It's no secret that our skin changes as we age. As you reach your 40s, hormonal changes can make hyperpigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles and dryness more apparent. Seasons can also have an impact on skin aging, with winter being the biggest culprit. According to renowned esthetician Shani Darden, winter's low humidity levels can impact skin over 40. "[Winter weather]combined with heat (in the office or at home), can make skin drier and look dull overall," she explains.
But luckily, there are ways to keep your skin from succumbing to the scorching cold. Ahead, Darden shares how to keep 40+ skin looking its best all winter long. From the best products to use to treatments to try, she shares everything.
Meet the expert
Shani Darden is a renowned esthetician and founder of Shani Darden Skin Care. The California-based skin care expert often treats clients in her Beverly Hills studio, develops high-performance formulas and shares her expertise with her followers on social media.
Make simple product exchanges
A complete product overhaul isn't necessary once winter arrives, as long as you're in control of your skin type, its needs and its response to seasonal changes. "If you're using the right products, there's really no need to change your routine," says Darden.
Sometimes all it takes is a few product swaps to "winterize" your skincare routine. "Some people just need to add a hydrating serum and a richer moisturizer if their skin is dry," she adds. Darden recommends products with lipid-repairing ingredients like ceramides, peptides and hyaluronic acid to draw in moisture, keep skin hydrated and support a healthy barrier.
Be intentional about your morning and evening routine
For women in their 40s, Darden suggests starting the morning with a gentle cleanser, as she Cleansing Serum. A carefully formulated cleanser is a must for mature skin, especially in winter, to keep the skin barrier intact without losing much-needed moisture.
Next, Darden recommends using an antioxidant serum to "protect the skin and offset the effects of oxidative stress while helping to brighten the skin and boost its elasticity." Her go-to is Pro-Heal Serum from iS Clinicala vitamin C-based serum that is gentle enough for sensitive skin. For additional hydration, follow this with hyaluronic acid, such as Dr Nigma's Serum n°1.
Darden says it's also important to treat the eye area with a rich eye cream, as she Intensive Eye Renewal Cream. The celebrity beauty pro says anyone over 40 (and everyone else, for that matter) should supplement their routine with sunscreen. "My favorite is Supergoop Play FPS of all days because it's moisturizing, doesn't cause congestion and has an SPF of 50″, she adds.
For nighttime, Darden advises following the same routine with a few substitutions. After cleansing, apply a layer of retinol or lactic acid serum topped with a moisturizer. "Some people with dry skin may not be able to use retinol or lactic acid as often, so use them as often as tolerated," notes Darden.
Don't neglect exfoliation
Exfoliation is essential for healthy skin because it helps break down product build-up while removing dead skin that can dull the complexion. "I know a lot of people are nervous about exfoliating their skin when it's dry, but it's extremely beneficial to help brighten the skin," she shares.
In addition to sweeping away dead skin cells that clog pores, Darden explains that regular exfoliation allows moisturizing products to absorb better. But, of course, always keep your skin type in mind when developing your exfoliation routine. "Exfoliating once or twice a week is enough to make a difference on skin over 40, especially since a build-up of dead skin cells on the surface can accentuate the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles," she adds.
However, Darden says it's important to avoid harsh exfoliants like scrubs, "which can cause a lot of irritation and damage." Instead, opt for some of these gentle options.
Incorporate retinol into your routine
Some people think they should avoid using retinol during the winter for fear that it will cause excessive dryness and irritation. But retinol can be used all winter long. Darden recommends it Retinol Reformwhich contains an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) for smoothing and brightening benefits, once or twice a week. On nights when you don't use retinol, she suggests focusing on hydration and using a moisturizer formulated for your skin type.
If you don't want to use retinol at all, Darden has some recommendations. "If the skin is sensitive and doesn't tolerate retinol or chemical exfoliants, try exfoliating with a silicone bristle cleanser or even just a square of cotton gauze," she adds. "Both options will help remove dead skin on the surface without causing irritation."
Try using tools at home
Using tools and devices at home can improve your routine. For example, Darden Sculpting wand for the face uses vibration therapy to target anti-aging issues. "It's a great treatment to stimulate circulation and lift and sculpt the face."
LED masks, such as those from Darden LED Light Therapy Maskare another must-have for at-home winter skin care. "They combine red, blue and near-infrared light to stimulate a cellular response, target pigmentation and visibly diminish fine lines and wrinkles," she explains. But that's not all they're good for. Breakouts on midlife skin often occur due to hormonal fluctuations, and an LED mask can help eliminate them.
Humidifiers are another tool worth investing in during the winter, Darden says. "Try sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom at night to restore moisture to the air," she says. "This will help keep the skin comfortable and moisturized."
Consider booking some treatments
The best approach to healthy skin includes home care and professional treatments. In her 40s, Darden says to choose treatments that complement your skin type because, although skin can become drier with age, skin type takes precedence. "In the winter, facials are great for all skin types and keep skin radiant," she adds. "I customize my facials and incorporate technologies such as LED light therapy, microcurrents, vibration therapy, cryotherapy and oxygen, so clients leave with glowing skin."
Peels are another great option when it's cold in the air, even dry skin can benefit from them. "For dry skin, I love light lactic acid peels," says Darden. "Lactic acid peels are effective, do not irritate the skin and can add moisture."
Microneedling and laser treatments (such as laser hair removal) are also worth trying during the winter. Less sun exposure gives the skin the ideal setup to heal properly, reducing the risk of hyperpigmentation.
Don't forget to treat the skin under your neck
Winter calls for more moisturizing products on your face and body. When it comes to body care products, swap lightweight lotions for creamy balms and moisturizers, as their thicker consistency helps retain moisture. Darden says to opt for body moisturizers that contain ingredients like shea butter, a hydrating emollient. "Apply it after showering to deeply moisturize the skin and lock in moisture," she says.