Best skin care regimen for 40 year olds

If you’ve been wedded to the same skincare brands for decades, then it’s time to fix up and look sharp.

Just as your sense of style has likely shifted from the nineties to now, so has your complexion, it has completely different need to those of your twenty-something self. Yep, skincare in your 40s requires some fresh new formulas and techniques.

At this stage in your life, it’s time to shift focus towards promoting collagen and elastin: the duo of proteins that keep your complexion plump. Production of both slows from your mid twenties, and now is the time to go hardcore on reigniting them.

When it comes to specifics? Scroll through the below for your morning and evening skin routine that’ll maximise your glow goals.

The best skincare routine for 40 year old skin: AM

The best morning cleanser for 40 year old skin

You don’t want to strip your skin of its natural oils, as they help to keep your complexion soft and plump. So use a gentle, soothing cleanser to remove any debris that may have accumulated over night.

Use a cream or milk formula for a thorough, yet gentle cleanse.

Clean Bee Ultra-Gentle Facial Cleanser FARMACY £27.00

The best radiance boosting serum for skin in your 40s

During your 40s, your skin produces less sebum, exposing you to environmental aggressors, like pollution, so you need to add an anti-oxidant-rich serum to your skincare in your 40s, to help fight free radicals.

Look for serums rich in collagen-boosting peptides, which act as building blocks for new collagen formation and stimulate fibroblast activity.

‘Co-factors such as vitamin C and copper will help the collagen-formation process,’ says Dr Anita, dermatologist and founder of Nuriss clinics. ‘But don’t buy serums with both copper and vitamin C together, as these deactivate each other.’

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum 30ml SkinCeuticals £135.00

The best hydrating serum for skin in your 40s

With the ability to hold 1,000 times its weight in water, hyaluronic acid is one of the most essential building blocks of healthy skin.

‘Your natural hyaluronic acid production is now half of what it was when you were 20,’ says Kirsti Shuba, co-founder of Katherine Daniels Cosmetics. So try adding this serum into your daily routine for an extra shot of hydration.

La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Acid Serum 30ml La Roche-Posay £28.50

The best face cream for skin in your 40s

This is where you can save a bit of cash. As lets be honest, we’ve been stacking up some hefty sums so far. Think of your moisturiser as the sealant for all your lovely serums to be locked in by.

Apply before your SPF to nourish and soften the skin.

Olay Total Effects Day Moisturiser Fragrance Free 7-in-1 Anti-Ageing 50ml olay £14.99

The best SPF for skin in your 40s

One of the biggest agers to our skin is UV rays and an SPF is something you should be using every single day, not just when you’re on holiday. It is the one piece of advice that 50 and 60 year olds will tell you they wish they’d listened to.

HELIOCARE 360 SPF 50 Air Gel 60ml / Mineral Fluid 50ml / Fluid Cream 50ml / Oil-free- Ge 50mll (OIL FREE GEL 50ML) Heliocare £27.90

The best skincare routine for 40 year old skin: PM

The best evening cleanser for skin in your 40s

Like every skincare product, what you use depends on your complexion needs. But generally as you age, your skin becomes more sensitive and dry.

And you may now find that oil cleansers really suit your skin type, as they are so gentle at removing makeup.

However they’re not for everyone, as they can cause pores to clog. Sound all too familiar? Well, if you like the idea of an easier life, it might be worth taking off makeup with an oil first and then removing any residue with a light sweep of micellar (or your morning cleanser).

Caudalie Make-Up Removing Cleansing Oil 150ml Caudalie £18.00

The best exfoliator for skin in your 40s

‘Skin in your forties becomes thinner, so abrasive scrubs should be avoided,’ says Eden Skin Clinic expert, Lorraine Scrivener.

The fact is that if you do manually scrub your face, you may end up thinning your skin further and causing skin sensitivity, which is extremely difficult to reverse.

But regular twice a week exfoliation can stimulate circulation and carry more oxygen and nutrients to the skin, which results in a glow.

So if you want in on this action but don’t want to scrub at your skin, opt for an acid-based exfoliator instead.

Alpha-H Liquid Gold 100ml Alpha-H £33.50

The best anti-ageing serum for skin in your 40s

Dependant on whether you’ve used it or not yet, the skin has to build up a tolerance to retinol, and it’s important not to go in all guns blazing.

So start with a percentage of 0.3 and use it only 1-2 times a week. You can move on to 0.5 and then up to 1% when your skin is ready, but not on the first use.

Why? Thanks to being so potent, rapid-fire use can lead to redness and peeling, so it pays to play it safe.

