Aging is a gift—but it’s not always easy on our skin. According to one 2018 clinical study, our skin begins to change as we age, including thinning, loss of elasticity, roughness, wrinkling, increased dryness, and impairment of the skin barrier.
“Most people over 40 tend to be concerned about treating signs of aging,” says board-certified dermatologist, Geeta Yadav, MD. “Common signs of aging include fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation or dark spots caused by sun damage, and skin laxity, also known as sagging,” she says, adding that enlarged pores are also a frequent concern.
Another focus for 40+ year-olds? The neck. “Everyone forgets about the neck—then boom, it's a problem,” says board-certified dermatologist Julie E. Russak, MD.
From cult-favorite exfoliating treatments and cleansing balms to night-time facial oils and eye creams, these are the best of the best anti-aging skincare products for people over 40.
Below, find your new favorite offerings.
NuFACE Trinity Facial Toning Device
Offers visible results
Easy to use
This handheld facial toning device is incredible—just ask Jennifer Aniston. It helps improve your facial contour and skin tone, and may actually reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Simply hold the microcurrent orbs to the skin and softly push upward around the neck, jaw, forehead, and cheekbones. The brand’s newest iteration, the Trinity+, has a boost button that superpowers the device, providing an additional 25 percent microcurrent for especially stubborn areas. According to the brand, real results are visible in just four weeks.
Price at time of publish: $339
Best for: Lifting muscles for a toned, contoured look | Frequency of Use: Daily
Hanacure The All-In-One Facial Starter Kit
Fun to use
Hanacure's multi-action treatment mask is virtually legendary. “The philosophy is inspired by the lotus flower, which, according to the brand (and drawn from South Korean culture), freshly blooms each and every morning,” writes our assistant editor. “The premise for the mask: Your skin will mirror the lotus flower in that it will be 'reborn' which each use.” Her mother, who's in her 70s, couldn't stop inspecting and praising the results. Her skin felt insanely smooth and soft, and her newfound glow was virtually glasslike in appearance.
Price at time of publish: $29
Best for: Lifting, firming | Frequency of Use: Weekly or every other week | Size: 0.23 fluid ounces | Active Ingredients: Lotus leaf and green tea extracts | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Eye Mask
111SKIN Sub Zero De-Puffing Eye Mask
Significantly depuffs the under-eye area
Offers a soothing, cooling effect
Dr. Russak suggests using firming eye gels, like this de-puffing option from UK brand 111Skin, to help awaken eyes in the morning. “I like to use them first thing when I wake up and I’m having my morning coffee,” she adds.
You might recognize these periwinkle blue hydrogel eye masks from its celebrity clientele fanbase. The under-eye masks aren’t just Instagram-famous for their looks though—they’re known to address puffiness, dryness, and discoloration, too. Apply them before any big event (or just when you want to look well-rested) and let them sit for 20 minutes, then remove, and go about your makeup routine. You can even keep them in the fridge for an added cryo-like boost.
Price at time of publish: $16
Best for: Swollen, dry under eyes | Frequency of Use: As needed | Size: .2 fluid ounces | Active Ingredients: Vitamin E, seaweed extracts, and peptide complex | Cruelty-Free: Yes
SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2
Rich, emollient cream
Addresses skin laxity
Clinically shown to improve skin smoothness
This rich cream is top of the list for Dr. Yadav. “It helps replenish the skin barrier with ceramides and other lipids to promote more nourished skin that can better retain moisture on its own,” she says. The patented moisturizer gets its 2:4:2 name from the ratio of 2 percent ceramide/4 percent natural cholesterol/and 2 percent fatty acids. Together, the unique trio helps to restore the skin’s barrier, while also visibly addressing the appearance of skin smoothness, laxity, and overall radiance. And unlike many similar rich creams, this formula feels lightweight and absorbs quickly. Unsurprisingly, it’s one of Dr. Russak’s favorites, too.
