Once you reach 50, it’s safe to say that the skin care routine you’ve followed for years needs a few tweaks if you want to continue looking and feeling your best.
Getting older can be a huge challenge, and women reaching their fifties hit a really significant milestone in the aging process because this is the point in time where the intrinsic aging that affects both sexes accelerates as protective estrogen deserts the body like rats bailing out of a sinking ship.
Prior to this trigger point, the aging process proceeds slowly and steadily:
- Photo aging occurs on areas of the body where the skin is exposed to the damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays.
- Environmental aging is the result of exposure to pollution, wind, cold temperatures, smoke, and even the drying ingredients in low quality skin care products.
- Natural aging (intrinsic aging) sees a gentle decline in cellular renewal and optimal functioning.
But after 50, when menopause throws a spanner in the works, the much lower levels of estrogen in your body cause some dramatic changes.
Along with mood swings, night sweats, fatigue, hot flashes and weight gain, your skin (especially the skin on your face) will undergo some big changes.
Estrogen depletion leaves skin thinner and struggling to hold onto moisture which leads to dryness, itching and flaking.
Less estrogen also decreases skin elasticity, so sagging becomes a problem and fine lines turn into actual wrinkles.
Your skin will also have a harder time healing, so cuts, bruises, insect bites, and spots all take longer to resolve.
But don’t be discouraged, because as depressing as all of this sounds, there’s plenty that you can do to improve the health of your skin and maintain your appearance without resorting to cosmetic procedures.
If You Smoke – Stop!
Ignore this advice if you want to, but smoking is a big cause of dull skin, harsh lines around the mouth, and wrinkles on the face. With the decrease in elasticity that arrives post 50, those lines will only become more pronounced.
According to The Mayo Clinic: “Aside from age, smoking is the strongest predictor of facial wrinkling in men and women,”.
Bathing your face in a fog of smoke day after day also exposes your skin to the free radical damage that accelerates aging.
Plus, smoking ravages your vitamin C levels, and we’ll get to why vitamin C is so important for your skin in a little while, but for now, just know that every cigarette you smoke steals around 25mg of Vitamin C from your body – Vitamin C that your body badly needs for all kinds of processes, including healthy skin cell production.
Always Wear Sunscreen (This is the Most Important Tip on This Page!)
Your body benefits from a little sun exposure every day so that you can make that all important vitamin D. Around 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure in the early morning or late afternoon is sufficient for vitamin D production, after that you need to cover up or slather on the sunscreen.
Even when you’re topping up vitamin D levels, you still need to protect your face.
The skin on your face and neck needs protection from the sun at all times to prevent the UV damage that results in lines and wrinkles. So if you want to keep your skin looking good, make sure that any sun-kissed glow comes from a tinted moisturizer from now on.
And don’t forget to protect the backs of your hands! The skin on the backs of your hands ages terribly if you don’t use sunscreen.
Sunscreen only works if you use it properly.
You need to apply your sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you go outdoors. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it takes around 15 minutes for sunscreen to absorb into your skin and begin to protect you.
If you slap on some sunscreen right before you step out into the sunshine, your skin will be unprotected for those first 15 minutes, which in strong sunlight is plenty of time to burn and to get a hefty dose of free radical damage.
While your skin is exposed to sunlight, you need to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, and more frequently if you’re sweating or swimming.
Those harmful UV rays are present on cloudy days too, making sunscreen a year round investment in your skin.
Outdoors Includes Your Car
Car windshields filter out UV rays, but the normal glass in your side windows and rear window doesn’t offer any protection.
In fact, researchers examining the records of patients at a skin cancer clinic found that drivers were most likely to develop skin cancer on the left side of their face and upper body, which is the side most exposed to sunlight while driving.
Choose A Quality Sunscreen With A High SPF
Look for sunscreens with broad protection (UVA and UVB) and an SPF of 30 or higher, and make sure to check the expiry date because expired creams won’t protect you.
The SPF only refers to UVB rays and is a measure of how long it takes skin to burn (redden) after application of the product compared to untreated skin.
Theoretically, with a correctly applied, effective SPF 30, you would take 30 times as long to burn than you would without the sunscreen. So if your unprotected skin starts to turn pink after 5 minutes, then with an SPF 30 you should be protected for about 150 minutes.
