Over 40? These are the skincare essentials you need, says expert

·5-min read
The skincare products every woman over 40 should own, according to an expert. (Getty Images)
The skincare products every woman over 40 should own, according to an expert. (Getty Images)

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We all have our skincare favourites: the brands we've been buying for years, the products we would never leave the country without.

However, as we hit our 40s, our skin starts to change - and as we enter midlife, we need to take our skin's new needs into account. But what exactly are they?

"Our skin undergoes some significant changes in our 40s," explains Dr. Lubna Khan-Salim, skincare specialist and founder of Time to Bloom

"The start of perimenopause brings a gradual drop in the hormone oestrogen, preparing the body for eventual menopause.

"During this period, the natural cell turnover of the skin also slows down, leading to the gradual appearance of dull skin, discolouration and fine lines and wrinkles, due to the loss of collagen and elastin (the essential building blocks of our skin). 

"Sebum production also ceases, so our skin becomes prone to dryness."

She adds: "The lymphatics slow down, meaning lymphatic drainage is less efficient and we’re more susceptible to blockages, which can cause puffiness. 

"Reduction in oestrogen also triggers the thinning of skin and related bone loss, affecting facial structure and facial volume."

Dr. Khan-Salin advises that if you’re in your 40s or above and not already using products that target these areas, now is the time to start to minimise the natural effects as ageing, while keeping your complexion healthy and glowing.

It's time to take care of your skin's new needs...

So, what does our skincare expert recommend?

"The holy trinity of skincare products I recommend for all women over 40 to add to their routine in addition to a cleanser and moisturiser, are retinoids, antioxidant Vitamin C and SPF 50 sunscreen."

"These products and their ingredients are backed by decades of research and clinical trials and are proven to make a difference at a cellular level."


Dr. Khan-Salim says to forget diamonds, retinoids are classed as a girl’s best friend these days. 

"Retinoid is an umbrella term used to describe a class of compounds – of which retinol is one – that contain vitamin A" she explains. 

"Retinoids, like tretinoin, are used to stimulate collagen, prevent and treat existing wrinkles, target pigmentation and even fight acne."

Had a bad experience using retinoids before, with breakouts or soreness? You're not alone. 

Dr. Khan-Salim advises: "There is an art to using retinoids, start low and go slow! Unfortunately, due to the side effects of using these products (sensitivity, dryness, redness), many people have a hard time using them and they can be feared. Do follow instructions given by your skin expert and provided with the products."

Dr. Khan-Salim recommends: Medik8 Crystal Retinal 1 Serum | £39 from Look Fantastic

Antioxidant Vitamin C

Once you've cleansed your skin, Dr. Khan-Salim advises reaching for an antioxidant-rich serum: "All experts agree that using a vitamin C serum is a non-negotiable part of any good morning skincare routine."

She explains that Vitamin C help to minimise skin damage from free radicals (which lead to premature ageing). "Vitamin C acts as a safety net.

"Free radicals affect the natural skin barrier function by destroying proteins such as elastin, fibre and collagen, leaving the skin dull, and dry with an uneven skin tone.

"Antioxidants protect the skin from free radicals, they also help reverse some signs of ageing and promote collagen growth, fight wrinkles and uneven skin tone and it even protects from the damage of UV rays."

Dr. Khan-Salim recommends: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Acid | £140 from Look Fantastic

And: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension | £5.80 from Feel Unique

SPF 50

Dr. Kahn-Salim's best anti-aging advice? 

Always, always use sunscreen during the day and be sure to apply it generously - even when it isn't particularly sunny outside. 

"Not only does SPF protect against the sun’s harmful rays to help prevent skin cancer, it’s also one of the best anti-ageing products you can buy, as 90% of skin ageing is caused by UV damage," she explains. 

"Your skin needs both UVA and UVB protection- the SPF number applies to UVB protection. 

"I always advise SPF 30+ (I use a SPF 50 daily). The star rating indicates the UVA rays - these are the ageing rays that break down collagen and elastin that cause wrinkles."

She also recommends opting for an SPF that contains Zinc Oxide, as it protects against UVA and UVB rays and offers anti-inflammatory properties, "great for those with sensitive skin and a must for those using any form of retinoid."

Dr. Khan-Salim recommends: Heliocare 360 Fluid Crème SPF50 | £20.17 from Care to Beauty


An antioxidant-rich moisturiser is a must for your skin after 40, Dr. Kahn-Salim tells us. 

Due to the lack of sebum protecting our skin, it's more important than ever to add this protective layer and build hydration. 

"The SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore is specially formulated to target mature, ageing skin. This potent, daily hydrating cream restores surface lipids, reinforces the skin barrier and supports skin’s natural processes."

Dr. Khan-Salim recommends: SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore | £135 from Look Fantastic


Dr. Kahn-Salim dubs cleansing a "must-do" when it comes to good skin maintenance.

She advises cleansing your skin twice a day to wash away makeup, impurities and pollution to ensure your complexion is clean and fresh.

"The best-selling iS Clinical Cleansing Complex is a daily-use cleansing gel that provides an innovative balance of bio nutrients, antioxidants and mild resurfacing ingredients that thoroughly cleanse without stripping essential natural oils. Skin is deeply cleansed, pore size is minimised and skin is gently resurfaced."

Suitable for all skin types.

Dr. Khan-Salim recommends: iS Clinical Cleansing Complex | £36 from iS Clinical

Eye cream

Eye cream is an easy one to leave off our to-do list, but using a nourishing version will help to keep eyes looking refreshed, as well as protecting against wrinkles.

"CeraVe Eye Repair Cream has been developed with dermatologists to visibly reduce puffiness, dark circles and restore skin's protective barrier around the delicate eye area."

Dr. Khan-Salim recommends: CeraVe Eye Repair Cream | £12 from Boots

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