Price at time of publish: $136
Best for: Addressing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles | Frequency of Use: Twice a day | Size: 1.6 fluid ounces | Active Ingredients: Vitamin E, ceramides, and lipids | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Drugstore Face Cream
Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream
Accessible price point
Olay’s famous red jar is always a foolproof option. And this updated, fragrance-free version includes niacinamide (aka vitamin B3), hyaluronic acid, and antioxidants for an even stronger and more focused approach. Niacinamide is especially beneficial: vitamin B3 has been proven in clinical studies to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, reduce hyperpigmentation, and improve skin elasticity. Plus, this thick cream is known for its ability to absorb deeply into the skin’s surface, providing longer-lasting hydration than other creams twice its price tag.
Price at time of publish: $27
Best for: Deep hydration and addressing the appearance of fine lines | Frequency of Use: Twice a day | Size: 1.7 fluid ounces | Active Ingredients: Peptides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Overall Retinol
SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream
Scientifically proven benefits
High concentration of retinol to provide maximum results
Potentially irritating for sensitive skin
Retinol is one of only a handful of products Dr. Russak recommends to her 40+-year-old patients—particularly for addressing early signs of aging. “Retinol is FDA-approved for fine lines and wrinkles and helps with cell turnover,” she says. SkinCeuticals’ 1.0 percent version is one of the most potent formulas you can purchase without a prescription. Retinol has a long and impressive list of proven benefits, but it can (famously) be difficult to adapt into your regime at first. Good thing SkinCeuticals added a blend of soothing extracts, including chamomile and frankincense, to help ease any potential flare-ups.
Price at time of publish: $92
Best for: Moderate to experienced retinol users | Frequency of Use: 4 to 5 drops to clean, dry skin once a week, gradually increasing frequency to every other night, then every night as tolerated | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Active Ingredients: 1.0 percent retinol and chamomile | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Sensitive-Skin Retinol
SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream
Non-irritating for sensitive skin
In a four-week clinical trial, patients’ skin appeared smoother and more hydrated with fewer fine lines
“Retinoids are the only ingredient that are clinically proven to fight signs of aging,” says Dr. Yadav. Yet, she also notes that the most beneficial retinol you can use is prescription strength, under the guidance of your dermatologist. That said, prescription strength isn’t for everyone, and this SkinBetter option is a great first step for those with sensitive skin. Their innovative formula combines retinoids with AHAs for a treatment that’s designed to provide visible results but with less irritation. Beyond the AHAs and retinoids, the AlphaRet Overnight Cream has a long list of calming and hydrating ingredients, including ceramides, squalane, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, allantoin, and green tea extract.
Price at time of publish: $130
Best for: Sensitive skin and new retinol users | Frequency of Use: Suitable for nightly use (or every other night if you have irritation) | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Active Ingredients: Retinoid, alpha hydroxy acid, ceramides, squalane, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Hydrating Serum
Soho Skin Renewal Serum
Provides a healing and calming effect on inflamed, red, or sensitive skin
Feels soft and lightweight
You know see-and-be-seen hotspot Soho House? Well, the hotel group tapped one of the most progressive labs in the UK to develop a skincare line for its guests—and unsurprisingly, the results are very science-forward. Each product in the collection is focused on the mitochondria as well as the cell’s energy in the epidermis and dermis. The brand’s patented complex, SohoSkin Concentrate, targets tired or aging cells, then attempts to “power” them up to regulate the mitochondria. What that means for your skin, the brand says, is less pigmentation, more stimulated collagen, and brighter and visibly even skin tone.
