The best anti-ageing skincare ingredients to use in your 40s

Ageing and changes to our skin are inevitable, but minimising these changes is possible.

Written by
Marni Dixit
Medically reviewed by
min read
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While there's nothing we can do about the ageing process, many of us would love to stop its effects on our skin and appearance. No matter how young we may feel, if we don't take care of ourselves as we age, it will start to show sooner rather than later.

How we age is influenced by our genetics, ethnicity, time spent in the sun and how we care for our skin. The first place to show signs of age is our skin, so it's important that we take care of it as early as we can before those signs begin.

Of course, ageing and changes to our skin are inevitable, but minimising these changes is possible. So, if you're not already using anti-ageing skincare in your 40s, it's time to get started! If you need help determining the best course of action, allow us to help.

What are the different skin layers?

The top layer of skin is called the epidermis. It contains pigment-producing cells, known as melanocytes, which give our skin its colour.

The epidermis is constantly being renewed, with new epidermal cells rising from the lower cell layer of the epidermis. As the epidermal cells mature, they rise to the top of the skin surface, where they die and are shed.

Underneath the epidermis is the dermis, which contains blood and lymph vessels, nerves, sweat glands and oil glands. The dermis comprises elastic fibres (elastin) and dense fibres (collagen), which give skin its suppleness and strength. Hair follicles are extensions of the epidermis that reach the dermis.

How does your skin change in your 40s?

As we enter our 30s and 40s, there are a few noticeable changes to how our skin looks and feels. This may include decreased skin elasticity as we have fewer collagen fibres, darker pigmentation, pronounced fine lines, thinning of the facial muscle and fat and sagging skin.

Anti-ageing products can help slow the signs of ageing, but you must be consistent with your skincare habits to create an effective skincare plan. The benefits of a good skincare plan include the following:

  • Helping to retain the skin's youthful firmness for longer
  • Reduce fine lines and wrinkles
  • Keep your complexion looking brighter and younger
  • Avoiding a leathery skin look
  • Reducing your risk of skin cancer

Signs of ageing skin include:

  • Thinning skin: The basal cell layer of the epidermis begins to slow its cell production rate, thinning the epidermis. The dermis may also become thinner, so your skin is more likely to wrinkle.
  • Sagging skin: Older skin produces less elastin and collagen, so it's more likely to begin sagging.
  • Wrinkles: As elastin and collagen production slow and the skin begins to thin, you're more prone to wrinkles, especially around your eyes (like crow's feet) and mouth, as they are often moving.
  • Dryness: As we age, our skin has fewer sweat and oil glands, making skin more prone to dryness, itching and roughness.
  • Broken blood vessels: Blood vessels in older, thinner skin are more likely to break and bruise.

What are the anti-ageing ingredients I should be using?

The 2 main skincare products you want to be looking for and using in your anti-ageing skincare routine are vitamin C and medical-grade retinoids.

Retinoids, which are derived from vitamin A, have been clinically proven to stimulate collagen production, prevent and treat existing wrinkles, improve the skin's firmness and fight acne [1].

However, the critical thing to remember with retinoids is that they increase your sensitivity to the sun. So, it's incredibly important to wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 50+ every day to maintain healthy skin.

Vitamin C is another excellent ingredient, as studies have found that it also promotes collagen growth, fights wrinkles and helps damage created by UV rays [2]. It also helps to improve skin tone and reduce hyperpigmentation, such as acne scars and sun spots.

What products should I use on my skin when I'm in my 40s?

If you want to prevent premature skin ageing, these are the key ingredients and products to add to your skincare routine:

Retinol oil

Retinol is a type of retinoid made from vitamin A, and it works differently from other products because it goes deep beneath the epidermis to your dermis. Here, retinol helps to neutralise free radicals, which helps to boost the production of elastin and collagen.

This can reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, enlarged pores, sun damage, uneven skin texture, and melasma and also creates a 'plumping' effect on the skin.

Retinol oil also has an exfoliating effect on the skin, which helps improve texture and tone. It can also be used to help treat acne and its scarring. Plus, it can be used by all skin types.

One study found that it can take just a few weeks to see the results of an over-the-counter retinol oil, with a 'significant reduction' in wrinkles found in those who continued use for 12 weeks [3]. Another study found that wrinkles on the neck and around the eyes improved after just 8 weeks of use [4].

