Just Because I'm 40 Doesn't Mean I Can't Have Great Skin

You guys asked! And now I'm answering. Here are some of my favorite tricks and products.
Publish date:
September 30, 2013
shoppables, beauty, skin, forty

A few weeks ago, I wrote “Hurrah! I’m Forty! Why is it such a big litmus test anyway?” I was rewarded by many an xoJaner cheering on my positive attitude--and inquiring about my skin care routine!

Before we go any further, I must confess I’ve been blessed with relatively good skin. Sure, I went through a Seabreeze and Stridex phase in my early teens (who didn’t?) but when it comes to the skin on my face, my main issue is sensitivity. So now, as requested, here is my glowy-fresh-skin-at-forty-routine.


1. Remove. I take off any make up with Neutrogena Make Up Remover Cleanser Wipes. It makes me feel like I’m starting with a clean canvas so I can get…well, even cleaner. Use additional eye make-up remover if necessary. I love Almay Oil-Free Make Up Remover Pads because they don’t leave an irritating film. Serviceable knock-offs can be found at Target and Sephora.

2. Cleanse. I'm a Cetaphil girl. Your skin should already be pretty darn clean after using the Neutrogena wipes but the Cetaphil is like a little insurance policy for an ultra clean face. Plus, it is super moisturizing and your dermatologist approves. Astringents are too drying for my super sensitive skin, so if I feel a little grimy after all of that I will apply Cetaphil again (yes, again!) and this time wipe it off with a round cotton pad. It gives you that “look! Look, my skin really is clean!” gratification that toners give you, without all the stripping of natural oils.

3. Moisturize. I have different moisturizers that I use depending on what my skin needs that day. Sometimes I layer them, but not always. First, there’s my standby, the classic yellow Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion. They have recently improved upon the old version and it’s better than ever. I use it and love it; it’s one of the few products that leaves my skin not feeling taut. After that’s soaked in, I use Thalgo Collagen Cream. Thalgo is French, and isn’t as popular in the U.S. as it is in Canada (my mother-in-law, an expert Toronto-based aesthetician, got me hooked) but their moisturizers and masks are superb.


1. Cleanse. In the morning I go with the classic Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Grapefruit. I resisted buying this forever, because it had won so many awards I (foolishly) didn’t want to be one of the sheep (and I hate grapefruit). Guess what? There’s a reason it’s won so many awards. It’s mildly exfoliating, totally keeps zits away and has a refreshing citrus scent. Sold.

2. Layer On Two Moisturizers. I use the classic Clinique Dramatically Different first, then (drumroll please) Origins’ Make A Difference + Plus Rejuvenating Treatment. Mere words cannot convey the virtue of this product! It makes you look like you just came from a fancy skin clinic: dewy, fresh, and gorgeous! You might not even need foundation or tinted moisturizer!

3. Sunscreen. This is a tricky one for me, because I am allergic to all chemical sunscreens (even so-called “sensitive skin” sunscreens – oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate) What most sensitive skinned people like me can use are physical sunscreens like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. The gold standard is Le Roche-Posay ANTHELIOS Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50. It’s liquidy, so it’s not as whitening as other physical sunscreens can be. A close second (and cheaper option) is Neutrogena’s Pure and Free Liquid Daily Sunblock 50.

4. My Big Secret. Peter Thomas Roth CC Cream was my summer go to. It is worth every penny of the $48 it costs. A “complexion corrector” (there, now you know what CC cream means) it smooths, covers redness, brightens, and general makes you look fantastically well-rested and non-made up. Love.


Weekly. I leave the microdermabrasion to the professionals and stick to the simple stuff: I love Thalgo Softness Exfoliator for Dry or Extra Sensitive Skin. Alternatively, Clinique’s 7-Day Scrub is good, but only when applied with a gentle hand. I’m also a big believer in Philosophy’s “The Microdelivery” Triple-Acid Brightening Peel pads.

Daily. I like Clinique’s daily exfoliating serum in the blue bottle called Turnaround Concentrate Skin Renewer and Philosophy’s Hope in a Jar gently exfoliates. A daily treatment step like this keeps flakes at bay.


Without fail, once a week I do a mask. It is completely dependent on what my skin needs at the time, but these Thalgo masks are in my arsenal. Some are great for winter or wind-burned skin or as a spot treatment for acne when my skin is especially oily.


The Breakout Emergency Kit. My go-to for zit control is good n’ cheap Clean n Clear Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment. I’m seriously allergic to benzoyl peroxide; so salicylics are the way to go for sensitive skin. My big gun for a serious break out is Differin Gel, available only by prescription. You can use it as a spot-treatment, or smooth a tiny amount over acne prone areas daily. A little goes a long way. You have to exfoliate gently (gently!) if you use this stuff or you are bound to flake.

When I set out to write this piece I thought, “Gee, this will be totally short. My skin care routine is so simple.” Didn’t realize I had all of these products in my stores! The key for me is knowing my skin and giving it what it needs at any given time. I also go make-up free as much as possible.

What are your favorite products, tips, and tricks? Discuss!