6 Skincare Products You Should Own by the Time You’re 40

With new skincare products launching every single day it can be confusing to figure out what we actually need...and what actually works. It’s safe to assume the 20 plus serums, masks and moisturizers overwhelming the bathroom cabinet aren’t actually getting rid of wrinkles or effectively treating dark spots. So, we turned to the pros to help us narrow it down to the absolute necessities. Here, three skincare experts share the six skincare products you should own by the time you’re 40.

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1. A Gentle Cleanser

According to Dr. Sara Perkins, M.D., a dermatologist with Hims and Hers, a gentle cleanser is as essential to your skincare routine as sunscreen is (which we’ll get to in a minute). She recommends starting to use one in your 20s, so by 40 it’s a definite must-have. We’re partial to Fresh’s Soy Face Cleanser because its pH-balanced formula cleans away dirt and makeup without stripping our skin’s moisture. Oh, and it’s gentle enough to remove mascara without irritating your eyes.

Buy It ($38)

2. Sunscreen

This rec should not come as a surprise; you don’t have to be a derm to know that everyone should be applying a daily sunscreen. But Dr. Rachel Nazarian, M.D., of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City gets a little bit more specific. She notes that you should be using a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen, and you should be applying it year round. That goes for days where you don’t leave the house, too. Try Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40. It’s broad-spectrum (meaning it blocks both UVA and UVB rays) and blends seamlessly into the skin.

Buy It ($34)

3. A Good Moisturizer

“As we age, the skin becomes drier and thinner, making a hydrating moisturizer critical,” explains Dr. Perkins. Look for a formula that contains fatty acids, hyaluronic acid or ceramides. These ingredients support a healthy, well-hydrated skin barrier, explains Dr. Nazarian. This option from La Roche-Posay is a great because it contains ceramide-3, an essential molecule found naturally in the skin that helps it retain moisture, as well as other super hydrating ingredients like prebiotic thermal water and glycerin.

Buy It ($20)

4. An Antioxidant Serum

The sooner you start using an antioxidant serum, the better. “Antioxidants act as invisible shields on our skin and work to neutralize free radical damage from pollution and light sources that can cause premature aging,” says Dr. Nazarian. Both Dr. Nazarian and Dr. Perkins recommend SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic. In addition to its protective benefits, this serum improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while brightening your complexion. No wonder it’s racked up almost 2,000 five-star reviews on Dermstore. “It’s pricey, but worth it,” assures Dr. Perkins.

Buy It ($166)

5. A Retinol Cream

“Retinol has been clinically proven to stimulate collagen production and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” says Dr. Perkins. Just keep in mind that it takes time and consistent use in order for the results to be noticeable. And if you tend to have sensitive or dry skin, Lisa Guidi, aesthetician and founder of Erase Spa, recommends being mindful about slowly incorporating retinol into your routine, to avoid irritation. Opt for a night cream like Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Face Moisturizer, which combats dark spots and enlarged pores, too.

Buy It ($39)

6. An Eye Cream

Skeptical about the efficacy of eye creams? Us too. But according to all three experts, it’s worth the investment. Since the skin around your eyes is so thin and delicate, it’s often the first part of the face to show signs of aging, notes Dr. Perkins. Eye creams are designed to fight wrinkles, improve elasticity and moisturize. We like Shiseido’s Benefiance Wrinkle Smoothing Eye Cream because it specifically targets six different types of wrinkles. Expert tip? Pat the cream on gently, never tug or rub or you’ll risk creating more fine lines, says Guidi.

Buy It ($70)

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