20 Skincare Tips Every Woman Over 50 Should Know

Botox, dry skin fixes, how to conceal sagging skin & a miracle cream I swear by

older woman skincare tips. Getty: PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou

Read any magazine article about skincare past age 50 and it's downright depressing. The list of things that happen to us as we age may make you want to shun the beauty sections of magazines forever.

Personally, I don't need a magazine to tell me my cells aren't turning over as much as they did in my 20s and had I worn a hat and SPF 40 every day of my life like Nicole Kidman has, I might look like Nicole Kidman (except everyone knows Nicole Kidman's had lots of Botox).

I don't need a plastic surgeon to tell me that my cheeks are losing their fat, my skin is losing its elasticity and my face is on an inevitable skid downward.

Yes, these things are happening. It's a natural process of aging. But I'm OK with it (mostly) because my goal is to simply look good for my age and to be content in my skin.

This article of 20 skincare tips every woman over age 50 should know is devoted to all of us who know that beauty comes from within, but who also want to look damn good for our age. You won't find judgement here if you are curious about plastic surgery, Botox and fillers. I'll tell you all about these procedures (I've tried a few myself) and much more. There aren't many miracle fixes in these 20-plus tips (except maybe for Retin-A), but there is a lot of advice I swear by, a few decent recipes and an attitude that the years after age 50 are full of wonder and beauty.

Wear Sunscreen Every Day

I know it's tedious to constantly hear about the importance of sunscreen, but if there was one beauty rule I'd teach a child it's to wear a decent sunscreen every day. You can't start too early because sun damage is the No. 1 cause of brown spots, wrinkles and skin cancer.

Here's the catch: not all sunscreens are equal.

You should choose a sunscreen of at least 40 SPF and ideally you should choose one that blocks UVA and UVB rays. 

Two things to remember once you've got a sunscreen you love:

  1. You should wear it rain or shine. Those UV rays break through cloud cover and it's important to make a habit of sunscreen use. Never skip a day. And don't worry, it won't clog pores as long as you cleanse your face at night.
  2. Reapply throughout the day. The renowned dermatologist Patricia Wexler insisted that I remember to reapply sunscreen, especially if I'm outdoors during the day.

If you make sunscreen a part of your daily routine, you'll be protected from more wrinkles, brown spots and even cancer. And while you're at it, slather some on top of your hands. Dermatologists say they can tell a woman's age by looking at her hands. Keep a bottle in your handbag so you can re-apply after handwashing.

My product recommendations: I prefer tinted sunscreen because it doesn't leave a white caste on my face and it evens out my skin tone. Neutrogena makes a good drugstore version (buy it from Amazon), but my hands down favorite is the pricey, but fabulous La Roche Posay tinted sunscreen (buy it from Amazon). I apply it with my foam sponge from Laura Mercier (buy it from Amazon).

No need for foundation. For more options, see my list of the 10 best sunscreens.

Make Sure You Have the Right Cleansers & Moisturizers

It's very important to choose cleansers, moisturizers and a skin care routine formulated for your skin type. Don't know your skin type? Find out what it is via this article, How to Tell What Type of Skin You Have. 

If you have oily skin, consider yourself lucky. Studies show oily skin develops fewer wrinkles. If you have sensitive skin, You should test all of your products on your neck or arms before you use them. That product you loved a few years ago may now cause redness.

You may have noticed the older you get, the drier your skin becomes. As we age, our skin suffers a slowdown in oil production and cell turnover, especially after menopause. I noticed my naturally oily skin turned as dry as the Sahara Desert at age 35.

More on dry skin in a bit. I give you everything you need to know about taking care of your face in this comprehensive must-read: The right (& wrong) ways to cleanse, moisturize & exfoliate your skin.

My product recommendations: I love dermatologist Patricia Wexler's cleansers. They are formulated for mature skin (by Wexler's chemist husband!) and are affordable. Plus, they smell divine. I use Wexler Universal Anti-Aging Cleanser (buy it from Amazon). I include other great cleansers in my list of The Best Cleansers. As for moisturizer, I have very dry skin that can get flaky and I swear by the extra moisturizing benefits of Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream (buy from Amazon). I also like to use extra virgin coconut oil on my face. See my list of The Best Moisturizers for other recommended picks.

Your Skin is as Dry as the Sahara Desert, What to Do About it

To keep dry skin in the best condition possible, it's important to cleanse with proper cleansers that won't zap skin of moisture, and to exfoliate on a weekly basis. Most importantly, you'll need to keep skin moisturized throughout the day.

