From excessively dry skin to brown spots, reduced elasticity to wrinkles, skin for women over 50 can be a difficult beast to tame. Menopause, and the body's subsequent reduction of estrogen production, is particularly to blame, explains NY-based dermatologist and scientist Dr. Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas. Aging gracefully means accepting that humans grow older, but it also means taking care of yourself to better preserve your youth and health. Preventative measures and a consistent skincare regimen are the best ways to do that.
Eat Well, Hydrate Often
It seems like a given, but many people forget just how big of a role diet plays in their overall appearance. "Feed your skin the raw materials it needs to repair itself and boost stem cells," advises Alexiades-Armenakas. That means daily consumption of foods rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Also drink plenty of water, which hydrates your body from the inside out.
Declining estrogen levels can drastically reduce the skin's oil production, leaving skin itchy and flaky. "Women in their 50s should opt for thicker moisturizers because lighter, oil-free products are no longer thick enough," explains Alexiades-Armenakas. Choose moisturizers and sunscreens that contain oil. As you age, oil doesn't clog up pores and cause acne, but instead provides skin with the hydration it needs.
Not only does sunscreen help prevent against skin cancer, it also reduces the potential for sun spots. "The top layer of skin cells becomes sticky from long-term sun exposure," explains Alexiades-Armenakas. "As a result, the cells start to stack up on each other instead of exfoliating normally. Because they contain pigment, the colors darken as more layers are added." Apply moisturizer with an SPF of 15 of greater to any exposed areas of the body every day before leaving the house.
Retinoid — a chemical compound related to vitamin A — treats varying skin issues, particularly those associated with aging. "It reduces brown spots, increases exfoliation and collagen production, thickens the epidermis, and can reverse precancerous sun damage," explains Alexiades-Armenakas. Retinoid products are available over-the-counter and are labeled as such, or have "retinol" or "retinoids" in the listed ingredients. Speak with your dermatologist about using a more potent prescription retinoid product. She will work specifically with you and explain any potential benefits or risks.
Minimally Invasive Procedures
"Try minimally invasive procedures like fillers for the lower part of the face where there is a loss in volume," advises Alexiades-Armenakas. "A little bit of filler can restore the higher cheekbones." She also suggests microdermabrasion treatments, which reduce fine lines, improve color and smooth the skin. Other minimally invasive procedures include laser therapy, chemical peels and Botox. Never opt for any of these procedures, though, without consulting your doctor first.
No matter your age, exfoliation is a key component for healthy skin. Your skin consistently produces new skin cells, which creates a layer of dead cells on the surface of your skin. Removing old cells via exfoliation helps skin breathe and can even reduce fine lines and the appearance of sun spots. Use a facial exfoliant (with fine, natural particles) two to three times weekly.
Browse any store's cosmetic and skincare department, and you'll find a host of anti-aging creams, serums, exfoliators and washes. While not all anti-aging products are created equal, some do deliver on their promises. Anti-aging ingredients to look for include AHA and BHA, which can improve collagen production and even skin texture; vitamins C and E, which can strengthen the skin and improve skin coloring; Niacinamide, which reportedly helps the skin retain moisture and stimulates circulation; and Resveratrol, which may protect against sun damage and improves collagen production.
Proper Washing and Product Application
It's not just the products you use that make a difference in your skin — it's how you use the products. Apply anti-aging serums and/or creams on clean and slightly warm skin, which will absorb ingredients better. Never use scalding hot water to wash your face or body, though, as it further dries out skin and can even accelerate aging. Additionally, gently pat your face and skin dry as opposed to rubbing.