It's no secret that our skin changes as we age. When you hit your 40s, hormonal changes can make hyperpigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles, and dryness more apparent. The seasons can also impact aging skin, with winter being the biggest culprit. According to celebrity esthetician Shani Darden, winter's low humidity levels can do a number on 40-plus skin. "[Winter weather], combined with having the heat on (at the office or home), can cause the skin to feel drier and appear dull overall," she explains.
But luckily, there are ways to keep your skin from succumbing to the blistering cold. Ahead, Darden shares how to keep 40-plus skin looking its best all winter long. From the best products to use to the treatments to try, she shares it all.
Meet the Expert
Shani Darden is a celebrity esthetician and founder of Shani Darden Skin Care. The California-based skincare expert can often be found treating clients in her Beverly Hills studio, developing high-performance formulas, and sharing her expertise with her followers on social media.
Make Simple Product Swaps
A complete product overhaul isn't necessary once winter rolls around as long as you have a handle on your skin type, its needs, and how it responds to seasonal changes. "If you're using the right products, there isn't that much of a need to change your routine," says Darden.
Sometimes, just a few product swaps are enough to "winterize" your skincare routine. "Some people just need to add in a hydrating serum and a richer moisturizer if their skin is dry," she adds. Darden recommends products with lipid-repairing ingredients like ceramides, peptides, and hyaluronic acid to attract moisture, keep the skin hydrated, and support a healthy barrier.
Be Intentional About Your Morning and Nighttime Routine
For women in their 40s, Darden suggests starting the morning with a gentle cleanser, like her Cleansing Serum. A thoughtfully-formulated cleanser is a must-have for mature skin, especially during winter, to keep the skin barrier intact without losing much-needed moisture.
Next, Darden recommends using an antioxidant serum to "protect the skin and offset the effects of oxidative stress while helping to brighten the skin and boost elasticity." Her go-to is iS Clinical's Pro-Heal Serum, a vitamin C-based serum gentle enough for sensitive skin. For extra hydration, follow that up with hyaluronic acid, such as Dr. Nigma's Serum No 1.
Darden says it's also important to treat the eye area with a rich eye cream, like her Intensive Eye Renewal Cream. The celebrity beauty pro says those over 40 (and everyone, for that matter) should round out their routine with sunscreen. "My favorite is Supergoop Play Everyday SPF because it's hydrating, doesn't cause congestion, and has an SPF of 50," she adds.
For nighttime, Darden advises following the same routine with a few substitutions. After cleansing, apply a layer of retinol or lactic acid serum topped with moisturizer. "Some people with dry skin may not be able to use retinol or lactic acid as often, so use it as often as tolerated," Darden notes.
Don't Gloss Over Exfoliation
Exfoliation is essential for healthy skin since it helps break down product buildup while lifting away dead skin that can dull the complexion. "I know many people are nervous about exfoliating their skin when it feels dry, but it is extremely beneficial to help brighten the skin," she shares.
In addition to sweeping away pore-clogging dead skin cells, Darden explains that regular exfoliation allows hydrating products to absorb better. But, of course, always keep your skin type in mind when developing your exfoliation routine. "Exfoliating one to two times per week is enough to make a difference in skin over the age of 40, especially since a buildup of dead skin cells on the surface can emphasize the look of fine lines and wrinkles," she adds.
However, Darden says it's important to avoid harsh exfoliants like scrubs, "which can cause a lot of irritation and damage." Instead, reach for some of these gentle options.
Incorporate Retinol Into Your Routine
Some people believe they should avoid using retinol during the winter for fear of it causing excessive dryness and irritation. But retinol can be used all winter long. Darden recommends her Retinol Reform, which contains an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) for smoothing and brightening benefits, once or twice per week. On the nights you don't use retinol, she suggests focusing on hydration and using a moisturizer formulated for your skin type.
If you don't want to use retinol at all, Darden has a few recommendations. "If the skin is sensitive and cannot tolerate retinol or chemical exfoliants, try exfoliating with a silicone-bristled cleansing device or even just a square of cotton gauze," she adds. "Both options will help remove dead skin on the surface without causing any irritation."
Try Using At-Home Tools
Using at-home tools and devices can enhance your routine. For example, Darden's Facial Sculpting Wand uses vibration therapy to target anti-aging concerns. "It's a great treatment to boost circulation and lift and sculpt the face."
LED masks, like Darden's LED Light Therapy Mask, are another at-home winter skincare staple. "They combine red, blue, and near-infrared light to stimulate a cellular response, target pigmentation, and visibly diminish fine lines and wrinkles," she explains. But that's not all they're good for. Breakouts on 40-something skin often occur due to hormonal fluctuations, and an LED mask can help clear them up.
Humidifiers are another tool worth investing in during the winter, according to Darden. "Try sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom at night to add moisture back into the air," she says. "This will help keep the skin comfortable and hydrated."
Consider Booking a Few Treatments
The best approach to healthy skin comprises at-home care and professional treatments. In your 40s, Darden says to pick treatments that complement your skin type because, although the skin can become drier with age, skin type takes precedence. "In the winter, facials are great for all skin types and keep the skin looking radiant," she adds. "I customize my facials and incorporate technologies such as LED light therapy, microcurrent, vibration therapy, cryotherapy, and oxygen, so clients walk away with their skin glowing."
Peels are another great option when there's a chill in the air—even dry skin can benefit from them. "For dry skin types, I love a light lactic acid peel," Darden says. "Lactic acid peels are effective, don't irritate the skin, and can add hydration."
Microneedling and laser treatments (like laser hair removal) are also worth trying during the winter. Less sun exposure gives the skin the perfect setup to heal appropriately, reducing the risk of hyperpigmentation.
Don't Forget to Treat the Skin Below Your Neck
Winter calls for more hydrating products on your face and body. When it comes to bodycare products, trade lightweight lotions for creamy balms and moisturizers, as their thicker consistency helps lock in hydration. Darden says to opt for body moisturizers that contain ingredients like shea butter, a hydrating emollient. "Apply it after the shower to deeply hydrate the skin and lock in moisture," she says.