Intelligent Retinol™ £29.00

The best night cream for skin in your 40s

Choose a night cream that’s packed full of skin-nourishing nutrients that will boost cell repair and delay senescence (the loss of a cell’s ability to divide and grow).

Aurelia Cell Revitalise Night Moisturiser 60ml Aurelia Probiotic Skincare £58.00

The best anti-ageing trick for skin in your 40s

By your 40s, your lymphatic system will be starting to slow. And as the lymphatic system is responsible for getting rid of toxins, you may notice more puffiness around your eyes and cheeks.

So try massaging your skin each night, as the last step before you snooze. Keep an oil by your bed and use either your finger tips to improve the blood circulation in your skin.

Trilogy® 100% Natural Certified Organic Rosehip Oil 20ml Trilogy £19.50

How your skin changes in your 40s

Your skin glows most when your oestrogen levels are high so, around the age of 40, when levels of this hormone start to decrease, expect the luminosity of your complexion to naturally go down a notch or two.

Low oestrogen also leads to a loss of collagen, bone depletion and sagging, which is why fine lines may also appear more firmly etched than they perhaps have done before.

‘We lose 1% of our collagen every year from the age of 20,’ says says Dr Anita. ‘So, by the time we reach our 40s, our supplies are well and truly diminishing.’

Could supplements help? Perhaps. Here are the benefits of taking collagen supplements.

Collagen Inner Beauty Boost The Beauty Chef £29.00

Healthy lifestyle choices, including staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep, eating a balanced diet with plenty of whole foods and low in sugar (and packed with the best foods for skin), and getting regular exercise will all help to improve your skin’s regeneration process.

As, too, will specially designed skincare in your 40s – think products that are brimming with peptides, anti-oxidants, vitamins, AHA’s and hyaluronic acid.

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Lydia House Beauty Contributor All about beauty, Lydia House has been writing about creams and complexions for over a decade.

5 Steps to Glowing, Youthful Skin in Your 40s

Paul Westlake

While prevention of lines and sun spots is still the main goal, you also need to start combating the smattering that have begun to crop up. “What began as cute freckles in your 30s coalesces in your 40s into larger splotches that remain long after summer’s end,” says Jessica Wu, a Los Angeles dermatologist. You may still battle the occasional breakout as well, so look for products that address both flare-ups and the early signs of aging. On the bright side, many dermatologists say that you no longer need to use a cleanser in the morning (assuming that you washed your face before bed). A rinse in the shower or a splash of cool water is enough to refresh. Skipping cleanser in the morning ensures that you won’t strip your skin, as this is the decade when sebum production begins to decline due to perimenopause or, in some cases, full-fledged menopause.

Your Simple Skin-Care Strategy


Antioxidant Serum
In addition to preventing free-radical damage from the UV rays that are not blocked by sunscreen, the antioxidant vitamin C, specifically, has collagen-boosting (read: line-plumping) effects. Try Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester Serum ($105,

Moisturizing Sunscreen
Opt for one with a creamy, hydrating base, which moisturizes and protects, says Fredric Brandt, a dermatologist with practices in New York City and Miami. Wu recommends BB or CC creams to her patients over 40 because they offer moisture, sun protection, and tint. Try BeautyRx Exfoliating Green Tea Complex SPF 20 ($90, or Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($38,

Eye Cream
Not everyone needs an eye cream. For some, the moisturizer you’re using on the rest of your face will suffice. But if you’re noticing a proliferation of crow’s-feet, or if dark circles are a chronic issue, “add a product that targets them head-on,” says Brandt. Anything that contains retinol or glycolic acid should help. Both ingredients boost collagen production, to plump up lines, and fade dark circles caused by hyperpigmentation. Try ROC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream ($22, or Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic & Retinol Eye Cream ($88,


Gentle Cleanser
While you get a pass on morning cleansing (but not sunscreen—never sunscreen!), you do need a product to remove makeup and grime at day’s end. Because your skin is becoming drier, stick to mild, nonacid-based washes. If you want a deeper clean a couple of times a week, use a cleansing brush in conjunction with your sudser. Try Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser ($7, and the Foreo Luna cleansing device ($169,

Exfoliating Product
To help keep sun damage and wrinkles from deepening (or surfacing), using a dead-cell sloughing, collagen-boosting retinoid or glycolic acid product is essential. Try Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night Moisturizer ($18, or a prescription-strength retinoid, such as Renova.

Changing up our skincare routine as we age can be a daunting prospect. With so many products on the anti-ageing market, what do we really need for younger-looking, youthful skin?

