Beauty essentials for 40-somethings

Our fifth decade is the time when wrinkles begin to make an appearance... and it can leave us feeling disheartened. With so many anti-aging products, it can get overwhelming and difficult to know where to start. To address those early-stage wrinkles, you need a beauty routine that is tailor-made for the specific needs of 40-somethings.

There are some basics that those in their 40s may find they need to start tackling: 1) brightening, 2) early signs of sun damage and hyperpigmentation, 3) first wrinkles. The suggestions below are for a complete regimen, from cleanser to serum, with focus on helping with these Big 3.

Cleansers for 40-Somethings

Of course, you may feel that one of the Big 3 applies most to you. So, if for example, hyperpigmentation and sun damage is the key issue, start the day right with an appropriate cleanser such as Skinfinite Purify Facial Cleanser ($30 in the shop). It is packed with hydroxyl acids as well as yogurt, and I love that there is the antioxidant raspberry. I found this cleanser to be effective and surprisingly gentle – that is, until my husband made off with it.  For wrinkle prevention and cure, try M.A.D Mega Rich Antioxidant Cleansing Gel ($32) with antioxidant tea, cranberry, seaweed and maritime pine. Or there’s Stemulation’s fruit-extract-packed Gentle Gel Cleanser, which is also a great body wash as it comes in a 6oz tube ($35 in the shop). For brightening and clarify the complexion, La Vie Celeste Exfoliating Mother of Pearl Cleanser  ($40 in the shop) with its creamy clay base, and for oilier skins there’s Arcona White Tea Purifying Cleanser ($42).

Toners for 40-Somethings

Toners perform an important balancing act between controlling excess oil, refining pores and providing anti-aging nourishment. The other day a 40-something asked me for a recommendation for a hydrating toner, specifically one with hyaluronic acid. It turns out that hydrating toner is not an oxymoron, and I was delighted to recommend 100% Pure Jasmine Green Tea Tonique ($19), which fits the bill perfectly plus some with its antioxidants. I also like La Vie Celeste Restorative Illuminating Toner ($35). I love that the first ingredient is aloe and that it is closely followed by vitamin B. Plus there is the very useful addition of horse chestnut (helpful for broken veins).

Serums for 40-Somethings

It is in your 40s that serums come into their own. They can be divided into the Big 3 for brightening, sun damage or wrinkles. Many people have heard that what they need is retinol (a vitamin A). I don’t entirely agree with that and think they can be all too easily overdone. However, if you think you are in the market for a retinol, a good place to start would be Arcona Vitamin A Complex Repair ($68). The all-natural formula has brightening arbutin and a couple of very good free-radical scavengers. For brightening and sun damage, I highly recommend La Vie Celeste Éclairage Restorative Serum ($98.50 in the shop). A couple of my other favorite ingredients are here as well: the free radical blockers milk thistle and ferulic acid. Kenneth Mark MD Antioxidant Hydrating Cream with Astaxanthin ($120) is the one of the few serums to feature antioxidant astaxanthin, an excellent ingredient. One study claims it is 6,000 times more effective than vitamin C. Still, vitamin C shouldn’t be sneered at, and a great way to get it would be E’shee’s Vitalizing C Serum ($119). Along with liposome vitamin C this serum gives us copper PCA, antioxidants mulberry and ginkgo biloba. For those that want to give their beauty routine some peptide power, there is Skinfinite Peptide Repair Serum ($69 in the shop), which is packed with many of the cutting-edge antioxidants and growth factors found in more expensive products. If you are intrigued by stem cells, Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Booster Serum ($75) uses fruit stem cells derived from organic apple buds, grape buds and lemon bark as well as vitamin C. Finally, if you are looking to target specific areas of sun damage, it would be well worth trying M.A.D Spot On Targeting Skin Brightening Serum ($42) with B-White, a combination of amino acids derived from a growth factor (TGF-b), and Lumiskin, also known as diacetyl boldine. Extracted from the bark of the Chilean Boldo tree, this is another skin lightening agent.

Day and Night Creams for 40-Somethings

For those who want their day cream to come with an SPF, Prana Reflect Antioxidant Skin Cream SPF 45 ($39 in the shop) has antioxidants and moisturizers, while remaining a simple enough formula to layer over a serum and under foundation. Even problem skin seems to like Your Best Face Boost ($65 in the shop) with its hydrators, blemish controllers and free-radical scavengers. For day and night, there is the flexible La Vie Celeste Day & Night Restorative Face Cream ($65 in the shop) (there is also an Extra Rich version for those with more parched skin). For a good night cream, I would recommend Skin Nutrition Night Cream ($75), which hydrates and fades wrinkles with Skin Nutrition's signature monk's pepper berry and cactus pear. In your 40s is when you might start to notice that your swan-like neck isn’t all it used to be. Stemulation Rescue Repair Hand & Body Treatment ($96) is great for neck and décolleté (as well as hands).

Eye Creams and Serums for 40-Somethings

Stemulation Elevate Eye Cream ($75) lifts lids and reduces bags with its hydrating formula that combines stem cell growth factors with antioxidants and peptides. Amarte Eyeconic Eye Cream, with nano-encapsulated epidermal growth factor, is a good serious eye cream, but those who are already noticing crepey lids and under-eye areas might want to go for the heavier guns of Your Best Face Correct ($150 in the shop). They both have YBF’s signature antioxidants and are deservedly bestsellers.  Cooling, refreshing and a must for puffy eyes is Retrospect Flash Firm Eye Gel ($70) withits roller ball applicator delivering a keratin-based eye gel. Osmotics Eye Surgery Under Eye Rejuvenator ($53) can give a firmness and suppleness to under eyes that will give your entire face a pick-me-up.

Masks/Peels/Pads for 40-Somethings

For a helping hand a couple of times a week, masks and peels are great rejuvenators. Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel ($45) contains hydroxyl acids derived from grape, citrus, sugar cane and apple, plus salicylic acid from willow bark. It's a great dark spot fader and skin brightener and works well for sun-damaged skin, though I personally prefer the sensitive version for my face. Another option for a milder experience is suki renewal bio-resurfacing facial peel ($82.95). Gentle but effective, it uses fruit enzymes to remove dead skin cells, even skin tone and accelerate collagen production. A convenient format is brought to you by Arcona with The Solution Pads ($42), pre-soaked with a 4% glycolic solution. And for those who prefer to soak up antioxidants, there's Sciote Antioxidant Scrub & Masque ($50 in the shop) with blueberry, cranberry, Oregon grape, bayberry, cayenne and seabuckthorn. It also contains 5% glycolic acid and 2% lactic acid to tackle wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.

Other Treatments for 40-Somethings

Another product to consider is Your Best Face Private Reserve ($75 in the shop). Some people are put off by facial oils, fearing that they will be, well, oily. Actually a good oil sinks right in and will not clog the pores. Oil-based serums are much purer than creams and deliver their actives more efficiently. And if lines and gravity are beginning to frustrate you, consider investing in an LED device, such as our new Truth Vitality Lux Renew with LED and Ultrasound ($279 in the shop). It is an investment in time as much as anything else, since it requires regular use. But it will help put time back on your side.

Note: This article was last updated on October 14, 2014

See also:

A Beauty Routine for 60-Somethings

An Uplifting Regimen for 50-Somethings

A Beauty Regimen for 30-Somethings