Jennifer Garner: ‘Being in my mid-40s, retinol is the most important product for anti-aging’

Jennifer Garner has worked as Neutrogena brand representative for years. She usually goes without makeup day-to-day and she’s talked about feeling like a different person when she’s fully made up for events, and wondering what kind of influence that has on her daughters. So up until now she’s focused her Neutrogena promotion on skincare primarily sunscreen and has not done much with Neutrogena’s makeup line. (Last year, in a promotional interview, she said “I feel like makeup ages you” and said that she only wears a little concealer, a little blush and maybe some lipstick if she remembers.) Jennifer also has ads for Neutrogena’s Rapid Repair wrinkle cream and retinol oil. The ad I saw focuses on her lifestyle and includes a clip of her baking cookies and collecting eggs from her chickens. So this is just a promotional interview she’s doing for Neutrogena.

“First off, I wash my face every single night, no matter what,” says Garner. “I honestly wear no makeup unless there’s a reason to, but if I happen to have eye makeup on that day I’ll remove all of it.”

She adds: “I also hate that feeling when your skin looks sallow and you can see it in the texture. I swear by the hyaluronic acid in Neutrogena’s Hydroboost for that because it gives you a plump, bouncy, and dewy effect. And of course, sunscreen. The Ultra Sheer 100 SPF goes on well under makeup and just makes everything look better.”

But SPF and hyaluronic acid isn’t all Garner swears by. “My biggest skincare struggle was definitely figuring out retinol,” Garner shares. “Being in my mid-40s, retinol really is the most important product for anti-aging. But I have sensitive skin, so everything people gave me kept turning my face red, itchy, and blotchy. The Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair was a lifesaver for me. It’s combined with an oil so it’s a little more gentle than other retinols and doesn’t irritate my skin.”

[From Marie Claire]

I use a little Retinol oil, it came with this set of three oils that I included in a skincare post. I only use it at night and I based that on a review on Amazon for those oils. I’ve also used this very inexpensive retinol cream and it’s a nice hydrating cream. I’m not sure how well retinol works to prevent or reduce wrinkles, but I haven’t had any redness as Garner mentioned. Marie Claire quoted a dermatologist who recommended using a less than 1% Retinol solution, using it at night as it increases sun sensitivity and finding a brand that combines it with “soothing botanicals.” As for this advice from Garner, she obviously gets a little Botox and fillers but it’s not on brand for her to admit to this, especially when she’s shilling an over-the-counter product. Whatever she gets done at the dermatologist is surely doing more for her than creams and oils though.

The photos of Garner in the sequin top are from December after she seemingly had a little something done. It’s since settled, as you can see in the photo of her wearing glasses, taken yesterday. Credit: WENN and Backgrid




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59 Responses to “Jennifer Garner: ‘Being in my mid-40s, retinol is the most important product for anti-aging’”

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  1. Lindy says:

    Oh my god, 100% this. Retinol is the best. I even have rosacea and fairly sensitive, very fair skin and I still don’t have issues with redness.

    I’m 42 and regularly get mistaken for 10 years younger and I think it’s the retinol and sunscreen I’ve been wearing regularly for decades.

    I honestly just use Neutrogena Rapid Repair wrinkle and tone. One for day with SPF and the other for night without it. I add a sheer zinc sunscreen on top during the day.

    I also started with sheet masks in the last 2 years, about twice a week. That has also helped.

    • LadyMTL says:

      I’m also 42 and have been using retinol for years, and it really has helped my skin. I don’t have rosacea but I do have some adult acne and was developing deeper lines between the nose and mouth (the naso-labial lines) and retinol has helped so much! I don’t know if people would say I’m 10 years younger, but most don’t believe me when I tell them my age, lol.

      I am currently using the Ordinary’s 2% retinol in squalane and haven’t had any issues, but I only use it 1-2 nights per week…alas, it looks like it’s no longer going to be available here in Canada so I will most likely give the Neutrogena oil a try. I used to use Peter Thomas Roth’s retinol serum but it’s $$ so I stopped.

    • Nichole says:

      Thanks – I’m going to try these. I have lupus and need to avoid allllllll the sun, but I’m also super sensitive, so it’s a struggle to find adequate products that don’t turn me into a patchy mess!

    • Seraphina says:

      @Lindy, what kind of sheet masks do you use?

