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Beauty Needs as You Age

Remember those lovely round cheeks you used to have, and how you used to wish they’d morph overnight into cheekbones so sleek and sharp you could slice an apple on them? Remember how you’d do anything to look older?

Well, now that you are older, you might be wishing for those round cheeks again. That’s what normal, everyday and inevitable aging, with its loss of skin resilience and elasticity, does to a body.

You can deal with your aging skin in two ways. You can panic, raid your child’s college fund and run to the nearest cosmetic dermatologist. Or, like most moms, you can relax, realize that much of how you’re going to age is genetically determined and therefore out of your control; then, follow these quick and easy steps to ensure you are taking maximum care of your skin with minimal expense, pain and worry.

Wear Sunscreen

Never, ever leave the house without sunscreen on, no matter what your skin tone is. Photo-aging from the sun is the No. 1 preventable cause of wrinkles and skin damage—and the easiest to prevent!

There are two kinds of ultraviolet radiation shining down on us: UVA, the aging rays that penetrate into the deepest levels of the epidermis where they damage your DNA; and UVB, which are the rays that give you tans and burns (SPF refers only to UVB protection).

Make sure your sunscreen is broad-spectrum, which protects against UVA and UVB rays, and always slather it on. Also, bear in mind that it takes up to 20 minutes for a sunscreen to activate, so get in the habit of applying it at least that long before you leave the house.

RELATED: What to Eat for Healthy Skin

Protect Against the Elements

You know how the dry air of homes and offices as well as the polluted air outside suck up all that dewiness from your skin. Factor in the lower production of skin oils as you age—bye-bye zits, hello flaky patches!—and you need to exchange the products that were great when your skin was oilier for more emollient, richer creams. A moisturizer can’t prevent wrinkles, unfortunately, but it can add a barrier layer of hydration that makes your skin feel and look better.

Don't Over-Cleanse Your Skin

Salma Hayek has glorious skin for a woman of 46 and a successful skincare line called Nuance. In recent interviews in the UK promoting her film Savages, she explained why: “Don't wash it in the morning, at all, never. Because at night your skin is rebuilding some of the oils that you need to keep your skin young, and it balances the PH.” She’s right. Overzealous cleansing and toning strips off those precious oils. Try using a device like Clarisonic, which gently gets the grime off, or go for a cleansing oil that gets you clean while adding hydration.

Remember to Exfoliate

Guess what’s on the top layer of your skin? Dead skin cells. Skin cells have a short lifespan and are continuously replenishing themselves, but the turnover process slows down as you age. Enter the microdermabrasion cream, which sloughs off the old cells and gets rid of the dullness. Using an exfoliant regularly—not necessarily every day—also allows for better absorption of any hydrating product you’ll use afterward.

Keep From Using too Many Products

You don’t need to use a lot. Plus, going through a complicated skincare routine takes up too much of your precious time you’d rather be spending with your kids! All you really need is a simple cleanser, a high SPF sunscreen, a good moisturizer, a semi-regular exfoliant and a serum if your skin is very dry. That’s it.

RELATED: Year-Round Skin Care

Read the Labels!

It’s hard enough to decipher a food label, and beauty products push the limit of consumer understanding. This is one of the reasons to use organic beauty products—they tend to have recognizable ingredients, instead of hard-to-pronounce chemicals. One new line is made by Olie Biologique; its Huile Moderne and Huile Radicale are loaded with yummy-smelling oils like camellia, evening primrose, and argan to plump up and quench dry skin.

Manage the Stress in Your Life

You see the result every time you look in the mirror after your darling baby is up howling all night! The better you can manage the daily stressors that life throws at you, and the deeper you sleep, the more your skin will thank you.

Disregard the Hype

Taking a walk through Sephora is an exercise in sensory overload. Every product looks and seems so wonderful, and many of them are. But beauty companies know that women looking for hope in a jar are vulnerable to exaggerated or bogus claims (for example, an over-the-counter beauty product is not a drug, so it can never contain ingredients that can “penetrate” down to the deepest skin layers and into cells where the real damage/healing takes place; only prescription drugs can do that). The companies also know that many can be easily seduced by the sumptuous packaging of a product that is not much different than a drugstore brand that is far less expensive.

Be a smart consumer. Find a product that works for your budget and your skin. Even if your BFF swears by one cream, it might not have the same effect on you!

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