Price at time of publish: $115
Best for: Repair and brighten | Frequency of Use: Twice a day | Size: 1.7 fluid ounces | Active Ingredients: Plankton and pumpkin seed extracts, peptides, collagen, and probiotics | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Vitamin C Serum For Hyperpigmentation
Dermalogica Biolumin-C Vitamin C Serum
A little goes a long way
Clean ingredients and sustainable packaging
Can be too powerful for sensitive skin types
If pigmentation, dark spots, or general skin dullness is a focus for you, try products rife with vitamin C, and this Dermalogica vitamin C serum is a particularly effective option. The antioxidant has been scientifically shown to improve elasticity, radiance, skin smoothness, and even the look of wrinkles at a significant level. The brand describes its vitamin C as “ultra-stable” — a major issue for run-of-the-mill vitamin C, where unstable formulas oxidize when exposed to air or light, rendering them ineffective. What’s more, the formula is paired with chia seed oil for a calming effect and lactic acid to accelerate skin turnover.
Price at time of publish: $139
Best for: Hyperpigmentation | Frequency of Use: Just in the a.m. for sensitive skin; Twice a day for others | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Active Ingredients: Vitamin C, lactic acid, and chia seed oil | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Serum For Aging
Skin Medica TNS+ Advanced Serum
Impressive clinical study results that showed “significant” improvement in the skin’s texture and overall appearance
Progressive ingredients that hyper-focus on maintaining skin’s firmness and elasticity
SkinMedica's TNS Advanced+ Serum bottle contains two chambers, each dispensing a different product in a single pump. One chamber includes the brand’s patented TNS-MR, a growth factor blend for “healthy skin functions,” as the brand notes. The other chamber contains a blend of botanicals, marine extracts, and peptides, which are designed to boost collagen production. In the brand’s third party-reviewed clinical studies, patients reported they looked up to six years younger after only 12 weeks of use. This study also noted that patients saw a “significant” improvement in the appearance of sagging skin after eight weeks and “progressive” improvement in satisfaction with their skin’s appearance over 24 weeks.
Price at time of publish: $236
Best for: Addressing skin radiance and fine lines | Frequency of Use: Twice a day | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Active Ingredients: Peptides, marine extracts, and growth factors | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Liquid Exfoliating Treatment
Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
Easy to use
Diminishes enlarged pores via an exfoliating blend of BHAs to reveal a smoother skin tone
Some note it feels “sticky” on the skin
Internet famous for its ability to unclog pores, the famed liquid exfoliant is also designed to address wrinkles, brighten, and even out skin tone. The exfoliant’s main ingredient is salicylic acid, the most commonly used beta hydroxy acid. BHAs are oil soluble, so they work both on the skin’s surface and within pores, making them one of the most effective exfoliants on the market today. This BHA-boosted formula works on two levels: first by removing dead skin cells and buildup on the skin’s outermost surface, and second, going a bit deeper into the dermis to unclog and clear out pores. Together, the appearance of skin is more radiant, even-toned, and fine lines and wrinkles are markedly diminished, according to the brand.
Price at time of publish: $30
Best for: Brightening skin, unclogging pores, and addressing fine lines | Frequency of Use: Apply two times a week at first, then increase the frequency if skin isn’t irritated | Size: 4 fluid ounces | Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid and green tea extract | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Tatcha The Silk Sunscreen
Hydrating formula that sinks into skin
Strong SPF 50 coverage for daily wear
Packaging can be difficult and messy if not careful
“We know that unprotected sun exposure is one of the main causes of accelerated aging, so if you want to slow down the manifestation of fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and skin laxity, it's critical to protect your skin with SPF,” says Dr. Yadav. “Use a formula of 35 or higher every single day, even if it's cloudy or you're only running errands.” Try this new lightweight Tatcha formula, which has SPF 50 protection, plus hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to hydrate.
Price at time of publish: $22
Best for: Protection from UVA and UVB rays | Frequency of Use: Every morning | Size: 1.7 fluid ounces | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, red algae extract, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Eye Cream
Osea Ocean Eyes Age Defying Eye Serum
Provides a relaxing and soothing cooling sensation
Reduces under-eye puffiness
Rollerball applicator can get stuck
According to the Mayo Clinic, under-eye swelling or puffiness becomes more common as we age because the tissues around the eyes naturally weaken, including some of the muscles that support the eyelids. If you wanted to address the perfectly normal puffiness around the eyes, this rollerball eye serum from Osea Malibu offers a blend of seaweed and quinoa extracts, peptides, and hyaluronic acid to target the appearance of dark circles, puffiness, and fine lines. Bonus: the cooling rollerball applicator makes massaging the delicate area simple and relaxing.
