Life begins at 40, they say, and so do wrinkles. What began as a crinkle in the corner of your eyes transforms, overnight it seems, into crow’s feet and laugh lines that are no longer a laughing matter. Over time, you notice certain spots that won't go away even with decent concealer. And that once firm face now visibly sags, like a structure that has lost its solid foundation. Welcome to middle age.


It would have been ideal if you had started your anti-aging regimen and healthy skin habits sooner, but what is there to do if you suddenly find yourself in wrinkled territory without the option to turn back the clock or go under the knife? There is plenty to do, it appears, to make up for lost time.


1. Cleanse. If you have oily skin, cleanse in the morning and before going to bed; otherwise, just cleanse at night and splash with lukewarm water in the morning. Choose cleansers with hydroxy acid as an active ingredient as this loosens dead cells in the skin's epidermis, along with all the dirt and sebum that accumulated during the day.


2. Promote production of collagen. Collagen is that supporting structure of your skin so it remains plump and flexible. As the body ages, collagen undergoes wear which results to sagging skin. Find products using hyaluronic acid or apply with topical vitamin A (retinoids) every night. (Avoid using retinoid in the morning as it loses potency when exposed to sunlight.) Additionally, hyaluronic acid moisturizes while retinoids speed cell turnover and even out hyperpigmentation. Complement your skin care regimen with a diet loaded in vitamin C, an important vitamin in collagen production.


3. Protect. Use SPF with a strength of at least 30, especially if going out under the sun for more than 10 minutes, or five minutes if it's past 10AM. Hyperpigmentation, which results from accumulated overexposure to sunlight in youth, occurs much later. While you can treat these sun-induced age spots with tyrostat, preventing exposure to harmful UV rays reduces your risk of acquiring skin cancer.


4. Moisturize and hydrate. Do not wait until you're feeling thirsty before drinking water. (Thirst already signals you are dehydrated.) While you need not give up cocktails (since alcohol dehydrates the skin), you need to drown it with water to flush out toxins. Moisturize your skin using creams containing hyaluronic and amino acids, jojoba oil and vitamin E, which are all excellent natural moisturizers. For your moisturizer to get deeper into the skin, exfoliate regularly to slough off dead skin cells.


5. Sleep well. It is during sleep that damaged cells are repaired and growth hormones are most active. Sleep also reduces cortisol which tells the body to be on high alert at all times, thus increasing your stress levels! Get enough shuteye to wake up feeling – and looking! – refreshed.