In reality, the time frame will be lower because of sweating and because sunscreen rubs off on clothing and when you touch your face.
The SPF doesn’t give any indication of the level of UVA protection. UVA rays are the ones responsible for free radical damage and the classic heavily wrinkled look of older sun worshippers.
Sunscreens Available In The US May Not Provide Adequate Protection from UVA Rays
Since 2007 The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has published an annual report on sunscreen efficacy and safety. They point out that the FDA has failed to approve the most effective UVA protective ingredients that are used in European sunscreens.
The EWG states:
“Americans have fewer choices and notably poorer protection from ultraviolet-A rays in their sunscreen options than Europeans. While most sunscreens prevent sunburn effectively when used correctly, they are not as good at preventing the more subtle skin damages produced by lower-energy UVA radiation. UVA rays have less energy and don’t burn the skin, but they can cause the skin to age, can suppress the immune system and can contribute to the development of melanoma,”.
Research from Brian Diffey, PhD, emeritus professor of photobiology at Newcastle University has shown that US sunscreens allow about 3 times as much UVA to reach the skin than their European counterparts.
You can read the relevant section of the report here.
The EWG notes in its report that the FDA gave approval for one manufacturer – La Roche Posay – to formulate a sunscreen with one of the newer UVA protection ingredients – Mexoryl SX (also called Ecamsule).
Unfortunately, this sunscreen – La Roche-Posay Anthelios SX Daily Moisturizing Cream with Sunscreen is only an SPF 15, which while probably fine for your daily commute and short spells outdoors, will need frequent reapplication if you’re going to be out in the sun for a while.
Other sunscreens which get good ratings from the EWG when it comes to UVA protection include:
- Badger Sunscreen Cream, Unscented, SPF 30
- MDSolarSciences Mineral Creme Sunscreen, SPF 30
- Block Island Organics Natural Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
- Kabana Organic Skincare Green Screen Sunscreen, Original, SPF 32
- Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Lotion Sunscreen, Sensitive Skin, SPF 50
- Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Baby, SPF 50
- Goddess Garden Organics Facial Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
- Goddess Garden Organics Face the Day Daily Moisturizer, SPF 30
Choose Non Drying Cleansers & Rich Moisturizers
Older skin doesn’t produce as much natural moisture as younger skin or hold onto it as well.
This moisture depletion results in more lines and in dry, itchy, flaky skin.
Because of this, it’s imperative that the cleansing products you choose don’t strip more moisture away from your skin. That means no more soap! Hot water is also a no-no because it’s very drying to the skin.
Your moisturizer needs to incorporate ingredients that can replenish moisture and reinforce the skin’s protective barrier to keep skin optimally hydrated, and for a plumper, less saggy appearance.
While there are numerous skin care brands out there, one brand that really does stand out for mature skin is Avène.
With a 270 year history, Avène is renowned specialists in skin care and their products are frequently recommended by dermatologists and physicians. As well as featuring an impressive range of advanced skin care ingredients, all of Avène’s products are made with the unique hydrating and skin softening mineral-rich waters from the thermal springs at Avène in France.
If you have very dry skin choose their XeraCalm AD line for very dry, sensitive skin. These cleansers and moisturizers hydrate skin with rich moisture and help to restore and maintain the epidermal barrier.
In fact, XeraCalm was developed for skin conditions like eczema where the epidermal barrier is heavily damaged.
XeraCalm Replenishing Balm is one of their Sterile Skin Care items made with zero preservatives, and it’s the preservatives in many skin care products that are the culprits behind skin irritation for those with sensitive skin.
This moisturizing balm sinks into the skin upon application for instant relief from dryness and it doesn’t leave any greasy residue behind. It’s rich enough to use a hand cream too.
The only downside with the Sterile Skin Care products is the special caps they use to keep the contents sterile. You really do need to squeeze pretty hard to get the creams out, which isn’t a problem for those with strong hands, but it’s something to keep in mind if you have arthritis, in which case you’d be better off with one of their regular, non-sterile creams.
To minimize the signs of aging, choose from the PhysioLift range. PhysioLift products are antioxidant rich and clinically proven to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles and improve skin’s firmness.
