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Nearly every time we age into a new decade, we need to change up our skincare routines to answer any upcoming internal and environmental challenges. In our 50s, especially, our hormones (or in this case, lack thereof) introduce all sorts of physical, skin-related changes; it's important to find the best antiaging ingredients and products that work best on mature skin and to alter those morning and evening regimens accordingly.
If you’re already in your 50s, you're likely clued in to all the ways in which decreased (or a lack of) estrogen affects the look of your face and neck. “With the sharp decline of estrogen that accompanies menopause, our skin loses its resilience and youthful appearance,” says dermatologist Jennifer Herrmann, MD, FAAD. “Estrogen holds in moisture, keeps the skin barrier robust, and promotes healthy collagen synthesis. Without it, skin dries and becomes more easily irritated. Collagen synthesis and cell turnover also stall, which makes skin look dull and tired.”
Meet the Expert
Dr. Jennifer Herrmann is a board certified, fellowship-trained dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon as well as a lecturer with more than 20 peer-reviewed studies and book chapters.
As our skin ages, we need to make use of richer, more emollient creams and serums to hydrate, calm, and brighten. Having trouble deciding which products and habits to keep and which ones to ditch? Not to worry: Herrmann shares the best antiaging skincare products she recommends for those over the age of 50, along with the following ingredients to look for and optimal morning and evening routines.
Hydration is key for the over-50 set. Look for moisturizers that "contain ceramides and oils to help replenish the skin’s natural lipid barrier,” Herrmann says.
These are the naturally-occurring, collagen-building proteins that are manufactured by all types of cells (not just skin cells) to keep skin healthy. In skincare, growth factors can come from human cells (grown in a lab) or even bioengineered, from plants. “They help target collagen synthesis to thicken skin and diminish lines,” notes Herrmann. Growth factors go by a variety of acronyms, including TGF-B, HGF, and PDGF-AA, which stimulate collagen secretion, new blood vessel formation, and regulate cell growth and division, respectively. Learn to spot them on product labels.
Retinol and Retinoids
Reach for a retinol (over-the-counter) or retinoid (prescription-only) product to turn over dull skin and help increase collagen production. “Because these ingredients can be drying, I typically recommend patients start with a retinol- or micronized retinoid-based treatment to lower the possibility of irritation," Herrmann says.
DNA Repair Enzymes
By the time you hit 50, your skin cells have accumulated several decades of DNA damage and their reparative enzymes (they protect us from free-radical and sun damage, for example) have declined. “Skin then begins the repair process once we administer enzymes topically," Herrmann explains. "They're important because unchecked damage accumulates, and, in addition to aging the skin, it can also lead to pre-cancers and skin cancers.”
Products to Avoid
Once you turn 50, avoid these things like the plague:
Harsh Exfoliants and Gritty Masks
These may have worked back when you were fighting breakouts and oily skin, but it's best to skip any harsh exfoliants in your 50s. “They strip too much oil and exacerbate dryness,” Herrmann says.
According to Herrmann, many lotions contain alcohol, which is very drying. "Opt for creams and ointments that moisturize with higher oil contents."
Unprotected Sun Exposure
Age notwithstanding, it's never okay to skip sunscreen when spending time outdoors. "Damage is cumulative," says Herrmann, "so even in your 50s, it's still important to protect the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays."
Excess Exposure To Wind and Cold
Cold temperatures and windy days dry out and irritate the skin more easily in your 50s, so Herrmann advises avoiding undue skin exposure during chilly, inclement days as often as possible.
- Herrmann recommends starting the day by washing with a mild cleanser, such as EltaMD's Foaming Facial Cleanser (see below) or Neutrogena's Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser.
- After that, "apply a growth-factor serum, like DNARenewal's Regeneration Serum, that contains skin-specific growth factors that target collagen synthesis and mitigate fine lines," she says.
- After the serum, Herrmann suggests a cream-based moisturizer, such as Cerave's Moisturizing Cream containing ceramides (lipids) that help restore the skin's barrier. Or, treat yourself with Kate Somerville’s Goat Milk Moisturizing Cream. “Its milk proteins soothe irritated, dry skin, while jojoba, avocado and grape seed oil, and vitamin E add natural oils for maximum moisture," says Herrmann.
- Finish with a reparative sunscreen, such as DNARenewal's EGF Sheer Defense.
- Before bedtime, wash with your A.M. cleanser. Or, if you feel the need to exfoliate, try one that contains glycolic acid, such as Glytone Gentle Gel Cleanser, which brightens skin and sloughs dead skin cells.
- Next, apply the growth-factor serum. "Once or twice a week, and if the skin isn’t overly dry, swap the serum for a retinoid product that's gentlest on drier skin, such as one that contains dermatologist-prescribed Renova," recommends Herrmann.
- Follow up with a skin-brightening serum that combats hyperpigmentation, such as SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic. "Its stabilized vitamin-C formula helps lighten sun spots and brown patches," Herrmann says.
- Last, apply a reparative enzyme, such as DNARenewal EGF Night Renewal, which contains DNA-repair enzymes and intense moisturizers for overnight hydration.
Glycolic Acid-Infused Cleanser
Vitamin C Serum
Reparative Enzyme Treatment
Mehta-ambalal SR. Neocollagenesis and Neoelastinogenesis: From the Laboratory to the Clinic. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2016;9(3):145-151. doi:10.4103/0974-2077.191645
Zhang S, Duan E. Fighting Against Skin Aging: The Way from Bench to Bedside. Cell Transplant. 2018;27(5):729-738. doi:10.1177/0963689717725755