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Female Beauty Founders Share the Secrets to Their Success

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Creating something meaningful—something that lasts and leaves a legacy—starts with intention. Even those spontaneous bursts of inspiration have to be grounded in purpose to transform from an idea into something tangible. Whether you’re trying to create a new habit or start a business, intention will guide you during the tough moments. That’s the root of resilience. The courage to pursue a goal is only possible when you know why you’re doing it. And when you lead with this kind of intention, others will follow.

The brands that resonate most deeply all have a clear sense of intention at the root. Some connect people, some speak to an underrepresented need, and some give a voice to marginalized communities. This Women’s History Month, we’re shining a light on the inspiring female beauty founders whose purpose-led brands stock our shelves and make up our most intimate routines.

Featured image from our interview with Marie Kouadio Amouzame by Belathée Photography.

Cyndi Ramirez female beauty founders.

The Female Beauty Founders Inspiring Us Right Now

Here’s an alarming fact: many of the world’s biggest beauty brands are not led by women. For an industry catering to women, larger brands are still helmed by men. Independent female beauty founders are proof that the business of beauty is not as glamorous as we might imagine. From struggling to secure funding to creating the perfect formula for our faces, female beauty founders face challenge after challenge before finally making it to store shelves.

Resilience is about learning from setbacks, adapting to change, listening to our community, and steadfastly believing in our mission.

Alice Lin Glover, EADEM

If you look back at the beauty industry over the last ten years, so much has changed. DTC brands are the norm, and we more opportunities to be discerning about what to buy and who to support. This is no accident. It’s all thanks to female beauty founders who wanted to create new definitions of beauty.

These women all had very clear intentions at the root of their businesses. And this is what got them through the hard days and inspired them to define beauty on their own terms. Ahead, these successful founders share the intentions behind their brands and how they showed resilience on the road to success.

Eadem Co-founders

Alice Lin Glover and Marie Kouadio Amouzame, Co-founders of EADEM

Why did you start EADEM?

Alice: Since childhood, I’ve battled severe cystic acne and eczema, leading me to invest significant time and money in visits to dermatologists, estheticians, and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners. However, as I became more educated about skincare, I was shocked to discover that many products I relied on contained hydroquinone, a banned ingredient in the EU and several countries across Asia and Africa. As I dug into the research behind what’s in our beauty products even further, I realized there was an urgent necessity for safe and tailored skincare solutions specifically designed for women of color.

Coincidentally, my friend Marie, a former colleague from my time at Google, shared my lifelong frustrations regarding representation in the beauty industry. Together, we embarked on creating EADEM, a brand that’s crafted to address the distinctive skincare needs for skin of color. What we learned was that when we designed for skin of color first, it works better on all skin types and skin tones—even most sensitive skin.

What makes EADEM unique?

Alice: Navigating the beauty world is a personal and vulnerable journey, especially for women of color. Growing up, Marie and I often wondered: were the products out there really made with us in mind? Sadly, to this day, the answer is typically a resounding no. So, right from the start, we made it our mission to create formulas that cater specifically to our diverse skin tones and needs. Everything we do, from creating products to how we speak about them, is all about celebrating our beauty and our multitudes.

Our formulation philosophy is built on what we call Smart Melanin™ Technology, ensuring every ingredient in our formulas are used at the just right dosage, clinically-proven on skin of color so you can trust it’s the most compatible and efficient without irritating.

Everything we do, from creating products to how we speak about them, is all about celebrating our beauty and our multitudes.

Alice Lin Glover, EADEM

What obstacles did you face?

Marie: Beauty is such a personal journey, and as a business entrepreneur in this industry, you often have to make your case in male-dominated rooms. It can be a vulnerable conversation. And at times, it can be challenging to communicate the nuances and needs of women. This becomes twofold when speaking about the specific needs of women of color. However, we know it’s critical to share a platform for those voices and are proud of the work we’re doing with EADEM to lend a platform.  

Alice: Even being further along in our brand’s journey, every day brings its own mix of victories and obstacles. We’re incredibly thankful for our devoted community and the guidance of our mentors to support us through these moments. From the start, we faced so many stereotypes and misconceptions about skincare products tailored for people of color. Needless to say, forging our own path in this industry hasn’t been easy.

For instance, it’s a proven fact that hyperpigmentation ranks high among the concerns for people of color. However, in discussions with potential partners and insiders in the industry, it became evident that there’s a significant gap in education and awareness on this matter. Some even questioned whether people with darker skin tones could experience hyperpigmentation at all; we found ourselves showing them examples on our own skin to prove our point. And it’s an industry-wide issue. We discovered that brands have to pay a premium to conduct clinical testing on skin that’s not white, so many companies actually forgo testing on diverse skin tones completely. 

What does resilience mean to you as a female founder?

Alice: Resilience is about learning from setbacks, adapting to change, listening to our community, and steadfastly believing in our mission.

