Getting older is a gift, but that doesn’t mean we have to take the myriad visible side effects of aging lying down! As we navigate our 40s, it becomes apparent that current skin concerns differ from those of previous decades. It’s always good to take stock of your skin’s present situation, assess its needs, and be open to starting fresh with a new routine. That’s why we tapped an expert to give us the scoop on the best anti-aging serums for your 40s.

And while we can’t get enough scientifically-backed expert advice, at the end of the day, you’re the one who lives in your skin and knows what it needs. Not everyone has the same issues and concerns, so take what applies to you, trust your gut, go slow, and nourish your skin with high-quality products and good ingredients.

If ever there were a time to invest in one or two good products, it’s now. And a great serum is a good place to start. Use your 40s as the decade where you commit to self-care and indulge in a skincare routine that feels good for you—you just might be surprised with the results (physically and emotionally).

Featured image by Teal Thomsen.

Image by Teal Thomsen

After speaking with dermatological nurse and celebrity aesthetician Natalie Aguilar, it’s clear that there are a lot of amazing serums out there that do some serious heavy lifting. You don’t necessarily need to have a time-consuming, 10-step skincare routine to get the skin of your dreams. The best anti-aging serums for your 40s do all the work for you. Read on for Aguilar’s tips on how to find the best anti-aging serums for your 40s!

Natalie Aguilar
  • Dermatological Nurse & Esthetician
  • Instagram

Aguilar is a Los Angeles-based dermatological nurse and licensed esthetician.

Image by Teal Thomsen

The most common skincare concerns in your 40s

Before deciding what anti-aging serum is right for you, it’s important to understand the various issues that arise in your 40s. At the top of the list? Dehydration. Aguilar notes that a decrease in estrogen production, natural oil production, cell renewal, and sun damage all lead to dry skin. Dryness makes fine lines and wrinkles more apparent, visibly aging skin. Plumping skin with moisturizing serums and creams is absolutely key in one’s 40s.

Serums deliver a high concentration of active ingredients deeply into your skin, which is why they’re a great anti-aging tool.

It makes sense that we start to see drastic changes in our skin at this time. Aguilar tells us that by the time we reach our 40s, it’s been 15 years since collagen production has begun to slow down, giving us a visible reminder that it’s time to get serious about our skincare. We start experiencing a loss of volume, elasticity, and hydration—and previous sun damage begins to appear in the form of spots, fine lines, and wrinkles.

Aguilar goes on to explain that as we age, we naturally lose fat, collagen production slows down, and the number of bone regenerating cells in the face decrease. Yes, you read that right, bone loss. So as the structure that holds the skin taut begins to diminish, it’s imperative that we supplement the skin.

Image by Belathée Photography

Key Ingredients To Look For in Serums

  • Vitamin C increases brightness and evens out skin tone.
  • Hyaluronic acid plumps the skin, diminishes fine lines and wrinkles, and restores a healthy skin barrier by binding water to the skin and preventing further dehydration.
  • Retinol increases cell turnover and stimulates collagen production.
  • Peptides make up proteins in our body, including collagen in the skin. Using a peptide serum can signal to your skin to boost its production of collagen.
  • Epidermal growth factors (proteins that stimulate cell growth) help thicken skin and boost collagen production. They stimulate the skin but are far less irritating than many retinoids.

Aguilar’s Pro Tip: As the skin begins to naturally thin, it’s important to avoid harsh, exfoliating products that can weaken and amplify signs of aging. That means aggressive exfoliants (chemical or physical scrubs) that can cause increased irritation, inflammation, and dryness.

Water-Based vs. Oil-Based Serums

Aguilar was quick to remind us that people in their 40s can still experience breakouts. Therefore in general, water-based serums are more appropriate at this time. However, those who have extremely dehydrated or dry skin would likely benefit from oil-based serums. It’s a good reminder that it’s best to continue to use products based on your individual unique skin type while also focusing on your skin’s concerns and needs for your age.

Image by Michelle nash

The Best Anti-Aging Serums for Your 40s

PCA Skin Exlinea Peptide Smoothing Serum

According to Aguilar, this advanced neuropeptide spot treatment contains three potent peptides to help lift, tighten, and firm skin for a younger-looking, more defined facial contour. It strengthens the skin by improving epidermal thickness and increasing moisture and hydration retention.

PCA Skin Exlinea Peptide Smoothing Serum

This serum also helps deliver an immediate and long-term reduction of visible expression lines caused by repeated muscle movement.


Doctor BABOR Pro’s EGF Growth Factor Serum

The EGF serum by Doctor BABOR Pro boasts a contracted formula of three biomimetic peptides. Aguilar explains that these luxurious peptides help support the growth of the skin’s natural epidermal growth factors and fibroblast growth factors to help stimulate the regeneration and formation of collagen and elastin.

Doctor BABOR Pro’s EGF Growth Factor Serum

The like-magic impact of this anti-aging formula? Firmer and smoother-looking skin.


Matriciel Visage Serum By Biologique Recherche

Aguilar is a huge fan of this beautiful serum. It boasts an array of hyaluronic acid that promotes plumping, softness, and hydration alongside arctic glycoproteins and rye extract to improve the skin’s texture and increase volume and radiance.

Matriciel Visage Serum By Biologique Recherche

This serum is effective in combating the natural loss of volume and plumpness in the cheekbone area and helps restore the skin’s natural fullness.


Olay Regenerist Fragrance-Free Regenerating Face Serum

Formulated with an amino-peptide complex, this serum is designed to deliver moisturizing ingredients 10 layers into the skin’s surface.

