Whether you realize it or not, your 40s are the tipping point for change. Similar to when you were in your teens, your entire body—especially your skin—goes through a transformation during this decade. First, cell turnover sneakily starts to slow down, then fine lines etch themselves into your face, and finally your body just feels different once you turn 40. So, we tapped a top plastic surgeon for a preview of the major changes your skin will experience in your fourth decade so you’ll be thoroughly prepared beforehand. Read on!
Hyperpigmentation will increase. When you’re staring down the barrel of the big 4-0, you’re probably too focused on those new fine lines to notice much else on your skin. However, some of the most prominent changes to your complexion will be hyperpigmentation. “Sunspots,” “age spots,” and “liver spots” are flat, brown spots or freckles that develop on the skin after prolonged exposure to direct ultra violet rays,” says New York plastic surgeon, Dara Liotta, MD. “Development of these hyperpigmentation spots is one of the first signs of early aging and the accumulation of 40-some odd years of UV.” In order to combat unsightly sunspots, invest in a brightening product like the Elizabeth Arden Skin Illuminating Retexturizing Pads ($56) to fade pigmentation fast.
Crow’s-feet are more prominent.
“As we age, the oil content and hyaluronic acid content of the skin decreases, making the skin duller and more prone to showing fine lines and crepey skin, particularly around the eyes,” says Dr. Liotta. The best way to combat this? Use a retinol product like the Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum ($85) to keep the eye area firm.
Eyelashes become finer.
It’s not only all those years of using mascara, lash curlers, and falsies that’ll leave your lashes feeling thinner than usual, hormones can change them, too. “The eyelashes can become finer with shifts in hormone balance as we age, and the texture of the lash also becomes dryer, which can lead to breakage,” explains Dr. Liotta. Invest in a lash conditioner like RevitaLash Advanced ($98) to strengthen eyelashes and protect against breakage.
Collagen and elastin production slows.
“Not only is the collagen and elastin produced at a slower rate as we age, but the organization of the protein also changes, resulting in decreased skin elasticity,” says Dr. Liotta. “This phenomenon accounts for why more ‘mature’ skin takes longer to assume its original position when extended or pulled.”
Hyaluronic acid levels drop.
For your skin, menopause is like falling off a cliff, with the sudden hormone change being the shove that sends your skin right off into the abyss. The main culprit? A drop in estrogen. “Estrogen maintains skin moisture by increasing hyaluronic acid in the skin and possibly maintaining barrier function,” explains Dr. Liotta. So when estrogen levels drop during menopause, so does hyaluronic acid levels, giving your skin a much more weathered appearance.