Any advice for other female founders?

Alice: In my early career, I was completely focused on optimization. At the time, success meant getting the best career at one of the top companies. It was about external validation in that way. But I’ve realized that you can have multiple career paths and lives in the span of one, so don’t hold back from pursuing whatever interests you most. Just take that first step toward it, however daunting it seems!

Joyce de Lemos Founder Dieux Skin

Joyce de Lemos, Co-founder and Clinical Cosmetic Chemist of Dieux Skin

Why did you start Dieux Skin?

From my experience in the industry, I learned that customers often felt distant or detached from the products that they were purchasing. We wanted to create a brand that offered transparency to our community.

We wanted to provide a world full of education to empower them to make the right decisions for themselves. We didn’t want to create another brand that sold miracles or dreams. We wanted our community to get real answers to questions like What ingredients are in this moisturizer? How do they work? How much does this ingredient cost, and where does it come from?

We offer effective, clinically tested formulations along with transparency and education to help empower our customers.

Resilience means committing to your vision, no matter what.

Joyce de Lemos, Dieux

What obstacles did you face?

When we started the company, we were a team of three. Needless to say, we had our work cut out for us. From formulating, filling, and packing samples in my apartment to creating all of our social content to designing packaging, we were doing it all. It was a crazy start, and I’ll never forget how far we’ve come.

What does resilience mean to you as a female founder?

Resilience means committing to your vision, no matter what. This means believing in the value and feasibility of what you’re trying to achieve. There are going to be so many people along the way who will question you, diminish your work, and make you question yourself. During those times, you have to dig deep and remember your true value, yourself, and that you’re doing your best. There’s so much power in being your own number-one cheerleader. It keeps you buoyant and motivated during the roughest times.

Any advice for other female founders?

Develop strong relationships with other female founders. Don’t be afraid to be earnest and vulnerable with them about your accomplishments and failures. There is so much to learn from one another’s experiences. It’s such a beautiful thing to be able to share notes, commiserate, celebrate, and motivate each other during this wild journey.

Female beauty founders Priyanka Ganjoo Kulfi Beauty

Priyanka Ganjoo, Founder of Kulfi Beauty

Why did you start Kulfi?

After a five-year-long career on the corporate side of the beauty industry, I saw first-hand how South Asians were being underrepresented in beauty. I was constantly searching for products that matched my skin tone, and finding products tailored to skin tones and undertones like mine was challenging. I was tired of feeling like an outsider in the beauty industry. That’s why I set out to create a more inclusive beauty conversation, and so I launched Kulfi in 2021.

Kulfi is a beauty brand centered around joy, and celebrating South Asian beauty rooted in culture. We’ve been in business for just three years now, and our success has been incredible. Our cult-favorite kajal eyeliners, concealers, and eyeshadows have won awards from Allure, Byrdie, and more for their innovative formulas and undeniable odes to South Asian culture. Kulfi is also the first South Asian-owned and inspired makeup brand to launch at Sephora!

What makes Kulfi unique?

We’re creating products that bring joy to your everyday makeup routine. We do research on undertones to create new and unique shades and textures that complement a diverse range of skin tones.

Our purple blush went viral when it launched last year because it was a pink-toned purple that was flattering on olive undertones. Our eyeshadow formulas are the easiest one-and-done shadows you can use.

The intention behind these products is to make self-expression through color inclusive to all skin tones.

Priyanka Ganjoo, Kulfi

What obstacles did you face?

Access to funding is the biggest challenge for women of color entrepreneurs. Prior to our launch, I did hundreds of investor calls with no success. Funding from family and friends is typically the way to get started. But that is harder for immigrant entrepreneurs and women of color as we don’t have the same networks with wealth that can provide the level of support needed to scale a beauty business today.

I faced rejection from industry insiders when I first pitched my idea and heard feedback such as “South Asian-inspired beauty was not aspirational.” I built the brand during the pandemic when color and makeup were also not doing well, so there was a lot of pessimism around the category from investors and retailers. In those moments, what kept me going was listening to the small community we had built on Instagram, which sent us encouragement and support.

What does resilience mean to you as a female founder?

For the past few years, resilience meant showing up every day and continuing to step forward. Now, I find resilience also means listening to your instincts, including moments when you need to pause, take a step back, and reset. Entrepreneurship culture can be about hustling every day, but that can be unsustainable and unproductive in the long run. I now try to be more selective on which challenges I focus my energy on.

Any advice for other female founders?

Finding your support network of founders makes the journey more fun, especially if you are a single founder. I love getting on a long call with one of my founder friends to celebrate our wins and talk about the challenges. I’ve found so many cool, creative people through my entrepreneurial journey!

Female beauty founders Camille Katona and Stephanie Spence co-founders of 19/99

Camille Katona and Stephanie Spence, Founders of 19/99

Why did you start 19/99?

