For every woman out there over age 50 who knows that beauty comes from within, but who also wants to look the best you can, this article is for you. And, for those of you curious about plastic surgery, Botox injections, and fillers, we'll cover that as well. There aren't many miracle fixes in these tips, but there is a lot of advice I swear by, a few decent recipes, and an attitude that the years after age 50 are full of even more wonder and beauty.
Wear Sunscreen Every Day
I know it's tedious to constantly hear about the importance of sunscreen, but if there is one beauty rule I'd tell my 15-year-old self it's to wear a decent sunscreen every day. Nothing damages your skin more than exposure to the sun. It's the number one cause of skin cancer and a major cause of brown spots and wrinkles.
Here's the catch: not all sunscreens are equal. You should choose a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF and you should choose one that blocks UVA and UVB rays.
Three things to remember once you've found the right sunscreen:
- You should wear it rain or shine. UV rays break through cloud cover and it's important to make a habit of using sunscreen daily. And don't worry, it won't clog your pores as long as you cleanse your face at night.
- Reapply throughout the day. The renowned dermatologist Patricia Wexler insists that all women (whatever their skin tone) reapply sunscreen throughout the day.
- Slather some on top of your hands. Dermatologists say they can tell a woman's age by looking at her hands, in addition to her neck.
Product recommendations: I prefer tinted sunscreen because it doesn't leave a white cast on my face and it evens out my skin tone. Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Face Moisturizer is a good drugstore version, however, my favorite (recommended by my dermatologist) is the pricey but fabulous La Roche Posay tinted sunscreen. Apply sunscreen with a foam sponge for a more even application.
Make Sure You Have the Right Cleansers and Moisturizers
It's very important to choose cleansers, moisturizers, and a skin care routine formulated for your skin type.
If you have oily skin, consider yourself lucky. Oily skin tends to develop fewer wrinkles. If you have sensitive skin, you should test all of your products on your neck or arms before you use them. That product you loved a few years ago may (as you advance in age) now cause redness.
You may have also noticed the older you get, the drier your skin becomes. As we age, our skin suffers a slowdown in oil production and cell turnover, especially after menopause. I noticed my naturally oily skin turned as dry as the Sahara Desert at age 35.
Product recommendations: Patricia Wexler's cleansers are formulated for mature skin (by her chemist husband by the way) and are affordable. Plus, they smell divine. I use Wexler Universal Anti-Aging Cleanser, but other great cleansers get the job done, too. As for moisturizer, if you have very dry skin that gets flaky, then the extra moisturizing benefits of Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream are a godsend. I also like to use extra virgin coconut oil on my face.
What to Do If Your Skin Is Dry
To keep dry skin in the best condition possible, it's important to cleanse with proper products that won't zap skin of moisture. You also have to exfoliate. Most importantly, you'll need to keep your skin moisturized throughout the day.
Here are some tips to keep your face from drying out:
- Don't use hot water. This only strips your skin of oils. Instead, use lukewarm water or skip the water and cleanse skin with a cold cream such as Pond's.
- Use a creamy cleanser formulated for dry skin and don't break the bank on pricey brands that only stay on your face for a few minutes.
- Thick, moisturizing creams and oils will help lock moisture in. Always apply at night and in the morning under your makeup.
- Consider investing in a product containing hyaluronic acid, which is one of the hottest trends in skin care right now. Hyaluronic acid effectively plumps up the skin and helps skin absorb and hold onto moisture.
- Exfoliate at least on a weekly basis. If you have dry skin, you likely have flaky skin, so you should exfoliate once or twice a week. Consider using alpha hydroxy acids, which are a great option for most skin types.
- To keep the rest of your body moisturized, stay away from drying soaps in the shower and opt for creamy body washes instead. After your shower, it's important to moisturize. You can use drugstore creams (like Eucerin and Cerave) or oils (I'm partial to extra virgin coconut oil and almond oil).
