My goodness thank you so much for all of your input after last week’s post. If you haven’t been back to look at the comments on the tougher aspects of midlife and how to deal with them, do take a few minutes to read through them. They show that we’re living through it in a completely different way to the generations before us and so we’re having to work things out as we go along – but it’s helped me to feel that we’re in it together. Anyway it’s taking me longer than usual to respond to each one because each comment is so fascinating so it’s a shorter post today. I’m going to answer a question that I’m often asked here and through Instagram about midlife skincare. It’s always ‘what do you spend your own money on when you’re not testing things?’ So these are the products I buy because they work.

One of the key questions I’m being asked at the moment is whether I change my skincare according to the season. I do but only slightly – I focus on moisture so I use a richer cleanser which I find makes a big difference. And I use a retinol product every night – I ease up on it during the summer when the UV rays are strong but this is the season where it really gives results and makes you glow. Otherwise things stay the same, it’s a routine that works. For reference my skin is relatively normal with a bit of an oily T-Zone, I don’t struggle with anything in particular other than dryness in winter – and an increasing amount of wrinkles and skin laxity as the years go on.

Midlife skincare – the products I buy because they work

Night-time routine

I’m starting with night because that’s where I find a little bit of extra attention makes all the difference. We’re told that the skin does all of its repair work while we sleep so it’s worth amping things up.

Midlife skincare


  1. Make-up remover (extra 5% off with code EXTRA). Clinique is my preferred brand when it comes to cleansing and I don’t think you can beat their make-up remover. I’ve tried brands such as Beauty Pie, hoping to get something a little bit cheaper but I find everything else requires more rubbing and that’s not what I want to do around my eyes where the skin’s getting wrinkly enough.
  2. Cleansing balm. I love this so much – I’ve tried the feted Eve Lom’s, Liz Earle’s and Emma Hardie but nothing comes close to the way that this feels. The texture is like whipped double cream, it melts into the skin and I use a muslin to remove it which gives gentle exfoliation but still leaves my face feeling soft and springy. I could almost go straight to bed without doing anything else because it’s so moisturising. Best value here – an extra 5% off with code EXTRA.
  3. Retinol. However retinol is the product that really works magic overnight – if you haven’t tried it then you really don’t know what you’re missing. It speeds up the turnover of skin cells so that your skin has a constantly fresh texture. As you can see I’m at the end of this tube of retinaldehyde which I’ve been using since September – you only need a tiny measured pump so it lasts a long time and it’s less expensive than most retinols so it’s great value. I need to replace it and this one’s superb but as it’s so cold at the moment I may go back to my other favourite from Kiehl’s because it has peptides and ceramides added too so it works even harder. It’s twice the price so I haven’t decided yet.
  4. Eyelash serum – I’ve mentioned this before, it works to lengthen your lashes and it’s free from prostaglandins so it’s less likely to cause irritation than products such as Revitalash – plus it’s nowhere near as expensive.
  5. After applying the retinol I pause to brush my teeth and let the actives sink in. I like to make sure everything’s absorbed before using anything else to get maximum glow.
  6. Full repair serum. This is a key part of my nighttime routine all year round. Even though I trial all kinds of products, nothing seems to restore my skin as well as this. There’s currently a free giftset worth £64 when you buy it so it’s a good time to try it if you’ve been thinking about it.
  7. Another pause here to fill the water glass on my bedside table to let the serum sink in.
  8. Night cream. This isn’t cheap but I find it’s worth using until mid-April when I move to something lighter. It’s just so moisturising, I don’t know whether it’s the moringa but there’s nothing else that leaves my skin as plump and juicy as this when I wake up.

Somebody will ask about eye creams and when I look at my testing shelves, I realise I’m sent more products for eyes than anything else and yet I’ve never found anything that makes a difference. I really struggle with puffy eyes, so much so that we can never take blog photos before about 1pm because it takes them so long to go down. However I was sent this eye mask a while ago and I’ve been using it for the last few months – it’s made a huge difference to the puffiness. It’s designed as a relaxing treat but I’ve replaced my usual eye masks and use it to sleep in. The little black silicone pads apply gentle pressure around your sockets and you wake up in the morning without puffiness, presumably because excess fluid can’t pool there.