Avoid Physical Exfoliation
Aging skin needs regular, gentle exfoliation to remove dead skin cells because it no longer has the same rate of skin cell turnover and elimination that it once had.
Younger skin pushes dead cells out of the pore one by one in a smooth, regular motion, which is why you could still have a glowing, fresh faced appearance even if you didn’t exfoliate. Natural exfoliation is a function of young, healthy skin. It’s built in.
That natural function just doesn’t work as well for older skin, so to avoid a dull complexion and to allow the skin to fully absorb moisturizers, you need to exfoliate using a chemical exfoliator.
Physical exfoliators use rough substances – ground up grains or nuts, salt, sugar, microbeads, and so on, to scrub away dead skin. But these aren’t particularly well suited to the thinner, more fragile skin that you’re faced with as you get older. And harsh scrubbing can often do more harm than good.
Chemical exfoliants, on the other hand, use fruit enzymes or mild acids like alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) or glycolic acid, to break the bonds that hold skin cells together, allowing the uppermost layer of dead cells to come away easily.
Convenience is a key factor when it comes to successfully maintaining a skin care regimen, and with that in mind, you might want to take a look at Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant with Glycolic Acid, Chamomile & Green Tea.
This exfoliator is a leave on product (no need to rinse) that you apply once or twice a day to keep your skin cells turning over for a fresher complexion. With additional antioxidants and soothing, anti-inflammatory chamomile, this exfoliator smooths skin and minimizes fine lines, age spots and discoloration.
Plus, it’s amazing value since you only need a teeny, dime sized amount to cover your entire face, meaning that the generous 3.3 oz size will last for months. Perfect!
Turn Back Time With Essential Oils
Essential oils are a must have for older skin because they can help to counteract some of the main challenges facing mature skin.
As skin ages after menopause, fewer blood vessels reach the skin’s surface, and that’s a big problem because it’s the blood vessels that carry nutrients to skin cells.
Now, essential oils won’t create new blood vessels, but the following oils can boost circulation, allowing the remaining blood vessels to work more efficiently:
- Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
- Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
- Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
To counter dryness and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles try:
- Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
- Frankincense (Boswellia carteri)
- Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)
- Neroli – also known as Orange Blossom (Citrus aurantium)
- Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)
To calm inflammation and irritation use:
- German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
- Helichrysum (Helichrysum angustifolium)
For antioxidant protection use:
- Cinnamon Leaf (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
- Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
- Clove Bud (Syzygium aromaticum)
- Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Before using any essential oil on your skin, you must first dilute it with a carrier oil to prevent irritation or possible allergic reaction. Even though these oils are natural, they are still very potent, and incorrect use can result in painful rashes and sores, or even chemical burns. Always dilute!
Jojoba oil is a good carrier oil for mature skin because its composition is so similar to the natural sebum that the skin produces, sebum that mature skin is low on. Jojoba can be further improved by the addition of a few drops of castor oil.
Other excellent carrier oils for older skin are Avocado oil, Argan oil, Black Seed oil, Camellia oil, Hemp Seed oil, and Moringa oil.
A 1% dilution is considered safe and effective for most oils used for facial skin care, however, Clove Bud and Cinnamon should be used at not more than a 0.5% dilution, and Ylang Ylang at no more than 0.8%.
To make a 1% dilution, add 6 drops of essential oil to 1 ounce (30 ml or 6 teaspoons) of carrier oil.
A 0.5% dilution uses 3 drops of essential oil and a 0.8% dilution uses 5 drops.
Once you have diluted your essential oil, simply massage onto clean skin before you apply any moisturizer.
As with most things, quality matters when it comes to essential oils, and many oils on the market are poor quality or adulterated, To make sure that you get genuine essential oils of utmost purity look for oils from Plant Therapy or Tisserand.
Give Your Skin The Right Nutrients
Vibrant skin starts on the inside, and it’s important that you give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to produce strong, healthy skin. Specific nutrients that will ensure optimal skin health are as follows.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a vital nutrient and if you don’t have enough of this vitamin, your skin will suffer (and so will your overall health).
Without vitamin C your body can’t produce collagen, (which is why sailors in the olden days suffered from scurvy on long voyages). Collagen makes up around a third of the protein in your body, so you can see why vitamin C is so important. Collagen is also the primary protein in your skin – 75%.
