Beautiful woman in her 40s using different anti-aging skin care routines to maintain youthful appearance

6 Best Skin Care Products for Women Over 40

Remember when you chose face creams based on whether the bottle was pretty or the lotion smelled like your favorite fruit? Ah, to be young again. Everything’s fun and games with your skin care routine…until you start noticing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and dry skin—which depending on your skin type, lifestyle and genetics, usually happens somewhere around age 40. That’s when it’s time to get serious and to make sure you’re using science-based skincare products that have legit anti-aging effects.

This is where things get confusing, however. If you go to a beauty store or department store cosmetics counter, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of eye creams, neck creams, cleansers and other skin care products claiming to strip years off your appearance. Some of them have impressively scientific-sounding ingredients in them, like “amino-peptides,” or claim to have “bio-restorative” properties. ("Micro-sculpting," anyone?)

But there’s no need to overcomplicate things. Really, when it comes down to it, there are six expert-approved anti-aging skin care products that every woman over 40 should be using. (And that includes those of you who still have that fresh-faced glow well into middle age…because being proactive about your skin care routine is the only way to keep things that way!)

What are the top 6 skin care products a 40-year-old should use?

Woman in her 40s putting on skin care product for nighttime routine

Whether you’re 40, 50, 60, 70 or older, you’ve reached the life stage when you have “mature skin,” and that means your skin routine needs to grow up, as well. No more falling asleep with eyeliner on (it’s high time for a strategic nighttime skin routine), exfoliating only once in a blue moon, or forgetting to hydrate.

It’s critical that you become selective about the anti-aging products you choose. Your goal is skin cell renewal, which means your strategy is to replenish naturally occurring nutrients in your complexion. That means the active ingredients in your eye creams, rejuvenating creams, serums and cleansers matter much more than the scent or the consistency (although you certainly want those things to be pleasing, too!)

So, which skin care products are must-haves? Make room in your toiletries case for:

  • Anti-aging serum with hyaluronic acid
  • Collagen peptides cream and/or supplements
  • Retinol serum
  • Day and night creams containing ceramides
  • Skin protection
  • Plenty of water

(OK, the last one isn’t exactly a “skin care product,” but it’s just as important, if not more.) So why are these six items such important elements in skin care for women over 40? Let’s dive in.

1. Hyaluronic acid—to fight the appearance of wrinkles

Mature woman who has used hyaluronic acid for youthful and clear skin

The appearance of wrinkles might be a natural part of growing older, but that doesn’t mean it’s a welcome one! Good news: you can fight the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and other age-related skin changes with hyaluronic acid.

What is hyaluronic acid? This naturally occurring component of skin serves as a humectant, which means it helps the skin retain water. Studies have found that hyaluronic acid-infused skincare products have anti-aging and face rejuvenating effects—ultimately, fighting the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, and supporting the actual structure of the skin, which tends to weaken with age.

What’s the best skin care product with hyaluronic acid? Our pick: You can’t do better than Advanced Hyaluronic Acid Serum, the active ingredients of which are much more intensely concentrated than, say, a moisturizer or night cream, so you can treat your skin to a potent dose of this critical anti-aging nutrient day and night.

2. Collagen peptides—for strong, more elastic skin

Woman using collagen peptides to keep skin strong and resilient

When we age, we may gain wisdom and confidence…but we almost always lose collagen, which is an integral component of the skin (and joints) that makes it strong and resilient. Fortunately, there are several ways to get that collagen back into our skin (and our bodies).

Not just any collagen will do, however. You want to stick with collagen peptides, specifically. That’s because collagen itself is a rather large molecule, making it hard to absorb. Peptides are portions of the collagen protein that can absorb into the skin via a really good face cream, and by the body if taken in supplement form.

Best ways to get collagen peptides:

  • Collagen-boosting cream: A clinical trial of 60 healthy female subjects aged between 40 and 50 found that using a topical collagen peptide for 28 days resulted in a significant increase in skin water content and elasticity, helping provide a more youthful look.

    Our pick: Choose Collagen Peptide Boosting Cream, a peptide trio that’s been shown to support firmness and smoothness, and fight the appearance of wrinkles. Along with the hyaluronic acid serum, you should use this cream day and night.

  • Oral collagen products: A systematic review of 11 studies and 805 participants found that supplementing orally with collagen peptides increased elasticity, hydration and collagen density.

    Our pick(s): You’ve got some options! Would you rather take collagen in tablet form with a glass of water, or do you like the idea of collagen in your coffee…or better yet, cookies that have been baked with collagen? Our non-GMO Hair, Skin & Nails Collagen Plus Formula contains both collagen peptides and keratin to support an overall more healthy, beautiful you, and it’s easy to swallow. If you’d prefer a versatile collagen powder, Collagen Peptides for Skin & Joints has no flavor and mixes easily. (Bonus: if your knees aren’t as springy as they used to be, this formula supports youthful movement and skin.)

3. Retinol—to support your skin’s hyaluronic acid and collagen levels

Mature woman promoting youthful looking skin through retinol and hyaluronic acid combination

So, we’ve established that youthful hyaluronic acid and collagen levels are pretty much synonymous with young-looking skin. Did you know that retinol can increase how much hyaluronic acid your skin expresses (which fights the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines)…and stimulates the natural production of collagen (which promotes smooth, strong skin)? Talk about a win-win!

Plus, studies show that antioxidant-rich retinol also can help stimulate the production of new blood vessels, which in turn targets uneven skin tone and the appearance of dark spots—another common occurrence in aging skin. Win, win, win!

So which retinol product is best? Our pick: Advanced Retinol Serum, which contains three types of vitamin A. Wait, another serum? Don’t worry—you can use it together with the hyaluronic serum.

