I’m a Skincare Enthusiast in My 40s—And These Are the Surprisingly Affordable Products I Swear By

Get that glow.

By Stacey Lindsay
hydrogel masks

On a recent trip to Mexico for a wedding, I forgot my skincare. Noooo! I yelped as I opened my suitcase to find only my clothes. What was I to do without my (overpriced) serum, (nearly as overpriced) cleanser, and brightening moisturizer? Never one to seek out affordable skincare, I catastrophized that my 40s skin would suffer.

But that weekend, I rarely thought about my skin. I made do with what I could find: coconut oil to cleanse, green tea to tone, and a pump of my friend Burt Bee’s moisturizer. My skin looked hydrated and, I must say, pretty darn good on that trip. When I got home, my arsenal of expensive products had a new rival: my new, unexpectedly affordable and more minimalist skincare approach. It made me realize that good skin doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Featured image of Inge Theron by Teal Thomsen.

Candace Nelson washing face, affordable skincare 40s
Image by Michelle Nash

Affordable vs. Luxe Skincare: Finding What Works for You

Of course, I’m not saying that a gorgeous natural serum filled with actives isn’t worth the price. Sometimes it is—if that feels right for you. But this moment of panic led me to see that skin doesn’t need a fancy price tag to glow. There are fantastic affordable skincare options that are efficacious and luxurious—and this goes for products catered to 40s or older skin, which is my camp. I’ve researched and tried dozens of products and found many affordable cleansers, serums, and moisturizers that are clean and rival the efficacy of many of their expensive counterparts. And they make my 41-year-old skin glow.

What exactly do I mean by affordable here? Every product I love, which I outline here, falls under $40. 

Image by Belathée Photography

Affordable Skincare for Your 40s—What to Use

Our skin is going through changes in our 40s. Holistic skin expert Kristina Holey points out that around 35, we begin to see the markers of this shift: We lose collagen and elastin, have more visible expression lines, and noticeable sun damage.

To counter this (or rather, to honor this), I learned from Holey that we must be impactful with the micronutrients we feed our 40s skin. This includes delivering a robust mix of active ingredients, including essential fatty acids, niacinamide, vitamin A (retinol), and vitamin C that work synergistically to replenish and heal.

I consider these nutrients whenever I try a new product, no matter the price tag. I always ask: Is this product delivering one of the essential nutrients or services—i.e. cleansing, toning—my skin needs? If so, how does it make my skin feel after I use it?

The following products all check at least one major skincare box, from cleansing to delivering micronutrients. And yep, they all fall under $40. 

woman drinking tea
Image by Michelle Nash

11 of the Best Skincare Products for Your 40s—All Under $40

Botnia Balancing Cleansing Oil

u003cpu003eBotnia is one of the most effective, gentle, and nourishing skincare collections I’ve started using in the past year. Made of organic, hyper-dense botanicals, the line concentrates on fresh, whole ingredients. This oil cleanser removes grime without stripping the skin barrier. A must for 40s-plus skin.u003c/pu003e

Dr. Loretta Micro Exfoliating Cleanser

u003cpu003eDr. Loretta Ciraldo’s collection consists of focused-yet-gentle products that are all free of unnecessary additives like fragrances or dyes. Her exfoliating cleanser is rich in beta hydroxy, which works to remove debris and buildup.u003c/pu003e

Naturium Fermented Camellia Creamy Cleansing Oil

u003cpu003eTruly one of the best makeup removers ever. This cleanser starts out as an oil and melts into a milky solution, leaving skin bouncy and dewy.u003c/pu003e

The Ordinary Niacinamide and Zinc Serum

u003cpu003eWith its lineup of effective and affordable products, The Ordinary always proves that great skincare doesn’t have to come with a high cost. This serum includes niacinamide, a form of B3, that is a powerhouse micronutrient for 40s-plus skin.u003c/pu003e

Merit Great Skin

u003cpu003eA blend of cacao seed extract, b6, and hyaluronic acid makes this all-purpose serum super hydrating and toning. It works well as a nighttime treatment or as a midday boost over makeup.u003c/pu003e
aran goyoaga, affordable skincare 40s
Image by Belathée Photography

Three Ships Dew Drops Mushroom Hyaluronic Acid + Vitamin C Serum

u003cpu003eVitamin C is another must for the skin for brightening and tone. This gel serum blends a potent amount with vitamin C, making for a hydrating and brightening drink. u003c/pu003e

W3LL People Pore Detox Niacinamide Refining Serum

u003cpu003eA blend of beetroot, niacinamide, and hibiscus flower works to refine and tone the complexion. Light and effective, this is excellent to layer with other micronutrient products. u003c/pu003e

Luma and Leaf Fresh Life Moisturizer

u003cpu003eLight, bright, and rich in plant peptides to boost collagen production and reduce the appearance of fine lines. This lightweight cream delivers for a hydrated, supple complexion.u003c/pu003e

Jones Road Miracle Cream

u003cpu003eThe ‘miracle’ in the title is apt: This ultra-thick cream whips the driest skin into a luster overnight. It feels great, plus I love how it’s naturally rich in vitamins A, E, and polyphenols.u003c/pu003e

Luxury Sun Ritual Pore Smoothing SPF 30

u003cpu003eSheer sun protection that actually works is a goddess-send for 40s skin. This solution from Saint Jane, a luxurious clean brand, blends antioxidant-rich green tea, jasmine, and desert rose to protect and nourish. It also makes for an excellent primer.u003c/pu003e

Naturium Dew Glow Moisturizer SPF 50

u003cpu003eAccording to the internet, this sheer SPF 50 sold out instantly—several times over. I get why. A moisturizer and protectant, it really does leave your face dewy (without any shine), as it claims to.u003c/pu003e