A Decade-by-Decade Guide to Anti-Aging

You can’t turn back the clock, but we’ve got 12 tips that will make it look like you did.

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We’ve all been guilty, at one time or another, of giving in to habits that aged our skin prematurely; whether we spent too much time in the sun as teenagers, took up smoking and drank too many beers in our 20s, or just let stress get the best of us as we got older. You can’t turn back the clock and change that, but the good news is that you can take simple steps to make it look as if you did.

Right Here, Right Now

Nothing weathers the skin as much as unprotected sun exposure and smoking. The 2 best things you can do for your skin today is stop:

  • Letting the sun damage your skin Ultraviolet radiation is responsible for 80% of environmental skin damage, and is the single biggest contributor to premature aging. Starting today put a sunscreen of SPF 30 (or a daily moisturizer containing it) next to your toothbrush and make applying it a morning ritual. When you are in the sun, make sure that you follow Dr. Oz’s Healthy Tan Plan.
  • Quit Smoking Smoking decreases the production of collagen, which is one of the most important building blocks of the skin. Without it, your skin sags and dips, creating wrinkles, creases, and fine lines. You don’t have to go cold turkey; click here for Dr. Oz’s Kick the Habit Plan.

In Your 30s

What you’re battling

Stress Whether it’s starting a family, balancing home life and your career, or just finding time for yourself, the competing demands on you take their toll in your thirties, often showing up as acne. Stress triggers the secretion of a substance called sebum under your skin, which promotes bacteria growth that turns into pimples. Plus, your skin cell turnover and collage production both begin to slow down, setting the stage for the wrinkles to come.

What you can do

Drink more water, and less wine Alcohol dehydrates your skin making wrinkles more obvious. It also causes your skin’s blood vessels to dilate, giving your skin a redder appearance. Over time, consistent drinking will cause those vessels to break, permanently damaging your skin. Shoot for fewer than 7 drinks per week (one per day).

Try retinol Available in many over-the-counter products, this vitamin A compound promotes cell turnover and collagen production, evening out wrinkles. Look for a concentration of .4% and apply a thin layer every other night until your skin becomes accustomed to it. Then use nightly. Note: Retinol increases sun sensitivity, so it’s critical to use sunscreen during the day.

A treatment to consider: Getting Botox before your wrinkles really set in. Using smaller doses in your 30s will decrease the facial movements that add up to wrinkles over time, but still give you good mobility in your muscles. Most women only need treatments once or twice yearly at this age.

In Your 40s

What you’re battling

Hormonal shifts that prompt fat cells to grow larger and bulge into the skin, causing the dreaded C word – cellulite. On the face it shows up as sagging skin, especially if you have gained and then lost weight. This is also when age spots begin to show their, well, spots.

What you can do

Have more sex It’s an easy (and fun!) way to bring a beautiful glow to your skin. Get ideas to spark your sex life with Dr. Oz’s National Sex Experiment.

Sleep more Getting less than 6 hours per night increases your production of the stress hormone cortisol, which contributes to collagen breakdown. Sleep is also the time when your body repairs itself. Avoid caffeine within 6 hours of going to bed, so that your sleep is more restful. For help improving your sleep hygiene and setting a sleep schedule, click here.

Try hydroquinone. Over-the-counter products containing this chemical slow the skin’s pigment-making process, which evens out the tone of your skin and lightens the brown areas you already have. For help detecting troublesome spots at home, click here. Note: It’s important to have any darkened spots on your skin looked at by a dermatologist to make sure they are not signs of something more serious. You should also know that hydroquinone can cause a darkening or thickening of the skin in some people.

A treatment to consider: A new skin treatment called Thermage uses radio waves to tighten skin by stimulating collagen production. The non-invasive procedure performed by a dermatologist can be used for cellulite on the body as well as sagging skin on the face. 

In Your 50s

What you’re battling

Estrogen loss. When women reach their 50s, they have about one-tenth of the estrogen they have had as an adult up to that point. Since estrogen stimulates both collagen and oil production, that dramatic loss shows up as very dry skin. Cracks begin to appear, along with age spots, and fat loss in your face contributes to skin sagging.

What you can do

Use just 2 lotions Don’t buy up every product you see on pharmacy shelves. Using too many products or combination creams can actually irritate and redden your skin making matters worse. The only 2 you need are:

  • A moisturizer with SPF 30 during the day.
  • A mega-moisturizer at night. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just look for one that contains ceramides, which are natural elements of the skin that hold moisture in. They will increase radiance by temporarily plumping lines and boosting your glow.

A treatment to consider: Fillers, which are products a dermatologist injects into facial lines (such as the ones that show how much you’ve smiled your whole life), along the jaw line, and also in the cheeks to do the job of collagen and support the skin, minimizing the look of wrinkles. These non-surgical treatments can last 6 to 12 months.

For more tips on establishing your anti-aging regimen, take Dr. Oz’s Ultimate Anti-Aging Challenge.