Some tips to keep your face from drying out:

  1. Don't use hot water. This only strips your skin of oils. Instead, use lukewarm water or skip the water and cleanse skin with a cold cream such as Pond's. (It's what I use and swear by).
  2. Use a creamy cleanser formulated for dry skin. No need to spend $$$ on cleansers that only stay on your face for a few minutes.
  3. Thick, moisturizing moisturizers and oils will help lock moisture in. Apply at night and in the morning under your makeup.
  4. Consider investing in a product containing hyaluronic acid, which is one of the hottest trends in skincare right now. Hyaluronic acid helps skin absorb and hold onto moisture better, effectively plumping up skin. Learn more in The Best Anti-Aging Serums. 
  5. Exfoliate on a weekly basis (more on this in a bit). If you have dry skin, you likely have flakey skin, so you should exfoliate on a weekly basis. I like to use a wet washcloth and extra virgin coconut oil to exfoliate.

    To keep your body moisturized, stay away from drying soaps in the shower and opt for creamy body washes instead.

    After your shower, it's important to moisturize. You can use creams (I love Eucerin and Cerave) or oils (I'm partial to extra virgin coconut oil and almond oil). See my list of the best body moisturizers for more options.

    Learn more in Dry Skin? 25 of My Best Itchy Skin Fixes

    Find an Oil You Love

    Oils are one of the hottest trends in skincare. Everyone's talking about their favorite oils and what works best for their skin types. I love oils as opposed to creams because they are more (always buy high quality extra virgin or unrefined oils), they glide on smoothly and leave skin feeling plump and dewy. 

    My product recommendations: There are so many amazing oils on the market and some are heavier than others. I list my favorites in 13 Amazing Oils That are Great for the Skin.

    Exfoliation is Key

    Exfoliation is a must as we age. "The outer layer is a roof of dead skin, and it thickens as you age, so you need to exfoliate to see more of the fresher skin," said my friend Steven J. Pearlman, MD, a New York City plastic surgeon in Ladies Home Journal.

    I recommend exfoliating both your body and your face weekly, more often if you tend to get dry, itchy and flaky. Use a dry brush to exfoliate your body before you take a bath or shower. You'll find your moisturizer goes on much more smoothly if your skin is exfoliated. See my list of the best body scrubs and find out how to make them yourself with these recipes.

    For the face, I recommend a good facial scrub (see my list of the best ones here). You can make one yourself with coconut oil and brown sugar (see my recipe here). Read more about exfoliation in How to Exfoliate: Best Exfoliating Tips for the Face & Body.

    Facial masks aren't a must in your weekly skin care regimen but they can leave skin feeling amazing. They deeply cleanse and hydrate skin. You can buy a good face mask or make your own. I recommend applying a facial mask once a week or every two weeks.

    See my list of the 25 Amazing Homemade Face Mask Recipes.

    My product recommendations: I am too busy (and lazy) to make my own scrubs, so I use the delicious Fresh Sugar Face Polish instead (buy it from Amazon). For those on a budget, I recommend making your own scrubs with brown sugar and coconut, Argan or jojoba oil. For my body, I usually forego scrubs and use exfoliating mitts in the shower. They do the trick and fast. (Buy from Amazon). 

    Do Eye Creams Work?

    The first signs of aging are usually around the eyes, which prompts women to head to the drugstore and department store aisles seeking pricey eye creams, which promise to turn back time. The truth is, they don't. The skin around our eyes is very thin and only gets thinner as we age. All those years of laughter and smiling have etched themselves in our skin.

    A good eye cream is usually just thicker version of your typical facial moisturizer. Still, some women swear they work. Because of this, I've compiled a list of the most popular eye creams from fancy and fabulous to the best deals at the drugstore. 

    My product recommendations: I don't use eye creams, but I've researched them and found the ones that users love the most in my list of the Best Eye Creams.

    OK, So What Works on Crow's Feet Then?

    Since we know eye creams won't erase your smile lines, then what does? In one word: Botox. I've tried it. It works. The doctor injects Botox into your lines and basically freezes them. You can still smile and laugh, but you'll notice the lines that were so deep are no longer as deep. You can also fill them in with fillers (read more about these in Hollywood Secrets to Looking Younger).

    I realize the needle isn't for everyone. If you are looking for a non-invasive fix, there are few other ways to conceal them or diminish the signs of them. Find out how in 7 Ways to Conceal Crow's Feet.

    My recommendation: Botox. It just works. Make sure to go to someone with good reviews.

    Is There a Miracle Cream? Yes, There Is

    People ask me all the time if there's some sort of cream they can get at the drugstore that will turn back the hands of time. There isn't. But there is a miracle cream and it's no longer prescription only. The secret is vitamin A derivatives retinol and prescription strength retinoids (think Retin A). A good retinol cream every night will help diminish fine lines and wrinkles.

