Many of us in our 40s and beyond have a set skincare routine for our faces. We know about the power of a retinol; we love our hyaluronic acid; we are secure in the knowledge that a good Vitamin C serum is worth its weight in gold. But all of that attention on our faces often comes at a cost: ignoring the rest of the skin on our body. And that's a big mistake, says Dr. Mona Gohara, board-certified dermatologist and associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine.
Here are the four areas that women over 40 tend to overlook when it comes to skincare — and how to treat them.
"Hands are exposed to the world at the same rate as the face, but we don't give them half as much love," says Dr. Gohara. "They're often the first thing that people will come to see me about." She suggests wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on your hands, especially when you're driving.
Dr. Gohara also uses the back of her hands as a mixing palette for the products she puts on her face — in order to get an equal distribution of products, she has her hands "kiss" when it's all over.
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As we age, it's important to remember to show our feet some love, and as Dr. Gohara puts it bluntly: "Heels are a hot mess. They take a beating for those of us who live in temperate climates." She recommends using products with alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and/or urea, and then sealing everything in with Vaseline.
As with anything skin-related, the important thing here is also to be consistent: get into the nightly habit of slathering your heels with creams and ointments and then putting on a pair of cotton socks to make sure everything stays on (and doesn't get on your sheets).
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The pandemic has not been kind to our butts. "Butts have taken a beating recently because of all the athleisure that women in their 40s wear," says Dr. Gohara. "It's great, but often women wear them with thongs or no underwear, and the friction of the athleisure against your butt gives you pimply things."
Dr. Gohara explains that these are not actually pimples — they're folliculitis, which is inflammation of the hair on your butt. "This is really distressing to a lot of people — they don't want to be intimate and they're wondering, why do I have pimples on my butt when I'm in my 40s?" She advises her patients, especially if they often wear leggings, to put on underwear that covers the butt so that there's a barrier between them and their athleisure. Then, she suggests using salicylic acid pads on the affected area — she recommends the First Aid Beauty White Clay Acne Treatment Pads with 2% Salicylic Acid — or a benzoyl peroxide treatment like La Roche Posay's Effaclar Duo Dual Action Acne Treatment, or a benzoyl peroxide cleanser.
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"The face, neck, and chest is considered one cosmetic unit, but the chest is the forgotten child," says Dr. Gohara. "A lot of the things that women in their 40s begin to notice on their chest are wrinkles and sunspots. Perimenopausally, they start to notice acne breakouts too." Plus, she adds, years of sun exposure can leave the skin on your chest feeling textured.
Dr. Gohara recommends a light chemical peel (such as a glycolic peel) to treat the chest, which can be done at home or in a dermatologist or esthetician's office. IPL (intense pulse light) treatments are also effective, she says: "IPL can rejuvenate a chest really nicely." For maintenance, she says to use antioxidants and/or retinol. Bakuchiol or peptides are other options if retinol is too irritating on the chest.
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The New Age is a column about beauty over 40, written by women who are over 40. Revolutionary, when you think about it! Kate Spencer and Doree Shafrir are the hosts of Forever35 Podcast. Doree's memoir, THANKS FOR WAITING: THE JOY & WEIRDNESS OF BEING A LATE BLOOMER, is out now, and Kate's rom-com, IN A NEW YORK MINUTE, will be published in March. Learn more at doree-shafrir.com and katespencerwrites.com.