We both love makeup and how it can be used to empower and express. But there was a disconnect between how we used makeup in our daily lives and the messaging that the beauty industry used to sell makeup as a corrective tool.

In an industry that focuses on correction, we wanted to create tools for expression. We saw an opportunity to change the conversation around how one ‘should’ use makeup and create a brand that empowers individuals to define beauty on their own terms.  

The beauty industry has taken too long to catch up with the older consumer, who is still active and engaged and still wants to have fun with makeup.

Camille and Stephanie, 19/99

What makes 19/99 unique?

19/99 is beauty for everyone ages 19 to 99. The beauty industry has taken too long to catch up with the older consumer, who is still active and engaged and still wants to have fun with makeup! Our brand not only includes the older consumer—which we saw as a gap in the market—but our product is multi-purpose, offering and encouraging the customer to do more with less.

What obstacles did you face?

The biggest challenge has been getting our brand out there with a minimal budget. We are still self-funded, which has forced us to be creative with every dollar. We have worked with some amazing friends and family along the way and are just getting started.  

What does resilience mean to you as a female founder?

Resilience is growth. You will only grow if you learn to overcome challenges. 

Any advice for other female founders?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and stay focused. Be creative and find ways to do more with fewer resources. 

Anisha Khanna Sonage Skincare Founder - female beauty founders

Anisha Khanna, Founder of Sonäge Skincare

Why did you start Sonäge Skincare?

Sonäge is derived from the French expression “Bien porter son âge,” which translates to “To look good for one’s age.” But our mission goes beyond that. Sonäge advocates a holistic lifestyle, changing the way we treat our bodies to feel good for our age.

Sonage Skincare was originally created as a safe and effective system for day spa professionals (estheticians). We have a progressive treatment protocol that improves the quality of our client’s skin without being aggressive or sensitizing it. In 2016, we started selling products and home care routines directly to consumers.

What makes Sonäge unique?

Sonäge addresses gaps in the market by providing EWG-verified, clean, sustainable routines and formulations tailored to diverse skin types and tones. It also offers personalized skincare solutions and transparent education about ingredients and practices. By taking a holistic approach to skincare and emphasizing inclusivity and transparency, Sonäge aims to meet the evolving needs and preferences of consumers in the skincare industry.

What challenges did you face?

As an Asian American founder, I’ve encountered numerous unique challenges, including difficulty securing funding despite a proven track record and an impressive 70% loyalty retention and reorder rate from our community. The dearth of mentorship opportunities for women of color has made it challenging to find guidance and support within the industry, significantly impacting our growth rate and ability to secure distribution channels.

What does resilience mean to you as a female founder?

To me, as a female founder, resilience means being completely open to new experiences, persevering in the face of any obstacle, and seeing genuine opportunities behind every roadblock. As an entrepreneur wearing many hats, finding balance in my own life is like chasing the holy grail. Understanding the power of smart pivots, recognizing great collaboration, and being conscious of decision-making play crucial roles in my journey.

Resilience means being completely open to new experiences, persevering in the face of any obstacle.

Anisha Khanna, Sonäge

Any advice for other female founders?

  • Embrace adversity. Instead of shying away from challenges, view them as opportunities for personal and professional growth. Adversity fosters resilience, flexibility, and adaptability—qualities essential for entrepreneurial success.
  • Step out of your comfort zone. Growth often occurs beyond familiarity. Challenge yourself to explore new territories, connect with diverse individuals, and expose yourself to fresh perspectives. You’ll be amazed at the insights you gain from these experiences.
  • Seek mentorship. A supportive mentor can be a game-changer. Find someone who has trodden a similar path and glean wisdom from their journey. Mentorship offers invaluable guidance and encouragement, potentially reshaping the course of your entrepreneurial endeavors.



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Lifestyle

How to Celebrate Earth Day: 5 Family-Friendly Ideas

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This April 22nd, people all around the world will celebrate Earth Day. It’s a time to celebrate our precious planet, and consider how we can care for her better. Rooted in a legacy of environmental activism, this special day invites us to unite in honoring Mother Earth. Growing up in California, Earth Day was more than just a date on the calendar for me—it was woven into the fabric of my childhood and shaped by my mom’s deep reverence for nature. Now, as a parent, passing on these values to my own children feels like a sacred duty. If you’re wondering how to celebrate Earth Day with your little ones, join me on a journey filled with wonder, learning, and love for our planet.

Featured image from our interview with Roti Brown.

Woman gardening

How to Celebrate Earth Day: 5 Ideas to Inspire a Meaningful Celebration

Historically, Earth Day has come and gone for many of us without an acknowledgment of its importance. Until climate change became a growing concern for society on a global level—much of this awareness due to shifting weather patterns and warmer temps—we were met with messages to use less, recycle more, and maybe volunteer to plant a tree. But thankfully, things are shifting, and we understand how closely planetary health and community wellness are tied. Many people feel this responsibility and want to pass down a respect for the Earth to their children.