Fear not, though, as we’ve drilled down to the anti-ageing necessities your skin craves, particularly as your 40s hit. Simply follow these tips for a radiant, glow-y complexion.

Use gentle cleansers

In your 40s, you don’t want a harsh cleanser that will strip skin of any natural oils, as these are key to plumpness and a youthful glow. So look for soothing but effective cleansers, such as oils and milks over foams and soaps.

Nourishing Oil Cleanser Tata Harper £71.00


Don’t be scared of the e-word – generally, exfoliating should only be avoided if you suffer from particularly sensitive or dry skin. As we age, exfoliating approximately once a week helps to lift dirt and dead skin cells from the skin’s surface, encouraging radiance. Gently exfoliating can also help to stimulate circulation, which diminishes with age.

Byron 2-in-1 Mask + Scrub Dr Roebuck’s £25.00

Use hydrating ingredients

Collagen and elastin are what keep our skin looking plump, healthy and line-free when we’re young, and because the world is a cruel place, this is exactly what our bodies lose as we get older. Luckily, applying hyaluronic acid not only floods skin with vital moisture, but helps keep our collagen and elastin ticking over.

Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream Sunday Riley £20.00

Don’t forget SPF

Exposing skin to UV rays is one of the quickest ways to lose essential collagen levels. After moisturising in the morning, apply a hydrating, antioxidant sunscreen to your face, before applying make-up.

Bea Skincare Solar Defence SPF 30, £13.99


Do a weekly mask

You know how our ability to deal with late nights (read: hangovers) worsens as we get older? It’s the same with our skin. Recovery and cell regeneration slows down, so it’s a good idea to help skin along with weekly rejuvenation.

Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask REN £58.00

Try night serums

Our skin switches to repair mode at night, so it’s worth investing in a hard-working, texture-refining serum. It’ll help your face appear fuller and diminish lines and wrinkles.

Overnight Reset Serum L’Occitane £49.00

Massage eye cream

We all know bright, line-free eyes are key to a youthful face, so look for an eye cream or serum rich in vitamins, peptides and antioxidants to help rebuild cell health. Massage eye products gently into the skin – this helps boots lymphatic drainage to eliminate puffiness, which can worsen as we get older.

Eye Wonder Oskia £76.00 Ali Pantony Ali is a freelance journalist and author of Almost Adults, out in summer 2019.

The Ultimate Skincare Routine For Your 40s

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By the time you reach your 40s, you should know a thing or two about skincare. If you’re a beauty connoisseur, you’ll have discovered retinol in your 20s and serums in your 30s. But now it’s time to up your game in all areas. In your 40s, your skin cell turnover rate has halved since your 20s, meaning wrinkles have started to sink in and your skin is probably a little less radiant.

Hormonal changes are also common, as your levels of estrogen begin to decline, affecting the function of fibroblasts, which produce elastin and collagen, as well as melanocytes that keep the skin firm, smooth, and toned. Consequently, your skin becomes less supple and can begin to sag, and as it produces less oil, it can become drier. This is why having a thorough regime to keep your skin hydrated and fed with as many nutrients as possible is essential.

We spoke to two board-certified dermatologists: Dr. Jessica Wu M.D, L.A-based dermatologist, Founder of Jessica Wu Cosmeceuticals and author of Feed Your Face: Younger, Smoother Skin and a Beautiful Body in 28 Delicious Days, and Dr. Timm Golueke, Founder of the Dr. Golüke clinic in Munich, and patented plant-based skincare brand Royal Fern, to get the ultimate skincare routine for your 40s. Here goes…

The Ultimate Skincare Routine For Your 40s:

Step 1. Cleanse

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The start of any great skincare regime begins with double cleansing – our fave K-Beauty ritual, where you first cleanse with a cleansing oil, followed by a milk, foam, or water-based cleanser. By cleansing twice, you’ll ensure that all of the dirt, bacteria, and oil is removed from your skin. As your skin is now producing a lot less oil, you can actually cleanse twice with hydrating cleansing oils. Alternatively, Dr. Timm Golueke recommends, “A cleansing balm, as it doesn’t strip your skin of its natural oils.” Just make sure you’re super gentle when you’re cleansing – don’t tug at your skin, instead gently massage the oil into a lather, as this will help stimulate collagen while the soft fluid movements upwards and outwards will help boost lymphatic drainage.

Our go-to products: We love the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, $28, which is enriched with vitamin E and olive oil, so it’s super hydrating. Another favorite of ours is the Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil, $46, which also has vitamin E, plus vitamin A to boost radiance and fight free radicals that cause premature aging. We then follow with the Tatcha Deep Exfoliating Cleanser, $38, as it encourages skin cell renewal, which naturally slows down with age.