The other good thing about the silicone is that it doesn’t slip, even though it’s made from soft mulberry silk. I find it’s easy to hand wash although the black one’s a bit more resilient than this mink colourway. It’s so important to me that I pack one whenever we go away.

best silk eye mask

Silk eyemask with silicone pads

Midlife skincare – daytime routine

Moving on to morning, this skincare routine is a lot quicker.

Midlife skincare

  1. AHA exfoliant.  As you can see I buy this in the bumper size. It’s a great way of sloughing off the remains of my night cream and any dead skin cells that the retinol has worked away. It also circumvents any kind of build-up from tanning drops. This along with the retinol is the best way of keeping your skin looking fresh and glowy in winter.
  2. High dose vitamin C serum. I then move on to this, I’ve used it for years and I’m utterly loyal to it. It helps to neutralise any damage from UV rays as well as working against skin ageing and it’s been heavily peer reviewed – you can read more about the science behind it here. It’s pricey but I find a bottle lasts about 9 months, you only need to use a couple of drops a day. You can get 20% off here at the moment with code 20SC as well as a free mystery gift.
  3. This is when I brush my teeth to give the CE Ferulic time to sink in properly.
  4. 360 serum I mentioned this when I first discovered it last autumn – I’m still on the same bottle so you can see how long it lasts, I just use two drops a day. It’s a superb all rounder, leaving your skin feeling immediately dewy, plump and well moisturised.
  5. My favourite moisturiser, I’ve told you about this before, it’s inexpensive but hardworking with hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and factor 50 SPF.
  6. Tanning drops – I mix 3 of these into my morning moisturiser all year round just to keep a bit of colour in my skintone.

So that’s it, my relatively simple skincare routine which works if I also keep on top of a healthy diet, minimal alcohol, good sleep, exercise and lots of fresh air (when we go away for the weekend it all goes to pot!). I’m often asked about beauty treatments but the only thing I go to a salon for is HD brows. It costs a bit more than a standard eyebrow shape but it takes more account of the shape of your face and so it’s worth it for the framing.

Last of all, a reminder about this LED mask which I was sent to review a couple of years ago and still use every week because it takes much less time than a facial. It’s great – a lovely way to relax in front of the TV a couple of nights a week and I think it makes a visible difference when you use it regularly. You can also use it for a quick boost before an event as they did at the Golden Globes apparently – if it’s good enough for Cillian Murphy…! I’m currently trialling the mask they make for neck and decolletage, if I see an improvement there too I’ll let you know. Midlifechic readers have an ongoing 15% discount with CurrentBody skin products with code NIKKILED so keep that safe somewhere.

Midlife skincare

LED Light Therapy Face Mask

Reader get together – 29th February

And that’s everything for today. All that’s left for me to do is release the tickets for the London get together on 29th February. I’ve kept costs as low as I can but it’s London so the ticket price is £15.50 (plus Eventbrite’s added £2 fee) which gives us our own private area and a welcome drink. We’ll be meeting at All Bar One on Villiers Street which is near to Charing Cross station, kicking off at 6.30pm.

A few people have been in touch to say they’d like to come but feel nervous about arriving on their own and I completely understand that. It’s going to be very informal, just a drink and a chat – if it’s like every other event I’ve organised everyone will be coming on their own so you don’t need to worry. Wear whatever you like, it’s very relaxed and you’ll soon be chatting away with likeminded people. It might even be lifechanging for you – some readers who met at the last reader get together have now formed a small group and meet up for lunch quite regularly so they’ve made firm new friendships which is just so pleasing. I’ll be there to talk to as many people as I can and I think Mal will be lurking around as well taking photos – he’ll be thrilled to chat with whoever is free. And this is the point where I worry that nobody will want to come so I’ll be watching anxiously this weekend – ticket sales are live now – you can find them here.

So, happy Friday! We’ve driven over to Newcastle today via a careers fair for the middle one which was interesting. We need to spend some time with mum-in-law and then I’ll be going out and undoing all the good I did at last week’s wellness weekend but I’m calling it balance. Life’s too short to be good all of the time – especially in winter. We’ve made it to the end of January, the snowdrops are out and it’s no longer pitch black at 5pm. The lighter days are just ahead of us – onwards!

Disclosure: ‘Midlife skincare – the products I buy because they work’ is not a sponsored post

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