That said, it can be hard to know how to celebrate Earth Day in a meaningful, resonant way. For parents and caregivers looking for answers, I hope the following ideas spark inspiration and action.

Growing Gardens and Cultivating Connections

Planting a garden is more than just digging in the dirt. It’s a labor of love that yields countless rewards. My family has nurtured seeds into sprouts, tended to the soil with care, and celebrated in the bountiful mini harvests. Through this hands-on experience, my children have learned invaluable lessons about patience, stewardship, and the interconnectedness of all living things.

Whether it’s a backyard plot or a shared community garden, cultivating green spaces fosters not only a love for nature but also a sense of belonging and community spirit. Harlem Grown is a great book that speaks to the shared love of gardening.

Woman walking in field.

Chasing Sunsets and Cherishing Moments

Few things rival the enchantment of a sunset. It’s a natural phenomenon and fleeting masterpiece that paints itself across the sky. Whether we’re nestled in a blanket at the park or strolling along the pier, witnessing the sun’s descent always fills us with wonder. Watching the golden hues dance across the horizon can be an opportunity to express gratitude. For the warmth on our bodies, the light it extends, and its fascinating movements. I remind my children of our planet’s beauty and fragility, nurturing a sense of love and awe for the natural world that surrounds us.

Coastal Clean-up and Bonding by the Water

There’s something magical about being near water. It’s soothing for the soul and brings families closer together. Recently, a parent organized a beach clean-up with my daughter’s school friends. We armed ourselves with grabbers, gloves, and trash bags. As we combed the shoreline, picking up litter and sharing stories, I witnessed firsthand the power of collective action and environmental education. Remember, you don’t need an ocean to make a difference. A local park or trail can serve as a canvas for teaching your children about the importance of conservation and community care.

Stargazing Adventures and Eco-Lessons

Picture this: a warm evening, a telescope poised for exploration, and eager little faces reflecting the awe of the cosmos. My children’s fascination with the planets and solar system, ignited by a recent eclipse, has opened the door to meaningful conversations about pollution and light pollution. Together, we’ve peered into the night sky, marveling at distant stars while discussing the importance of preserving our skies for future generations.

This Earth Day, grab a telescope, and let the wonders of the universe spark curiosity and environmental consciousness in your own little astronomers.

Camille Styles backyard patio.

Reducing, Reusing, and Sparking Creativity

In a world dominated by consumption, teaching our children the importance of reducing waste and reusing resources is paramount. One of our favorite activities is reading This Is Not a Box. It’s a delightful book that ignites their imaginations and prompts them to see an everyday item in a new way. By encouraging creativity and resourcefulness, we not only minimize our environmental footprint but also cultivate a mindset of mindful consumption. It’s a gift I know will serve my children well throughout their lives.

The Takeaway

As Earth Day approaches, let’s seize the opportunity to celebrate our planet with our children. It’s a day where we can weave together moments of wonder, learning, and connection. Through stargazing adventures, coastal clean-ups, sunset chases, creative reuse projects, and gardening endeavors, we can instill in them a deep appreciation for the natural world and a commitment to protecting it for generations to come. Let’s embark on a journey of love and stewardship, nurturing a brighter, greener future for all.



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The Only Banana Nut Muffins Recipe You Need

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As someone who regularly tests recipes and also happens to live alone, I often find myself with the dilemma of having lots of extras. This isn’t a bad thing, of course. I’ve made friends with neighbors and always have treats to bring to the office. But sometimes, I just want to make something that’s not left hanging around my house for weeks. (When I developed this recipe a few months ago, I ate it every night for seven days straight.) I know I’m not alone in the struggle, so I’ve devised the ultimate small-batch banana nut muffins recipe. That’s right—these make a total of six muffins. You’re welcome.

banana nut muffin ingredients

The Case for Putting Nuts in Your Muffins

I’ve gone on record saying that I loathe nuts in my desserts. I don’t want walnuts in my brownies or chocolate chip cookies, butter pecan ice cream is a pass, and—hot take—I can’t handle a Snickers bar. The texture feels more like a nuisance than a way to enhance a treat. Maybe you’ll say I’m being extreme, but nuts are like land mines getting in the way of a fudgy brownie or fluffy cake.

