In a perfect world, there would be a guide book to aging gracefully. Until then, consider this the ultimate checklist on how to care for your skin, written by top dermatologists.
Use an Antioxidant Serum
According to dermatologist Jennifer Silveran Kitchin, MD, antioxidants are a must for anyone over 40. She recommends Replere ($37–$124), citing that it’s free of preservatives, dyes and perfumes but still reverses the signs of photoaging. For New York dermatologist Hilary Lucachick Reich, MD, SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum ($281) is her antioxidant of choice; and Chicago dermatologist Jordan C. Carqueville, MD and New York dermatologist Lilly-Rose Paraskevas, MD recommend SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic ($166). “It’s been shown to decrease free oxygen radicals, which may reduce the signs of aging, as well as the development of skin cancer,” says Dr. Carqueville. For an option that promotes collagen and elastin formation as it tackles sun damage–induced pigmentation, New York dermatologist Ritu Saini, MD names Alastin Restorative Skin Complex ($195) as his top choice.
Never Forget Sunscreen!
“If I could only pick one product to use, it would be sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen,” Brookline, MA dermatologist Papri Sarkar says. “It helps to prevent aging like brown spots, melasma, wrinkles, freckles, etc. and prevents skin cancer (and skin cancer scars!).” Santa Barbara, CA dermatologist Tammy Berry, MD says to look for high levels of zinc and titanium for best prevention, naming Juice Beauty’s CC Cream ($39) as one of her personal favorites; and Boston dermatologist Peter Chien reminds us that men aren’t exempt from this rule and recommends the lightweight La Roche Posay AOX Serum Sunscreen SPF 50 ($42.50).
Invest in a Quality Neck Cream
“I would venture to say that the most forgotten about area in women age 40 and over is the neck and décollete,” says Anaheim, CA dermatologist Kimberly Jerdan, MD. “If not cared for like the face, the neck can often age faster, especially for the more common ‘tech neck’ these days.” Her recommendation? A good neck-firming cream such as Alastin Restorative Neck Complex ($110), a supercharged formula that Bannockburn, IL dermatologist Heather Dowes, MD also stands behind.
Use a Topical Retinoid
Why? “Retin-A or retinol reverses damage and decrease wrinkles,” says Covington, LA dermatologist Christel Malinkski, MD of her over-40 to-do list, specifically listing Skinbetter Science AlphaRet ($120) as a must-try. Glendale, AZ dermatologist Tony Nuara, MD agrees, saying he’s also partial to Foundation Skincare Night Renewal; and Fort Lauderdale, FL dermatologist Dr. Matthew J. Elias says he votes for SENTE Dermal Contour Pressed Serum with SuGag Technology. “It can restore contour, volume and elasticity to the skin.”
Consider Preventive Botox
Laguna Hills, CA Jennifer Channual MD says another essential that can make a difference when started early is Botox Cosmetic. “Once lines are deep, they are hard to correct, but by regularly getting Botox, you can prevent those lines from showing your true age,” she explains. Jericho, NY dermatologist Sarika Banker, MD agrees, stating, “Starting Botox early can help prevent some of the deep etched lines people get in areas of expression and movement.”
Don’t be Afraid of Glycolic Acid
Fort Lauderdale, FL dermatologist Igor Chaplik says glycolic acid is an essential building block in a 40-year-old’s skin-care regimen. “Products containing glycolic acid help keep skin supple and provide a more even tone while also working on fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.” Whether in a cleanser or a wash-off peel, glycolic acid is now readily available at most beauty retailers.
Get Enough Sleep
While it’s not something we can buy (if only!), New York dermatologist Jessica Crant, MD says a minimum of seven hours of sleep every night is ideal for achieving our skin goals. “Sleep is when our skin goes to work removing toxins and damaging cellular by-products.” Trouble getting your zzz’s? These product may help.
Use a Gentle Cleanser
Miami dermatologist Martha H. Viera, MD says mature skin types should skip foamy or gel cleansers and try a micellar water instead. “[Micellar water] is made up of tiny oil molecules suspended in a base of soft water that sweeps away all traces of makeup and dirt without stripping away natural oils of the skin.” Wrinkles are more apparent when skin is dry—the key to plumping up the look of wrinkles is by boosting moisture in the skin—so swapping out a harsh, drying cleanser with a mild, moisture-rich option makes total sense.