Price at time of publish: $58
Best for: Reducing puffiness and fine lines | Frequency of Use: Twice a day | Size: 0.58 fluid ounces | Active Ingredients: Seaweed extract, peptides, quinoa extract, and hyaluronic acid | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Eye Cream For Discoloration
ISDIN K-Ox Eyes
Brightens dark circles
Aging, genetics, allergies, lack of sleep, and dehydration can all cause dark circles under your eyes, reports the Cleveland Clinic. The purple-ish hues can be stubborn to soothe, but by increasing circulation (via manual massage and circulation-boosting ingredients) and applying skincare packed with antioxidants, like darkness-reducing vitamin K, you can help improve their appearance, notes the Clinic. The Barcelona-based brand, ISDIN, developed K-Ox Eyes specifically to ease dark circles and puffiness, with visibly brighter skin appearing within 28 days of consistent use, according to the brand.
Price at time of publish: $87
Best for: Addressing under-eye darkness | Frequency of Use: Twice a day | Size: 0.5 fluid ounces | Active Ingredients: Vitamin K and hyaluronic acid | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Face Oil
Furtuna Skin Biphase Moisturizing Oil
Visibly calms and hydrates
Responsibly grown botanical ingredients
Plant-based facial oils are especially vital for 40+ skin. According to a 2018 clinical study, oils provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that heal and repair skin. The Furtuna Skin Biphase Moisturizing Oil harnesses the medicinal powers of botanicals grown on the brand’s private, organic farm in Sicily. The oil contains a plethora of healing ingredients, including extra virgin olive oil, the medicinal flower anchusa azurea (described as “nature’s Botox” by the brand), and wild organic calendula—as well as a long list of other wild botanicals. A few drops of the oil, dabbed onto the skin’s surface can visibly plump, soothe, and protect skin all day or all night long.
Price at time of publish: $225
Best for: Plumping dehydrated skin | Frequency of Use: Twice a day | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Active Ingredients: Organic extra virgin olive oil, calendula, and olive leaf water | Cruelty-Free: Yes
U Beauty The Mantle Skin Conditioning Wash
Effectively removes waterproof makeup
Repairs the skin barrier
U Beauty, the luxury skincare brand founded by Tina Craig, is known for its multi-purpose, effective, and science-forward formulas. The celeb-beloved line recently launched its first cleanser, which took Craig five years to perfect. The balm-like face wash is designed to double cleanse in a single step by melting away both water- and oil-soluble debris—including waterproof makeup, sunscreen, dirt, sweat, and excess oil—to ensure deep purification without stripping the skin. Restoring and strengthening the skin’s barrier is vital for all skin, no matter its type or age, but can be particularly helpful for aging skin.
Price at time of publish: $78
Best for: Gently and effectively cleansing the skin | Frequency of Use: Nightly (plus morning, if you like to cleanse in the a.m.) | Size: 5 fluid ounces | Active Ingredients: Proprietary SIREN Capsule Technology, alpha hydroxy acids, enzymes, vitamins, and humectants | Cruelty-Free: Yes
40+-year-olds may have a similar skin type as they did in their 20s or 30s, but perhaps with a couple new concerns, like fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and reduction in skin elasticity. These are all perfectly normal! By simply incorporating a few proven basics, including Dermalogica’s strong vitamin C serum, Skinbetter’s gentle retinol formulation, and Tatcha’s sunscreen, you’ll both protect and improve your skin’s appearance. To really make your skincare routine a homerun, add in an eye cream, a peptide-boosted moisturizer, and a protective face oil to make your skin feel more nourished and hydrated—no matter your age.
