Here’s Everything You Need to Know for Glowing Skin After 40

Put your best face forward.

By Stacey Lindsay

The first time I noticed them was after a night out. I had just gotten home, giggly from drinking wine with friends. When I looked into the mirror to take off my makeup, there they were: two fine lines running across my forehead. I leaned in to get a closer look. Yep, the thin channels of expression were claiming their existence. I dropped what I was doing and googled the best anti-aging skincare products for forties skin immediately. 

At the time, I was in my late thirties, which is when we start to see a shift in our skin, says holistic skin care specialist Kristina Holey. Essential factors like circulation, nutrient delivery, and tissue repair begin to slow down, as does collagen and elastin production. And fine lines and years of sun damage begin to rear their heads. 

Feature image by Riley Reed.

A woman smiling while sitting down.
Image by Michelle Nash

If you’re like me and about the same age, you’ll sigh at this. But in truth, our maturing skin is no reason to get down. On the contrary, it’s an invitation to evaluate how we care for it. As Holey says, it requires a more thoughtful, efficacious regimen to build a healthy system. Hence, way more than a quick ‘best anti-aging skin care products for forties’ google search.

Now in my forties, I realize I want to take care of my skin the right way—which means understanding why it’s changing and what it needs. That’s why I reached out to Holey, who is known coast-to-coast as the best for teaching both how the skin works and what makes it thrive. Rather than finding a quick fix (which doesn’t exist!), I dived deep into learning what happens to skin post-40 and the best nutrients to keep it supple, healthy, and glowing.

Kristina Holey

Kristina Holey is a holistic skin specialist who is dedicated to furthering the understanding of the skin and its relationship to the rest of the body. A scientist by trade, Kristina applies an experimental approach to both skin treatment and product development. She received her bachelor’s degree in engineering and later pivoted to cosmetic chemistry, studying at the ISIPCA (Institut Supérieur International des Parfums, Cosmétiques et Arômes Alimentaires), one of the world’s most prestigious fragrance and cosmetics schools.

Forties Skin: What Happens

In our twenties and early thirties, the “system” of our skin is functioning well, Holey tells me. The natural processes of repair and healthy cell production are “working on a pretty good schedule,” bar if you have any major nutritional deficiencies. Essentially, “less is more” when it comes to skincare during these years.

The shift in our skin really begins to happen around 35, says Holey. This is when we start to see:

  • A decline in circulation and nutrient delivery.
  • A slowing down of cellular turnover.
  • A decrease in the production of collagen and elastin.
  • Visible expression lines, which are linked to a decline in ATP production, an organic compound the body uses for energy. (As Holey says, “we require ATP and cellular energy to move our muscles to make more collagen.”)
  • More signs of accumulated damage from free radicals, UV rays, pollution, chemicals, and internal body issues, all of which trigger inflammatory cascade and break down skin structure.

These factors require dedicated and efficacious care to build and maintain a healthy skin system. “At the 35 to 40 marker, it switches from less is more to more is more,” says Holey of our skincare needs. 

A woman smiling outside in the city.
Image by Belathée Photography

Forties Skincare: All About Micronutrients

I admit, the above is a lot to swallow. But allow Holey to swoop in with her positive skin wisdom: With essential micronutrients that work synergistically, you can replenish the skin and build a healthy foundation. “From a skincare perspective, you want to think, How do I compensate for all these inevitable changes? And how do I try to prolong the lifespan of these fibroblasts, make the cells communicate, and make the system run smoothly?”

This, continues Holey, includes the following “priority ingredients.” Each micronutrient speaks to the next, creating a skincare system that encourages healthy cellular communication—resulting in glowing skin, 40 and beyond.

Woman applying skincare products in front of mirror.
Image by Michelle Nash

Retinol (Vitamin A)

Vitamin A does many things, which is why Holey calls it a “no-brainer” ingredient when it comes to forties skin care. It works to stimulate skin fibroblasts and stimulates collagen. It also clears out damaged cells so there’s room for new healthy skin cells. “For UV damage, photo damage, and damage from previous inflammatory cascades, retinols are the best ingredient to really repair from the ground up,” she adds.

Marie Veronique Multi-Night Retinol Emulsion

u003cpu003eThis rich formulation has the sensation of a night cream, says Holey, who suggests applying over oils to enhance the penetration. “It’s meant to cover all the bases of the skin in terms of correcting and facilitating a healthy process.”u003c/pu003e

Common Heir Retinol Serum

u003cpu003eSqualane and algae oil blend with a low concentration of vitamin A for a nightly retinol that’s meant to be gentle yet powerful. u003c/pu003e

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)

This powerhouse ingredient is an antioxidant that helps with deep-down skin actions that require energy. Niacinamide, in essence, scavenges any byproduct. It also helps to reduce inflammation and redness and helps with barrier function. “At the deep level, it’s one of those magical ingredients,” says Holey.

Marie Veronique Soothing B3 Complex

u003cpu003eHoley collaborated with legendary skincare specialist Marie Nadeau to create this gentle, nutrient-rich Niacinamide serum that results in dewy skin.u003c/pu003e

True Botanicals Repair Nightly Treatment

u003cpu003eA blend of natural peptides, ceramides, and vitamin B3 combine with fermented seaweed and green tea. This is like a nightly vitamin dose for the complexion. u003c/pu003e

Vitamin C

Another “no brainer,” says Holey. “You can’t produce collagen if you don’t have vitamin C,” she adds. Plus, since we don’t make vitamin C ourselves, we need it from external sources—and it’s required for so many different processes in the body, including anything immune-related. Vitamin C also works to maximize sun protection. [Note: Be sure to test vitamin C as certain varieties may be too strong for certain skin]

The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder

u003cpu003eA clean and effective vitamin C that comes in powder form, allowing you to mix it fresh with a favorite serum. u003c/pu003e

“In order to have healthy skin, you must have healthy cellular communication.” —Kristina Holey

Iris and Romeo Weekend Skin

u003cpu003eA two-in-one skin-boosting punch, this serum-like tinted day moisturizer combines vitamin C and transparent mineral SPF 50.u003c/pu003e

Essential Fatty Acids

As we age, our skin makes less oil. For this reason, Holey says it’s important to supplement with essential fatty acids. This helps to seal and protect the skin and nourish with ceramides, which are important for replenishing lipids and cholesterols and supporting moisture balance.

Botnia Wisdom Oil

u003cpu003eThis highly regenerative facial oil includes a blend of sea buckthorn, rosehip, and raspberry oils, which deliver a nutritive dose of essential fatty acids. An overall gorgeous oil that protects and feeds the skin.u003c/pu003e

Marie Veronique Protective Day Oil

u003cpu003eHoley is pro-oil blends because they tend to have fewer ingredients and preservatives. “Depending on where you are, whether you’re breakout-prone or have rosacea or dry skin, you can pick an oil blend that is going to influence your natural oil production.”u003c/pu003e