Olay Regenerist Fragrance-Free Regenerating Face Serum

This drugstore- (or Target!) friendly serum regenerates surface cells while also restoring elasticity with hydrating ingredients that plump up the skin immediately, so you get quick results.


Dr. Barbara Sturm Anti-Aging Serum

The hardworking trifecta of purslane, skullcap, and hyaluronic acid is responsible for this serum’s efficacy. Purslane stimulates and supports skin health and rejuvenation. Skullcap strengthens the skin’s barrier function to protect against free radicals. And hyaluronic acid provides both immediate and long-term hydration. Say goodbye to wrinkles, dry skin, and dull, uneven texture.

Dr. Barbara Sturm Anti-Aging Serum

Purslane, skullcap, and hyaluronic acid make up this powerful serum that is full of active antioxidants that nurture the skin while also visibly reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles.


Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum

This serum boasts a formula that contains brightening vitamins, balancing minerals, moisturizing fatty acids, nourishing omegas, antioxidants that fight free radicals, restorative phytoceramides, phytonutrients, and more! You can’t go wrong with this transformative serum.

Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum

You’ve probably heard of this cult-fave luxurious face oil. It’s formulated with 22 nutrient-rich botanicals that nourish and restore moisture.


Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum 2.0

This multitasking serum is infused with micro-smoothing technology that reduces visible signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles, loss of firmness and elasticity, and dryness.

Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum 2.0

This award-winning serum tightens and brightens the look of skin, leaving it plump, healthy, and youthful.


Sunday Riley Juno Antioxidant and Superfood Face Oil

We can’t get enough of Sunday Riley’s products. They’re the real deal, and this face oil is no exception. It’s a nourishing oil that restores the skin’s natural moisture barrier with a unique blend of antioxidant-rich, superfood seed oils that leave you looking radiant.

Sunday Riley Juno Antioxidant and Superfood Face Oil

Antioxidants, vitamins, essential amino acids, omegas, and soothing agents leave skin soft, vibrant, hydrated, and protected.


Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Instant Firming Serum

This supercharged serum is packed with antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and more that work to leave skin looking and feeling bright, smooth, soft, and youthful.

Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Instant Firming Serum

A great option for those still dealing with acne since it’s an oil-free serum that visibly firms, lifts, and reduces the appearance of wrinkles.


SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

Pure vitamin C provides anti-aging benefits, brightens skin, and helps protect against oxidative stress while vitamin E replenishes skin lipids and fights free radicals. Ferulic acid, a plant-based antioxidant, enhances the antioxidant benefits and stability of vitamins C and E, which makes it possible for all ingredients to work at the highest possible level. The most impressive part is that once it’s absorbed, this vitamin C serum can remain effective for up to 72 hours. Wild!

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

If you’ve ever spotted someone with enviable skin, there’s a good chance they’re using this powerful serum.


Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate

For its comparatively reasonable price point, this serum is remarkably effective. Squalene, lavender, and evening primrose oil come together to deeply hydrate the skin while you sleep so you can wake up to a smoother-looking complexion that is positively glowing.

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate

If you’re fighting dry skin, you’ll definitely want to check this serum out. Its natural ingredients work hard to fight the look of wrinkles and imperfections, all while refreshing your skin.


Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos™ Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum

If you have sensitive skin then you’ll want to proceed slowly with this powerful AHA/BHA serum. It resurfaces congested skin with the help of an AHA blend and salicylic acid. They work to resurface and exfoliate the skin while loosening sebum that clogs pores.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos™ Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum

The key ingredient in this famed formula? Raspberry fruit extract hydrates and soothes the skin, leaving you with bright, smooth, even-looking skin.


Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinoid Serum

This Sunday Riley serum works quickly to balance and soothe skin while encouraging quick cell turnover that leaves skin brighter, smoother, and more radiant.

Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinoid Serum

Diminish signs of aging and improve the look of congested and sun-damaged skin with this retinoid serum. If you’re looking to get started with retinoids, this is a great option.


Tatcha Violet-C Brightening Serum

This lightweight serum works quickly to help soften, smooth, and brighten skin thanks to a blend of vitamin C, AHAs, and Japanese Angelica root extract, an edible plant that has been used in herbal medicine for centuries. It helps to reduce dark spots, discoloration, and scarring, as well as diffusing hyperpigmentation.

Tatcha Violet-C Brightening Serum

Gentle while still being incredibly effective, this serum is a perfect option for those with sensitive skin.


Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum

This clinically proven retinol eye serum prevents and corrects the look of wrinkles, elasticity, and dryness. Murad’s innovative technology prolongs visible benefits while also hydrating, lifting, and firming up the skin.

Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum

Tested by ophthalmologists, this serum is safe for all skin types while also being free of parabens, phthalates, and sulfates.


iS Clinical Active Serum

This face serum is designed to reduce the look of hyperpigmentation, redness, and acne, leaving you with a clear and healthy complexion. It works quickly to smooth away fine lines and wrinkles while softening the skin’s texture and leaving it plump and hydrated. It’s the best of both worlds.

iS Clinical Active Serum

Still dealing with acne in your 40s but also need a powerful anti-aging serum? Then you definitely want to try this multitasking beauty.


This post was originally published on July 17, 2021, and has since been updated.

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Comments (4)
  1. 1
    Shelly July 17, 2021 at 10:24 pm

    I appreciate the sentiment but what is anti about aging? Perhaps spin it like aging with healthy skin?

    Reply
  2. 2
    Ella July 18, 2021 at 7:32 am

    Only one drugstore choice? Are you serious? Us poor women want to remain looking our best without breaking the bank for only one product! More affordable choices, please!

    Reply