Step 2. Tone

In your 40s you want to use a toner that’ll hydrate and rebalance your skin, so look for toners infused with rich moisturizing ingredients like natural botanicals and peptides. Peptides are amazing for aging skin as they’re made up of chains of amino acids that can help with cell renewal and tissue repair.

Our go-to products: We love the Pixi Petra Glow Tonic, $29, as it’s infused with soothing, hydrating ingredients like Aloe Vera and ginseng, and it also contains 5% glycolic acid, which helps decongest and tighten pores. The Terry Cellularose Hydra Toner, $65, is also great for mature skin as it’s extremely moisturizing.

Step 3. Exfoliate

Exfoliation is an essential step in all skincare regimes, but it’s especially important for mature skin as it helps increase skin renewal. By using a gentle chemical exfoliator twice a week with AHAs like moisturizing lactic acid, you’ll boost cell turnover and your glow. Gentle exfoliation can also help reduce the appearance of sun spots and age spots, which typically occur due to sun exposure and hormonal changes. Like we said exfoliation = essential!

Our go-to products: We’re currently obsessed with the Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment, $105, (or check out this dupe: The Inkey List’s Lactic Acid Serum, $11) although we also love the ALPHA-H Micro Cleanse Super Scrub, $46, which is infused with soothing ingredients like cucumber and peppermint.

Step 4. Antioxidant serum

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If you haven’t already invested in a serum, now is the time. Serums have a lightweight formula with a smaller molecular structure, which means they can penetrate further and repair and hydrate the skin at a much deeper level. Both Dr. Jessica Wu and Timm Goueleke recommend serums containing antioxidants, “Vitamin C and E, which will brighten and improve skin tone, leaving it with a radiant glow.” A peptide and growth factor-based serum are also ideal for mature skin as peptides are made up of amino acids, which help rebuild the skin’s epidermis and also stimulate collagen.

Our go-to products: The Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, $67, is definitely our product of the moment: it’s packed with radiance-boosting antioxidants, and fruit enzymes that’ll leave your skin glowy AF. We’re also loving the WHB2 Power Duo Face Serum, $145, a two-phase serum that contains probiotics, bioactives, niacinamide, and tripeptides to improve the texture of your skin, rebuilding the skin’s epidermis.

Step 5. Use a brightening agent (daytime)

Dr. Timm Goueleke explains that he often sees “Patients experiencing hyperpigmentation in their 40s,” which is an inconsistency in color, resulting in dark patches and areas of uneven skin tone. To help combat hyperpigmentation, you can use a brightening ingredient, like antioxidant powerhouse vitamin C (check out our guide to treating hyperpigmentation here). We like to use vitamin C in the morning to fight against pollution and protect our skin during the daytime, and then use retinol in the evening.

Our go-to products: Ren Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic, $32, is a really effective treatment for uneven tone as the lactic acid and azelaic acid precursors are typically available only by prescription. Another great product to combat hyperpigmentation is the Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel, $88, which contains salicylic acid and glycolic acid to exfoliate the skin and boost skin cell renewal. Although, as the peel can be quite drying, make sure you follow with a rich moisturizer and face oil to rehydrate your skin.

Step 5. Retinol (nighttime)

“In your 40s, your skin starts to get thinner from a loss of collagen, which leads to fine lines and smile creases. This is why you need to boost your skin’s natural collagen by using a retinoid. Start with an over-the-counter strength if you’re new to retinol, and work up to a prescription strength one, as tolerated. Ask your dermatologist about Renova, a prescription strength retinoid which is also extremely moisturizing,” Dr. Jessica Wu suggests. You should also use retinol on your neck and décolletage as these areas show early signs of aging. You should only use retinol in your nighttime routine, after your toned but before your moisturizer.

Our go-to products: We love The Inkey List’s Retinol, $13, which is a very strong over-the-counter serum that has 1% retinol and 0.5 Granactive Retinoid (read our full review here). The Kate Somerville DermalQuench Liquid Lift Retinol Advanced Resurfacing Treatment, $98, is also amazing – the formula contains both collagen-boosting retinol, as well as natural botanicals to help your skin maintain that glow.

Step 6. Eye cream

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Your eyes are one of the first places to show signs of aging as the skin around the eye is super delicate, so you should be using an eye cream day and night. Look for a formula that has antioxidants as well as retinol, as these will deliver the best results. Hydrolyzed collagen will also help smooth and strengthen the skin around the eye. Dr. Timm Goueleke advises looking for an eye cream that contains “Vitamin C, green tea, and chamomile as these are great for puffiness and reducing dark circles.”