The exception to this rule is putting the nuts on top of the dessert. Garnishing a cake with slivered almonds or a nutty crumble is my preferred method of utilizing nuts in baked goods. And that’s exactly what we’ve done here with this banana nut muffins recipe. We’re taking all the best parts of the banana nut muffin and adding a few tweaks to keep the texture and flavor top-notch.

best banana nut muffins

Key Ingredients for these Banana Nut Muffins

  • Pecans. Substitute with whatever you have on hand. Walnuts or almonds are great alternatives.
  • Oats. Optional, but I like playing on the slightly nutty flavor of oats for the topping.
  • Egg. Just one! Remember: small-batch.
  • Greek yogurt. Yogurt adds moisture while also helping with the leavening. If you don’t usually have yogurt on hand, freeze yogurt in ice cube trays and store the cubes in a freezer-safe bag. Simply thaw and use as needed.
  • Olive oil. Prioritize the good stuff in this recipe—you’ll taste it in these muffins.
  • Tahini. A little untraditional, but I love the savory and slightly nutty flavor that complements this recipe’s sweeter ingredients.
  • Maple syrup. I’m not a fan of super sweet treats, but maple syrup adds dimension.
  • Miso. If you’ve caught on, I love using savory ingredients in my baking. A little miso lifts all the flavors.
  • Banana. One banana is all you need. That random banana sitting on your counter? It’s the perfect contestant.
  • Flour. All-purpose for these muffins.
  • Baking Soda and Powder. Both keep these muffins light and fluffy.
  • Salt. If you’re not salting your sweets, start yesterday.
  • Cinnamon and Nutmeg. These warming spices enhance the muffins’ flavor without overpowering the banana.
  • Vanilla. Lately, I’ve considered vanilla optional in my recipes. (It can be so expensive!) Use it if you have it, but don’t fret if you don’t!
easy banana nut muffin recipe

Tips for Making Banana Nut Muffins

A few tips and tricks to ensure success.

  1. Let ingredients come to room temperature. This will drastically impact the final result.
  2. Mash the banana on its own, then add to the wet ingredients. Not only does this ensure an even distribution in the batter, but it also brings out the banana’s moisture.
  3. For bakery-style and domed muffins, fill your muffin tin to the top. I also recommend using parchment squares instead of regular liners as this will help create the rounded domed shape. This recipe works with regular muffin liners, but you might notice a bit more spreading on top of the muffin tin. Using large parchment squares also keeps the crumble in place.
  4. Gently press the crumble into the top of the batter. This ensures that the crumble will stick to the muffin instead of falling off during baking.

How to Store and Freeze Leftovers

These banana nut muffins are incredibly easy to store. (That is, if you end up with leftovers at all!) After letting the muffins cool completely, wrap muffins individually in beeswax or plastic wrap, then place them into a larger freezer bag. To reheat, remove individual muffins from the freezer and keep them in the fridge overnight. Alternatively, unwrap and toss muffins in the oven to thaw at 350 F for a few minutes.

the best banana nut muffins

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Description

An easy, small-batch banana nut muffin recipe that yields six fluffy and moist muffins.


For the crumble:

  • 60 grams pecans, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the muffins:

  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 5 tablespoons maple syrup (just over 1/4 cup, 3oz)
  • 1 teaspoon miso
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large banana (1/2 cup mashed)
  • 120 grams flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Prep the crumble. Add all of the ingredients to a small bowl and toss together until everything is evenly coated in oil and distributed. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with six liners, evenly spacing them out.
  3. Make the batter. In a large mixing bowl, add the egg, Greek yogurt, olive oil, tahini, maple syrup, miso, and vanilla. Whisk until thoroughly combined and smooth.
  4. Mash the banana until very well mashed. Add to the batter.
  5. In a small bowl, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Sift together to ensure everything is evenly combined, then add to the wet ingredients. Using a spatula, fold and combine the wet and dry ingredients until the batter just comes together.
  6. Using a small cookie scoop, evenly divide the batter amongst the 6 muffin liners. You’ll want the batter to go almost to the top of the liner.
  7. Add a tablespoon of crumble over the batter in the muffin pan and gently press the crumble into the top of the batter.
  8. Bake at 400 F for 18-19 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for about five minutes, then finish cooling on a wire rack.
  10. Enjoy!
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Category: breakfast

Keywords: banana nut muffin



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The Best Skincare Products for Your 40s

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We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

With over a million search results for the best skincare products for 40s, it’s safe to say I’m not the only one looking for high-performance ingredients to improve my skin health. And that couldn’t be more true as I enter this new phase of my life. I turned the big 4-0 earlier this year and while I don’t ever want to be in my 20s again, I do miss that 20s collagen and high cell turnover. But I’m not writing this to lament about wrinkles and fine lines either. (But I will admit I have gone under the needle and have tried almost every buzzy beauty treatment.)

No, I am embracing my 40s wholeheartedly because, in all seriousness, I have never felt better. I am emotionally more stable and available, I am spiritually connected, and I am physically well and comfortable in my body. (Mind you, it’s always a work in progress.) But, I’m entering this new decade with a newfound confidence in myself. And I can say with certainty: all that wisdom and growth is worth it.

Featured image by Teal Thomsen.

Woman laughing in armchair.

The Best Skincare Products for Your 40s

Today, you’re here to learn about the best skincare products for 40s. Lucky for you, that’s something I love to talk about. I guess you could say I have been skin-obsessed since my mom put me on a simple cleanse-tone-moisturize-sunscreen routine at the age of 14. As an Aussie, where 14,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer each year, the sunscreen part is critical.

