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The Best Skincare Routine for Your 40s

Once you hit 40, your skincare routine needs a major overhaul. The goal of your skincare routine in your 20s and 30s was probably acne control, evening your skin tone, preventing premature aging, and maintaining your skin health—dryness and wrinkles are your skin's biggest concerns now.

At this stage in your life, it's time to focus on promoting collagen and elastin, the duo of proteins that keep your complexion plump as your skin ages. Production of both slows starting in your 20s, and now is the time to address it. Your new routine requires extra hydration plus hard-hitting skin-renewing skincare products. Keep reading for a sample morning and nighttime routine for your 40s as well as some skincare tips to boost the effectiveness of your daily routine.

How Does Your Skin Change in Your 40s?

In your 40s, the skin concerns you associate with aging—like wrinkles, dryness, fine lines, and sagging—become much more visible. Hormones play a major role in your skin changes—you have brighter skin when estrogen levels are high, so when estrogen levels start to decrease in your 40s, so does your natural glow. Low estrogen production also leads to a loss of collagen, bone depletion, sagging skin, and deeper fine lines and wrinkles.

High levels of collagen keep skin flexible and elastic, but the body loses 1% of its collagen stores every year starting around age 20. This means by the time you reach your 40s, your supplies are diminishing. Skin becomes thinner and less elastic as production of collagen decreases, resulting in a loss of volume and increased appearance of wrinkles.

To top it off, you may experience dry skin, dark circles under the eyes, a rougher skin texture, and the visible results of environmental damage like sunspots from sun damage in your 40s. That's why the skincare ingredients you choose when you're over 40 should focus on boosting hydration levels and repairing damage.

woman with dark hair with a cream on her cheek on a dark grey background
woman with dark hair  on a dark grey background

Over 40 Morning Skincare Routine

Use this skincare routine on a daily basis to keep skin hydrated all day long.

Wash With a Gentle Facial Cleanser

Once you hit 40, it's important to cleanse your face without stripping it of its natural oils. The oil on your skin helps to keep your complexion soft and plump. Start your morning skincare routine with a gentle cleansing cream to remove any debris and dead skin cells that may have accumulated overnight.

Update Your Eye Cream

Once you hit your 40s, you may find your upper eyelids are much more lax, or loose, than they used to be. Consider this your cue to switch to a caffeine eye cream. A targeted eye cream or eye serum can address common skin complaints in this area like crow's feet, puffiness, and dark circles while yielding a youthful glow around the eye.

Apply Vitamin C

If you weren't already using a vitamin C booster in your 30s, your 40s are the time to start. Vitamin C is a skin brightener that also boosts collagen formation, has antioxidant properties, and protects your skin from harmful UV damage. During your 40s, your skin produces less sebum, exposing you to environmental aggressors. Adding this antioxidant-rich serum to your skincare routine over 40 helps fight free radical damage. Plus, cosmetic dermatologists agree that vitamin C serums help prevent dark spots before they occur.

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Lock in Skincare Products With Hydrating Moisturizer

Think of your moisturizer as the sealant for all the active ingredients you've just applied. Not only does moisturizer help keep your skin hydrated, it makes your other skincare products more effective.

Your 40s are the decade to update your moisturizer with ingredients that help replenish your skin's natural lipids while hydrating and preventing water loss. Switch to an anti-aging face cream with plumping peptides to help promote skin barrier repair. You might want to also add in a hyaluronic acid serum to further lock in moisture, while also fighting skin issues associated with aging.

Finish With a Layer of Mineral-Based Sunscreen

One of the biggest culprits of photo-aging is exposure to the sun. The ultraviolet rays from the sun penetrate deep into the skin; from there, they damage the elastic fibers keeping your skin firm, allowing wrinkles to develop. Sunlight is also responsible for age spots or dark spots on the skin. A sunscreen with a broad-spectrum SPF 25 or higher is something you should end your morning skincare routine with every single day to reduce signs of aging.

Over 40 Nighttime Skincare Routine

The purpose of your nighttime skincare routine is to wash away pollutants and impurities, cleanse the pores of clogging elements like makeup and dirt, and lock in moisture for the night ahead.

Refresh Your Skin With A Gentle Cleanser

Like every skincare product, what you use to wash your face depends on your skin type. As you age, you may experience more dry or sensitive skin, so washing with a gentle face cleanser is important to protect your skin from irritation or additional dryness.

If you're dealing with hormonal acne over 40, avoid oil cleansers—instead, try removing makeup with a makeup remover first and then cleansing off any residue with a light wipe of micellar cleansing water or your morning cleanser.

