The Best Skincare Tips For Your 40s

Close-up of Victoria Beckham, 47.
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Health

It's not a secret that skincare requirements change with age and while every decade comes with its own set of challenges, taking care of your skin should always be a priority. The good news is, it's never too late to start a beauty regimen that best suits your needs or to adapt your skincare routine to the specific requirements of aging skin.

"In our teens, it’s all about keeping acne at bay. Our 20s are about prevention: preventing fine lines, sun damage, and still, yes, acne. Our 30s are about recovery… and anti-aging. And our 40s? It’s about maintenance," writes Poosh's Sarah Howard.

Here's what to do to keep your skin looking healthy, glowing, and youthful in your 40s.

1. Slather On The Sunscreen

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According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), while wrinkle creams, eye serums, and other anti-aging skincare products can help minimize the signs of aging, you can't have a truly effective anti-aging skincare plan unless you start with healthy skincare habits.

One such crucial habit is sun prevention. Since UV rays prematurely age skin -- a process known as photoaging -- sunscreen should be a staple of skincare at any age, especially if you're particularly outdoorsy.

Pick a sunscreen that's water-resistant and offers broad-spectrum protection of at least SPF 30 and use it every time you leave the house -- even on cloudy days. Apply it on your face, neck, décolletage, and exposed forearms, and make sure to do it consistently.

"It's never too late to begin wearing daily SPF," board-certified dermatologist Audrey Kunin tells Byrdie. "Even if you have been a lifelong sun seeker, it is never too late to prevent further sun damage."

2. Moisturize Daily

Image of dry, cracked ground.
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Because skin naturally loses moisture and elasticity with age, hydration is key in your 40s. Moisturizing every day becomes a must, especially when trying to keep fine lines and wrinkles in check. Your face is not the only one in need of daily moisturizer -- your lips and body need it too, so choose products that cater to all your skincare demands.

One moisturizing ingredient that dermatologists swear by is sodium hyaluronate, a derivative of hyaluronic acid (HA). Its lower molecular weight compared to HA renders it small enough to penetrate the epidermis or top layer of the skin, and allows it to improve hydration from the underlying skin layers, per Healthline.

This makes sodium hyaluronate perfect for hydrating dry, aging skin, as well as reducing fine lines, wrinkles, and skin inflammation.

3. Say Hello To Antioxidants

Vitamin C skincare products.
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Inflammation and free radical damage are two of the main causes of aging. Antioxidants help fight the latter and can be incorporated both in your diet and skincare regimen. In terms of beauty products, one of the most important antioxidants is vitamin C, which helps prevent dark spots and boosts collagen production before it starts diminishing with age.

"Vitamin C is a terrific skin brightener with firming benefits since it boosts collagen and has antioxidant and UV protection benefits as well," says cosmetic dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo.

The best time to use vitamin C on your skin is in the morning, before applying moisturizer and sunscreen.

4. Incorporate Retinol In Your Skincare Routine

Woman using retinol for skincare.
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Retinol is the go-to ingredient for nighttime skincare. This vitamin A derivative prevents wrinkles and supports collagen, working in tandem with the vitamin C you use in the morning.

"Retinol helps with skin texture and tone, diminishing fine lines, discoloration, and even acne," notes Howard. "It also helps to increase the exfoliation cycle, which is vital to maintaining healthy, happy skin."

Because retinol can cause skin irritation, it's important to dilute it before use. Start by using it once or twice a week and gradually work your way up to nightly use as your skin becomes accustomed to it.

5. Go For Cleanser Instead Of Soap

Woman washing her face with cleanser.
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Ask any skin expert and they will tell you that how you wash your face can affect the way you look. The AAD recommends 40-somethings to swap out soap for a mild cleanser to be used twice a day, morning and night.

"Because skincare during the daytime is all about protecting your face, and skincare at night is all about repairing it, establishing a routine before you go to bed and when you wake up is key," advises Byrdie.

6. Exfoliate Two-Three Times A Week

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Skin naturally rejuvenates itself by shedding dead cells from the top, epidermis layer. However, that process becomes considerably slowed down with age, leading to thickened skin that looks drab and lifeless, and to accentuated pores.

One way to combat this is to exfoliate two or three times a week in order to improve the texture and appearance of maturing skin.

"Incorporating exfoliation, both chemical and physical, can help shut down the problem before it begins and help maintain your youthful glow," says Kunin.

As an added bonus, exfoliating regularly will help your other skincare products, such as the antioxidant vitamin C serum, to penetrate the skin more efficiently.

7. Get Regular Skin Checks

Woman getting a skin check by a dermatologist.
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According to Howard, the best thing you can do for your skin in your 40s is to "have a great dermatologist on speed dial."

"Bi-yearly skin checks are crucial, especially now."

Byrdie supports this advice, adding that head-to-toe checks are a "smart" strategy to ensure your skin is protected against cancer.

"Now is the time to get a baseline skin evaluation from your dermatologist to make sure there are no early signs of precancerous skin changes," Kunin tells the publication. "It is always much easier to catch something in its early stages than suffer the consequences later on."