The Skin-Care Mistake You’re Making In Your 40s
And the cleansing routine you'll want to adopt now.
When it comes to skin care, there are a few golden rules to live by: SPF in your 20s (and at every age, really), retinol in your 30s, antioxidants in your 40s. That being said, there’s one skin-care mistake experts say many women in their 40s are making: Washing their face in the morning. The reason? It’s simply not necessary, and can actually backfire depending on your skin type.
According to Hadley King, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, harsh detergents can strip the skin of its natural oils, leaving the skin drier and with an impaired skin barrier function. This is problematic because as we age, our skin is already susceptible to the hormonal shifts that occur in the perimenopausal phase (think: thinness, dryness, fragility), which means it’s your job is to do whatever you can to keep it hydrated and youthful — including nixing oil-sucking cleansers from your a.m. skin-care routine.
So, what’s the proper way to cleanse your skin once you hit 40? Keep reading to find out.
Morning cleansing routine
As skin ages, there’s less connective tissue present as well as fewer glycosaminoglycans that help maintain collagen and elastin. This leads to skin thinness, reduced hydration and compromised barrier function. “Skin that’s thinner and drier will be more susceptible to the drying and potentially irritating effects of [cleansers],” King says. “And, the skin is less able to retain moisture if the natural oils are stripped and the skin barrier is further impaired.”
For this reason, try cutting your morning face wash from your routine and instead rinse with plain water. You’ll avoid that squeaky-clean feeling (which actually is just a sign that you’ve dried your skin out) and your skin will feel healthier overall.
If, however you wear a heavy cream at night and tend to feel oily come morning, you may feel like cleansing is a must. In this case, opt for micellar water — it is much gentler on the skin and will make you feel clean without stripping your skin of its natural oils. Remember: The drier your skin is and the less there is to wash off, the gentler the cleanse can be.
Nighttime cleansing routine
Unlike your morning cleansing routine, your nighttime cleansing routine is when it’s important to really get thorough; wash off all of the day’s dirt, debris and pollution; and focus on moisture-boosting ingredients since you’ll be sleeping in them. “Look for cleansers that are free of harsh detergents and that contain ingredients that hydrate, moisturize and support the skin barrier — this means humectants (like hyaluronic acid and glycerin), emollients (such as squalene, fatty acids and ceramides) and even occlusives (like petrolatum and beeswax),” notes King.
She recommends NakedPoppy’s Nourish Cream Cleanser ($28 for 3.4 ounces) because it thoroughly cleanses while supporting the skin barrier, doesn’t contain skin-drying detergents like SLS or SLES, and is formulated with skin-nourishing, smoothing and brightening ingredients such as baobab extract, aloe, and quinoa extract. You may also want to try Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser ($4-$11, depending on the size), which is free of parabens, phthalates and sulfates.