Our go-to products: The Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Eye Cream, $95, features ferulic, which enhances the retinol as well as the properties of other antioxidants and vitamins in the formula. If you don’t fancy splurging, the Roc Retinol Correxion Sensitive Eye Cream, $22.99, is a great dupe!

Step 7. Moisturize

By now you’re probably a moisturizing pro, and you know you need to use it both morning and night. But you also need to make sure that it’s the correct formula, enriched with anti-aging ingredients. Dr. Timm Gouleke says to “Look for niacinamide and hyaluronic acid for brightening and moisturization.”

Our go-to products: The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, $10, features both niacinamide and hyaluronic acid making it a major beauty bargain! We’d also recommend the Kiehl’s Rosa Arctica, $60, which is infused with the rare flower; rosa arctica, also known as the resurrection flower due to its anti-aging abilities.

Step 8. Face oil (nighttime)

In your 40s your skincare regime is all about hydration and locking in as much moisture as possible. Adding a face oil is a must. Oils are lipophilic, which means they have a smaller molecular structure so they can penetrate further into your dermis, allowing your skin to retain hydration at a much deeper level. They’ll also repair and protect the skin’s barrier while nourishing the skin. Plus, as you’re using a lot of anti-aging ingredients like retinol and AHAs, which can be quite drying, an oil will rebalance hydration levels.

Our go-to products: Look for any natural essential oils like plum oil (our new fave oil!), passion fruit or African Marula oils in your local health store. Although the Ren Skincare Rose O12 Moisture Defence Oil, $80, is one of our all-time fave beauty products, we never travel without it!

10. Sleeping mask (nighttime only)

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During the night our skin loses the most moisture, which is why Timm Goueleke recommends “Incorporating a hydrating mask once or twice a week.” More specifically, we’d suggest using a sleeping mask as they create a layer of protection, allowing the active ingredients to penetrate while you get your beauty sleep.

Our go-to products: We love the K-Beauty, Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, $25, it leaves your skin feeling silky smooth (it’s not a sheet mask, more like an intense moisturizer). We also really like the Origins Drink Up Intensive, $26, which contains moisturizing botanicals including apricot kernel oil and mango butter – it smells delicious too!

Treatments you could also consider:

Laser: The Isolaz laser is an effective treatment if you’re still facing hormonal breakouts as it can penetrate and cleanse deep into your pores, improving the texture of your skin. Similarly, if you have hyperpigmentation, dark spots, or uneven tone, you could consider the Fraxel 1927 Laser as it can help reduce sun damage, which can also help lower the risk of skin cancer. The fractional CO2 lasers will also help to rejuvenate the skin while radio frequency devices will help tone and tighten the skin.

A monthly peel: A monthly peel is a great idea as it’ll encourage skin cell renewal to brighten your skin and gradually fade hyperpigmentation from acne.

Botox: If you’ve always wondered about Botox (find out more here), be sure to discuss your options with an expert. Botox can be very discreet and can help prevent existing or future lines from deepening.

Fillers: If your thinking about fillers, be sure to check out New York’s leading dermatologist, Dr. Doris Day’s guide on how to use fillers and injectables for the most natural look here.

Let us know if there are any other skin concerns or issues you’d like us to ask the experts about in the comments below!

Expand your anti-aging armamentarium to include not just retinoids and peptides—though they’re still every bit as crucial—but growth factors and stem cells, too. “Many women who are battling dry skin can’t use retinoids as often as they once could—yet they need the collagen boosting now more than ever,” says Bowe. That’s where these supplemental actives come in: While they repair and replenish skin by different means, “both stem cells and growth factors can promote cell turnover and reduce fine lines and wrinkles,” explains cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson. That said, anti-aging is a team sport—and all of these ingredients work better together. Twice a day, apply a serum with growth factors or stem cells, like this Juice Beauty Serum. At night, use a prescription-strength retinoid—consider the milder and more emollient ReFissa or Renova—as often as skin will tolerate. “Even if you’re sensitive, prescription versions really are a must in this decade, if only two nights a week,” says Miami dermatologist Joely Kaufman, adding, “They’ll also help clear any hormonal acne related to perimenopause that can sneak up in late 40s.” On off nights, reach for a tried-and-true peptide serum to keep collagen cells churning.

