It doesn't take much to look your best, no matter your number. Here's a concise (yet comprehensive) skin-care syllabus.
In Your 50s
"This is the decade of collagen loss and saggy skin," says Jessica Wu, a Los Angeles dermatologist. (Oh joy.) The reason: Menopause (peri- and the real deal) affects nearly every woman in her 50s, and its onset is coupled with a steady decline in estrogen, which causes collagen production to drop off sharply and the skin to become significantly drier. So load up on products that hydrate and boost collagen. You can skip washing your face in the morning (assuming you did it before you went to bed) or just splash with cool water.
Your Simple Skin-Care Strategy
Antioxidant Serum or Cream
Studies have shown that inflammation speeds aging. All the more reason to reach for inflammation-calming antioxidants first thing in the morning. Try Origins A Perfect World Antioxidant Moisturizer With White Tea ($43, sephora.com).
Hydrating Sunscreen or Moisturizer with SPF
Sun protection helps stop years-old damage lurking beneath the skin from surfacing. Choose sunscreen in a rich base, or if your skin is particularly dry, mix a dollop of Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($7, walmart.com) into any noncreamy formula in your hand before applying, to increase the moisture in your skin, says Gervaise Gerstner, a Manhattan dermatologist. Try LancÃ´me Bienfait Multi-Vital SPF 30 Cream ($49, sephora.com).
If you haven't already, incorporate one into your routine now. Even if you've managed to sidestep dark circles and crow's-feet, the skin around the eyes starts to become crepey (thanks to collagen loss) during this decade. Choose a product that contains collagen boosters, such as retinoids, peptides, or glycolic acid. Try Glow by Dr. Brandt Revitalizing Retinol Eye Cream ($59, birchbox.com).
This helps create a clean canvas that lets anti-aging treatments penetrate more effectively. Try Garnier Clean & Nourishing Cleansing Oil ($15, amazon.com).
Antioxidant Serum or Cream
Like exercise, this is one habit that you can't give up or everything will start to head south. You can use the same one you apply in the morning.
A prescription cream, such as Renova or Retin-A, will be your most effective option for sloughing skin, encouraging cell turnover, and sparking collagen production. If you can't tolerate retinoids, a product with glycolic acid or peptides may be a worthy substitute—not as powerful, but less irritating. Try ReVive Moisturizing Renewal Cream with peptides and glycolic acid ($195, nordstrom.com).
60s and Older
"Easy does it" is your new mantra. Your skin-care regimen shouldn't change markedly from 50 to 60 to 70. (Hydrating, firming, and keeping discoloration at bay are still your major concerns.) However, many women find that their skin does become more sensitive after 60. This may be the result of the skin's barrier function becoming less proficient at keeping irritants out—or it may simply be that the skin is thinner, drier, and more vulnerable to outside assault, says Wu. So you may have to downshift your exfoliating regimen. (For example, use your retinoid or glycolic acid every other night rather than daily.) Also, choose an antioxidant product that calms inflamed skin, too. (One to try: RenÃ©e Rouleau Soothing Relief Serum with white tea and soothing algae extract, $43, reneerouleau.com.)