By Stephanie Spillmann 5/18/17 This post may contain affiliate links. Read more here.
Struggling with Teenage Skin in Your 40s?
If you’ve lost all control of your skin to the idiotic hormone rollercoaster, take a number. I have a feeling there are a lot of us wondering what the hell happened. Tired of looking like your teenaged self? Me too.
For exactly 18 years, I enjoyed great skin. I earned it fair and square. As a teen, I battled acne off and on and even took a turn with that scary prescription, Accutane.
That was some serious stuff. I felt very grown up and solemn signing the waiver that stated I would not get pregnant while taking this med. If so, I recognized the dire consequences.
Back to the present…I am 47. My skin has decided that it will once again erupt at will, for no apparent reason other than what my dermatologist lovingly calls, “menopause skin.” I’m not even that age yet, but my skin is waving the red sheet like a matador begging to fight.
What if I Could Help You Feel Like a Grownup Again
Here are some things I’ve found for my arsenal. Once you determine which issue you struggle with most, find a few things on that list and give ‘em a whirl.
I wish you luck, and I’ll be in the ring right next to you fighting the battle of the bumps. We’ll start with my challenge…after all, it’s my story.
The Battle of the Bumps
Over-40 skin can rival any teenager’s acne nightmare. But why? “Why must I be-ee a teenager in love?” (If you’re over 40, you’ll probably recognize that song by Dion & The Belmonts.)
Peri-menopause, which, by the way, can last up to 10 years, leads up to actual menopause, and our estrogen declines. As it declines, slowly at first, we notice that our skin is changing…not for the better. Nearing 50, estrogen has come to a screeching halt and all bets are off.
Skin now has permission to grow things…everywhere. On your nice nose, you may notice a whole colony of bumps have suddenly taken up residence. Your forehead may display enough dots to outshine the night sky. I speak with authority on this one.
You will no longer need a magnifying glass to see your pores. Instead, you will pray that evidence of your lunch won’t be prominently displayed in their nice, concave caverns.
Tools, Give me Tools, Woman
1. Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated helps since our skin is nourished from the inside out.
2. Eat foods rich in antioxidants. Tomatoes, sweet potatoes, grapes, berries.
3. Consider going dairy-free for a few weeks. Many cyst outbreaks can be attributed to an overload of dairy or the hormones in dairy.
4. Start using products with retinol and lactic acid. These encourage cell turnover so that fresh skin cells can surface. They are also effective bump tamers.
5. WEAR SUNSCREEN. Always…daily…don’t skimp. Sun damage only worsens already-aggravated skin, and skin cancer is rampant. If you need more convincing, read my story.
6. Clean and moisturize your skin. Every. Single. Day.
7. Try products with tea tree oil for a natural remedy. Shoot for 5-15% content in washes, soaps, or topical aids.
8. Manage your stress to lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone, powerful inflammatory, and enemy to troubled skin. Think exercise, fresh air, meditation, cuddling with your fur baby.
9. Ask your dermatologist for a trial run with one of the newer prescriptions for moderate acne. According to Prevention Magazine, Epiduo and Ziana have both retinoids and antibacterial ingredients. This makes for a great one-two punch.
10. Take a good probiotic. These good bacteria decrease inflammation in our gut and can ease inflamed skin.
Tight, Dry Turtle Skin
Maybe your skin isn’t bumpy, but it’s really, really dry. As we age, skin gets drier and duller. The decrease in estrogens lead to less collagen and the elasticity and moisture content of your skin suffers.
This lovely combination of lower elasticity added to thin, drying skin, leads to fine lines and wrinkles. You may also notice more itchiness and a paler tone to your skin due to a reduction in surface blood vessels…caused by, you guessed it, decline of estrogen hormones.
1. Again…hydrate! Moisture replenishment starts from the inside out.
2. Use SPF 30 or higher sunscreen every day. Sun damage is one of the top culprits for dry, aging skin. It also has a lot to do with your wrinkle count later in life.
3. Find a good vitamin A cream. Retinoids are derived from vitamin A and are the superheroes of anti-aging. Look for ingredients such as retinol and retinyl palmitate in store-bought creams. If you want to go straight for the heavy-hitters, ask for potent prescription retinoids such as Retin-A, Atralin, and Renova.
4. Eat a diet high in vitamin A. If vitamin A can help on the outside, think what it can do from the inside. Go for oranges, carrots, fresh eggs, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe…yep, there’s an orange trend here.
5. A diet high in Omega 3s and 6s encourages healthy, glowing skin. Drizzle olive oil on your salad, put walnuts in your steel cut oats, and eat salmon or flax seeds.
6. To slow down free radical damage to your skin, try antioxidant creams with caffeine, grapeseed, and green tea ingredients. You might even try a homemade strawberry mask that’s high in vitamin C from this site.
7. Stay away from petroleum jelly (aka- Vaseline). Petroleum-based moisturizers with ingredients like mineral oil, paraffin, and propylene glycol may work for a while, but they can cause clogged pores.
8. Give peptide creams a try. Since aging skin suffers from collagen loss which leads to dryness and wrinkles, it makes sense to try these amino acids that are the building blocks of skin proteins. They encourage new collagen growth…and that’s good news!
9. Coconut oil. Some people swear by it as a skincare regimen. It is really affordable compared to fancy creams, and it’s all natural for you health buffs. Apply it at night, and it conditions while you sleep. Some say that argan oil is also great for very dry skin.