Sunscreen is my number one must-have product everyone should wear every day for anti-aging and skin health. And please note, that while I list all of these products here, you certainly don’t need to buy all of them. When it comes to skincare, all you really need is a quality cleanser, toner (yes, I am team toner), moisturizer (or face oil), and sunscreen. That’s it! And for me, it’s all about investing in quality over quantity.

Read on to learn about the best skincare products for 40s that I use in my everyday routine! Some of them I’ve been using for over 10 years. So if you’re in your 30s and looking for anti-aging solutions, you’re welcome to keep scrolling, too.

Editor’s Note: We did a follow-up to this post where we asked two dermatologists to share the best drugstore skincare for your 40s dupes. Read the article here.

Skincare products.

The Best Skincare Products for Cleansing

Cosmedix Purity Solution Cleanser

I like to rotate my cleansers depending on how my skin is feeling that day. For my morning routine, I usually reach for an oil cleanser. Why? Well, typically my skin leans dehydrated, making my epidermis especially parched.

This Cosmedix cleanser restores the skin’s natural moisture and removes impurities. It’s also especially great for removing makeup. I have been using Cosmedix for over 10 years now because they have high-performance ingredients and do what they say. I highly recommend an oil cleanser if you haven’t tried one yet, especially for mature skin as it’s super hydrating and moisturizing while being sensitive to the skin. I also love Mara’s oil cleanser and the one from Emma Lewisham, both of which are packed with exfoliating fruit enzymes like papaya.

Agency Cloud Care Duo

A recent addition to our editors’ radars, Agency by Curology differentiates itself in the overly saturated skincare world by formulating personalized prescription products. That’s right, everything you’ll try (and soon love) by the brand is tailor-made to target your skin concerns. You start by sharing your skin goals with a licensed medical provider who then creates customized formulations. From there, you’ll receive check-ins offering tips and formula adjustments to ensure your skincare evolves alongside you—because yes, you should be regularly switching up your routine!

The Cloud Care Duo pairs the efficacy of the brand’s Cream Oil Cleanser with its Weightless Whipped Moisturizer. The result is a fresh, soft, and hydrated complexion that never feels heavy.

iS Clinical Cleansing Complex

I was introduced to iS Clinical about a year ago and have slowly been developing an obsession ever since. The cleansing complex is relatively new to my routine. But after at least four months of using it, I’m hooked. It’s a gel resurfacing cleanser that doesn’t strip your skin. The product is soft and gentle thanks to white willow bark that exfoliates the skin while breaking up any grime or makeup. Beauty editors love it because it works across every skin type and concern. I can use this one every day, multiple times a day, and it won’t leave my skin feeling dry, stripped, or squeaky. An all-around excellent addition to your skincare routine.

COSMEDIX Purity Clean Exfoliating Cleanser

In the past, foaming cleansers got a bad rap for being too stringent and stripping the skin of all of its oils. But let me introduce you to the new generation. Clarify is incredibly gentle and hydrating. The salicylic acid exfoliates the skin and helps prevent breakouts while the aloe vera soothes and heals. But this cleanser’s genius ingredient is the probiotics which encourage healthy bacteria on the surface. 10/10 recommend.

Renée Rouleau AHA/BHA Blemish Control Cleanser

When my skin is feeling hormonal or blemish-prone, I bring out the big guns. Renée Rouleau is renowned for her arsenal of acne-fighting products and this one really nailed it. It packs a punch in the acids department mixed with gentle biodegradable jojoba beads which reduce acne, bumps, blackheads, and clogged pores while lifting away red discoloration and scarring leftover from blemishes. I use this cleanser about three times a week—prevention rather than cure!

Woman washing face.

The Best Skincare Products for Toning

Cosmedix Purity Balance Exfoliating Prep Toner

The jury has been out on toner in recent years but I swear by this one. Personally, I prefer a chemical exfoliation to a physical one. This one has salicylic and L-lactic acid combined with tea tree oil to cleanse, clarify, and smooth the skin. It’s great for blackhead management and removing excess oil or makeup. I’ve even been known to use it as a cleanser on the trips I’ve forgotten to pack mine.

Woman in sauna

The Best Skincare Products for Boosting

Cosmedix Cell ID Nutritive Defense Serum

There are a lot of serums out there. (I repeat, a lot.) But this one deserves a spot on your shelf. It’s packed with peptides, amino acids, and antioxidants which are great for aging skin. I can’t emphasize it enough: this serum is like giving your thirsty skin a big drink. The ingredients create a skin barrier that locks in moisture and keeps my skin feeling plump and dewy all day.

iS Clinical Hydra-Cool Serum

Speaking of drinks, let me introduce you to the ultimate glass of water for your epidermis: the hydra-cool serum from iS Clinical. I know hyaluronic acid has been hyped a lot in recent years, and for some people it can be drying (the opposite effect of what you want in an HA). But this serum has worked wonders for me. Perhaps it’s the additional vitamin B5, kojic acid, and menthol. Whatever the case, I find it really plumps up my skin and keeps the hydration locked in.

