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Sun exposure, smoking and the plain old passage of time contribute to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, the fibers that keep your skin firm and supple, explains New York City-based dermatologist Lisa Airan, M.D. You can't turn back the clock, but you can take action: Apply sunscreen daily, quit smoking, and read on for tips on the best way to care for your skin decade by decade.
From the best treatments in the doctor's office to new beauty products formulated to give your face a quick, if temporary, "lift" -- there's a skin-saving strategy for you:
|20s||30s||40s||50s and beyond|
|Symptoms||Practically none. Your skin is as firm as it is ever going to get!||You will see the beginnings of fine lines, wrinkles and crow's-feet.||Nasal labial folds may start to form; drooping neck skin.||Wrinkles and folds deepen; sagging skin all over.|
|Doctor's Rx||Prevention. Apply an SPF 30 sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection, to prevent damage later in life.||Apply Retin-A, a topical prescription cream, to treat sun damage and stimulate collagen production.||Injections of fillers such as collagen in folds, and Botox to tighten neck muscles.||Many women may begin to investigate plastic surgery procedures.|
|Beauty solution||Under moisturizer, use a serum with antioxidants, such as Biotherm Age Fitness Superactivated Revitalizing Essence ($40; to order, call 888-246-8437).||Lubriderm Skin Renewal Anti-Wrinkle Day/Night Cream ($10.99) hydrates to help skin feel tighter while nonirritating poly hydroxy acid helps even out skin tone.||Chanel Precision Ultra Correction Anti-Wrinkle Restructuring Cream SPF 10 ($65) helps stimulate collagen production and boost skin's own protection against free radicals.||Lancome Absolue Absolute Replenishing Cream SPF 15 ($90) uses wild yam, sea algae and soy extract to hydrate and firm mature skin.|
Photo by James T. Pemberton.
"What you put in your body is just as important as what you put on your body," says Nicholas Perricone, M.D., a Connecticut-based dermatologist and author of The Wrinkle Cure (Rodale/Reach). Perricone says these diet recommendations, combined with limiting sun exposure and using topical firming creams, may help sagging skin. Perricone's top food picks are low in sugar, which can cause swelling and skin laxity, and high in protein and antioxidants. What's on a typical menu? Salmon: It's high in protein and DMAE, a nutrient that improves skin elasticity. Green salad provides protective antioxidants. So does olive oil, which helps the body accept essential fatty acids to decrease inflammation. Lemon juice contains vitamin C to help ease swelling. Berries and fruits are also rich in antioxidants and satisfy your sweet tooth.Spot Firmers
Eyes. Tighten and tone with N.V. Perricone, M.D. Cosmeceutical Alpha Lipoic Acid Eye Area Therapy with NTP Complex ($40; to order, 888-823-7837).
Lips. Clarins Extra-Firming Age-Control Lip & Contour Care ($29.50) contains plant extracts.
Neck. Shiseido Benefiance Neck Firming Cream ($42) helps skin retain moisture and look taut.
Body. Slather on Nivea body Skin Firming Lotion with Q10 ($6.99) where needed.
Product photos by Marc Berenson.