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Booster Serum, $75 (

The Skincare Products To Use In Your 40s

Skincare would be so much easier to navigate if once you found your personal “holy grail” products, you could use them forever and keep seeeing results — but sadly, the skin just doesn’t work that way. Thanks to things like seasonal changes (dryness in the winter, clogged pores in the summer), hormonal shifts (from puberty to pregnancy to menopause and beyond), and pollution and sun exposure, your skin’s unique needs are always in flux. Add getting older to the equation, and it’s clear: The ideal skincare products to use in your 40s probably aren’t the same ones you reached for in your 20s.

“For women in their 20s, the focus is often on oil control and preventing hormonal breakouts,” Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, a dermatologist known as Dr. Heather, tells The Zoe Report. These issues (thankfully) tend to clear up as you age; she notes that only 26 percent of women have acne in their 40s as compared to 50 percent of women in their 20s. The oil and acne of your youth are gradually replaced by dry skin, fine lines and wrinkles, and a loss of elasticity, though — so, yeah, your skincare routine deserves an upgrade.

“In the 40s, the skin may have switched over from oily to being dry,” Dr. Heather tells TZR. “Hydrating products are generally better in this age group.” Since studies show that lack of moisture actually contributes to the appearance of lines and wrinkles, now’s the time to stock up on hydrating essentials. Add an oil cleanser like One Love Organics Vitamin B Cleansing Oil to your lineup to cleanse without stripping the skin of its natural oils, and consider incorporating an essence (Vintner’s Daughter is about to launch a game-changing one) as well. Look for serums and moisturizers that boast ingredients like hyaluronic acid or snow mushroom; both have been shown to dramatically affect skin’s hydration levels (in a good way).

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

“Collagen production tends to slow down after the age of 30,” Dr. Joshua Zeichner of Zeichner Dermatology in New York City tells TZR. After that, you lose about one percent of your skin’s natural collagen stores per year — which is a significant amount by the time you hit 40. “The skin has less elasticity, and when stretched it takes longer to ‘snap back,’” Dr. Heather explains. “Fine lines and wrinkles, especially around the eyes, start to become more prominent.” The dermatologists suggest that you counteract these issues in two ways: by using vitamin C to build up collagen, and reaching for retinol to treat fine lines.

“Besides its role as a potent antioxidant, vitamin C is an essential cofactor for the production of healthy collagen,” Dr. Zeichner says. In other words, it’ll stimulate your skin to create more of the good stuff and keep the signs of aging to a minimum.

“Retinol is best to treat fine lines and wrinkles,” Dr. Heather adds. “In the skin, retinol is converted into retinoic acid, which binds receptors to increase cell turnover rate.” This increase in cellular turnover results in “smoother, more even skin,” the dermatologist says. Thanks to the recent rise in over-the-counter retinol formulas, you’ll have no trouble finding a product that works for you — beginners can start with a few drops of MARA Beauty Algae Retinol Oil (packed with plumping oils to mitigate any possible irritation from retinol), while retinol veterans should reach for Sunday Riley’s brand new A+ High-Dose Retinoid Cream.

Michael Buckner/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

“In addition, retinoic acid inhibits matrix metalloproteinases, or MMPs,” Dr. Heather tells TZR. MMPs are the enzymes that break down collagen; thus, by inhibiting MMPs, you can improve fine lines and wrinkles. Manuka honey has been shown to have a similar effect on the collagen-killing enzymes, and L’Oreal’s new Age Perfect Manuka Honey range was specifically designed to support aging skin in this way.

“Freckles, brown spots, and uneven skin tone from the sun become more prominent in the 40s, especially for those who did not practice good sun protection in their younger years,” Dr. Heather says. “Some studies suggest that an uneven skin tone impacts the appearance of aging even more than fine lines and wrinkles, so maintaining an even skin tone as you age is equally important.” To lift any dark spots or patches of hyperpigmentation, the derm is a fan of skin brightening ingredients like licorice (for the natural beauty lovers) and niacinamide. Vitamin C serums and exfoliating acids are helpful in this area, too — and Tatcha’s latest release, Violet-C Brightening Serum 20% Vitamin C + 10% AHAs, has both.

Finally, “The skin on the neck and chest starts to change texture and lose elasticity,” Dr. Heather tells TZR. This is often exacerbated because most people aren’t diligent about applying daily sunscreen to the neck and décolletage. It’s a good idea to incorporate specific neck and chest firming treatments, like Perricone MD Cold Plasma+ Neck & Chest Broad Spectrum SPF 25, into your routine. But the best thing you can do? Start getting serious about daily sun protection — for your face, neck, chest, hands, and any other exposed area — ASAP.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

As you reach your 40s, what you remove from your skincare routine is just as important as what you add to it. To that end, Dr. Heather suggests avoiding products with added fragrance, as “some women are more sensitive to heavily perfumed products with age.” She also recommends skipping out on “overly drying astringent products,” like alcohol-heavy toners, since they may exacerbate textural changes and make the skin look older.