City Beauty Skin-Lifting Booster

This droplet serum is designed to be mixed with other skincare products or to be used alone for a lifted and sculpted look. I love blending a few drops into my moisturizer as a final step in my routine to supercharge my skin with advanced peptides (i.e., amino acid chains that support the skin’s firmness and promote elasticity). I have a few other City Beauty faves on this list—the products’ almost-instant results are unmatched.

Makeup products.

The Best Skincare Products for Correcting

iS Clinical Active Serum

The iS Clinical Active Serum has truly changed my skin. It reduces the appearance of hyperpigmentation, redness, acne, and smooths and evens skin tone, resulting in a clearer and healthier-looking complexion. A total no-brainer.

Cosmedix Elite X-cell+ Brightening Serum

If you’re looking for a brightening serum that packs a punch, look no further. This x-cell is from the Cosmedix Elite line, so it’s only available from licensed estheticians. But trust, it’s worth the extra step for the niacinamide and microencapsulated retinol. It does have witch hazel which my skin doesn’t have a problem with. If you react to it, you might want to opt out of this one. Don’t worry, I have another favorite brightening serum coming up.

iS Clinical Pro-Heal Serum Advance Plus

If you can only invest in a few products then make sure one of them is a vitamin C serum. It’s one of the few ingredients proven to protect against free radical damage, even skin tone, and promote collagen production.

Is Clinical Active Peel System

When I could see Candace Marino aka The LA Facialist in person, I would get the iS Clinical Fire + Ice facial but since we’re on the second phase of lockdown in LA, this at-home kit will have to do. This kit provides enough product to give you two professional-grade treatments at home which is great value.

Camille Styles skincare.

The Best Skincare Products for Exfoliation

Cosmedix Pure Enzymes Mask

There really is no other mask quite like pure enzymes. You definitely feel the tingle with this one (which I love) as the fruit enzymes are working their magic and you will feel a little red post-application but that’s what you want. The flush of oxygenated blood to the skin will boost circulation and collagen production. This mask is gentle enough to be done once a week.

Renée Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel

This one is another favorite with beauty editors and celebrities with good reason. It’s packed with five skin smoothing fruit AHAs, BHAs, and enzymes to clear blemishes and clogged pores, fade post-breakout marks, lift discoloration, and stimulate cellular renewal. Plus, it’s just a really fun mask to apply because of the bright pink berry color!

Cosmedix Refine Refinishing Treatment 

I have been using retinol for years now and swear by it for anti-aging and overall skin health and maintenance. What I love about the Cosmedix line is their range of retinol that start low so you can work your way up as your skin adjusts. I asked the education director for Cosmedix, Ryan Christopher to explain and he told me that Serum 16 and Serum 24 are the starters and are great for sensitive skin. If you have textured skin then you can move to Define which also includes lactic acid to exfoliate. Refine, Refine Plus, and Refine RX follow each other in strength with RX being the highest. Genius.

Skincare products on sink.

The Best Skincare Products for Moisturizing

Matter of Fact Maximalist Age-Defying Moisturizer

Thankfully, younger generations are more attuned to the importance of SPF—but I get it, if you didn’t grow up in Australia like I did, you were probably encouraged to soak up as much sun as possible. This moisturizer is a go-to for undoing the damage of photo-aging. It combines a peptide and hyaluronic acid blend with heavy-hitting ingredients like niacinamide and bakuchiol to keep skin protected against environmental stressors and improve skin tone.

Cosmedix Mystic Moisturiser

Choosing a moisturizer can be tricky, especially when you’re looking for something rich that doesn’t clog your pores. This is hands down the best one I’ve come across for mature skin. It’s super hydrating and targets the concerns you want to address at this age like fine lines and wrinkles. I have combination skin but hydration is my number one goal with skincare and this definitely does the job. I can’t recommend this enough.

iS Clinical Moisturizing Complex

This is a great option for the summer months when you’re looking for something lighter. I usually mix this (and the X-Age) with oil for extra hydration and to seal in moisture.

Furtuna Skin Biphase Moisturizing Oil

I have tried so many oils and they’re either too fragrant or too heavy and they sit on top of the skin. This oil from Furturna is neither of those things. It has a super subtle fragrance and its lightweight formula sinks immediately into my skin giving an instant luminous glow while protecting my skin from the harsh dry LA air. I have been through three bottles of this already and I can’t get enough. It’s just a really beautiful product.

Mara Chlorella + Reishi Sea Vitamin C Serum

Okay, so this is technically a vitamin C serum but it’s an oil-based version so I put it in the moisturize category because I LOVE mixing it with my moisturizer. It ticks all the boxes for me: lightweight, mild scent, clean formula, and packed with potent ingredients—we’re talking 14 vitamin C rich fruit extracts, herbs and botanicals to help improve skin brightness.