      • Lindy says:

        The ones I’ve found that work the best without breaking the bank are Soap and Glory extra hydrating. I need to check on the ingredient list. I’m trying to be more careful about harsh chemicals, preservatives etc. So caveat: I haven’t screened those masks very carefully. But they give my face a ton of moisture and tighten up pores, and the effect lasts for a couple of days. I think cumulatively, they’ve helped a lot.

      • Seraphina says:

        Thank you!!!

    • Becks says:

      Retin- A is a wonder cream! I’ve been using it for about 15 years and yes, no one ever believes me when I tell them I am in my early 40s. I also use SPF 50 on my face, every single day. I take very good care of my skin and use serums and vitamin C as well, but I really think its the retinol and sunscreen that have kept the wrinkles away.

      • Anne Call says:

        Also being in your early 40’s helps. 😉

      • Carol says:

        Well, I just entered my 50s and have used retin- A for years. But let me tell you, once you hit your 50s everything drops including your face. For years, I’ve been told I look at least 10 years younger and have attributed that to good genes and retin-A. But now, I look 10 years older! lets just say Retin-A goes only so far.

  2. Erinn says:

    I’ve FINALLY had a break through where my skin is starting to look like adult skin and not teenager skin. I turn 29 next month lol. I started using retinol wipes, and really making sure it drenches my skin. But I also picked up a balm to oil cleanser with squalane in it by The Ordinary – and it’s made a huge difference. My skin is truly combination – oily in some parts, dry in a couple others. But it’s made it hard to find something to work. And I avoided oily consistencies because it always seemed counter intuitive to me because I hate feeling oily. But I guess it just really sinks in and grabs the makeup and oils and cleans my face better because of that – and it doesn’t dry it out. AND it’s non-comedogenic. I also grabbed their “natural moisturizing factors + ha” for the sides of my nose, where I have a line between my brows, and my chin daily (then the rest of my face as needed) and I love that too. It sinks in well and doesn’t feel greasy.

    This is a huge deal for me, honestly because I’ve struggled for so long to find something that works. So anyone wondering about trying The Ordinary – I recommend. If you end up not liking something the price is SO reasonable that it’s not a total loss and you can probably pawn it off on a friend who might have the kind of skin that will respond better to it.

    • Mltpsych says:

      I just started using the Ordinary vitamin c and my skin is looking better than with the $80 drunk elephant. I also use their lactic and AHA. I am so impressed with the quality at the price point. I bought their retinol for my husband, I use rx Retin-A.

    • Jessica says:

      I use Retin-A (.025%) most nights. It took me months to move from weekly to nightly application, but am so glad I was patient and restrained. People with sensitive skin really can use it – the one or two times I went overboard or tried to use too often, my skin would get patchy and flaky. Lesson learned.

      It sounds like people really like Garner’s products and other over the counter retinol creams. Personally, since I’m 45 and just starting out with anti-aging skincare, I am being slightly more aggressive. On the two nights I don’t use Retin-A I do Pixi GLOW Glycolic Boost one night, Refresh Skin Therapy Fruit Acid 15% Gel Peel the other. I also use a vit c serum (maelove) daily and a mineral sunscreen (Australia Gold spf 50).

    • Lila says:

      I love The Ordinary! Their price point is great, and it’s easy to mix and match things according to what my skin needs that day.

    • msn says:

      I LOVE that Squalane Cleanser!! I’ve been double-cleansing for a year or so and have tried a few things…cleansing oils and balms, recently added the SC and my face is baby soft the morning after Squalane closely mimics Squalene which our bodies produce and it’s excellent for surface hydration for this reason. I also use NIOD’s (The Ordinary sister company) Sanskrit Saponins, it’s more of a cleansing treatment than an everyday cleanser and does an excellent job at drying up oils and making my pores seem way smaller.
      I’ve never looked my age and I gotta say Age-defying products aren’t what my skin needs yet, but the TO Retinols and Retinoids have really helped erase my hyperpigmentation. SPF daily is a must though, no point in undoing all the magic!

  3. mycomment says:

    actually, financial security is even more important.

  4. NotHeidisGirl says:

    Sunscreen, people. Always, ALWAYS use suncreen!

  5. Rapunzel says:

    You know what else is good for anti-aging? Losing a couple hundred pounds of alcoholic, womanizing man-baby named Ben Affleck. When will they start selling that in stores?