Meet the Expert
- Dr. Geeta Yadav is a Toronto-based, board-certified dermatologist, and founder of FACET Dermatology. She’s passionate about addressing under-serviced communities and treating BIPOC patients.
- Dr. Julie E. Russak is a New York City-based, board-certified dermatologist, and founder of Russak Dermatology Clinic. She’s previously been selected as a “New York Super Doctor” by The New York Times and currently serves as Faculty at Mount Sinai Hospital.
- Dr. Marisa K. Garshick is a board-certified dermatologist practicing at MDCS Dermatology in New York; she is also an assistant professor of dermatology at Cornell—New York Presbyterian Medical Center.
What to Look For in Anti-Aging Skincare in Your 40s
If you’re in your 40s, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick considers exfoliating acids one of the most important anti-aging ingredients to incorporate into your routine. “As we age, skin cell turnover slows down, which can lead to a buildup of dead skin on the surface, contributing to skin dullness,” she explains. “As a result, it’s important to incorporate exfoliating ingredients like AHAs such as glycolic acid, BHAs, or physical exfoliants.” As these dissolve or sweep away dead skin cells, they can also help brighten the skin’s appearance and improve its overall tone and texture.
Hydration-Boosting Ingredients: Moisturizing is important for all skin types of all ages. However, Dr. Garshick explains that our skin barrier weakens as we age, allowing for increased moisture loss, making it important for those in their 40s to use products that not only boost the skin’s overall hydration levels, but also strengthen its natural moisture barrier. “Seek out products containing hyaluronic acid, which draws moisture in, as well as barrier-boosting ingredients, such as ceramides,” she says.
Antioxidants: Dr. Russak notes that antioxidants are vital for aging skin. Antioxidants are especially beloved because they’re known to fight some of the most visible signs of aging, including fine lines, pigmentation, and skin laxity. Some of the most common antioxidants you’ll see are vitamin E, vitamin C, green tea, and retinol. The downside to antioxidants? They’re naturally unstable, which means they lose their effectiveness once the packaging is opened. Yet, many brands have engineered closures and seals that reduce the air and light interaction, making their antioxidants more effective. Look for products that are packaged in opaque, airtight, or airless containers.
Peptides: Another helpful ingredient to be on the lookout for is peptides, which are made of amino acids that create proteins that are vital to maintain skin strength. A loss of peptides, which naturally occurs as we age, results in a loss of firmness, textural changes, and the appearance of wrinkles. Peptide-boosted skincare can target that loss of firmness, tone, and volume, helping to make skin look more youthful and hydrated.
“Retinol should be in the routine of anyone in their 40s,” says Dr. Yadav. “Retinol works by triggering new collagen production within the skin,” she adds. “This is important because collagen deteriorates as we age, resulting in fine lines and wrinkles. Retinol can help slow signs of aging and correct existing concerns.”
You may have been scared off of retinol in the past because you experienced or heard that it can cause skin sensitivity, but Dr. Yadav notes that many formulas today are designed to reduce irritation, leaving skin healthier, firmer, and smoother.
Skin type is still an important factor when considering skincare products in your 40s and beyond. You might be experiencing hyperpigmentation and oiliness, or fine lines and dry skin. Meaning, just because a product says it’s meant for an age group doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for you. A light, gel-based moisturizer might be more appropriate for an oily skin type, no matter their age. Some experimentation might be needed to find your perfect fit.
In general, Dr. Russak recommends more hydrating, thicker creams for her 40+ patients, as these richer formulas will deeply moisturize and repair the barrier—two common requests for aging skin. The same goes for eye creams: a lush consistency may be too heavy during your 20s, but might just do the trick in your 40s.
