive, itchy and irritated,” says Dr. Nesheiwat. Fortunately, moisturizing regularly and visiting your dermatologist at least once a year to address the itchiness if it comes with any other skin changes can make all the difference.
You’re more likely to notice irregular moles.
While skin cancer can affect individuals of any age, you’re more likely to spot a suspicious mole when you’re over 40. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, men 49 and under are more likely to develop melanoma than any other kind of cancer, while it’s the third-most-common type for women of the same age group. The good news? Non-cancerous moles may actually mean you’re aging more slowly, according to research published in the British Journal of Dermatology.
Your skin may take on a yellow undertone.
Just because your skin looks different as you age doesn’t mean there’s necessarily anything to be concerned about. A reduction in body fat and melanin production can combine to make your skin look more yellow than before. “The outer layer of skin called the epidermis where we see these changes, which include change in the pigmentation of the skin, like yellow[ing],” says Dr. Nesheiwat
Your skin gets redder than before.
However, yellow isn’t the only new color your skin might adopt in your 40s. Dr. Nesheiwat cautions that aging skin also tends to get redder than it may have in your earlier life.
Your skin may react more significantly to the elements.
If you find that those hot and cold temperatures suddenly affect your skin like never before, blame the aging process. According to research published in the International Journal of Dermatology, our hyaluronic acid levels dip as we age, which can account for some of the more dramatic aging effects. Among them? A more distinct reaction to hot and cold stimuli.
You become more susceptible to sun damage.
Older skin is less resilient than younger skin, meaning those days of laying out on the beach with no visible repercussions have come and gone. “The longer we are exposed to UV rays which penetrate the skin and causes damage, the more changes we will see in our skin,” says Dr. Nesheiwat. The good news? A little sunscreen can go a long way, even if you already have sun-related skin damage.