Remove Dead Skin With a Chemical Exfoliant

Exfoliating regularly helps boost skin brightness by removing dull, dead skin cells that accumulate over time. Exfoliating also helps make serums, oils, and moisturizers more effective by making it easier for them to penetrate the outermost layer of skin. Physical exfoliants may be too abrasive in your 40s, since these can make skin thinner and dry. Instead, use a chemical exfoliant like a glycolic mask two to three times a week.

Layer Retinol To Boost Collagen Production

Just as vitamin C should have a place in your morning routine, a retinol serum should have a place at night. Retinol products are derived from vitamin A, and they work to fight wrinkles and boost collagen production. Incorporate a natural retinol serum into your nighttime skincare routine to promote cell turnover and fight the prominent signs of aging like fine lines, deep wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.

Seal in P.M. Skincare With a Night Cream or Mask

Hydrate your thirsty skin by sealing in your nighttime skincare products with a night cream that's packed full of skin-nourishing nutrients to boost cell repair. Top off your routine with an overnight face mask to help eliminate any toxins accumulated during the day and reveal a radiant complexion in the morning.

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Top Skincare Tips for People Over 40

These skincare and lifestyle tips will keep your skin glowing throughout your 40s.

Keep Your Skin Hydrated

As we age, our skin starts losing moisture rapidly, which means your 40s are the time to toss any dehydrating skincare products in the trash. Products like oil-control formulas only dehydrate mature skin further. Make hydration your number one priority in your 40s for healthy skin.

Be Strategic With Your Serums

Serums are a great addition to your skincare product lineup after age 40. But because they're so concentrated, it's important to use the right ingredient at the right time to maximize effectiveness. Use vitamin c in the morning and retinol in the evening to maintain hydration and brightness.

Embrace Facial Oils

Facial oils work to soften fine lines, reduce irritation, boost hydration; additionally, they make whatever skincare product you layer over them even more effective. Pat a few drops onto dry areas of the skin after a serum. If you're not dealing with adult acne or hormonal breakouts, however, skip this tip.

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Supplement Your Diet With Skin-Boosting Superfoods

Healthy lifestyle choices, including drinking lots of water, getting enough sleep, eating whole foods, and getting regular exercise will all help to improve your skin's regeneration process, which makes your skin glowing and bright. Incorporate these superfoods into your diet to get healthy skin from the inside out.

  • Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants. They contain nutrients such as fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K as well as electrolytes and other vitamins and minerals.
  • Almonds are an excellent source of protein, and studies suggest they can help lower cholesterol levels, which is important if you're over 40.
  • Garlic is loaded with nutrients and has heart benefits that make it a great add-on to dishes, especially if you're over 40.
  • Eggs are a complete protein, which means they contain all nine essential amino acids the body needs.
  • Avocados are a great source of protein and contain good fats that keep your body running smoothly.
  • Watermelon not only contains plenty of water, it's also packed with nutrients like vitamins A, B6, and C as well as plenty of antioxidants.
  • Spinach is loaded with nutrients. It contains few calories but plenty of vitamins and minerals.
  • Olive oil contains good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) that help keep your heart healthy.

Give Yourself Facial Massages

Your lymphatic system, which is responsible for ridding your body of toxins, slows down as you age. As a result, you may notice more puffiness around your eyes and cheeks in your 40s. Massaging your facial skin every night can help improve lymphatic drainage and naturally reduce puffiness.

Do What You Can To Reduce Stress

Research confirms there's a significant correlation between stress and skin health. Stress can:

  • Trigger inflammation
  • Dry out your skin
  • Cause existing skin conditions to worsen or flare-up
  • Increase your skin's oil production, leading to acne breakouts

Prioritize lifestyle habits that help you to naturally reduce stress, like exercise, a healthy diet, adequate sleep, or meditation, to improve your skin health.

Get Your Skin Checked Regularly By a Dermatologist

If you're not already seeing a dermatologist, it's time to make an appointment. Once you hit your 40s, it's important to get a full-body exam by a board-certified dermatologist once a year or more frequently if melanoma runs in your family. Your 40s are the time to get a baseline skin evaluation from your dermatologist to make sure there are no early signs of skin cancer.

Get Help With Adult Acne

The acne in your 40s is different from the acne you had in your 20s. Once you hit your 40s, hormonal changes can lead to excess sebum production, causing breakouts. Adult or hormonal acne needs proper medical treatment by a dermatologist. If you're dealing with whiteheads and dead skin, regular exfoliation can help, but intense daily scrubbing will only make the problem worse. Perform gentle exfoliation no more than twice a week to remove pore-clogging dead cells.

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Maintaining a healthy, radiant complexion after 40 is the result of a regular fitness routine, a balanced diet, and an appropriate skincare routine. While it's tempting to layer on anti-aging creams, the best way to get glowing skin in your 40s is to be intentional about your skin health.

The visible signs of aging become much more prominent in your 40s. But with a few tips and an overhaul of your skincare routine, you can have a glowing complexion in your 40s.


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