    • Lindy says:

      Haha, this made my morning. I think it’s gotta be true, too. Though it still feels like she’s kind of his emotional babysitter? Maybe just because she’s trying to protect her kids from his unpredictable behavior.

    • Tate says:


  6. Becks1 says:

    I need to factor in a retinol of some sort into my skincare routine, but I’m nervous about it for some reason. I did start using a Vitamin C serum a few months ago and I LOVE it. It really has helped my skin tone overall and my skin is much clearer.

    • Case says:

      The thing with Retinol is that it can mess up your skin if you do too much too soon. You need to start gradually with the product (like three times a week), and then build up to every other day, and then every day. It’s not scary as long as you’re cautious with your approach!

      • Nancypants says:

        Thanks Case.
        I just ordered two of her products and my skin is dry and a little sensitive, so, I’ll go slowly; maybe every two or three days.

        I tried retinol when it first came out and I looked like a burn victim.
        I’ll give it another go.

        BTW, I didn’t recognize J.Garner in that photo.
        What happened? That’s not just Botox and fillers.
        I’ve had Botox. I still looked like me.

    • Snowflake says:

      I use the Neutrogena one she is promoting and I can tell a difference when I use regularly vs when i don’t. I just use it at night, no moisturizer. I use a small amount, the tube has lasted me for a long time. In the morning i apply moisturizer. I use the night version, i need to get some of the daytime. I think Neutrogena products are great as well as the Boots no 7 line.

      • oddly says:

        I’ve used Neutrogena Wrinkle Repair for about a year , mine comes in a small pump bottle and a small pearl of cream each night is all I use for the outer eye wrinkles, above the eyebrow and marionette lines. It really is excellent the lines are still there but much reduced and plumped out on my 67 year old face.

  7. Case says:

    Retinol really is great. I’m 26 and while I don’t struggle with acne any more, per se, my skin can be a bit bumpy and uneven at times. A retinol cream by First Aid Beauty (great for peeps with sensitive skin!) has helped a lot.

    In Jen’s case, I’m pretty sure the botox helps more, but okay girl.

  8. Tess says:

    I agree 100%. I use fillers and botox and still if I had to give everything up the one thing you couldn’t pry from my fist is my retin-a/tretinoin cream (prescription grade retinol). It absolutely works for dramatically improving the skin’s texture, reversing the aging of skin and preventing further sun damage and wrinkles. It can cause a few weeks of irritation when you first start using it but this phase is well worth getting through.

    I also agree with Jen that most makeup is aging. If well done you may look better in photos with a little on but up close and in person in rarely does anyone any favours at any age but especially over 35 or so.

    • Lindy says:

      I’m also feeling like makeup is aging me these days. I say that as someone who never figured it out in my younger days and never really wore much of it ever. So I’m exploring it more (got some good YouTube tips from CBers last week!) and trying to learn. But so far, even when I wear just a touch and go pretty minimal, I feel like it looks harsh, and also doesn’t wear well over the course of the day. Like–it looks ok in the morning but gets harsher looking as the day goes on? If that doesn’t sound too weird?

      I just discovered applying a very light coverage foundation (I like Benefit Happy) using a fluffy makeup brush instead of a sponge and it’s been a game changer! Lighter, more even coverage, less harsh.

  9. Darla says:

    As far as I know Avon was the first to come out with retinol. I could be wrong, because back when it first came out I really didn’t have the money I have now, and so if a very high end brand released it I doubt I would have seen it. Anyway, I started using it right away, and it changed my skin. I always had meh skin, but retinol changed the game for me. Nothing to do with anti-aging which I didn’t need then. But it made my skin have a translucent look. It was a game changer. These days, other than sunscreen, I put less stock in any creams and more in microderm facials twice a month, and injectables. I do still use retinol around my eyes though – Shiseido retinol eye masks.

  10. claire says:

    Celebs who promote simple drug store products and say or imply that spf and water is their ticket to youthful skin are so annoying! Of course we can’t be 100% sure Garner is lying about having any cosmetic work done, but come on.

    • Jerusha says:

      Elizabeth Taylor used to say Pond’s Cleansing Cream and a little eye shadow were her only beauty products, so it’s nothing new.

