How to get younger looking skin when you're over 50 and dealing with the menopause
Change is afoot: the beauty industry has realised women don’t become invisible after 49, and brands are launching skin creams targeted to an older market. Even better, they’re fronted not by spritely 30-somethings, but by glamorpusses in their 50s, 60s, 70s - even 80s (Jane Fonda, spokesperson for L’Oreal , will be 81 in December).
Recognition is nice but what IS "50-plus skin", and is it the same for everyone?
‘For a long time we’ve put people into skincare brackets: oily, dry, acne-prone, etc - and that works well,’ says Chris Caire, chief scientist at Perricone MD . ‘But as we discover more about what’s going on in skin at a cellular level, we can better address things typically relevant to most 50-year-old women.
What happens to skin in your 50s?
Collagen, the scaffolding of youthful skin, declines by about 1% every year in your 40s. ‘But around the menopause , levels plummet,’ says Dr Stefanie Williams from Eudelo Clinic . ‘It’s been reported that in the first five years post menopause about 30% of our skin’s collagen is lost, leaving skin thinner and less firm.’
Dryness is a common issue too. As the skin barrier ages it gets more porous and less effective, which damages it further and leads to even more dryness. ‘If you don’t have a good, hydrated skin barrier to start with, you’re wasting your time and money applying expensive anti-ageing ingredients over it,’ says Chris.
Antioxidant levels get depleted too. There are important for protecting and repairing skin.
Sagging is seen over 50, caused by facial fat loss and bone reabsorption (basically, bones in your skull shrink as you age).
What if this doesn't sound like you?
You might not be the 'typical' 50-something. ‘On average, the skin becomes drier. However, there are always exceptions (HRT can delay some skin ageing effects) and some over 50s have combination or even oily skin,’ says Dr Stefanie.
If that’s you, don’t ignore it. ‘Don’t blindly start using richer, more hydrating moisturisers just because you hit 50,' says Dr Stephanie. 'Adjust skincare to your personal skin type and condition, not some general rules.’
How to get better skin in your 50s
Rule 1: Don’t skip skincare
It’s true there’s only a certain amount of plumping and line-softening that face creams can do, so why not just save your money for Botox? ‘People ask what the point of skincare in their 50s is when it doesn’t have the dramatic effects that fillers do, but it’s not comparable,’ says Chris. ‘Fillers are temporary and visual - a lot more like make-up than skincare, and you wouldn’t choose between a lipstick or a moisturiser. Fillers don’t make skincare less worthwhile, they do a different thing.’
Rule 2: Focus on key ingredients
Dr Stefanie recommends topping up your antioxidants in the morning with a vitamin C serum , and fighting collagen decline in the evening. ‘Vitamin A helps repair sun damage and induces collagen production, so use some form of vitamin A derivative in the evening - a retinol or retinaldehyde cream - as tolerated. This may not be daily, but every little helps.’
Rule 3: Switch to oil formulas
They are soothing, nourishing and packed with extra antioxidants. They’re also customisable if you don’t like the heavier face creams often targeted at older women. ‘You can add a few drops to your usual moisturiser and increase the amount in winter, says super-facialist Su-Man Hzu . ‘For a more targeted effect, massage it along your forehead lines, or upwards along your nose to mouth lines.’ Oil-based cleansers can be less astringent on dry skin than soap or foaming washes.
Rule 4: Focus on eyes and lips
If you’re not already using an eye cream, it’s worth adding one now. We know it’s an extra expense but there ‘They tend to be more expensive because they’re packed with active ingredients that are specifically targeted at the (mostly under-)eye area, like increasing circulation or reducing bags. These would be wasted if you’re putting them all over your face,’ says Chris. Su-Man recommends applying eye cream around the lips as well, where the skin is thin, dryer and, like around the eyes, constantly being stretched.
Rule 5: Say yes to SPF
Using sun protection, SPF30 or more, every day, winter and summer is as important as ever. Just 20 minutes in the sun without protection lowers your vitamin C status, and if you’re using high tech face creams with retinol in, they cause temporary heightened sensitivity to sun. ‘Of course, the earlier you start with daily SPF, the more you delay skin ageing (UV light increases collagen breakdown and decreases collagen synthesis). However, starting in your 50s is much better than never,’ says Dr Stefanie.