The Best Ways To Get Rid of Fine Lines in Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s

Declare war on fine lines and creases—whether you're 20, 50, or somewhere in between.

You've sworn off sunbathing. You've said no to parties. You've even upped your vegetable consumption, all in the name of making your skin as healthy as possible. While there's no way to stave off fine lines altogether, the following game plans—depending on your age—will help protect and repair your complexion, setting you up for healthy skin year after year.

"Preventing skin aging is the best strategy for keeping your complexion looking its best," said Joshua Zeichner, MD, a dermatologist in New York. 

01 of 09

Your 20s

Lucky you: Not only can you still kill it at CrossFit after a night out with friends, but you're also probably not seeing signs of aging just yet. 

"Wrinkles don't really start to show in your 20s unless you've had a lot of sun exposure or frequented tanning beds," explained Jeanine Downie, MD, a dermatologist in Montclair, N.J. 

If you have fine lines, they'll likely be around your eyes due to too much squinting.

02 of 09

Your Plan for Smooth Skin During Your 20s

Use Sunscreen 

Wear SPF 30 or higher "every day, rain or shine, from January to December," said Dr. Downie. Blocking ultraviolet (UV) rays prevents collagen—the network of tissue deep within the skin that keeps the surface plump and line-free—from breaking down and creating deeper lines.

Dr. Zeichner agreed: "Sunscreen is the number-one treatment to avoid developing lines and aging skin." One study showed that wearing SPF wards off UV damage and improves skin texture.  

Have you got sensitive skin? Look for products with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which are gentler than their chemical counterparts.

Add Glycolic Acid or Salicylic Acid to Your Routine

"These ingredients [glycolic acid or salicylic acid] exfoliate the skin, keeping it smooth," said Dr. Downie. Swipe your skin with a saturated pad after you cleanse and before you put on sunscreen—one to try: Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix.

Wear Your Sunnies

If you shield your eyes from the sun now, you can save yourself from squinting-induced fine lines later. Besides that, you know you look stunning in your sunglasses.

03 of 09

Your 30s

You may start to see fine lines around your eyes during your 30s.  "The skin there is extremely thin, making it more vulnerable to damage from the sun and repetitive expressions," noted Dr. Zeichner.

You might also spot "11s"—that pair of vertical lines between the brows.  "Initially, these go away when your face is at rest, but over time, the lines begin to set in," said Dr. Zeichner. 

People with lighter skin tend to see lines earlier than those with darker complexions, possibly because more melanin in the skin equals more wrinkle protection.

04 of 09

Your Plan for Smooth Skin During Your 30s

Add a Retinoid: 

"This [retinoid] ingredient works by creating cellular turnover to exfoliate the skin and repair DNA, which reverses sun damage and reduces the appearance of wrinkles," said Ava Shamban, MD, a dermatologist in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Over-the-counter (OTC) creams with retinol, like Eve Lom Time Retreat Intensive Night Cream, are gentler than prescription retinoids (like Retin-A), so they're suitable for sensitive skin. To minimize irritation, begin applying every other night (not during the day because the sun diminishes the effectiveness of some formulas), working up to nightly use.

Beware of Pore-cloggers

Mineral and other oils tend to plug up pores. Plugged pores trigger acne and stretch out pore walls, leading to lines and sagging. "Find the cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen that work for your skin, then stick with them," advised Dr. Downie.

Don't Rub Your Eyes

This habit causes discoloration (by increasing melanin production) and may also exacerbate wrinkles. Next time you're tired or itchy, apply an ice pack, according to Dr. Downie.

05 of 09

Your 40s

You're coming into your own now and likely have your career and relationships in place. But this decade might also bring more pronounced wrinkles. 

"If you don't start to treat fine lines around your eyes in your 30s, they will most likely start to stick in your 40s," said Dr. Zeichner.  Also evident are horizontal lines on your forehead and maybe some fine creases on your neck.

06 of 09

Your Plan for Smooth Skin During Your 40s

Don't Skip SPF and Retinoids

Consistently applying SPF and retinoids can keep your 40-something skin looking a decade younger. Are you still using an OTC retinoid? Ask your dermatologist for a stronger Rx version, said Dr. Shamban.

