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Best Skin Care Routine for Women in Their 40s

Danielle Dent-Breen's picture
Skin care routing for women

If you are one of the lucky ones, you may not yet be seeing much change in your skin. But, if you are like the majority of women in their 40s, you may be noticing that your skin could use a little extra TLC. Too much sun damage and too many years neglecting to take care of your skin may finally be starting to show up in very real and distressing ways.


Perhaps you are noticing those crow’s feet and laugh lines don’t go away when you stop smiling. Maybe you are seeing the appearance of dark spots from sun damage that can no longer be passed off as youthful freckles. It’s likely that the hormonal changes related to dropping estrogen levels of peri-menopause are causing increased dryness, or worse, the resurgence of your teenage nightmare—acne. Never fear, with proper care and consistent attention to your skin, you can halt those signs of aging, and turn back the clock for your skin. Here is some advice for attaining the best skin care routine for women in their 40s.

Cut back on the makeup.
Many women, as they see their skin beginning to show signs of aging, are tempted to ramp up their makeup routine, trying to regain that youthful glow. They may be especially likely to use too much makeup and concealer around the eyes, which can actually settle in to fine lines, and accentuate their appearance. Women in their 40s benefit from the natural dewy appearance provided by tinted moisturizer or BB cream. You can still rock that smoky eye, but consider using matte finish eye shadows instead of sparkle for a softer, more youthful look.

Slather on the Sunscreen.
The research is strong on this one. Sun exposure damages your skin. Be sure that your foundation and moisturizers contain an SPF factor of at least 30, and that you apply these daily. The damage effects from the sun are cumulative, so even if you are running around all day shuttling kids to school, running errands, and walking your dog, you are probably spending a lot more time in the sun than you realize. Good sunscreen will help protect your skin from sun damage, as will wearing a hat and UV blocking sunglasses.

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Cleanse, Exfoliate, Moisturize. Every Day.
Women in their 40s should adopt this behavior immediately. When you were in your 20s, you could probably get away with neglecting your skin, and even sleeping in your makeup from time-to-time. But as our skin ages, it is more important than ever to keep it clean, hydrated, and glowing. Skin should be cleansed twice daily with a good, creamy, moisturizing face wash. Consider using a spin brush at least a couple of times a week to remove excess dead skin cells which accumulate more easily on aging skin, and add to a dull, lifeless complexion. Removing dead skin cells will also allow your moisturizing treatments to work better. Skin should be moisturized each night, and in the morning before applying makeup for a youthful glow. Even skin that tends to be oily should be moisturized with a quality oil-free moisturizer, as this helps to plump up fine lines and retain skin’s elasticity.

Boost Collagen.
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the body. It's found in muscles, bones, skin, blood vessels, digestive system and tendons. Collagen forms a scaffold to provide strength and structure, and is what helps give our skin strength and elasticity. Production slows as we age, causing change in our bodies, including our skin. There are a few ways to boost collagen production in our skin. Topical vitamin A has been shown to increase collagen production. The over-the-counter name you will find familiar is Retinol. Regular use of retinol containing products will help to stimulate your skin’s own ability to produce collagen. If you desire a stronger approach, there are prescription—strength vitamin A preparations available from your dermatologist. Your nutritional status plays a huge part in collagen production, as well. Keep your skin hydrated by drinking plenty of water and plant-based foods. Sulphur-rich foods such as beans, cabbage, and garlic are especially helpful in augmenting collagen production. Vitamin C rich foods have also shown promising results. You may also wish to consider anti-aging supplements. If you haven't already, stop smoking. Collagen is killed off by smoking, as cigarette smoke eats away at the skin’s proteins, restricting blood flow.

Consider Professional Help.
For the biggest boost to your skin care routine, consider consulting the professionals. Your dermatologist or aesthetician can provide you with the latest in cutting edge treatments to reduce the signs of aging and help you to get a head start on your healthier skin care routine. All the rage in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, today’s facial skin peels are safer, more comfortable, and much more effective than their predecessors. A trained professional can assess your skin’s specific needs, and can prescribe an exact skin care routine customized just for you. A facial peel helps to stimulate collagen renewal, smooths away fine lines, reduces scars from acne and sun damage, and improves overall condition and texture of the skin.