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in the human body. It acts as a cushioning and lubrication agent for our joints, nerves, hair, skin, and eyes. When used in skincare, it acts as a moisture binder, which means that it will attach itself to the water in the cells (while also attracting and holding water from the air) making them plump.
Find an Oil You Love
Oils are one of the hottest trends in skin care today. Everyone's talking about their favorite oils, what aroma they like the best, and what works best for their skin types. I prefer oils to creams because they are more natural, glide on smoothly, and leave skin feeling plump and dewy. This list of best face oils is endless so experiment with a few to find your best option.
Exfoliation Is Key
Exfoliation is a must as we age. "The outer layer is a roof of dead skin, and it thickens as you age, so you need to exfoliate to see more of the fresher skin," advises Dr. Steven J. Pearlman, a New York City plastic surgeon.
You should exfoliate both your body and your face weekly at least, more often if your skin gets dry, itchy, and flaky (which can happen especially in the cold winter months).
Use a dry brush to exfoliate before you shower as moisturizer goes on much more smoothly when skin is exfoliated.
People ask me all the time if there's some sort of cream they can get at the drugstore that will turn back the hands of time. There isn't. But there is a miracle cream and it's no longer prescription only. The secret is vitamin A derivatives retinol and prescription strength retinoids (i.e., Retin A). A good retinol cream every night will help diminish fine lines and wrinkles because it penetrates to the lower layers where the collagen is.
Retin-A (tretinoin) is a form of vitamin A that helps the skin renew itself by encouraging cell turnover. It's commonly prescribed for acne, fine lines, and sun damaged skin.
My recommendation: I used Retin-A until my dry skin couldn't take it anymore. Now, I use an over-the-counter retinol. There are many OTCs available today but they can be pricey so shop around.
The truth is, if you want to reduce the signs of wrinkles and the loss of fat in your cheeks, Botox and fillers are the way to go. I know this because I've tried them myself. Botox will lift your eyes so you appear more awake and younger while also freezing the smile lines that etch themselves in along your eyes. Fillers will plump up your cheeks. Many women plump up their lips with them too.
If you're wondering if injections hurt, then the answer is yes. I found the Botox injections didn't hurt as much as the fillers. You'll also have some bruising afterward, so I'd advise getting them done when you don't have plans for 24 hours.
Try Chemical Peels and Lasers
Lasers are used for a variety of skin problems. They can be costly and painful, but many women swear by them. I haven't used a laser on my face, so I can't tell you from experience, but the non-ablative lasers that are on the market today can get rid of age spots, sun spots, scars, and uneven texture.
You can have a light chemical peel at your doctor's office to improve your skin tone and texture and soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. And as an added bonus, they're less expensive than lasers. For optimal results, try a series of six or more that get stronger as your skin adapts.
Grether-Beck S, Marini A, Jaenicke T, Krutmann J. Photoprotection of human skin beyond ultraviolet radiation. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2014;30(2-3):167‐174. doi:10.1111/phpp.12111
American Academy of Dermatology Association. How to control oily skin.
Farage MA, Miller KW, Elsner P, Maibach HI. Characteristics of the aging skin. Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle). 2013;2(1):5-10. doi:10.1089/wound.2011.0356
Pavicic T, Gauglitz GG, Lersch P, et al. Efficacy of cream-based novel formulations of hyaluronic acid of different molecular weights in anti-wrinkle treatment. J Drugs Dermatol. 2011;10(9):990‐1000.
Zasada M, Budzisz E. Retinoids: active molecules influencing skin structure formation in cosmetic and dermatological treatments. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2019;36(4):392-397. doi:10.5114/ada.2019.87443
Badawi A, Tome MA, Atteya A, Sami N, Morsy IA. Retrospective analysis of non-ablative scar treatment in dark skin types using the sub-millisecond Nd:YAG 1,064 nm laser. Lasers Surg Med. 2011;43(2):130-136. doi:10.1002/lsm.21031