Your skin is constantly changing due to things like environmental stressors and age, and what worked when you were younger—like washing your face with a bar of soap—won’t necessarily cut it as you get older. We all have different skin-care concerns and goals, but when it comes to the durability, health, and appearance of our skin as we enter our 40s, there are three key products everyone should have in their routine, according to Onyeka Obioha, MD, a board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist based in Los Angeles, CA and Glory Skincare advisor.

“Our skin is delicate, so it’s important to be gentle when it comes to using certain skin-care products. I recommend avoiding harsh exfoliants or any mechanical exfoliants [in your 40s],” says Dr. Obioha. This is because as you age, your skin becomes more delicate, “so avoiding these harsh exfoliants will be important when taking care of your skin.”

Exfoliating your skin is necessary to aid in cell turnover and to remove dead skin, but according to Dr. Obioha, using exfoliants that are too rough can leave your skin feeling dry and itchy. Exfoliants that contain granules may promise soft skin but tend to be too aggressive and can cause lots of irritation, she adds. Instead, Dr. Obioha recommends chemical exfoliants that feature glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid to increase cell turnover, improve the texture of your skin, and take it from dull to glowing. “When done correctly, exfoliation is great for getting a youthful glow to your face,” she says.

In addition to using chemical exfoliants, Dr. Obioha says retinol and sunscreen are essential for your skin-care routine. “You’ll want to be cautious when applying retinol since it can cause skin irritation and sensitivity, however, it’s a great product for evening out dark spots and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” she says.

And no matter your age, sunscreen is necessary to maintain the integrity of your skin. According to Dr. Obioha, mineral-based sunscreen “provides the gold standard of protection.” If you aren’t already wearing sunscreen religiously, consider adding it to your routine, especially as your skin ages. “Photoaging is largely responsible for accelerated aging so it’s crucial that you wear SPF daily,” she advises.

All good things require change, and your skin is definitely one of them. It’s never too late to start taking better care of your skin and adding chemical exfoliants, retinol, and sunscreen to your routine will have your skin looking glowy and smooth.

Learn more about what retinol is and how to properly use it in the video below: 

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