Welcome to your 40s. We’re not going to hit you with some trite statement like “40s are the new 20s,” but we will take a minute to discuss your beauty routine. Because right about now is when many women begin to notice visible changes in their skin.
As renowned aesthetician Renée Rouleau shares on her blog, “The 40s are the peri-menopausal years, which is the stage of aging before actual menopause. These are the years when estrogen is slowly starting to decline and because of this, you’ll experience changes in the skin’s texture as well as loss of tone and increased facial hair.”
Of course, any changes in your skin will also affect the way your makeup wears, so we’re going to make sure we cover both skincare and makeup in this guide to the ten beauty products women over 40 should own.
What to Look for in Products for Women Over 40
Depending on your individual concerns, you’ll be on the lookout for different ingredients. For instance, if you’re primarily concerned with sun spots and uneven tone, you’ll want to look for antioxidants (like vitamin C) and brightening ingredients (like kojic acid or niacinamide). And if you’re bothered by fine lines and an overall loss in elasticity, this is a great time to consider adding a retinol to the mix if you haven’t already.
One thing every woman in their 40s (and beyond) could use more of in their routine? Moisture, by way of your face cream or lotion, sure, but also your cosmetics. More on that ahead.
Meet the Experts
Beauty Products For Women Over 40 At A Glance
- Why We Love It: has hyaluronic acid and ceramides, is fragrance-free and non-comedogenic, budget-friendly price
- Promising Review: “Everything about this product is perfect. It deep cleans without stripping my skin. It’s hydrating and feels good even when my skin is sensitive. The price point is amazing and the product lasts a long time.” — Molly, an Ulta Beauty reviewer
This cleanser might take some getting used to at first because it doesn’t have any of that foamy lather we’ve come to expect from face wash. In fact, it feels more like a lotion when you massage it over your skin, but it cleans thoroughly without drying things out, thanks to the ceramides and glycerin in the formula.
- Why We Love It: has 20 percent l-ascorbic acid, formulated by a cosmetic chemist, has green tea and squalene in it
- Promising Review: “I love this product. It goes on smooth and doesn’t leave skin oily. It almost leaves a matte finish. It works well with my moisturizer and sunscreen. This is my second bottle and my dark spots have faded and my skin tone is more even.” — Lea, a Dermstore reviewer
Vitamin C is the ultimate multitasker because it treats existing sun damage while protecting your skin from free radicals, which can accelerate signs of aging. BeautyStat’s Universal C Skin Refiner is formulated with 20 percent pure vitamin C and has a lightweight, gel-cream texture that isn’t too greasy or runny like some other vitamin C serums you may have tried in the past. Layer it under your SPF every morning.
- Why We Love It: has SPF 50, offers broad-spectrum protection, has aloe extract and centella asiatica to soothe skin, budget-friendly price
- Promising Review: “I absolutely love this sunscreen. It’s lightweight and absorbs into skin quickly. It doesn’t sweat off and drip into my eyes. Perfect weight and texture under makeup or on its own.” — Lori, an Amazon reviewer
With an SPF 50 and PA+++ rating, this silky sunscreen has a thinner consistency (like a serum) and combines both chemical and mineral filters to protect your skin against UVA and UVB rays. Infused with bamboo water and African walnut oil, it keeps your face smooth and hydrated without leaving any telltale traces behind (unless you’re counting the soft glow). Apply it every single day—rain or shine, indoors or out—and don’t be stingy about how much you use. Aim for a quarter-sized amount for your face alone and don’t forget your neck and backs of your hands.
- Why We Love It: has a creamy texture, is gentler than most retinols, features both encapsulated retinol and bakuchiol
- Promising Review: “This is just what I was looking for! I have some acne scaring and fine lines and needed a retinol to help with these issues. It’s only been a week using it every other night and I can already see a difference. Love it!” — April, a Credo Beauty reviewer
Long considered the gold standard in anti-aging by dermatologists, retinol is a vitamin A derivative that helps to increase cell turnover (which naturally slows down as you age). If you’re new to retinols or have sensitive skin, try this gentler pick from Marie Veronique to start. It features encapsulate retinol and bakuchiol to gradually address common signs of aging like dullness, fine lines and sun spots without the usual redness or irritation that comes with retinol.
- Why We Love It: has essential lipids like fatty acids and ceramides in it, has vitamin e
- Promising Review: “Super smooth and moisturizing. Feels heavy enough to keep my face moisturized all day but light and soft to the touch. Love the way this feels on my skin. Never going back to my old moisturizer. Worth the price tag.” — Jacqueline, a Dermstore reviewer
Lipids are your skin’s natural fats and they’re essential for maintaining the health of your skin barrier, which holds moisture in and keeps external irritants out. As we age, our lipid production declines, which is where a restorative treatment like this cream can help. Formulated with ceramides, natural cholesterol and fatty acids, it replenishes your skin (and works well with the aforementioned retinol).