Cosmedix Elite Eye Doctor High Potency Eye Treatment

I started out using the hero product in the Cosmedix line, Opti Crystal also known as unicorn tears but quickly moved onto Eye Doctor after learning it contains retinol and alpha-lipoic acid. I wasn’t a huge fan of eye cream until I met this product but what I love is that it also doubles as a highlighter thanks to their special liquid crystal. Try it, I guarantee you’ll love it. 

HydroSerum Eye Stick

I love the easy application of this moisturizing eye stick. Simply glide on a thin layer for a healthy dose of hyaluronic acid, argan oil, niacinamide, and licorice root extract to smooth fine lines and illuminate the skin. Trust: your under-eyes will appear brighter and feel revived immediately.

Woman face rolling in mirror.

The Best Skincare Products for Protection

iS Clinical Extreme Protect SPF 30

Now to my favorite product: sunscreen. I am at the esthetician level of an obsession now for this amazing product. As an Aussie, I have literally had 100s of sunscreens applied to my face and body and there are a lot of bad ones out there. This one is the best I’ve tried. It’s light, leaves a dewy glow without being sticky or oily, and it doesn’t smell like sunscreen!

I am the biggest preacher of sunscreen application (I’m talking every day, and reapplying multiple times a day) so if this one doesn’t suit you, please, please, please find one that does and wear it every day, even inside because this one also protects you from the blue light of your phone and computer screen.

SilkScreen Sheer Tint Mineral Sunscreen

I also love a tinted sunscreen, but it can be hard to find one that isn’t streaky or heavy. Thankfully, this sheer mineral sunscreen by Agency pairs a weightless application with SPF 50 protection. And because Agency is dedicated to providing customized skincare for everyone, this is my favorite sun-protection pick for all skin types. Simply swipe it on for even, poreless skin.

Cyndi Ramirez headshot.

The Best Skincare Products for Hydration

Matter of Fact Minimalist Hydrating Moisturizer

When it comes to hydration, a lightweight formulation is key. Yes, you want to feel that it’s working, but a gloppy texture isn’t ideal. And where sensitive skin is concerned, Matter of Fact’s hydrating moisturizer is the best in the game. The liquid crystal lipids not only provide hydration, but they also support your skin barrier—key when you’re playing the skin health long game.

City Beauty Line-Smoothing HydroMask

Something about doing a face mask feels so luxe. Not only do you get the results of an in-office treatment at home, but the process of applying one to your skin is self-care at its finest. And when the mask actually works? *Chef’s kiss* Infused with antioxidants, peptides (key for promoting collagen production), and hyaluronic acid for deeply hydrated skin, you’ll notice a complete transformation after just 20 minutes.

Cosmedix Mystic Hydrating Treatment

This isn’t essential by any means but since I love any hydration when I can get it throughout the day, I love a face mist. I find my skin will dry out after I’ve stared at a computer screen for a few hours so I love to spritz in between to keep my skin fresh. This one is an exfoliating formula so it also helps current breakouts and helps to prevent new ones.

iS Clinical Copper Firming Mist

I always keep a few mists handy on my desk so I can reach for whatever I feel like my skin needs. This copper firming mist smells great and is just the right amount of hydration when you need it.

Biologique Recherche Masque VIP O2

If you haven’t tried this French skincare line yet then I highly recommend their masks. I like to multi-mask with the vivant so I’m hydrating while I’m targeting my t-zones. It’s not cheap but you don’t need much and it’s safe enough to use daily or weekly, whenever you like to mask. If you want a more affordable option, try the Cosmedix Restore.

Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant

I’ll just be straight up on, this mask doesn’t smell great. In fact, it smells like vegemite (if you know, you know!) but it’s such a great mask for treating dull, tired, or oily skin. I love it on the weekends when my skin is needing a boost or it’s a great hangover cure!

The Things We Do Liquid Lift Sleeping Mask

Vanessa Lee, RN is renowned in California for her incredible natural cosmetic procedures—her threads are the best but sadly she isn’t taking on new clients. But luckily for us, she has designed a product line to give us the in-clinic results at home. Her sleeping mask is one of my favorites. I love the jelly-like formula that is super hydrating thanks to organic oats, Vitamin B5, and hyaluronic acid. It’s great post-treatment or chemical peel too.

City Beauty City Lips Night Oil

Niche, but when it comes to the best skincare products for your 40s, a plumping, overnight lip oil is essential. Simply apply a swipe of this hydrating, exfoliating formula before going to sleep and get ready to wake up to noticeably plumper lips. I’m obsessed with this ingredient list: portulaca pilosa extract rejuvenates the skin while plankton and floral extract provide a smoothing effect. And of course, hyaluronic acid delivers all the hydration your lips could dream of. Seriously, this is a perfect overnight lip treatment. (Eat your heart out, Laneige.)



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