We asked the experts how to get the healthy skin you want after 40

They say life begins at 40, and, as nature would have it, so do significant changes to every skin type. 

‘In our mid to late 40s the skin produces less sebum (oil) and can get drier,’ explains Dr Kristina Semkova, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic. ‘This results in a loss of volume and elasticity with more saggy and wrinkly skin. These changes get more pronounced in women approaching the menopause.’

While ‘anti-ageing’ is no longer something we should have to worry about in our fourth decade or beyond, getting to grips with a skincare routine that suits your skin during this transitional period will allow you to embrace your maturing, healthy skin.

So if you’re asking: ‘How can I get glowing skin in my 40s?’, here's an expert how-to guide to the best skincare for over 40 skin – no matter what your level of experience or skin type – complete with our round-up of top product picks for bags of add-to-cart inspo.


Step 1: The best morning cleanser for 40-year-old skin

‘Start the day with a gentle cleanser,’ advises Dr Semkova. ‘Less sebum means less protection from environmental factors. So as you lose sebum with age, you need to avoid stripping the skin.’

For normal to dry skin

Try: CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin

• Size: 236ml

• Fragrance-free

• Non-comedogenic

This non-aggressive, non-foaming gel formula removes make-up and impurities with three essential ceramides to help support the skin barrier and hyaluronic acid to retain the skin’s natural moisture. Skin feels clean without feeling dry and tight.

For sensitive skin

Try: Elemis Pro-Collagen Rose Cleansing Balm

• Size: 100g

Infused with soothing English rose oleo extract, this unique formula for sensitive faces nourishes as a balm and removes make-up as a cleansing oil before intensively quenching parched skin as a cleansing milk. Simply warm a pea-sized amount between your fingers and palms before massaging across the face, neck and décolleté with a light, circular motion, then remove with a warm, damp cleansing cloth – bliss.

Step 2: The best day serum for 40-year-old skin

Which serum is best for 40-year-old skin? Vitamin C is Dr Semkova’s active of choice for helping improve the appearance of texture and tone, while peptides could be a good choice if skin firmness is your key concern.

Contains peptides

Try: No7 Menopause Skincare Instant Radiance Serum

• Size: 30ml

• Dermatologically-tested

With collagen peptide-based technology, Matrixyl 3000+ (the brand’s patented next generation age-defying complex), this smart serum was co-created with those who know best – over 7,000 menopausal women – to target the accelerated appearance of the signs of ageing. Wrinkles could look reduced and skin appears firmer, younger and more radiant in one week**.

Contains vitamin C

Try: Boots Skin Edit Brightening Serum with Vitamin C

• Size: 28ml

• Suitable for vegans

Fast absorbing and suitable for all skin types, this brightening serum works towards a lit-from-within luminosity. A good night’s sleep in a bottle.

Try: The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Eye Serum

• Size 15ml

A great ingredient to combat tired eyes, caffeine is blended with a variety of peptides and active technologies for a thin formula that helps improve the look of fine lines, puffiness and dark circles, whilst also working to rehydrate the delicate eye area.

Step 3: The best hydrating eye cream for 40-year-old skin

Look for thin textured formulas – nothing too heavy – laden with hydrating goodies or fatigue fighting ingredients to help reduce dryness and the appearance of dark circles. ‘Use the ring finger to apply eye cream, starting from the inner corner of the eye and gently sweeping outwards,’ suggests Dr Semkova. Why? It’s the weakest digit and so will inflict the least pressure and damage on the delicate eye area.

Contains peptides

Try: Liz Earle Superskin Eye Cream

• Size: 15ml

With alfalfa to help improve the appearance of puffiness, green tea to brighten the appearance of dark circles and a signature trio of nourishing plant oils – cranberry, rosehip and British borage seed – this instantly-hydrating eye cream visibly plumps and smoothes the crepiness of the eye area.

Step 4: The best moisturiser for 40-year-old skin

With so many options to choose from, what is the best face cream for a 40 year old? ‘While moisture is key, it’s important to listen to your skin and adapt products and the skincare regime around the changes. This may include incorporating hyaluronic acid as skin becomes drier,’ says Dr Semkova.

