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Published October 03, 2012, 11:31 PM

Positively Beautiful: As we age, beauty regime must adapt

I see patients of all ages, and many wonder what’s the right time to “get started” with a beauty regimen.

By: Dr. Susan Mathison, Areavoices.com, INFORUM

I see patients of all ages, and many wonder what’s the right time to “get started” with a beauty regimen.

Mom told the lucky ones during their formative years to protect their skin from the sun. For the rest of us, let’s look at beauty through the ages.

While aging is inevitable, it seems that we all feel better if we put up a little fight and take care of our skin. As the years fly by, our skin care and beauty needs change.

For all of us, a positively beautiful lifestyle enhances health and your innate beauty. High-quality food, hydration, movement, strength training, sleep, stress management and giving life purpose have a profound impact on how we see ourselves and project to others. Supplements high in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants boost your skin health, too.

Your 20s: After surviving the hormonal turmoil of the teen years, your skin may be the best it’s ever been. If you still struggle with an occasional breakout, try a vitamin A-based product like retinol or a prescription like Retin-A or Differin a few times a week. These products also contain some anti-aging properties to ward off fine lines.

Make it a habit to wear sunglasses to protect both your eyes and the skin around them. Spending unprotected time in the sun breaks down the building blocks of our skin – collagen and elastin – and speeds the aging process. Use a sunscreen with 30 SPF on your face and neck every day. My favorite one has zinc oxide in it.

Your 30s: For many, the first signs of aging begin.

Fine lines develop, and the delicate skin under our eyes thins, sometimes leading to puffiness – especially in the morning. Our skin may become a bit drier, and sunspots and a few blood vessels may appear around the nose.

Skin cell turnover slows, dulling the complexion.

Build on the previous decades’ advice, and bump up the use of retinol or Retin-A to five nights a week if your skin can tolerate it.

Try a richer moisturizer and an eye cream at night. Read labels and look for antioxidants like vitamin C and green tea extract, which boost sun protection and fight destructive forces like pollution, UV rays and other irritants. Some might want to explore more intense treatments like Botox and superficial lasers.

Your 40s: Fine lines deepen, especially around the eyes and mouth. Dryness becomes more of an issue, and as our hormones start shifting and estrogen decreases, the skin loses more resilience due to collagen and elastin breakdown.

The skin doesn’t rebound as well. For example, weight loss might be rewarded by a smaller jean size, but our facial skin becomes saggy due to loss of volume.

More sunspots and vessels appear. Fight back with continued use of a Retin-A-type product and antioxidants. Consider a lightening cream as well to minimize spots and brighten the complexion. Look for other ingredients such as coenzyme Q10, alpha lipoic acid and copper peptides and give them a try.

There is limited data suggesting increased collagen synthesis can improve texture and resilience of your skin. Chemical peels, Botox and fillers are really popular, as is laser use to work on brown spots, vessels and to give a collagen boost.

Your 50s: Fine lines and wrinkles may deepen into folds as our skin becomes thinner and more fragile due to the effects of the environment and loss of estrogen. Skin struggles to retain moisture, and the natural production of elastin and collagen continues to drop. More sunspots can develop, along with other skin growths that need to be checked.

We lose fat in our face, as well as bone, and this volume depletion may leave us looking gaunt, tired and saggier than we’d like.

In addition to the topical and injectable treatments already discussed, some turn to more intense treatments such as deeper peels, fat transfers and even surgery.

Your 60s and beyond: It’s never too late to take care of yourself and your skin. Many of the options mentioned will help you look as good as you feel.

Get some personal attention from your doctor so that you maximize your health and beauty.

Dr. Susan Mathison founded Catalyst Medical Center in Fargo and created PositivelyBeautiful.com. Email her at shesays@forumcomm.com.