Whew. While all of that may feel overwhelming, it shouldn’t be overlooked that shopping for a brand new skincare routine can be kind of fun. (Who doesn’t love opening a big box from Sephora, right?) Ahead, the 17 derm-approved skincare essentials that every woman in her 40s needs.

Finding the right skincare products and routine can be a minefield, particularly as our skin’s needs change with age.

While of course, your skin type is one of the primary factors to consider when deciding on your skincare, your age should also determine what you choose, says Susan Harmsworth, skincare guru and founder of ESPA.

Here she shares her need-to-know advice for skincare in your forties…

Recovery slows down

Much like hangovers, the skin’s ability to recover worsens with age, which means you might need to help it along with products.

“As we age, cell regeneration starts to slow down, and this is particularly noticeable for women in theirs 40s,” says Susan. “Skin can’t recover as quickly as it once did from environmental and lifestyle stressors such as late nights, long working hours and poor quality sleep.”

To redress this, Susan suggests weekly “boosts” such as face masks and exfoliation to increase rejuvenation.

Exfoliating is good

Many people worry that exfoliation can have a damaging effect on their skin, but as long as you don’t suffer from particularly dry or sensitive skin, doing it a couple of times a week is actually a good thing, particularly in your forties.

“Exfoliating twice a week will help to lift dull, dead skin cells and remove waste from the skin,” explains Susan. “It stimulates circulation, which slows down as we age, and encourages oxygen and nutrients to the surface of the skin for a brighter-looking complexion.”

A radiant, glowing complexion? We’re sold! But which products should you use?

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One of our favourites is the ESPA Refining Skin Polish.

BUY NOW ESPA Refining Skin Polish, £30

Intersperse these with your normal cleansing regime (which should definitely not consist of just a face wipe!) for an extra boost to your skin.

You can also use liquid exfoliants, which you apply with a cotton pad at night before serum and moisturiser. These products contain alpha or beta hydroxyl acids to remove dead skin and counteract dullness. Alpha-H Liquid Gold and L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Laser Renew Night Peeling Lotion are both popular options.

BUY NOW Alpha-H Liquid Gold, £33.50

BUY NOW L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Laser Renew Night Peeling Lotion​, £9.99

Use oils and masks

Your skin goes through a hard time, so indulge it with a face mask every week or so. Obviously, most women in their forties live jam-packed lives, so finding zen time to enjoy a mask can be difficult, but you can pop one on before watching your favourite TV programme for maximum efficiency.

Some of our favourite hydrating face masks – as tried and tested by the Good Housekeeping Institute – include Origins Plantscription Youth Renewing Sheet Mask, Dermalogica Multivitamin Power Recovery Mask and Nuxe Crème Fraiche Mask.

BUY NOW Origins Plantscription Youth Renewing Sheet Mask, £38

BUY NOW Dermalogica Multivitamin Power Recovery Mask, £49.50

BUY NOW Nuxe Crème Fraiche Mask, £19

Susan also sings the praises of facial oils, which are great for make skin feel smooth and glowy – the holy grail for many 40-somethings.

“Introduce a face treatment oil to your skincare regime and take the time to gently massage into your face, pinching along the jawline to release stress and stimulate circulation, giving radiancy in minutes,” she says.

Our favourite oils include Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil, Trilogy Organise Rosehip Oil and ESPA Regenerating Face Treatment Oil.

BUY NOW ESPA Regenerating Face Treatment Oil, £71

BUY NOW Trilogy Organise Rosehip Oil, £19

BUY NOW Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil​, £34

Related Story

The Best Skin Care Regimen for Your 40s

They say it takes about 20 years for environmental damage (think sun and pollution) and lifestyle factors like smoking, stress and even smiling to show on your skin. Enter your 40s. Maybe the expression lines on your forehead and around your eyes no longer relax or freckles are beginning to morph into dark spots. This is the time to build a solid skin care routine with potent anti-agers that boost cell metabolism and stimulate fibroblast to lay down new collagen. Get it right and enjoy great skin for years to come.


At this age, dead cells are slower to slough off naturally and skin is more prone to inflammation. Not-so-fun fact: Studies show that all of the smog in the air causes inflammation in skin cells. The buildup of dead cells, dirt and toxins can contribute to dryness and dullness and even exacerbate existing spots and wrinkles. All the more reason to reach for a thorough cleanser at the end of the day.