Opt for a Serum With Growth Factors

Not to be confused with growth hormones, growth factors are produced naturally by the skin and help repair free-radical damage and maintain smoothness. 

As we age, our skin makes less of these substances. But research has shown that using a serum with growth factors, like PCA Skin Rejuvenating Serum, nets you fewer wrinkles and creases.

Think Antioxidants

"Add a serum containing vitamin C, vitamin E, ferulic acid, and phloretin to your morning routine," said Dr. Zeichner. 

Applying it before SPF enhances its effectiveness and prevents free-radical damage. "This is especially important," said Dr. Zeichner, "as your skin's natural antioxidant defenses start to decline in your 40s."

Lather on Moisturizer

Look for a cream with ingredients that plump the skin, such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin. You may want to invest in a moisturizer designed for night use and one meant for daytime use.

07 of 09

Your 50s

You may notice that forehead lines become more profound, the 11s and crow's-feet are more prominent, and creases start to form at the corners of the mouth. 

Plus, during menopause, the change in estrogen levels can reduce collagen production, leaving skin dry. With the right moves, though, you can improve your complexion.

08 of 09

Your Plan for Smooth Skin During Your 50s

Find a Dermatologist You Trust

A good dermatologist can ensure you're using the right products. They can also tweak your nightly retinoid dose if needed so you get the best results.

Switch To a Rich Moisturizer

It's crucial to move to a thick emollient moisturizer loaded with hydrating ingredients, said Dr. Shamban. Murad Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture packs hyaluronic acid and shea butter for a smoothing effect.

Hit the Gym

Our weight tends to creep up during menopause. Yo-yo dieting weakens the skin, causing it to sag. Dr. Downie's advice? Work out at least four days a week. Bonus: Exercise brings blood to the skin's surface, giving you an instant glow.

09 of 09

Should You Consider Fillers?

So you've taken lifestyle tips as far as they can go. These fixes are just a needle away if you want more dramatic results.

Botulinum Toxin

Dispensed under Botox, Dysport, Rejuveau, Myobloc, and Xeomin, this neuromodulator turns off the signals that tell your facial muscles to tense and squint (it doesn't paralyze the muscles themselves, despite what you may have heard). 

After about a week, a couple of shots in critical areas (forehead, crow's-feet) will soften wrinkles by preventing you from making the movements that cause them.

Your dermatologist may apply a numbing cream. Some get a tiny bruise or two afterward. It would be best if you had a treatment every three to six months, but over time, your lines may become more shallow even when it wears off—cost: about $300 and up per treatment.

Fillers

Hyaluronic-acid dermal fillers—sold as Juvéderm, Perlane, and Restylane—differ from Botox. While neuromodulators prevent you from making wrinkle-causing expressions, dermal fillers fill in existing wrinkles. They can also add volume to sagging cheeks and plump up undereye hollows.  

Your dermatologist numbs the skin first, then injects filler where needed. If you're unhappy, your dermatologist can dissolve most of those fillers. Over time, the fillers may stimulate collagen production, softening wrinkles. Results are immediate and last one to two years—cost: $800 and up per treated area.

A Quick Review

Fine lines and wrinkles are a natural part of aging. While there's no way to avoid aging or its effects on your skin, you can help protect and repair your complexion using specific products.

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Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Im KH, Baek SA, Choi J, Lee TS. Antioxidant, Anti-Melanogenic and Anti-Wrinkle Effects of Phellinus vaniniiMycobiology. 2019;47(4):494-505. doi:10.1080/12298093.2019.1673595

  4. American Academy of Dermatology. Retinoid or retinol?

  5. Aldag C, Nogueira Teixeira D, Leventhal PS. Skin rejuvenation using cosmetic products containing growth factors, cytokines, and matrikines: a review of the literatureClin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2016;9:411-419. doi:10.2147/CCID.S116158

  6. Thornton MJ. Estrogens and aging skinDermatoendocrinol. 2013;5(2):264-270. doi:10.4161/derm.23872

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