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Wrinkles & Pimples? How to Combat Skin Changes in Your 30’s and 40’s

It seems so unfair. If you’ve suffered from breakouts since you hit puberty, you may have dreamed of the day when your skin matured enough and your sebum levels stopped going crazy. Once you hit your 30s, no more pimples and you save a ton of money on zit cream and concealer, right?

Or not.

Without warning, you arrive in your 30s and you start to notice a few little lines around your mouth, on your forehead, and beside your eyes well after you’ve stopped laughing, on top of another breakout.

Seriously?!

Fear not, friends.

We should expect to see skin changes as our hormone levels bounce around, and we can always improve to keep up. Today we’re going to talk about dealing with breakouts and wrinkles at the same time, and how best to manage both!

Why is This Happening to You?

As if you don’t have enough going on, now you have to try and hide an embarrassingly huge pimple on your cheek right before you have to present your proposal in front of 15 of your co-workers en route to that promotion you’ve been busting your butt for.

That’s kind of the point though. Just how much do you have on your plate? Our 30’s and 40’s can be quite a stressful time, as we are likely to be balancing a full-blown career, a family (more and more women are having children well into their 30’s), staying healthy, and even starting to think about retirement. We have a lot on our minds!

Stress can cause wrinkles (do you frown when you’re worried, annoyed, concentrating?) and pimples (stress increases our cortisol levels, which in turn can up the oil production in our sebaceous glands, which can translate to blemishes and blocked pores).

Our collagen and elastin start to weaken in our 30’s and 40’s, and new cell production begins to slow down. All of this translates to our skin being less resilient, stretchy, and strong. When we laugh, smile, frown - or show any emotion at all on our face, really - our skin doesn’t just bounce back. Thus, wrinkles.

We also see some hormone changes in our 30’s, which can change the kind of zits we’re getting! Are you noticing your acne is more concentrated around your jawline? Are you getting those painful cyst-like pimples, replacing the persistent whiteheads of your 20’s? Knowing what type of acne you have and where you’re prone to pimples can help you target your treatment as well.

If you can isolate what or when it is that causes the breakouts, you are on your way to getting your control back.

Assess: What’s Going On?

First, let’s take a look at a few things. Are your breakouts hormonal or situational? Can you tie them to your menstrual cycle? Are they affected by diet? Are you aware of how much you touch your face with your hands or other objects? When the last time was that you gave your phone a swipe of cleaner?

Is your skin sensitive? Oily? Combination? Don’t be too tied to what your skin type was in your 20’s - you might need to switch it up. Chances are, your skin will become much drier as you age, so you might need to cut out the oil control/harsh acne products for something gentler and more moisturizing.

There are a lot of websites that have skin type quizzes, or you could talk to a beauty expert or your family doctor for some advice. Before you spend too much money or go too crazy though, you may want to invest some time in a visit to a dermatologist, who can prescribe stronger treatments based on your own unique needs.

It can be tricky to cover all the bases when it comes to products - you need sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection every time you leave the house in order to properly stave off more skin damage, but this can also make you break out, so be mindful of the ingredients in the sunscreen. Consider as well, if you are reapplying your SPF as you should every time you sweat it off, are you properly cleaning your skin in between? Don’t forget you need to keep applying to reap full benefits! You can also look for a non-comedogenic sunscreen option that won’t clog your pores.

If you’re getting in your workout but leaving your hard-earned sweat to dry on your face and body, you can probably expect an outbreak of acne! Throw some gentle cleansing wipes in your gym bag so you can swab off your sweat as soon as your workout is done, making sure the dirt and toxins in the sweat don’t reabsorb into your pores.

What Can I Do About This?

Many wrinkle creams are very rich in substance, which can help your fine lines but may add too much oil to your skin and cause breakouts. On the other hand, the acne fighting, oil reducing products that were our go-to’s in our 20’s may now be just too harsh for our drier skin. Try something gentler and build up as needed.

Experts recommend using products that serve double duty, hitting both of your problems at once! Look for products that contain retinoids, which can fight blemishes and acne as well as treat wrinkles. Retinoids can boost collagen, keep your pores unclogged, exfoliate, and even bring on more regular cell turnover. Look into products with alpha and beta hydroxy acids, or beauty aids with salicylic or glycolic acid that can perform multiple duties, like improving fine lines, brown spots, and breakouts all at once!

Watch how you’re mixing your products though, especially when you’re trying something new. Don’t go overboard with a whole new skincare regime all at once. Introduce new things to your skin slowly. Keep a careful eye on how your skin reacts to any new product. While retinoids offer some amazing effects, they can be harsh on sensitive skin and may dry you out if used too often. Start with a little to make sure it’s not irritating and alternate every other night to reap the benefits but not further annoy your face.

Eat Your Way to Healthier Skin!

Take a look at your diet! Make sure you are limiting the amount of sugar you are eating and bumping up skin-boosting nosh that contains vitamin E, Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamin C. Here are some of the benefits of each, and a few foods rich in each, so you can start searching for recipes!

Vitamin E

Is an antioxidant that we find in food or oil form, and if you believe everything you read, it will solve all of your problems. It’s said to help reduce the appearance of fine lines by increasing our collagen production and might reduce some of the damage caused by things like too much alcohol, smoking, and sun exposure.

Watch out for using this magical stuff topically depending on your skin needs, as it could cause more breakouts if you use too much. If this is the case, turn to your diet to add more vitamin E to your system.

Omega-3

Is important to our skin’s health, can reduce inflammation and make our skin less susceptible to UV rays. A deficiency in Omega-3 can make our skin even drier, so load up!

Protein

Helps to maintain the integrity and strength of our skin, and builds and repairs our tissues.

Vitamin C

Is an antioxidant that strengthens our skin and helps protect against further skin damage. We need it for collagen production and it can improve hydration and moisture levels.

Look for superfoods that contain some or all 4 of these zit and wrinkle-kicking nutrients!
  • Fatty fish like salmon
  • Nuts like almonds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts
  • Avocado
  • Spinach and sweet potato
  • Flaxseed
  • Eggs
  • Cottage cheese and Greek yogurt

Conclusion

Feel a little better? Listen, acne and wrinkles happen to all of us and a lot of it is within our control! Don’t stress yourself out more by worrying about this too much - try a few combinations and get the hang of your new regime. You don’t have to spend a fortune - start small and pay close attention to what’s working.

It’s totally normal to be freaked out when you see all these changes when you look in the mirror in the morning, but it’s really not the end of the world. With the onset of the Botox-and-collagen injected-plastic surgery-perpetually-young-celebrity culture, it’s no wonder we worry about all of this so much. We don’t have to though!

While I’ve never heard anyone say, “man, I love zits!” there are some folks who actually don’t mind having wrinkles, in fact, they’re proud of them! We may not want them as soon as we get them, but depending on where they show up, don’t forget they represent the kind of life you have led. Smile lines early on mean you have laughed a lot, and have been happy!

Instead of having one more thing to fret about, focus on the kind of wrinkles you want to avoid! We’re all going to get them someday… do you want lovely, crinkly eyes from delight and laughter or a deep line between your eyebrows from being angry and frustrated? The choice is yours, friends.

Sarah McCullough

Sarah McCullough

Sarah focuses on stress management, healthy sleep, and how interior design and colour contribute to relaxing environments. By day, Sarah works in Human Resources, eagerly absorbing knowledge about the human psyche and why we behave and interact the way we do. Sarah started her career journey with a single year... Read More

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