First of all, we want to highlight that by no means are we advocating the concept that anyone has to spend money on new skincare with every birthday. The reality is, although beauty brands would love to have us think that we need a new skincare arsenal every time we hit a new milestone, our skin’s wants and needs remain more or less constant throughout most of our adult lives (with a few tweaks here and there).
The issue lies in the fact that all too often, in our younger years, we neglect our skin, leaving us having to deal with the repercussions later on. And sadly, as with most things in life, the best way to deal with skin issues is through prevention. Don’t get us wrong—skin ageing is one of life’s natural processes, but that’s not to say that lifestyle choices don’t have the power to determine its severity.
By the time we enter our fifties, our bodies start going through natural processes that will kickstart the skin ageing process. “The average age of menopause in the UK is 53. As average life expectancy increases, it means a large part of the female population are spending their time in a period of oestrogen deficiency. Oestrogen is a key hormone for a number of skin functions and it is common to experience a number of issues, from wrinkles to dryness,” says Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at Skin 55.
And actually, because of these changes, it turns out that our fifties genuinely is a time to start reconsidering our skincare routines. While we can carry on using the majority of our favourite ingredients and products, experts do have some advice on things that are more likely to make your complexion better (or worse) throughout your fifties. Keep reading for their top advice.
Wrinkles might be the most overwhelming visual effect of skin ageing, but dryness is at the root cause of most issues. “Skin metabolism decreases as a whole. The skins’ barrier function becomes less efficient and this results in trans-epidermal water loss, meaning more water is lost from the skin. There is also an overall reduction in sebum and lipid production,” explains Mahto.
It is, therefore, more important than ever to adopt restoring moisturising creams and serums. Because the skin’s natural sebum production decreases, chances of sebum-induced breakouts also dramatically reduce. “Skin needs more moisture to improve surface barrier protection from hydration loss. Ceramides, peptides, hyaluronic acid and glycerine are all ingredients that will help,” says Maryam Zamani, facial aesthetics and oculoplastic surgeon at Cadogan Clinic.
We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: Retinol is one of the only proven ingredients in skincare to actual help diminish the appearance of fine lines. “Retinol will help to restore the skin’s appearance and speed up cell turnover. Using it will help to improve tone and increase collagen production (something that diminishes as we get older, contributing to wrinkle formation,” says Zamani.
If you have already been using retinol consistently, it’s important to keep up application. However, if you are yet to dabble in retinol products, Zamani advises that now is a great time to start, but be sure to do so slowly. “If you are unfamiliar with using retinol-based products, start with a lower concentration so the skin can get accustomed to it. Then slowly increase the frequency and percentage,” she says.
While for our entire lives we have been told by experts that exfoliation is key to achieving a youthful, glowing complexion, as we enter our fifties, it could be time to lay off. “Oestrogen has a protective role in wound healing and reduced levels of this after menopause means that the skin takes longer to heal from injury,” explains Mahto. So what does this mean for our exfoliating routine? Essentially, when we exfoliate, we create micro-tears in the skin, which in turn kickstarts the skin’s healing process. However, as skin becomes drier and is less able to repair itself, exfoliating becomes less effective. “Many people find that their skin becomes dry with age which means it tolerates certain exfoliants, like salicylic acid, less well. It may be helpful to avoid this,” says Mahto.
Going back to increased skin dryness, adapting the products in your line up to ensure you’re not contributing to the matter is worth it. One of the most important things to keep an eye on is the use of foaming agents in your products. Notoriously, foams contribute to dryness and can actually increase sensitivity. “I recommend using cleansing balms or even cream cleansers rather than foaming products, especially if the skin is sensitive or prone to redness. The skin often requires increased hydration alongside active ingredients to help boost collagen production,” says Mahto.
Sun protection is often flogged with “protective anti-ageing” catch lines. However, even as we get older, daily SPF application remains imperative. “Cumulative UV radiation over the years damages elastin fibres in the skin. Its breakdown results in loose skin and an inability to snap back into shape once stretched,” says Mahto.
However, besides wrinkles, there are many other skin issues that tend to occur in our fifties that reap the benefits of SPF application. Mahto reveals, “Rosacea mainly affects women and is common during menopause. It can cause redness, skin sensitivity, flushing and dilated blood vessels.” Broad-spectrum SPF plays a big role in reducing rosacea flare-ups, irritation and inflammation.
“Never forget SPF! It is one of the key factors in helping prevent photodamage. We know that approximately 70–80% of skin damage comes from UV rays,” says Zamani. Considering that our skin’s natural defence mechanism is compromised post-menopause, it’s important to keep UV protection as a top skincare priority.