I'm 40, and here's exactly what I use on my skin
Updated: Jun 6
That's a picture of me in May 2023, a few days after I turned 40. Turning 40 was frightening, but it's actually been really fun. However, if you asked a 20-year-old me how I would look and feel at 40, this is not what I was expecting. For most people, anyone older than them feels old, and younger people can seem very young- it's just a matter of perspective.
I've always been very committed to skincare since I was a child. At that time, my view of aging differed significantly from how I perceive aging now. For me, getting older isn't about the obsession of holding on to youth but maintaining the healthiest version of yourself possible, whether it is your skin or your overall health that includes your physical and mental well-being (while looking the best I can at any given age).
I grew up watching my grandmother moisturize her skin twice a day, drink a lot of water, eat fruits, and avoid direct exposure to the sun as much as possible, and she had the most beautiful skin. My mother always told me to use face creams with upward motion on her face and neck.
When I was about 8, I saw a dermatologist for the first time due to a minor sun poisoning incident. She advised me to use sunscreen every day, indoors or outdoors, and to avoid spending too much time in the sun- that's when I started using sunscreen daily.
I've read a lot of beauty articles and scientific studies on how and whether skincare products help your skin, and while studies do make me question the claims made by certain beauty brands- I don't see myself skipping my skincare routine anytime soon unless there is proof that what I've been using is harmful to me.
July 2018, when I was 35.
My skincare routine is a part of my daily routine, like connecting with people I love, exercising, and working, so I can't imagine a day without it. Plus, I thoroughly enjoy the time I spend layering serums, moisturizers, and oils while listening to music or audiobooks.
As a beauty writer, I have access to many skincare products as I constantly test new products, which is one of the job's best perks. To be honest, I'm not sure if I would be spending so much time and energy on my skin if it weren't a part of my profession.
That being said, I will also be honest about every in-office treatment I have done. I've had a handful of facials, which felt amazing and relaxing at the moment. I also tried chemical peel once, but my skin reacted poorly. I had microneedling done by dermatologist Dr. Anisha Joshi of Healthy Choice Clinic for the first time in February 2023, which made my skin feel brighter and "fuller," so I do see myself trying it again.
December 2010, when I was 27.
Now, to the fun part of all the products that I love. I've tried hundreds of beauty products, and some stand out more than others. It doesn't necessarily mean they are the best out there but have been the best for my skin.
I honestly think my skin looks the way it does because I've been disciplined about using sunscreen daily since I was 8. It's not that I never go out in the sun, but I keep it to a minimum. I walk my dog a few times daily, but I make sure to wear sunscreen and a hat when I head out. There's plenty of evidence that using a broad-protection sunscreen protects you from the sun's rays that cause aging and burning.
If I had to choose some of my favorite sunscreens, they would have to be CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 30, Naked Sundays SPF50+ Collagen Glow Mineral Perfecting Priming Lotion, and Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30. For makeup, I love Alastin Skincare HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36. For the body, I use Kinlò Always Golden Body Lotion SPF 30 and Australian Gold Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 30.
Retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives, and probably the only skincare ingredient proven to stimulate collagen production, which starts decreasing in your 20s. Collagen is the building blocks of the skin that give it a firm appearance. My face is definitely "narrower" than it used to be, but I don't see myself without retinoids.
I started using retinol cream when I was about 20 years old and slowly moved on to retinol serums in my mid to late 20s. Some retinol products that I love are RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum and FACTORFIVE Night Retinol Cream. Still, my favorite is the prescription tretinoin 0.05%, which I started using in my early 30s. I probably use retinoids 4-5 times a week in the evening, and I don’t use retinol with certain ingredients.
I started using Vitamin C serum in my early 30s because they were everywhere and claimed to brighten the skin, fade dark spots, promote collagen, and help protect against sun damage when used with sunscreen. I've noticed more sun spots as I've grown older, so I always use it in the AM, hoping they will make my skin glow but, more importantly, not let the hyperpigmentation get worse.
Lately, I've been using Dr. Koo Antioxidant Serum, and I really like the velvety, radiant veil it leaves on my skin without feeling sticky at all. It has Vitamins A, C, E, F, and K, so I like how it's a combination rather than just one vitamin. I read that it's best to avoid droppers as air exposure can reduce an ingredient's effectiveness, so I prefer serums with a pump or that come in a tube. Another one I like is Sunday Riley C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic acid and lactic acid have many skincare benefits, but truthfully, my skin has never really gotten along with glycolic acid. I feel a burning sensation every time I use a glycolic acid serum, and after months, I decided it wasn't for me. Lactic acid, on the other hand, which is milder, has been great.
I've been a fan of Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One AHA Lactic Acid Treatment for too many years because my skin feels softer and brighter after one use, and I can't say the same about too many products. I use it twice weekly at night when I don't use retinoids. When traveling, I take Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel Pads for Sensitive Skin because I don't neglect skincare when I'm on the road.
I spend so much time moisturizing my face and entire body because it doesn't make sense to me to just take care of the face and ignore the rest of me. Basically, the job of a moisturizer is to keep the skin hydrated and moisturized, plus prevent moisture loss. Irrespective of the time of the year, I am all about extra hydration, and the richer the product, the better, as long as it has a humectant, an emollient, and an occlusive.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is fantastic and affordable. I really like Olay Regenerist Micro Sculpting Cream because the brand reminds me of my grandmother and mother. My last step before bed is oil, and I learned that from my ma; she used to lather her face with Vaseline before bed, and I would do the same. The following day my skin would feel so soft. I still use Vaseline, but when I am feeling fancy, I use facial oils like Alleven Prodigy Oil and Le Prunier Plum Beauty Oil.
Decades of smiling, laughing, and expressing all my emotions have added a lot to my life; lately, I've noticed more fine lines around my eyes. There's also some loss of volume under my eyes. I'm not expecting those areas to be like when I was a teenager, but I like to use products with active ingredients.
Following Dr. Shereene Idriss' advice, I use Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream with TFC8® Face Moisturizer around my eyes before bed. Technically, a face cream (it's pretty expensive), so I use a tiny bit around my eyes. Its TFC8 supports cellular renewal, and I'm happy with it. During the day, I use Isdin Isdinceutics K-Ox Eyes with a cooling ceramic applicator that feels nice on my skin. I always pat sunscreen around my eyes in the AM.
LED (Light-emitting diode) masks can help boost collagen and improve skin density, and I really love Dr. Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite™ FaceWare Pro, which combines 100 LED lights in red mode and 60 LED lights in blue mode. It's expensive but way more affordable than a similar treatment at the doctor's office. Red light helps with signs of aging, so that's the only one I use, and I try to be good about using it a couple of times a week. I have noticed my skin looks better when I'm consistent with it.
Those are the products that I definitely give my seal of approval for, but the overall health of your skin is more than just products. It's your genetics and lifestyle too. I do what I can regarding lifestyle because genetics is out of my control. I'm aware that my skin will change, but in the meantime, I want to take care of it the best I can and hope for the best. Until then, I'm still open to exploring and trying as many products and ingredients as possible because you never know what you might find.