‘Also change skincare products to reflect the season – heavier moisturisers are required for winter and opt for lighter products for the summer. Don’t be afraid to top up your moisturiser throughout the day if you have dry skin.’

For winter skin

Try: Eucerin Anti-Age Hyaluron-Filler + Elasticity Day Cream SPF15

• Size: 50ml

• Non-comedogenic

• UVA Protection

Moisturising is important, but this day cream does a bit more than just moisturise. Its added hyaluronic acid keeps skin looking as healthy and hydrated as possible, while other ingredients help boost reserves in the deeper layers.

For summer skin

Try: Olay Luminous Whip SPF30 Light Moisturiser

• Size: 50ml

• UVA/UVB protection

This light-as-air glow moisturiser helps skin retain healthy-looking, well-rested luminosity. Its unique whipped-with-moisture texture allows it to transform from cream to liquid as soon as you apply.

Step 5: The best SPF for 40-year-old skin

‘While using an SPF-enriched moisturiser helps to reduce the number of layers needed, a broad spectrum SPF is essential in preventing wrinkles and skin pigmentations and, of course, skin cancer,’ advises Dr Semkova. When it comes to sun protection, it’s best not to skimp. ‘Always reapply SPF around the eye and wear sunglasses and a hat for added protection,’ she adds. ‘It’s simply the best defence in anti-ageing skincare.’

Try: Ambre Solaire Anti-Dark Spots & Anti-Pollution Super UV Protection Fluid SPF50+

• Size: 40ml

• Non-comedogenic

• Dermatologically tested

• Cruelty-free

Fast-absorbing and non-greasy, this high protection UV shield is perfect for daily use. Its silky textured fluid sinks seamlessly into skin while ingredients like hyaluronic acid leave your complexion feeling soft. 

Try: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Age Correct SPF50+

• Size: 50ml

• Suitable for all skin types

As well as unrivalled sun protection, this clever little number also contains ingredients to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots and improve skin elasticity. Enriched with hyaluronic acid, PHE-resorcinol and LHA, niacinamide and La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water to hydrate and re-plump, target pigmentation and soothe the skin, apply generously to the face, neck and wherever else you want to protect 30 minutes before sun exposure.

Step 6: The best lip balm for 40-year-old skin (optional)

Chapped lips can strike at any time of year, and at any age. Whether it’s cold weather, dry air and wind in the winter or sun damage in the summer, a quick slick of lip balm can help nourish, protect and condition a parched pout.

Try: La-Roche Posay Nutritic Lips

• Size: 4.7ml

• Non-comedogenic

If lips are feeling fragile, this soothing lip treatment can help. Containing nourishing biolipids, it cocoons weather-worn lips to help replenish moisture levels.

Try: Emma Hardie Amazing Lip Balm

• Size: 10g

• Suitable for vegetarians

• Dermatologically tested

Once you try this lip balm (which is not so much a lip balm as a plumping and hydrating lip treatment), you’ll want to put it on every day. Plus its handy mirror makes it ideal for on-the-go top-ups.

The best nighttime skincare routine for your 40s

Step 1: The best night cleanser for 40-year-old skin

‘Start the evening with gentle, but thorough cleansing to remove make-up, dirt and skin debris,’ says Dr Semkova. ‘The choice of cleanser depends on the type of skin, but as skin gets drier and more sensitive at this age in general, oil-based cleansers tend to be gentle and less irritating.’

Try: Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Replenishing Cleansing Oil

• Size: 200ml

This pick gently dissolves impurities and even waterproof mascara with a unique blend of botanical oils rich in omega 3, 6, 9 and vitamin E. It nourishes and protects as it purifies, respecting the skin’s delicate balance, transforming from an oil to an emulsion before being washed away.

Try: Simple Kind To Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil

• Size: 125ml
• No artificial perfume, colour or soap
• Vegan
• Cruelty-free

Enriched with grapeseed oil and vitamins A and E, this hydrating cleansing oil provides a gentle way to lift away end-of-day dirt and grime. Its nourishing formula has been created with delicate skin types in mind and is effective at removing make-up too.

Step 2: The best exfoliator for 40-year-old skin

‘Twice-weekly exfoliation is a great way to remove the dead skin cells that make skin dull as cell turnaround slows with age,’ says Dr Semkova. ‘Removing dead skin cells enables products’ ingredients to work effectively. Always be gentle with skin, don’t rub or scrub aggressively – gentle, circular motions are best.’