- Why We Love It: is water-based, has glycerin and olive extract in it
- Promising Review: “I am typically not a primer using person, but this [has] me converted. It is water-based, sheer and lightweight. It also provides a little bit of a moisture boost so that my concealer and [foundation] apply perfectly.” — a Sephora reviewer
This moisture-rich primer is a PureWow editor favorite because it’s moisturizing on your skin while providing a soft-focus effect that minimizes the appearance of pores or uneven texture. The lightweight yet creamy formula creates a barrier that locks in hydration to create a smooth, even surface for applying makeup and keeping your face flake-free as it wears. As Robert Sesnek, a celebrity makeup artist told us back in 2021, using a primer is key for aging skin because “it visibly plumps any fine lines and give your makeup staying power.” When applying primer, Sesnek recommends adding “just a touch in any areas where the pores appear larger, which is usually on the cheeks or chin.”
- Why We Love It: medium to buildable coverage, has a breathable finish, features skincare ingredient like oat and cacao peptides, is light-reflective
- Promising Review: “It is super lightweight, but very pigmented and buildable. It’s like a glowy veil and [it] keeps a nice texture without oxidizing all day. I also have some redness and texture/peeling from using a retinoid, and it doesn’t show at all when I wear this.” — a Sephora reviewer
Lightweight liquid foundations are so versatile. You can really sheer them down or build them up to hide any blotchiness or dark circles, while still leaving your skin looking dewy and naturally radiant—especially with a formula like this one from NARS, which features light-reflective mica in it. This foundation is also easy to apply and doesn’t migrate into lines or wrinkles near the mouth or eyes. Speaking of application, when it comes to your foundation, always start in the center of the face and blend outwards to soften any makeup around the perimeter of the face.
- Why We Love It: has jojoba seed oil for easy glide and added hydration, can be used on cheeks and lips, convenient stick packaging
- Promising Review: “I was so sure I’d end up returning this, especially because the price is so steep but I LOVE it and it’s become my daily go to. The color is beautiful, the finish has such a nice glow and it lasts pretty long. Also, the packaging is so beautiful and luxe! I’m already planning to purchase another color!” — Christine, a Sephora reviewer
Sesnek explains, “Blush brings everything together and is especially impactful as you get older.” We’re big fans of this creamy blush from makeup artist Gucci Westman, who has worked with everyone from Jennifer Aniston to Anne Hathaway and Reese Witherspoon. The conveniently packaged stick is easy to use on the go and is loaded with hydrating pigment that gives your skin a soft flush in a swipe. Apply it high on the apples of your cheeks to lift the face and tap a little over your lips, too.
- Why We Love It: comes in many shades and finishes, doesn’t fade or smudge easily
- Promising Review: “I am 66 and have read [that you should] never use cream eye shadows because they highlight the wrinkles [on and around your] eyelids. Not the case with these! I have just about every color and use them all. Wish they had more.” — Carol, a Sephora reviewer
By the time we reach our 40s, the skin around the eyes loses elasticity, which can make the application of eye makeup a bit trickier. That’s why it’s a good idea to switch from using powder eyeshadows to creamy, more emollient formulas that glide on easily and are less likely to settle into fine lines and crease as they wear. These classic shadow sticks from Bobbi Brown come in a multitude of shades and finishes and are an absolute breeze to use—so much so that we can apply it without a mirror if we need to.
- Why We Love It: comes in many shades, has a very slim tip for precision
- Promising Review: “I love everything about this [pencil]. The shade selection is great, it applies so easy, and it stays put. The tip is so fine but it never breaks on me. The spoolie is great and overall, the value is good. You can keep things really natural or you can go bold.” — Akry, a Sephora reviewer
Last but not least, don’t neglect your brows. As Mario Dedivonvic, a celebrity makeup artist behind a few names you may recognize like J.Lo and Kim Kardashian previously told us, “Around the age of 40, it’s imperative that you don’t neglect your eyebrows. They tend to get thinner as we age—especially on the ends—so I suggest filling them in with a pencil that matches your hair and working it in short strokes. Finish by brushing them out with a spoolie so they look soft and feathery.” To get the job done, we recommend this pencil from Anastasia Beverly Hills, which has a super slim tip that delivers subtle, hair-like lines and comes with a spoolie brush on the other end so you can fluff and groom your hairs for the most natural-looking results.