      • Usedtobe says:

        I remember a few ago reading that Jennifer Anniston had been washing her face with Neutrogena’s classic cleansing bar since she was a teenager. Then she started selling Aveeno and I doubted for one second she used Aveeno.

  11. ReginaGeorge says:

    I’ve had cystic acne since my teenage years. I’ve been on retin-A on and off for decades, and since my late 30’s have been fully “on” retin-A. I’ve also gone through extensive facial procedures. Chemical and laser peels. Microdermabrasion. Microneedling. All due to scarring.
    Because of all of that, I’m in my early 40’s still mistaken for a late 20-something. My 19 yr old daughter always laughs when people ask if we are sisters. One time she was hospitalized at about the age of 14 and I was in her room no makeup. The doctor came in and asked where our mother was lol. At her HS orientation, I was told to leave because only students and their parents were allowed. They thought I was her older sister lol.
    I wouldn’t wish cystic acne on anyone, but the silver lining is that because of it the treatments have really helped provide me a fountain of youth. So I can’t complain too much. I have a few friends with deep forehead wrinkles and crows feet. They also worshipped the sun, which I did too and still do to a certain degree, but it’s not showing yet. Both of my parents have always looked a lot younger so genes have a lot to do with it too. Again my oily skin and cystic acne were points of severe depression for me do a while. I still breakout, but for the most part I feel lucky that there was a positive to that negative.

    • Darla says:

      Very interesting! My niece has this. She was on accutane? but does not want to go back on. It worked for a while, but it did come back. I have started taking her for microderm facials, and this month they will be doing some sort of blue light treatment as well. I will have to tell her about your post! That is a big upside.

      • ReginaGeorge says:

        Ugh. I had to do 2 seperate courses of Accutane. It gave me IBS. I then went on birth control. I suffer from severe PMDD so my Gyn prescribed them to take seasonally, meaning I go through 2 straight packs without the inactive pills so that I only get a period once a season. It has helped my acne dramatically. It’s all about my hormonal imbalance. Maybe you can discuss with your niece if she’d like to try that option. I swear by it!

      • Darla says:

        Thank you, I am going to show her these posts tomorrow when I am with her

    • Harryg says:

      I’m just like that! Well, I can’t say I look that young anymore, but I have no wrinkles and I’m nearly fifty. I always had a round face with acne (arrggh) but those peels and lasers helped a lot.
      But the way I age is that my face sags a bit, so if I wear too much makeup I look like Baby Jane or some evil dough-face doll.
      Robanda has a very good retinol serum, I sometimes see it at Marshall’s and places like that. And I use tretinoin, heaven sent for acne/scars.

  12. HK9 says:

    Retinol works wonders. The stuff sold at Make-up Artists Choice is amazing and reasonably priced.

  13. Kristen says:

    I feel like she’s being a little judgey about makeup. It’s like when Alicia Keys got on her high horse about it. I need makeup to look alive (seriously, my skin is so pale), and I actually enjoy wearing it. So take a seat!

    Also, retinol just made my skin flaky. Do I just need to stick with it?

    • Snowflake says:

      I am so pale without makeup too. If your skin is getting flaky, i would reduce your usage but not totally quit.

    • Star says:

      You need to go down in strength if your skin is flaking or peeling. I started too strong at a .1% retinoid and my face was peeling like crazy, and it didn’t get better after like 2 months. I went down to .04% and now it never peels as long as I moisturize throughly.

  14. NeoCleo says:

    1% tretinoin has been my 4 times a week treatment since I turned 36. I am now 62 years old and I do not wear foundation, only SPF30 moisturizer, and I am complimented on my great skin frequently. You need to be VERY careful using 1% tretinoin because it is strong but it’s great for fading scars, fading/disappearing “hormonal mask”, fading/disappearing surface lines, etc., etc.

  15. Valiantly Varnished says:

    Yeah sorry I don’t see it. She doesn’t look like she’s had any fillers or botox in those photos to me. Because if she had – the lines on her forehead wouldn’t be so visible. What would be the point of getting botox and not getting rid of your forehead wrinkles??

  16. NotSoSocialButterfly says:

    I recently started using Roc retinol correxion cream for eyes, and I swear to god, my bags/puffiness have decreased by almost 50%. This is crazy.

  17. LT says:

    I use the ROC retinol anti wrinkle serum twice a day and it works great. I don’t have any sensitivity on my face, but I’ve also been using it for years. I have started using it on my skin and neck and had to slow down because I gave myself a chemical burn (!). I now use it a few times a week on my neck.