Medical retinoid cream

Clinical-strength retinoids are some of the best anti-ageing products as they reduce fine lines and wrinkles by increasing collagen production and hyaluronic acid, which also helps bolster the skin's thickness and elasticity.

They also improve skin colour by stimulating the production of new blood vessels in the skin [5]. Retinoids also have additional benefits, including fading age spots and softening rough patches of skin.

Retinoids were first created to fight acne, but they have also been used to treat psoriasis, warts, wrinkles and blotchiness caused by sun exposure. They work by prompting surface skin cell turnover to get rid of dead skin cells, allowing new cell growth underneath.

They stop collagen breakdown, as mentioned previously, and also thicken the deeper layer of the skin, where wrinkles start, giving you firm skin and fewer fine lines.

Some of Software's medical-grade skincare formulas contain retinoids to help target ageing and acne. Our formula is personalised to your skin needs and as such, will contain specific ingredients that help you achieve your skin goals.

These ingredients can include retinoids, azelaic acid, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide — in custom dosages to suit your skin. Take our online consult and one of our Australian health practitioners will create a formula just for you.

Vitamin C serum

A vitamin C serum is a great way to slow ageing, prevent sun damage and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots and acne.

Because vitamin C is an antioxidant, it fights free radicals, or toxins, that come into contact with your skin — this could be things such as air pollution, or it could even be a result of something that occurs inside your body, such as your metabolism. Free radicals can damage your skin, so using vitamin C daily can improve your skin's appearance.

One study found that daily use of vitamin C for at least 3 months improved the appearance of wrinkles on the face and neck and improved the overall skin texture and appearance [6].

When used with sunscreen, vitamin C was also found to help protect the skin from harmful UV rays. When combined with ferulic acid and vitamin E, vitamin C can help diminish redness and protect the skin from sun damage. It can also reduce the appearance of dark spots as it prevents pigment production in the skin [8].

Vitamin C also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help with acne as it helps control oil production in the skin [9].

It is also great to use on any skin type, so if you have sensitive skin or dry skin, you can still use it in your skincare routine. Use your vitamin C serum in the morning and retinol or retinoid at night.

Software's Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid Serum is one of the most potent vitamin C serums on the market thanks to a full 15% dose of vitamin C. Our formula fights dullness, dark spots and discolouration while also brightening skin and fighting atmospheric ageing.


It goes without saying that daily sunscreen use is essential to keep your skin looking good and prevent skin cancers. Sunscreen has been found to protect against wrinkling, spotting and loss of elasticity that is caused by the sun's UV rays [10].

Ensure you're choosing sun protection that protects you from both UVA and UVB rays, and wear it every day, even if you don't go outside, as the sun can still damage you through windows.

Software's Daily Sun Defence SPF50+ is formulated with both UVA and UVB filters, is non-comedogenic (so it won't clog your pores) and is non-greasy and white-cast free, making it the perfect addition to your daily skincare routine.

To help make your life a little easier, Software has created the ultimate anti-ageing toolkit with the Advanced Ageing Set. This kit is designed to treat ageing at all stages of the skincare process with our Vitamin C + Ferulic Serum, Retinol Complex Oil, Salicylic Acid Foaming Wash, Ceramic Repair Balm, and , our lightweight, non-greasy SPF50 formula.

These 5 products are formulated to brighten and firm skin, stimulate collagen production, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and provide deep skin hydration.

Tips for healthy skin

To keep your skin looking as good as possible as we age, there are several things you can do aside from your skincare routine [11].

  • Wear sunscreen daily and limit sun exposure: Even if you don't go outside, you need to wear sunscreen as the sun's rays can still reach you through windows. Wear a hat, loose-fitting clothes with long sleeves and sunglasses when outdoors and try to limit the time you spend in the sun.
  • Avoid smoking: Cigarette smoke promotes skin ageing and is believed to accelerate the damage caused by sun exposure. You are also more likely to get wrinkles around your mouth from smoking.
  • Keep your skin moisturised: Dry skin will be more likely to show fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Eat the rainbow: Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Manage your stress: Stress can cause a reduction in your skin's elasticity, which can lead to wrinkles. Stress may also lead to furrowing of the brow, which can also lead to wrinkles.
  • Regular skin checks: Have your skin checked for skin cancer every year. If you notice any suspicious moles, see your doctor.
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* Software lifestyle survey of 116 patients who were using
Software for ageing concerns, June 2022