Try: Avène Gentle Exfoliating Gel

• Size: 75ml

• Suitable for all skin types

With jojoba wax beads and calming niacinamide, this gel scrub has been formulated to gently eliminate dead skin cells without aggravating or drying sensitive skin. Apply to either wet or dry skin, avoiding the eye contour area and gently massage with fingertips for a treat and treatment in one.

Step 3: The best retinol serum for 40 year old skin

‘The 40s are the ideal age to add a retinoid serum to your skin routine if you haven’t already done so,’ says Dr Semkova. ‘Retinoids improve the complexion and fine wrinkles by stimulating collagen production and reducing pigmentation.’

Go slow and steady to reduce the risk of redness. ‘Retinoids should be used in the evening and introduced very carefully and gradually into the skin routine as there is a risk of skin irritation. Start by using it one to two times a week to let your skin adjust and gradually build it up.

‘Start with a low strength – the lower the percentage the weaker the concentration. I would recommend starting with a concentration of 0.1% and gradually increasing as the skin builds tolerance over time.’

When it comes to actives, focus on one at a time. ‘Don’t overload the skin with lots of acids or actives, as this can be drying to the skin and cause sensitivities – opt for multi-functional products where possible,’ Dr Semkova recommends. ‘Retinoids should not be combined with vitamin C and peptides, but can be mixed with a gentle moisturiser or hydrating ingredients to reduce the risk of redness and skin peeling.’

For beginners

 La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Serum

• Size: 30ml

A unique retinol formulation for sensitive skin, this eye-catching serum helps to firm, fill and smooth dehydrated skin. While retinol gets to work, vitamin B3 helps to keep skin soft, plump and supple by improving moisture retention and glycerin helps support the skin’s precious moisture barrier.

For tolerant skin

 The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane

• Size: 30ml

For those who’ve already built a tolerance, this serum contains 1% pure retinol, an ingredient that can reduce the appearances of fine lines, photo damage and general skin ageing. Apply a small amount to the face in the evening and build usage gradually to avoid irritation and peeling.

Step 4: The best eye cream for 40-year-old skin

A targeted product formulated for the specific needs of the under-eye can be a great way to ward off signs of tiredness. Try upgrading your eye cream for an eye serum at night for a more intensive treatment.

Try: No7 Menopause Skincare Firm & Bright Eye Concentrate

• Size: 15ml

• Dermatologically tested

This pick instantly refreshes tired-looking eyes with nourishing lipids, soy isoflavones, red clover, and moisturising niacinamide, targeting the appearance of dark circles and wrinkles. Plus the metal roller applicator provides an instant cooling sensation and makes applying it the most refreshing part of your day.

Step 5: The best night cream for 40-year-old skin

‘A night cream with ingredients that combat skin ageing, such as hyaluronic acid, should be the last step of your routine,’ explains Dr Semkova. It can be a great way to lock in moisture too, to help you wake up to bouncy, dewy skin. 

Try: Boots Collagen Night Cream

• Size: 50ml

Formulated to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, this skin-softening night cream helps restore luminosity to a lacklustre complexion. Its lightweight texture is a dream to apply too.

Try: Shiseido Benefiane Overnight Wrinkle Resisting Cream

• Size: 50ml

With sodium hyaluronate, a derivative of hyaluronic acid with a smaller molecular size allowing it to penetrate the skin more effectively, this luxurious cream deeply hydrates and visibly plumps lines.

Step 6: The best face mask for 40-year-old skin (optional)

No Sunday night at-home facial is complete without a moisturising face mask to provide targeted nourishment while you rest body and reset mind for the week ahead. Look for hydrators like hyaluronic acid, glycerine and ceramides in your ingredients label to give moisture levels a boost.

Try: Simple Kind to Skin Ultra Calming Sheet Mask

• Size: 1 x 21ml

• Fragrance-free

With natural fibres and organic hemp seed oil, this biodegradable sheet mask provides a hefty dose of hydration in just one 15-minute use that even sensitive skin can tolerate. Plus at under £4, it’s as kind to the bank balance as it is to skin. We’re sold.

**consumer study

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Photography: Getty Images