4. Ceramides—to retain skin moisture

Woman floating in water using ceramides to maintain skin's moisture content

Young looking skin isn’t just unlined and elastic—it’s also well-hydrated. As much as we may hate having oily skin when we’re younger and worried about that greasy T-zone, dry skin seems like a much worse fate when we’re worried about looking older than our years!

So how can you keep your skin youthful and dewy? The best way to lock in moisture into your skin cells is by using another naturally occurring nutrient—ceramides. These fats are found within skin cells, and like collagen, they do decrease with age. Consuming ceramides—which are also found in certain foods—was found in a clinical trial to maintain skin’s moisture content. Supplementing with Skin Restoring Ceramides is a great way to reclaim your own skin’s natural moisture; this formula contains 350 mg of ceramide oil, the exact dosage which was found in several trials to support smooth, moist and supple skin in women.

You’ll also find many beauty anti-aging products that contain ceramides. As is the case with collagen, however, you want to be choosy about which ones you add to your skincare routine. Our picks: wake up every day with Skin Care Collection Day Cream and make Skin Care Collection Night Cream part of your PM wind-down routine. Both these moisturizers are a rich source of ceramides, plant derived from rice bran, shea butter and retinol—which, incidentally, also made our list of skin care for women over 40!

Collagen vs. ceramides

Collagen and ceramides sure sound similar, and they get easily confused. So what’s the difference between these two popular anti-agers? Ceramides offer benefits for skin protection and hydration, while collagen helps your skin maintain its elasticity and youthful look. We recommend including both in your skin care regimen.

5. Skin protection—to fight against UV exposure

Woman wearing a sunhat to protect skin against UV exposure

Our mothers warned us when we were teenagers that all that time laying out covered in baby oil would come back to haunt us when we were their age. Alas, they were not wrong! If you still enjoy spending time outside, we’ll just say this: no matter what skin care products you might buy, you’re not going to make much of a dent in your anti-aging efforts if you don’t retire that beach chair. And not only do you need to find a new hobby other than basking outdoors—you should also be taking active steps to protect against oxidative stress caused by UV exposure.

This means that if you are outside in direct sunlight, wear a wide-brimmed hat (which can look quite glamorous, especially if paired with a gauzy bathing suit cover up) and cover your skin with a broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or higher. Need an incentive to slather up? A randomized clinical trial involving 903 adults found that those who used an SPF daily showed no detectable increase in skin aging after 4.5 years, and showed 24% less skin aging than those who didn’t protect their skin.

6. Water—to hydrate from the inside out

Speaking of moisture, one of the easiest ways to hydrate your skin is to drink water. Getting enough H2O promotes healthier-looking skin by inhibiting dryness. Don’t take our word for it, either—a systematic literature review of six studies found that dietary water intake can help increase skin hydration, particularly the outermost layer.

Water has other benefits that every woman over the age of 40 surely will enjoy—an easier time managing weight (because so many of us confuse hunger with thirst) and healthy digestion. So go ahead and get guzzling!

Which face cream is best for 40-year-old women?

We like an anti-aging cream that includes plant-derived ceramides and retinol at a bare minimum. That being said, even two women who are exactly the same age will have unique needs based on their skin type and skin tone, and women who have areas of sensitive skin may have even more specific needs, as they may need a skin protectant that protects them from free radicals. You can take a skin care quiz to find out your type and to receive custom recommendations. Of course, your derm is the ultimate resource on your skin health and can also point you towards other options.

Is hyaluronic acid or retinol better?

You really are better off using both hyaluronic acid and retinol after age 40. If you had to choose one over the other, consider whether you’re more concerned about dry skin or sagging skin. Hyaluronic acid is great to help moisturize and hydrate skin, which is sometimes all it requires! On the other hand, retinol can help boost collagen production. This can help promote firmer, younger looking skin.

What about cleansers?

It goes without saying: clean skin is the foundation to any skin care routine, before even getting into anti-aging creams and serums. Exfoliating with an amber crystal cleanser to scrub away dead skin cells will smooth your skin and help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Word to the wise: if you have sensitive skin, exfoliating too often is a no-no; stick with a mild foam cleanser or gentle gel-cream for everyday face washing.

What else can I do for younger looking skin?

Woman exercising outside with healthy blood flow that supports her skin's appearance

In addition to using anti-aging products that have expert recommended active ingredients, there are other ways you can support a youthful glow—at any age.

  • Eat beautifying foods. Check out our registered dietitian’s list of the best foods for skin, hair and nails. You'll notice a number of foods rich in vitamin C on her list...that's because this anti-oxidant isn't just an immune health nutrient; it's also a powerful anti-aging vitamin. And while it's true that you can apply it topically via a vitamin C serum, foods rich in vitamin C (or supplements) offer you beauty benefits from the inside out!
  • Don’t smoke. You already know that smoking is terrible for your health…did you know it can make you look years older than you are?
  • Exercise. Regular workouts benefit your heart, your muscles, your stress levels, your efforts to maintain your weight…and all of that sweating and healthy blood flow actually supports your skin’s appearance. (Just be sure to shower as soon as you’ve cooled down to avoid blemishes.)
  • Be consistent. Once you’ve adopted a healthier lifestyle and have established a great anti-aging routine, keep at it, even when you travel! You might not feel like applying serums after an exciting night out exploring a brand new town, but you’ll be glad you put in the time the next morning when you wake up looking bright-eyed and fresh-faced!

References

By: Jorie Mark, Health & Wellness Editor

Jorie Mark earned an English degree from University of Pennsylvania before getting a master's degree in creative writing from American University. She is a content and social media expert with 20 years of experience in social media, editorial content, digital marketing, events, public relations and food and lifestyle writing. She is also a published author.

Scientifically Reviewed By: Michael A. Smith, MD