Read any magazine article about skin care for women past the age of 50 and it's downright depressing. The list of things that happen to us as we age may make you want to shun the beauty sections of magazines forever. Either that or hide in a closet.
Personally, I don't need a magazine to tell me my cells aren't turning over as much as they did in my 20s. If I had worn a hat and applied an SPF of 40 every day of my life like Nicole Kidman has, I might look like Nicole Kidman. Except everyone knows Nicole Kidman's had lots of Botox. Like me, you probably don't need a plastic surgeon to tell you that your cheeks are losing fat, your skin is losing elasticity, and your face is on a downward slide.
This is all part of the aging process. But I'm OK with it (mostly) because my goal is to simply look good for my age and to be content in my skin.
For every woman out there over age 50 who knows that beauty comes from within, but who also wants to look darn good for your age, this article is for you. And, for those of you curious about plastic surgery, Botox injections, and fillers, so we'll cover that as well. There aren't many miracle fixes in these 14 tips (except maybe for Retin-A), 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 wonder and beauty.
(1) 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 brown spots, wrinkles, and skin cancer.
Here's the catch: not all sunscreens are equal. You should choose a sunscreen of at least 40 SPF and you should choose one that blocks UVA and UVB rays.
Two things to remember once you've found the right a 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 makes a good drugstore version or you can buy it from Amazon. However, my favorite (recommended by my dermatologist) is the pricey but fabulous La Roche Posay tinted sunscreen (also available at Amazon). Whichever you choose, apply it with a foam sponge, such as the one made by Laura Mercier.
(2) 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 don't know yours, find out at What's Your Skin Type.
If you have oily skin, consider yourself lucky. Studies show that oily skin develops 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 (buy it from Amazon) and include other great cleansers culled from the list of The Best Cleansers. As for moisturizer, if you have very dry skin that gets flaky, then the extra moisturizing benefits of Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream (buy from Amazon) are a godsend. I also like to use extra virgin coconut oil on my face.
(3) What to Do If Your Skin Is as Dry as the Sahara Desert
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 is a serum The Best Anti-Aging Serums that helps skin absorb and hold onto moisture. It effectively plumps up the skin.
- Exfoliate on a weekly basis. If you have dry skin, you likely have flaky skin, so you should exfoliate once or twice a week. I like to use a wet washcloth and extra virgin coconut oil to exfoliate.
- 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).
(4) 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. The list of Face and Body Oils That Are Great for Your Skin is endless so experiment with a few to find your best option.
(5) 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 well-known New York City plastic surgeon.
You should exfoliate both your body and your face weekly, more often if your skin gets dry, itchy, and flaky (which can happen especially in the cold winter months). Be sure to use a dry brush to exfoliate before you shower because moisturizer goes on much more smoothly if the skin is exfoliated.
For the face, I recommend a good facial scrub. Facial masks aren't a must in your weekly skin care regimen, but they can leave skin feeling amazing. That's because they deeply cleanse and hydrate skin. You can buy a good face mask at drugstores, department stores, or online. Or you can make your own homemade face scrub recipes. I have found that applying a facial mask once a week or every two weeks gets the job done.
Product recommendations: I am too busy to make my own scrubs, so I use the delicious Fresh Sugar Face Polish instead (buy it from Amazon). For your body, forego scrubs and opt instead for exfoliating mitts (Buy from Amazon).
(6) Do Eye Creams Work?
The first signs of aging are usually around the eyes, which prompts women to purchase pricey eye creams which promise to turn back time. The truth is, they don't. The skin around your eyes is very thin and will only get thinner as you age.
A good eye cream is usually just a thicker version of your typical facial moisturizer. Still, some women swear by them. So, for all you believers out there, the Best Eye Creams list has the most popular eye creams from fancy (i.e., expensive) to the best drugstore deals.
(7) OK, So What Works on Crow's Feet Then?
Because we know eye creams won't erase your smile lines, then what does? In a word: Botox. I've tried it and it works. Here's what'll happen. Your doctor will inject Botox into your lines and basically freeze them. You can still smile and laugh, but you'll notice the lines that were so deep are no longer as deep. You can also fill them in with fillers and you educate yourself about these at Hollywood Secrets to Looking Younger.
I realize the needle isn't for everyone. If you are looking for a non-invasive fix 7 Ways to Conceal Crow's Feet, there are a few other ways to conceal crow's feet or, at least, diminish the signs of them.
My recommendation: Botox because it works. If you go this route, be sure to get a referral from a friend and ask to see some (unaltered) before and after photos.
(8) Is There a Miracle Cream? Yes, There Is
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.
My recommendation: I used Retin A until my dry skin couldn't take it anymore. Now I use an OTC retinol. There are many OTCs available today Best Over-the-Counter Retinol Products but they can be pricey so shop around.
(9) The Amazing Benefits of Botox and Fillers
TV talk show host Kelly Ripa revealed in Elle magazine that she gets Botox every 7 months to maintain her youthful appearance at age 47. According to the UK's Daily Mail, Ripa told Elle, "It's the Botox. Every seven months or so my eyelid skin rests on my lashes." ( See the full article).
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. You can also have them injected into the nasolabial folds—those deep crevices that develop next to your nose as you age, also called marionette lines. 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.
(10) 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. They're relatively painless and less expensive than lasers. For optimal results, get a series of six or more that get stronger as your skin adapts.
(11) Ack! What to Do About Sprouting Chin Hairs
For the record, I know 30-year-olds with chin hair problems due to hormones. You can tweeze them, but they will always grow back. The only way to keep chin hairs at bay permanently is electrolysis.
(12) It's True You'll Look Younger the Heavier You Are
"When you get older, you have to be ready to trade your ass for your face," says actress Catherine Deneuve.
If you go to your 30-year high school reunion, you'll notice that your plumper classmates look like they'd hardly aged at all, yet the thinner women already had significant lines around the eyes and along the mouth. A twins study read about the fascinating study here found that in women over age 40, a few extra pounds actually make you look younger. That's because we lose fat in our faces as we age and that makes for sagging skin.
(13) How to Get Rid of Your Mustache
You only have two options for upper lip hair: Wax it off with a home waxing kit or have a professional wax it for you.
(14) How to Cover Up Spider Veins and Varicose Veins
Spider and varicose veins can be unsightly, but if you have them you are in good company. Most women as they age develop some veins in their legs. You can have them professionally removed Sclerotherapy: What Happens When I Have the Spider Veins Removed From My Legs?), or you can cover them up with concealer. A lot of women over age 50 wear pants or dark stockings to find these unsightly veins.