    Read more about Retin A in How to Use Retin-A & Other Retinoids Safely and The Secret to Anti-Aging Products: Sticking With It.

    My recommendation: I used Retin A, which I pick up on trips to Mexico at the local pharmacy until my dry skin couldn't take it anymore. Now I use an OTC retinol. I have researched the best OTC retinols and come up with this fantastic list, Best Over-the-Counter Retinol Products.

    The Amazing Benefits of Botox and Fillers

    TV talk show host Kelly Ripa revealed in Elle magazine that she gets Botox every 7 months to maintain her youthful appearance at age 42. According to the UK's Daily Mail, Ripa told Elle, "It's the Botox. Every seven months or so my eyelid skin rests on my lashes." (See the full article).

    I love Ripa's honesty because if there's one big beauty secret out there, it's that many women are using Botox and fillers and never breathing a word of it to their husbands, friends and even best friends. I know of so many women who use Botox and fillers and tell me in hush-hush tones. I've even had dermatologists tell me no one needs to know what you do to your face, it's no one's business but your own.

    The truth is, if you want to really reduce the signs of wrinkles and the loss of fat in your cheeks, Botox and fillers are the way to go. I know this because I've tried them myself. Botox will lift your eyes so you appear more awake and younger while also freezing the smile lines that etch themselves in along your eyes. Fillers will plump up your cheeks. You can also have them injected into the nasalabial folds -- those deep crevices that develop along your nose as you age, also called "marionette lines." Many women opt to plump up their lips with them too.

    Do the injections hurt? Yes. I found the Botox injections didn't hurt too much, while the fillers hurt quite a bit more. And for a few hours afterward you will have some bruising, so I'd advise getting them done when you don't have plans for 24 hours.

    Read more about Botox and fillers in 5 Wrinkle Fixes You Can Get at Your Doctor's Office.

    Chemical Peels and Lasers

    Lasers are used for a variety of skin problems. They can be costly and painful, but many women (I know a few myself) swear by them. I haven't used a laser on my face, so I can't tell you my experience, but the non-ablative lasers that are on the market today can get rid of your age spots, sun spots, scars and uneven texture.

    You can have a light chemical peel at your doctor's office to improve your skin tone and texture and soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. They're relatively painless and less expensive than lasers but for the best results, I recommend getting a series of 6 or more that get stronger in strength as your skin adapts. You should get them about once a month for best results.

    How to Conceal Sagging Skin

    As we age, we may begin to notice a big change taking place under the chin. And I'm not talking about excessive growth of chin hairs. You may develop a turkey wattle or you might notice the unwelcome addition of an extra chin. Either way, you might want to conceal what's going on under the neck.

    You could see a plastic surgeon and have lipo under your chin or a facelift, but if you don't want to spend the cash or endure surgery, there are inexpensive ways to conceal sagging skin and a crepe-y neck.

    Check out these tips and many more in Loose Skin? 4 Tips to Conceal Sagging Skin.

    Ack! What to Do About Sprouting Chin Hairs

    For the record, I know 30-year-olds with chin hair problems. You can tweeze them or have your stylist tweeze them, but they will always grow back. The only way to keep chin hairs at bay permanently is electrolysis.

    It's True You'll Look Younger the Heavier You Are

    "When you get older, you have to be ready to trade your ass for your face." -- Quote attributed to actress Catherine Deneuve.

    At my 20th high school reunion, I noticed that my plumper classmates looked like they'd hardly aged at all, yet the thinner women were already developing lines (myself included) around the eyes and along the mouth. This reminded me of a study of twins published a year ago shows that in women over 40, a few extra pounds actually makes you look younger (read about the fascinating study here). This is because we lose fat in our faces as we age. The plumper we are, the more fat that's stored in the face.

    How to Get Rid of Your Moustache

    You have 2 options for upper lip hair: Wax it off with a home waxing kit you can buy in any drugstore or have a professional do it. See How to Get Rid of Hair on Your Face.

    To lighten dark hair on your lip you can try a kit made just for this. Find them in your drugstore beauty aisle.

    How to Cover Up Spider Veins & Varicose Veins

    Spider and varicose veins can be unsightly, but if you have them you are in good company. Most women as they age develop some veins in their legs. You can get them professionally removed (I did at age 37, read about it in Sclerotherapy: What happens when I have the spider veins removed from my legs?). You can also cover them up with concealer. Find out how in How to Cover Up Scars, Spider Veins or Varicose Veins.

    Loved this? Don't miss my other beauty tips for older women including:

    • 11 Things Older Women Should Know About Hair
    • Makeup Tips for Older Women
    • Best Hairstyles for Women Over 50