    Sunscreen is a must! Neutrogenia Dry Touch is my favorite.

  18. Lila says:

    Retinoids ARE amazing. In terms of scientific backing, they’ve got some of the strongest evidence. I’m willing to invest in my skincare, but I’d like to know my time and money are getting invested in something that will actually make a difference for my skin!

    I use Retin-A for acne as a teen, and I’m back on it now (yay adult acne). It took me awhile to find a routine that worked for me, but the skincare and tretinoin subreddits are a godsend.

    Now I wash with water and a konjin sponge in the morning, followed by a Humectant, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Nighttime routine is oil based cleanser, then water based cleanser, Retin-A, then humectant, moisturizer, then occlusive. Aside from kicking the acne’s butt, I can’t get over the improvement to my skin. Everything is so dewy and hydrated, and old scars are fading away. My makeup routine is becoming more and more minimalist, which I love.

  19. ClaireB says:

    Yes to all the comments about retinol/tretinoin! I went to my derm to get a prescription strength cream, but their pharmacy was terrible and gave me this really expensive (air- and light-sensitive) cream in a pill bottle instead of a pump! So I quit using it until I heard of Curology, which sells prescription strength creams based on your description of your skin problems and pictures. My skin is so much better back on the retinol!

  20. babco says:

    The Polish
    are the 3 beauty products I truly adore, they work

    I also use a Derminator (micro-needling machine) and that s my absolute miracle for face and body, but it s not for the faint-hearted

    • Omg, I have a Derminator too! It’s certainly not for the faint hearted, but works wonders in your skin. I’ve been getting back into dermarolling lately, and got my bff into it with me. Our kids probably think we’re crazy, but we look better, right, right!? Lol

  21. crogirl says:

    I need some advice about retinol.
    I’ve been reading about it for a few days and some things are confusing.
    I turned 40 in november, never used antiaging products. My skin is dry and sensitive (some broken capillaries). I never had acne and have only few wrinkles on my forehead (not deep).
    My routine so far has been night cream and la Roche posay daily moisturiser with spf 30.
    I want to start with retinol but I am confused about comments that it shouldn’t be used everyday in the beginning.
    Like if I buy neutrogena or some other night cream with retinol should I use it only 2-3 times a week and my regular cream other days?
    And what about retinol daily cream? Do l need to put sunblock after applying it?

    • Snowflake says:

      If you have sensitive skin, i wouldn’t use it every day to start off. I think you are more sensitive to sunlight when you use it so i wouldn’t use it in the morning, only at night. Or look for the daytime version, i think they make one. I’ve used this Neutrogena anti wrinkle cream at night, i moved and it got lost in the shuffle. Then i found it and started using it only at night. My mom goes one day, oh your forehead wrinkles look better, I’m thinking i didn’t know i had any, lol! But i feel like i see a difference when i use it. All the Neutrogena products are great imo.

  22. Jess says:

    I agree, I have adult acne and used to get huge hormonal cystic acne on my chin as well, once I added retin-a to my routine is cleared up! My insurance won’t cover it since I’m over 25 and they think I’m using it for wrinkles, but it’s worth the $125 every 6 months! My skin looks so much better now, it took about a year until I noticed a huge difference but it really does work, along with cetaphil face wash and lots of water, more water, and not touching my face!

  23. Ocho says:

    For folks interested in learning more about Retinol or wondering how to start, Caroline Hirons (a skin product expert) just did a series of videos and articles. Very detailed. Google her name to find her blog. The short answer to some folks starting: use only a couple times per week initially and dilute your Retinol with a moisturiser or layer moisturiser on top to get your skin adjusted. Gradually use more frequently and less diluted. But really, read Hirons for proper advice. She cuts thru the bull, recommends specific products and tells you which to avoid (not worth the cash etc).

    • Nancypants says:

      Thank you. 🙂

    • crogirl says:

      Thanks for the answer, I will check the videos when I get home.
      Now this is the part I don’t get “dilute your Retinol with a moisturiser or layer moisturiser on top”. I thought retinol is in the moisturiser? At least that neutrogena one.

  24. Dora says:

    After I read all the comments here I went and bought Clinique retinol and vitamin C. I hope my skin will appreciate it.