10. Exfoliate twice a week. If your skin can tolerate it, try a gentle exfoliating mask or scrub to remove the top layer of dry skin cells. This can help your other skincare products penetrate better so they can do their jobs.
Does Your Face Resemble a Slip n Slide?
Okay, forget about the dry skin. What about those of us who suffer the agony of oily, slippery skin? You know…the kind where you need to keep a compact handy at all times to dab that shiny nose.
If you’re a powder puff Pam, here are some remedies for you.
1. There are a few great natural astringents you can try. Aloe vera gel, or a freshly broken piece of home-grown aloe, does a nice job of soaking up excess oil. Dab a light layer on a clean face. You can also try apple cider vinegar or a nice rosewater spritz.
2. Fuller’s earth mask. Fuller’s earth clay has a variety of minerals that are great absorbents. It’s affordable, natural, and can be bought in powder form. My favorite is the Metiista brand on Amazon that’s 100% natural clay and pesticide and chemical free.
Recipe: Mix enough rose water with Fuller’s earth to form a paste and apply as a mask. Leave for 20-25 minutes and then rinse. You can try this once a week. I like Elma and Sana’s 100% Moroccan rose water.
3. Don’t use heavy liquid foundations. For oily skin, you are better off with foundations that are aerosol based or in a mousse formula. The light weight will help your skin breathe better and form less oils throughout the day.
4. Cornstarch…it’s not just for gravy anymore. Mix 2-3 Tbs. cornstarch and some warm water to make a paste. Apply to your face, let it dry, and then rinse with warm water. You can do this on a daily basis if it seems to help.
5. For a great natural toner, use witch hazel. It’s a super cheap astringent that can absorb oil, tighten pores, and give your skin a nice, fresh little zing! Apply with a cotton pad, let it dry, and rinse with water.
6. Try a nourishing cucumber rub. My dermatologist suggested this one. It’s affordable, smells great, and has vitamins, minerals, and potassium. Cut a slice and rub it thoroughly on your face. Keep it on overnight and rinse in the morning.
7. Hydrate. I know…sounding like a broken record. Even for oily skin, make sure you drink enough water. It really is part of a healthy skin routine.
8. Eat plenty of foods that are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Avocados are a fantastic source of this good-for-you fat. You can also dig into salmon, tuna, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
9. Clean your makeup brushes weekly. Use a gentle dish soap or simply soak for a while in hot water and then allow to dry thoroughly overnight. Better yet, alternate between a couple of makeup brushes so you can clean oil and dirt off more frequently.
10. Skip harsh, alcohol-based cleansers. I know it may be tempting to power that oil away with ultra-drying compounds, but stripping your skin completely of its natural oils will backfire. There are gentle products, such as CeraVe, which contain ceramides and hyaluronic acid which will remove excess oil but maintain a healthy skin barrier.
Do You Struggle with Red, Sensitive Skin?
It’s bad enough to have sensitive skin when you’re young, but combine that with aging skin that has lost elasticity, and it’s really no fun. As I have aged, my skin has become more sensitive, so these have been helpful to me also.
This skin type often troubles those who have allergies, asthma, or a family history of sensitive or fair skin. Regardless, this is the most reactive skin, and it can be redder in appearance because of irritation or blood vessels that are closer to the surface.
Here’s What You Can Try
1. Begin with your diet. Stay away from spicy foods and don’t consume large amounts of alcohol. These contain histamine triggers that can cause more redness.
2. Avoid astringents like alcohol-based cleansers and ointments. Glycolic acid and retinol-containing products can also be too harsh for sensitive skin. Instead, look for gentle anti-aging products specifically for this skin type.
3. Try virgin coconut oil for a nice moisturizer without the harsh additives. The International Journal of Dermatology found that using this oil twice a day for a couple of months resulted in reduced dermatitis by up to 68%.
4. If you have large, red splotches or sore areas that do not go away, ask your dermatologist if it could be rosacea. This common skin disease mostly affects the cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead. It can resemble acne, but it’s best to know for sure.
5. Use sunscreen!! This goes without saying, but fair, sensitive skin that is already irritated will not tolerate sun. Damage from sun exposure will include more inflammation, and who needs that?
6. Try some soothing botanicals. Green tea is a wonderful compound for soothing irritated skin. There’s a reason most lactation nurses tell new moms to put tea bags on their nipples…it helps…sooo much! Brew some green tea, chill it, then soak a cloth until wet but not dripping. Lie on the couch and rest it on your face for a lovely cooling effect.
7. Use natural oils with lipids in them. Jojoba oil, borage oil, and grapeseed oil all make great gentle moisturizers. Avoid any added ingredients such as color or fragrance.
8. Use very gentle cleansers. Make sure your face cleanser is soap-free, and avoid ingredients such as sodium laureth sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate. These damage the skin barrier and inflame sensitive skin.
9. Like the oily skin folks, avoid heavy makeups and foundations. Red, sensitive skin will have less reactions to light formulas like mousse-based foundations. Be sure to shop for products that are specially made for gentle skin.
10. Try some chamomile essential oil. This can be very healing for redness and inflammation, but it must first be mixed with a carrier oil for application. Don’t use it full strength on irritated skin. My favorite is Roman Chamomile oil by Healing Solutions. It smells great and is less pricey on Amazon.
And there you have it. Exactly 40 ways to tame your over-40 skin. I hope you find a few things that help with your particular skin type.
Let me know in the comments what you find helpful and if you have additional tips.