With new skincare products launching every single day it can be confusing to figure out what we actually need...and what actually works. It’s safe to assume the 20 plus serums, masks and moisturizers overwhelming the bathroom cabinet aren’t actually getting rid of wrinkles or effectively treating dark spots. So, we turned to the pros to help us narrow it down to the absolute necessities. Here, three skincare experts share the six skincare products you should own by the time you’re 40.
6 Skincare Products You Should Own by the Time You’re 40
1. a Gentle Cleanser
According to Dr. Sara Perkins, M.D., a dermatologist with Hims and Hers, a gentle cleanser is as essential to your skincare routine as sunscreen is (which we’ll get to in a minute). She recommends starting to use one in your 20s, so by 40 it’s a definite must-have. We’re partial to Fresh’s Soy Face Cleanser because its pH-balanced formula cleans away dirt and makeup without stripping our skin’s moisture. Oh, and it’s gentle enough to remove mascara without irritating your eyes.
This rec should not come as a surprise; you don’t have to be a derm to know that everyone should be applying a daily sunscreen. But Dr. Rachel Nazarian, M.D., of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City gets a little bit more specific. She notes that you should be using a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen, and you should be applying it year round. That goes for days where you don’t leave the house, too. Try Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40. It’s broad-spectrum (meaning it blocks both UVA and UVB rays) and blends seamlessly into the skin.
3. a Good Moisturizer
“As we age, the skin becomes drier and thinner, making a hydrating moisturizer critical,” explains Dr. Perkins. Look for a formula that contains fatty acids, hyaluronic acid or ceramides. These ingredients support a healthy, well-hydrated skin barrier, explains Dr. Nazarian. This option from La Roche-Posay is a great because it contains ceramide-3, an essential molecule found naturally in the skin that helps it retain moisture, as well as other super hydrating ingredients like prebiotic thermal water and glycerin.
4. an Antioxidant Serum
The sooner you start using an antioxidant serum, the better. “Antioxidants act as invisible shields on our skin and work to neutralize free radical damage from pollution and light sources that can cause premature aging,” says Dr. Nazarian. Both Dr. Nazarian and Dr. Perkins recommend SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic. In addition to its protective benefits, this serum improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while brightening your complexion. No wonder it’s racked up almost 2,000 five-star reviews on Dermstore. “It’s pricey, but worth it,” assures Dr. Perkins.
5. A Retinol Cream
Retinol has been clinically proven to visibly reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Just keep in mind that it takes time and consistent use in order for the results to be noticeable. If you tend to have sensitive or dry skin, be mindful about slowly incorporating retinol into your routine, to help avoid irritation. Our recommendation? Opt for a night moisturizing cream (yes, moisturizing!) like Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Face Moisturizer. Made with a proprietary formula of vitamin B3+ and Retinoid complex, it delivers visible improvements in fine lines, smoothness, brightness, firmness, dark spots and pores. Plus it hydrates for 24 hours thanks to powerful formula containing vitamin B3+ (aka niacinamide).
6. an Eye Cream
Skeptical about the efficacy of eye creams? Us too. But according to all three experts, it’s worth the investment. Since the skin around your eyes is so thin and delicate, it’s often the first part of the face to show signs of aging, notes Dr. Perkins. Eye creams are designed to fight wrinkles, improve elasticity and moisturize. We like Shiseido’s Benefiance Wrinkle Smoothing Eye Cream because it specifically targets six different types of wrinkles. Expert tip? Pat the cream on gently, never tug or rub or you’ll risk creating more fine lines, says Guidi.
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PureWow's editors and writers have spent more than a decade shopping online, digging through sales and putting our home goods, beauty finds, wellness picks and more through the wringer—all to help you determine which are actually worth your hard-earned cash. From our PureWow100 series (where we rank items on a 100-point scale) to our painstakingly curated lists of fashion, beauty, cooking, home and family picks, you can trust that our recommendations have been thoroughly vetted for function, aesthetics and innovation. Whether you're looking for travel-size hair dryers you can take on-the-go or women’s walking shoes that won’t hurt your feet, we’ve got you covered.