As well as being necessary for collagen production, vitamin C is a superb antioxidant that fights free radicals.
The amount of vitamin C you need varies according to your general health status. The worse shape you’re in, the more vitamin C your body will use.
While it’s generally best to obtain nutrients from the diet, it’s hard to take in the quantity of vitamin C necessary for good health from diet alone, so for this vitamin, supplements are the way to go.
A good starting dose of vitamin C is 1000mg to 2000mg a day.
Another way for your skin to benefit from vitamin C is a topical application. Many skin care products already contain vitamin C but it’s super easy to make your own vitamin C serum.
All you need is vitamin C powder and water. Use ½ teaspoon vitamin C powder and mix with 1 tablespoon of water. Once it’s completely dissolved, smooth it on to your skin.
Be sure to use cold water because hot water destroys vitamin C.
Proline & Lysine
Collagen is formed from the two amino acids, proline and lysine. Make sure you get enough of these protein building blocks by eating a diet rich in meat, fish and shellfish, dairy, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds and lentils. Vegetarians should make sure they eat enough soy.
You can also take these as dietary supplements.
Vitamin E is the predominant skin antioxidant, and it’s another vital nutrient for collagen production.
Foods rich in vitamin E include:
- Sunflower Seeds
- Wheat Germ Oil
- Pine Nuts
- Butternut Squash
- Sweet Potato
- Olive Oil
Magnesium is another nutrient that is essential for collagen synthesis and for several hundred other vital processes in the body including cellular energy production.
Alarmingly, up to 80% of the population may not be getting the recommended minimum amount of magnesium thanks to poor food choices and food that is increasingly grown in nutrient depleted soils.
Don’t shortchange your body when it comes to magnesium. Because of the food quality problem, the best way to get the magnesium that you need is from a supplement, but you can’t just take any old magnesium.
Magnesium comes in several forms and not all of them have good bioavailability.
Magnesium Oxide, for example, is the most common form of magnesium in supplements due to its abundance and therefore low cost. But it’s the least absorbable form of the mineral and generally a complete waste of money.
Research has led to much better forms of magnesium like chelated magnesium. Chelated magnesium is magnesium that has been bound with amino acids to allow for maximum absorption in the body.
Instead of being broken down in the stomach or small intestine and subsequently largely excreted, chelated magnesium passes directly through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream where it can be used.
To get the maximum absorption from a magnesium supplement, the best choice is Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium.
Switch to Silk Pillowcases
You spend one third of your day sleeping with your face pressed against your pillow.
It turns out that cotton pillowcases can actually draw precious moisture away from your skin. That diligently applied night cream isn’t going to do your skin a whole lot of good if it’s been sucked into your pillow. AND, all of that moisture provides a breeding ground for bacteria as well as attracting allergens.
Silk pillowcases, on the other hand, wick away less moisture from your skin, and because silk doesn’t create the same friction as cotton, the fabric slides against your skin instead of tugging at it every time you move.
Your hair will benefit from silk too, and as hair becomes more fragile with age, sleeping on silk will prevent a lot of the hair breakage that generally occurs throughout the night because of that same tugging action.
While we’re talking about sleep, it’s worth keeping in mind that your sleep position could contribute to wrinkle formation.
Back sleepers don’t need to worry about this, but if you’re a side or front sleeper, listen up. Dermatologists warn that the side of your face that you habitually sleep on will have the most wrinkles.
Because skin loses elasticity with age, it can’t spring back from being scrunched up all night as easily as it once could. Eventually, those night time creases that used to even out soon after waking, become permanent fixtures.
Changing the habits of a lifetime is no easy thing, and favorite sleep positions tend to be a long standing habit. But for the sake of your face, if you can, try to make sure that you sleep on your back.
And there you have it, our top non-invasive skin care tips for women over 50. With a good skin care, routine older skin can still look beautiful and vibrant at 60 or 70 years of age and beyond.
“This article is due to be re-visited, proofread and updated a maximum of 3 years from its original upload date by Dr. Kimberly Langdon, M.D. All the content and media has been uploaded by Lily Greene our webmaster, who is also is in charge of page design.”