4 Ways We Age Our Skin
The No. 1 way you’re aging your skin? Not wearing sunscreen daily.
“The sun is the primary cause of skin aging,” says Neil Sadick, MD, a New York City–based dermatologist.
The sun can reach you on cloudy, rainy, or snowy days as well. Plus, Dr. Sadick adds, “skin-damaging UV
rays can penetrate through glass, so you need to apply sun protection even indoors.”
He suggests choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which blocks both types of UV rays, UVA and UVB,
with an SPF of at least 30. Antioxidant-fortified formulas containing ingredients such as resveratrol, vitamin
C, idebenone, or coffee berry can offer additional protection.
Neglecting your hands and neck
Your face isn’t the only area that needs a little TLC. Overexposure to sun affects your hands and neck
just as much as your complexion. These areas show signs of aging, like dark spots, dryness, and loss of
Treat your neck and the backs of your hands as you would your face by generously applying moisturizer and
sunscreen. While you can buy body-specific products, they aren’t necessary. Those formulated for your face
firmness, will work just fine, Dr. Sadick says.
Thanks to fluctuating hormones, women over 40 routinely experience acne problems. But using a spot
treatment to relieve red spots will only dry out the skin, leaving a raw and irritated area—and it won’t help
Instead, says Carolyn Jacob, MD, director of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology, treat your
entire face with an acne-fighting cleanser or moisturizer once a day. It’s your best bet for preventing future
You may find it tempting to fall into bed after a busy day—or a late night on the town—without cleaning your
During the day, environmental toxins (like dirt and pollution) build up on skin and invade pores, which can
cause complexion problems, says Dr. Sadick. So don’t hit the sack before you wash. Use a good cleanser
and save your skin. Keep a box of cleansing towelettes bedside for added convenience—simply swipe and
Going to bed without removing your makeup face. But skipping a cleanser at night can lead to breakouts later.
Ditching products too quickly
If you’re frustrated that your new anti-aging moisturizer isn’t doing its job, stick it out longer before switching.
Bouncing from product to product may leave you with the impression that nothing works for your skin.
Dr. Jacob recommends that you give a new product at least six weeks to produce a change in your
complexion. “One skin cycle takes 30 days [for new cells to reach the top layer of skin], so in order to see
a real difference in texture, tone, and clarity, you need to use it for more than a month,” she says. If the
product contains anti-aging ingredients, wait even longer. Your skin takes about four months to regenerate
collagen and elastin, she says.
Using too many products at once
If a new moisturizer is good, then the combination of a new serum, toner, and night cream must be better,
Not so fast. If your skin gets irritated after you use a handful of new products, you won’t know what’s causing
the problem and assume they’re all irritating. Instead, “start with one at a time, and integrate a new product
every two weeks,” says Dr. Jacob. That way, you’ll be better able to identify what’s aggravating you, or know
what combination of them makes your skin go haywire. Plus, you’ll also save some cash by buying only
Getting insufficient shut-eye can age skin prematurely—and, in the short run, result in dark circles and a
lackluster complexion. During the day, our skin cells are battling against an onslaught of stressors, like UV
rays and pollution. Sleep is vital because stress hormones drop to normal levels at night, giving cells time to
repair and rejuvenate, says Dr. Jacob.
Plus, stress raises the levels of the hormone cortisol, which increases oil production and can lead to bouts of
acne, according to Dr. Jacob. So make sure you’re not depriving yourself of the sleep you need.