There are chemical peels that are safe to use on every skin color without risk of hyperpigmentation (usually a worry with darker complexions). Peels can make your skin—and skin-care products—work better. In minutes, acids lift away dead cells and trigger a lovely chain reaction, causing the skin cells underneath to boost collagen production, to increase hyaluronic acid, and to appear younger. The deep sloughing of dead cells also offers one very immediate benefit: smoother skin that's both more radiant and more receptive. Skin-care products perform better after a peel because there are no dead cells impeding their penetration.

Bottom Line:
For women in their 40s, quality skin care is essential for maintaining a youthful, healthy appearance. This is the decade when it is vital to take excellent care of our skin, and even possibly pick up a few new healthy habits that will ensure we can scoot right into the next decade with beauty and grace. After all, my friends keep reassuring me that 40 is the new 20. I think they’re right.



I love it all Danielle except maybe 1 point about the sunscreen. I like sunshine.
I agree, sunshine is pretty great... It's the UV rays we need worry about. Long term damage from sun exposure is definitely a real risk, not only to the appearance of our skin, but also increased risk to face developing skin cancer.
Thanks for calling out the importance of sunscreen and that the effects of sun damage a cumulative. You can still have fun out in the sun by just coupling that with good sun protection habits. In terms of choosing the right sunscreen or SPF product - make sure to also choose a product that provides broad spectrum protection. A broad spectrum product will protect against both UVB and UVA rays. SPF is only a measure of protection against UVB rays. In general UVB rays cause sunburn and skin cancer while UVA rays cause skin aging and skin cancer.
@Block Island, Thank you so much for clarifying which type of sunscreen is preferred! I have heard that term "broad spectrum" before, but I never really knew what that meant, or the difference between UVA and UVB rays. I am thankful that they seem to have come a long way towards making sunscreen more tolerable. The days of the goopy, gloppy, sticky tubes of my traumatized childhood are thankfully long gone. I love that sunscreen is now available in a dry-touch formula, so once it's applied, it doesn't make me feel hot and sweaty, and I can really just pretty much forget it's even there! My kids know, if we're going to be out in the sun, they are wearing sunscreen...no questions asked. We are very fair skinned in our household, with German and Irish roots, so I usually buy at least SPF 70 for my family but I read today that sunscreens that say they are higher SPF than about 30 are probably not any more effective than their lower SPF counterparts. Do you know much about this?
Hi Danielle - you're welcome. It's great you're starting good sunscreen/sun protection habits for your kids! In terms of your question regarding SPF levels, here's some more information. An SPF 15 blocks 93.3% of UVB rays and an SPF 30 blocks 96.7%. Once you hit SPF 40 it blocks out 97.5% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks 98%. So you do get diminishing returns for your dollar as you go up in SPF. Plus, no sunscreen can block 100% of the sun's UV rays. In fact the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) says "there is not sufficient data to show that products with SPF values higher than 50 provide greater protection for users than products with SPF values of 50." The FDA actually regulates sunscreens because they categorize all SPF products as an over-the-counter drug. Further, according to the American Academy of Dermatology "it is also important to remember that high-number SPFs last the same amount of time as low-number SPFs. A high-number SPF does not allow you to spend additional time outdoors without reapplication. All sunscreens should be applied approximately every two hours or according to time on the label, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating." Hope that helps answer your question.
Hey, thank you so much for the reply, Block Island! I found it very helpful and informative, and realized that I have been believing some false information when it comes to sunscreen and SPF protection. I really thought that the higher SPF meant you could spend more time outdoors. I guess I need to learn to be more diligent about reapplying it when we've been outdoors for an extended period of time, to be safest. Thank you for clearing that up for me!