“Chemical exfoliants are very important for those in their 40s,” says Dr. Yadav. “As we age, cellular turnover decelerates rapidly, which contributes to a more mature appearance. Chemical exfoliants remove the dead, dull cells on the skin's surface that build up and exacerbate the look of dark spots or fine lines, revealing the fresh, radiant skin underneath.”
Interested in utilizing an AHA, BHA, or PHA in your routine? Start slowly, using the product once a week at night, after cleansing and before moisturizing. If skin doesn’t feel irritated, slowly increase the frequency from twice a week to three times a week and so on, until the skin’s appearance improves.
Moisturizing is important for all skin types of all ages, but Dr. Garshick explains that our skin barrier weakens as we age, allowing for increased moisture loss. For this reason, she says it’s important for those in their 40s to use products that not only boost the skin’s overall hydration but also strengthen its natural moisture barrier. “Seek out products containing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, which draws moisture in, as well as barrier-boosting ingredients such as ceramides,” she says.
The delicate skin surrounding our eyes is the thinnest on our face, and it's usually the first area to show signs of aging, like fine lines, puffiness, and skin laxity. For that reason, Dr. Garshick says it can be beneficial for someone in their 40s to incorporate one into their routine. “While an eye cream may not be a necessity for everyone, for someone bothered by these changes, incorporating an eye cream can be helpful,” she says.
What skincare should I use in my 40s?
In your 40s, you should use a cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen, at minimum. Adding a retinol, a strong, targeted serum, and a rich eye cream and moisturizer specifically formulated for aging skin is ideal.
Is it too late to take care of my skin at 40?
It’s never too late to take care of your skin. No matter how you treated your skin previously, late is better than never, and there are many products designed to hydrate and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Can I improve my skin in my 40s?
It’s possible to not only maintain healthy skin, but improve it in your 40s. “You can certainly improve your skin as you age, so long as you're faithful to using quality skincare products on a regular basis,” notes Dr. Yadav. “Consistency is key to seeing results.” This is especially true with products that only work with consistent usage over time, like retinol and vitamin C.
Should I use retinol in my 40s?
“Retinol is a must,” says Dr. Yadav emphatically. As mentioned above, retinol stimulates new collagen production, thus slowing the appearance of aging and other concerns, like hyperpigmentation.
What is the best face cream for a 40-year-old?
Your dream face cream is entirely personal. “It depends on your skin type, but many people find that their skin dries out after 40 and beyond,” notes Dr. Yadav. She’s personally a fan of thicker creams with ceramides and lipids to hydrate and help skin retain moisture on its own. Those with more oily skin will find lighter formulations (still with concentrated antioxidants to boost the benefits) more helpful.
How can I get glowing skin in my 40s?
Dry skin doesn’t just feel uncomfortable, but it can look it, too. Beyond just the look of dehydrated skin, chronic dryness can be a contributing factor to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, notes Dr. Yadav. A moisturizer can replenish skin, letting it naturally glow again. Bonus glow points if you tap a face oil atop of your moisturizer, too.
Also, carefully try masks and peels (again, carefully!) for a quick glow. “I'd recommend seeking these out in more intense concentrations in a mask or at-home peel format to use once or twice a week for more powerful skin resurfacing,” suggests Dr. Yadav. Be sure to follow the packaging instructions, too.
Plus, when in doubt, take care of yourself while taking care of your skin. “Living a healthy lifestyle, drinking plenty of water, protecting your skin from the sun, and using effective skincare formulas all go a long way towards enhancing your natural glow,” says Dr. Yadav. And Dr. Russak agrees: “Take care of yourself, eat right (a lot of protein and collagen), stay hydrated, exercise, and sleep!”
Why Trust Byrdie
Kristin Limoges is a NY-based editor with nearly a decade of expertise in the wellness and beauty space. To determine the absolute best skincare for the 40+ crowd, she consulted numerous board-certified dermatologists to ensure the products and tips were thoroughly researched and science-backed. She also personally tested the products on this list, evaluating each for quality, efficacy and visible results.