Try one with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). AHAs, which include glycolic, citric, malic and lactic, are clinically-proven to loosen the glue-like substances that hold skin cells together, thus shedding the top layer of dull and damaged skin. BHAs not only exfoliate the upper layer of skin, but also penetrate deep through the epidermis to rid the dead skin cells and excess oil built up in the pores. The most common is salicylic acid. Skin 2 Skin has a cleanser that fits the bill: AB/HA Exfoliating Cleanser ($42 in the shop).

For a pore cleansing, exfoliating and antioxidant mask treatment there’s Prep Microdermabrasion ($50 in the shop). Dr. Dennis Gross has a daily peel that is wonderfully effective and need not be used daily (a few times a week will suffice) and you can start with the Ultra Gentle version: Dr. Dennis Gross’ Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel ($88 in the shop).


In the morning, use a sunscreen to prevent further damage and to keep the damage that is already lurking under the skin from surfacing. Dr. Dennis Gross Dark Spot Sun Defense SPF 50 ($42 in the shop) contains a blend of melatonin along with three forms of Vitamin C and one form of Vitamin E, which fight free radical damage and protect the skin from oxidative stress.

If you haven’t yet introduced a serum into your skincare, now is the time to do so. If you are seeing the first sign of wrinkles and sun damage, then go for preventative antioxidants with a serum such as Ao Skincare Peak Strength AM Serum-Shot ($85 in the shop), which has anti-aging copper peptides. If wrinkles are beginning to etch your skin, then pick a serum with repairing actves such as ExPürtise Effective Anti-Aging Face Serum ($120 in the shop). If you need additional hydration, then a great option is LaCrème Beauté Luxurious Organic Rose Facial Cream ($102 in the shop), which gives the skin a dewy glow and is a good primer as well.


I was well into my 40s before I realized that my beauty routine needed to be a twice-a-day thing. A hyper-hydrating night cream makes all the difference. Topping off your evening fixers with a night cream that’s loaded with moisture-binding humectants (glycerin, hyaluronic acid), natural oils, antioxidants and amino acids will aid in the skin’s natural repair process and create a useful barrier for skin. We like Ao Skincare Raw Nurture PM Treatment ($85.95 in the shop), a restorative night treatment that hydrates and heals with natural botanicals like jojoba oil, manuka honey and bakuchiol. If you prefer a serum, try Your Best Face Restore Night Treatment Serum ($130 in the shop).


The changes in your skin may seem a little discouraging at this age. Pay close attention to these targeted treatments, and it will return to smooth and spotless in no time.

Soften expression lines

Expression lines are a sign of a life well lived. However, you may not want them permanently etched on your forehead or between your brows. A new class of highly advanced peptides, known as neuropeptides, work on our neurotransmitters to limit muscle movement and inhibit expression lines in a process known as exocytosis. ClarityRX Get Fit Serum ($105.75 in the shop) is formulated with no less than four neuropeptides, including Argireline, Syn-ake, pentapeptide-18 and SNAP-8. Simply Venom Day Cream ($59 in the shop) and Night Cream ($69 in the shop) use a combination of tripeptide actives to deliver wrinkle-relaxing results.

Lighten dark spots

Dark skin pigmentation is accelerated by actions that increase the activity of melanocytes, such as hormonal imbalance, sun exposure and some medications. Vitamin C is a powerful ingredient you should add to your regimen if you haven’t already. It’s an antioxidant that neutralizes oxidative stress, accelerates the regeneration of cells and inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase, which is responsible for converting tyrosine into melanin. A very pure vit C formula is Transderma C ($175 in the shop), miraculously made without water. Lighten dark spots before they become really stubborn with a targeted treatment such as Your Best Face Brightening Concentrate ($35 in the shop).

Upgrade your eye cream

If you’ve become particularly concerned about your eye area — it is generally the first to show signs of aging — give your eye cream an extra boost with retinol and antioxidants. This combo will keep the area smooth and bright. Try Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic & Retinol Eye Cream ($68 in the shop). For a hydrating eye cream, look at LaCrème Beauté Superior Cucumber Hydrating Eye Cream ($78 in the shop)

Mend broken blood vessels

If you’re starting to notice more redness, you’re not alone: It’s very common at this age. Prolonged exposure to the sun is the primary source of broken blood vessels on the face. Load up on sunscreen (we like Prana Reishi Mushroom Shield for skin that is prone to redness; $42 in the shop).