Ask a Beauty Editor: What Are the Best Skincare Products for Women Over 50?

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At age 59, what serums and/or skin products do I need most? — @hmboettcher

It's always a good idea to switch up your skincare routine when you cross over into another decade (more on this here), but this is especially true for your 50s and beyond. Even if you've been a skincare angel all your life, the fifth decade of your life inevitably brings about the more conspicuous markers of aging—deep wrinkles, sun spots, crepey texture, and loss of volume—all of which require a more rigorous battle plan to tackle.

You can blame your hormones (or lack thereof). With the sharp decline of estrogen that accompanies menopause, skin tends to lose its resilience. But not to worry—that just means it's time to start applying specific ingredients (read: serums) that will help take care of your skin as you move forward.

Key Principles of Skincare

Let's start with some ground rules. Good skincare in your 50s revolves around a few key principles. First and foremost, of course, is wearing sunscreen and wearing protective clothing whenever possible. You should also be washing your face and applying a thick moisturizer with plenty of humectants and emollients twice a day to stave off skin dehydration (your skin produces less oil at this age). If you haven't already, it might be a good time to invest in a silk pillowcase and bedside humidifier.

Ingredients to Look for

Beyond that, there are certain ingredients to look for in your skincare serums. Think of it this way: "After the age of 50, the goal of your serum should be to boost the normal activities of your skin that become lazy with age," says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. That doesn't mean your skincare routine has to be complicated—in fact, it's just the opposite. Your skin is thinner and might not be able to tolerate harsh things as much, so it's best to stick to the following quartet when it comes to additional serums.

The first player is glycolic acid, which unclogs pores and refines texture. The second is hyaluronic acid, which helps your skin retain moisture. The third is retinol, which will help increase skin cell turnover and stimulate collagen production (read: plumper, thicker-looking skin). And the fourth is vitamin C, which works to lighten the appearance of age spots.

You can use glycolic acid and retinol together, so long as you alternate between the two. In fact, dermatologists say they allow each other to work better. Glycolic acid exfoliates the surface, while retinol increases the enzymes that produce collagen from beneath the surface, helping the skin become more plump over time. Translation: Glycolics work from the top down, while retinol works from the bottom up.

Procedures to Help Combat Signs of Aging

I'll also mention that there are procedures that can be done to combat signs of aging, such as neuromodulator injections for fine lines caused by facial movement, and dermal filler injections to replace lost volume. Laser treatments can also help resurface or tighten the skin and stimulate collagen, says Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. But of course, no pressure to get professional work done if you don't want to (and some treatments can be done low-key with at-home tools).

Last, but certainly not least, some product recs. Although I personally have yet to reach my 50s, each product here has been vetted professionally by two of my favorite dermatologists—Dr. Zeichner and Dr. King—and unprofessionally by my 54-year-old mom (who, might I add, is a very picky woman).

Best Skincare Products for Women Over 50

Glycolic Acid

skincare-for-over-50-LOreal Paris 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum

A fruit acid derived from sugarcane, it's the acid that penetrates skin the deepest, and as such, it's the most effective—though it also has the highest potential to cause irritation. Thankfully, this drugstore pick is designed for daily use thanks to the addition of soothing aloe.

Try: L'Oreal Paris 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum ($20; amazon.com)

Hyaluronic Acid

skincare-for-over-50-Vichy Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Sodium hyaluronate, or hyaluronic acid, naturally occurs in our bodies, and it works to both attract and seal water into the skin. This blue bottle—which feels as good as it looks—features an 89 percent concentration (hence the name) of the French town's naturally mineral-rich water, plus hyaluronic acid, for long-lasting hydration.

Try: Vichy Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($30; amazon.com)

Vitamin C

skincare-for-over-50-Maya Chia Super Lift

As one of the strongest antioxidants in the skincare world, vitamin C brightens, firms, and smooths dull skin. This pick from Dr. Zeichner contains a blend of three forms of vitamin C in a stable formula that can be used across mature skin types.

Try: Maya Chia Super Lift ($110; credobeauty.com)

Retinol

skincare-for-over-50-RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Night Serum Capsules

Retinol has a proven track record for younger-looking skin. But since retinol potency gets weaker from the second you crack open the bottle (oxygen causes it to break down), ampoules are your best bet. Each of these little guys contain stabilized retinol in a single-use capsule to maintain potency until you're ready to use it.

Try: RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Night Serum Capsules ($24; amazon.com)

Growth Factors

skincare-for-over-50-Emepelle Serum

This new brand, recommended by Dr. King, is formulated specifically for post-menopausal, estrogen-deficient complexions. It contains methyl estradiolpropanoate, which non-hormonally activates skin's estrogen-receptor pathway. And since hydration is key for the over-50 set, this one is also packed with hyaluronic acid.

Try: Emepelle Serum ($175; amazon.com)

DNA Repair Enzymes

skincare-for-over-50-Neova DNA Total Repair

According to Dr. Zeichner, by the time you hit 50, your skin cells have accumulated several decades of DNA damage, and their reparative enzymes (i.e., what protects us from sun damage) have declined. The solution? Apply these enzymes topically to trigger the repair process once again and shield against free radical damage.

Try: Neova DNA Total Repair ($89; dermstore.com)

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