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This Is What Happens to Your Face Shape After 40

The good, the bad, and the unavoidable.

It's an odd sensation. You look at a photo of yourself in your early twenties and a photo of yourself now, in your 40s, and can't understand what on earth happened. Thanks to a consistent skin regime and a healthy lifestyle, your skin still looks great and your weight is more or less the same. You're even sporting the same haircut, because why trifle with perfection? But there's something about your face that looks different, something you can't quite place.

Everyone knows that you get wrinkles as you age, and that all of your youthful bad habits come back to haunt you. But what isn't common knowledge is that the shape of your face changes as well. Here are are some of the things that make your face look so different. And if it sounds depressing, don't despair. Getting older isn't always a bad thing, as proven by these 10 Over-65 Leading Ladies Who Look Amazing.

Your Face Deflates

chrissy teigen grimace at the golden globes

In your twenties, your cherub-cheeked, fresh-faced appearance is due to the fact that subcutaneous fat (the "good" fat that lies right underneath your skin), around your cheekbones is firm. As you get older, you lose some of that sweet fat, particularly along the jawline, making our faces appear more angular and tired.

"It looks like the skin is falling, but actually our faces are deflating,"  Heidi Waldorf, M.D., director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, told Women's Health. But get this: Doing facial massages, like this bizarre one that Madonna swears by, helps stave off gravity's unyielding pull.

Your Skin Starts the Process of Sagging

old man face sagging

At 30, your collagen—the structural protein that keeps our skin elastic and makes us look young—starts to take a nosedive. By 40, you've lost 10-20% of your collagen, which, along with the loss of subcutaneous fat, is what causes your face to literally droop. People who smoke, don't use sunscreen, or have "tech neck" are even liable to develop jowls. And even if you're not overweight, the loosening of the skin around the neck can often give the appearance of a double chin. The good news is that you can actually ingest collagen in a number of ways, be it pills, powders, serums, and so on. And one thing you should definitely do: Avoid the 20 Beauty Products You Should Never Use.

Your Nose Changes

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"While we stop growing at the end of puberty, your nose can change shape throughout your life because it's made of cartilage," Facial cosmetic surgeon Dr. Richard Westreich wrote on his website. "The structures and skin of the nose lose strength with time and, as a result, the nose stretches out and sags downward. The glands within the skin, especially in the area of the tip may enlarge, causing a wider appearing nose which is actually heavier… By midlife, a nose that was just the right size and shape for your face throughout adolescence and young adulthood may suddenly appear too large, bulbous, or long." If you don't want to commit to a full-on nose job, fillers are a temporary, inexpensive, and non-invasive way to restore your nose to its previous shape. Just don't forget that you nose looks very different in a selfie than it does in real life.

Your Facial Structure Changes

dennis quaid

It's not just our nose that shifts. According to a study, our eye sockets get larger, which, along with the dark circles that become more prominent due to thinning skin, give our faces a sunken appearance. The angle of the bones beneath our eyebrows decreases as well, which is part of what causes wrinkles in our forehead and crow's feet at our temples. You can combat some of the effects of this by having a great sleep routine.

Your Lips Get Thinner

older woman smiling

According to one study, the red part of the lip rolls backward and makes it less visible, so the lips end up looking thinner. Many people also lose volume in the lips as well. Again, fillers or lip plumpers can help you look like Kim Kardashian again! In addition to thinning out, "the upper lip lengthens, the philtrum flattens, Cupid's bow disappears, and the vermilion thins, leaving a flat, thin profile instead of the nice curvature seen in youth." Sadly, you can't do much about the latter without surgery. However, given how much of a difference a good haircut can make, check out 15 Best Men's Haircuts for Looking Instantly Younger for some help from the top of your head.

You Get Bags Under Your Eyes

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As the tissue around your eyes gets weaker, the fat that helped support them moves to the lower eyelids and takes the form of those mattresses under your eyes. Your eyelids also start to droop in a process known as ptosis. And that's just your face. To find out what happens to your face shape. For more information about aging, check out 40 Ways Your Body Changes After 40.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more