Coming Of Age: The Best Skincare Routine For Your 50s And Beyond

After 50, moisture loss and skin laxity are key concerns. Here’s how to treat them.
Written by Jeannine Morris Lombardi
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Coming Of Age: The Best Skincare Routine For Your 50s And BeyondMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

When should I start getting Botox®? Is it time to incorporate retinol into my skincare routine? What is a “mommy makeover”? How about a “daddy do-over”? Do I really need to, as the saying goes, sacrifice my ass for my face? Should I swap my hyaluronic acid fillers for something a bit more permanent?

When it comes to beauty and aesthetics, there is no such thing as one -size -fits-all. But there are some tried and true principles that will keep you looking and feeling your best. In this series, Coming of Age, The AEDITION answers your most pressing questions about the best treatments, procedures, and practices — from surgery and skincare to health and wellness and everything in between — to consider at any age.

Welcome to life after 50. “Some of the challenges women face in their fifties, sixties and 70-plus are loss of collagen, elastin, and bone, the mid-face starts to sag, and there’s a true structural shift underneath the skin that leads to deeper wrinkles and more sagging,” explains Dendy Engelman, MD, a board certified dermatologist in New York City.

Hormones also play a big role in the changes the skin faces after 50. In your forties, hormone levels become imbalanced during perimenopause, which has a direct effect on the skin. The complexion becomes drier, and collagen and elastin production slows. Now that you’ve entered menopause (the average age is 51) and the ovaries are creating even less estrogen, dryness becomes a bigger concern, as do sagging and volume loss.

If you’ve been religious about your skincare regimen to date (we’ve got similar guides for your twenties, thirties, and forties), you already have a leg up. Even so, new challenges may require you to level up your routine to focus on moisture — and maybe even a more advanced professional treatment to two. Hand in hand, you’ll be able to maintain a healthy and refreshed appearance.

The Best Skincare Routine for Your 50s and Beyond

“The outer layer of the skin becomes thinner and more delicate, and you really need to pay attention to how your hormones are affecting it at this age,” says Julie Russak, MD, a NYC-based board certified dermatologist and founder of Russak Dermatology Clinic. “You don’t need to completely change your regimen, but you do need to add to it to help recreate the protective barrier and restore moisture.” With that in mind, here’s what the ideal skincare routine after 50 should look like:

Morning Routine:

  • Cleanser
  • Heavy Eye Cream
  • Probiotic Serum or Booster
  • Vitamin C Serum
  • Heavy Moisturizer with peptides and cholesterol
  • Sunscreen

Nighttime Routine:

  • Cleanser
  • Heavy Eye Cream
  • Probiotic Serum or Booster
  • Increased Strength Retinol
  • Heavy Moisturizer with peptides and cholesterol

If you’ve been following along in our series, you’ll notice the bones of this regimen remain the same. You can use the same cleanser, serums, eye cream, and moisturizer day and night — adding sunscreen to your A.M. routine and a retinol or retinoid in the evening.

And don’t forget: your face extends beyond the jaw. “You can continue to use your facial products for your neck, décolletage, and hands or you can invest in skincare that targets those specific areas,” Dr. Russak advises. Whatever you decide, don’t neglect them! Just like your face, these delicate areas can show sun damage and other signs of aging. We suggest adding Revision Nectifirm Advanced and PCA Skin C & E Hand Renewal to your regimen.

The Best Skincare Ingredients for Your 50s and Beyond

In your twenties, brightening and free radical-fighting vitamin C was all you needed. Vitamin A derivatives (i.e. retinol and retinoids) joined the club in your thirties to increase cellular turnover. Probiotics and ceramides were important additions to treat dryness and fortify the skin barrier in your forties. After 50, all of these ingredients are still important — albeit with a little more help.

Up Your Retinol Game

If you’ve been using a retinol or retinoid for years (or even decades!), try increasing the strength to at least one percent. We like SkinMedica Age Defense Retinol Complex 1.0, but you can also ask your dermatologist for a prescription. If you’re a first time user, try a lower strength formula, like PCA Skin Intensive Clarity Treatment 0.5% Pure Retinol Night, and gradually work your way up. Those with sensitive skin may always find retinol treatments to be too aggressive. Fortunately, there are alternatives (bakuchiol, rosehip oil, and arophira) that offer similar results without the irritation.

Add Cholesterol to Your Moisturizer

Cholesterol often gets a bad rap, but it has skincare benefits. “Cholesterol plays a major role in supporting and boosting the function of the skin barrier, which is composed of ‘bricks’ (flattened, protein-enriched corneocytes) and ‘mortar’ (intercellular lipid-enriched layers),” explains Shuting Hu, PhD, a cosmetic scientist and founder of Acaderma. “At this age, the skin’s lipid production also decreases and so we need to supplement lipids to strengthen the skin barrier by adding cholesterol into our skincare.” A rich cream (we like SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2) formulated with cholesterol and peptides to support aging skin is a great swap for the lighter moisturizers you were using in your thirties and forties.

If You’re in the Market for a Professional Treatment…

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: skinare can only do so much. That is especially true as we age. As we outlined in our guide to the best cosmetic procedures to consider after 50, surgical procedures can do a lot of heavy lifting (literally), but non-surgical procedures can pack a punch, too.

Try Filler Strategically

Besides gravity taking a toll, the ‘scaffolding’ supporting the face actually shrinks with age. “Your face literally falls down,” Dr. Engelman says. Without undergoing surgery, the best professional treatment option is to use hyaluronic acid-based fillers like Juvéderm® Voluma. Dr. Engelman employs a plastic surgery-inspired technique — injecting right below the ear along the jawline — to “pull the skin back and help support your bone.” She also uses filler at the point where the ear meets the cheekbone for a similar effect. “It can really transform people,” she says.

Brighten & Tighten

The name of the game is evening out the complexion and firming the face through deep, non-surgical stimulation. A rotation of three treatments – Fraxel®, radiofrequency therapy, and microneedling – act as a triple threat.

  • Fraxel® is a non-ablative fractional laser used to resurface the skin, ridding it of hyperpigmentation, brown spots, and scars. It also helps to smooth fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Radiofrequency (RF) therapy uses electric current to heat the dermis (the deep layer of your skin) and stimulate collagen production.
  • Microneedling, performed alone or in tandem with RF or PRP, creates tiny micro-wounds in the skin to improve fine lines and wrinkles, skin texture, brown spots, and laxity.

One or all of these procedures can each be performed once or more per year, as needed.

Back Off The Botox®

One last piece of advice from Dr. Engelman: Lay off neurotoxins like Botox® in your forehead. As you get older, the brows drop about four millimeters. If you’re adding filler throughout your midface, your brow bone is descending while your cheeks are ascending. The result? Squinty eyes. “Botox® is a relaxer not a tightener, so using it in conjunction with fillers at this age will make your eyes look very small,” Dr. Engelmen warns. While you should skip treating forehead lines, a little around your eyes to address crow’s feet is fine.

All products featured are independently selected by our editors, however, AEDIT may receive a commission on items purchased through our links.

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JEANNINE MORRIS LOMBARDIis a contributing writer for AEDIT.

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