Developing a skin care routine that suits your skin type and is age-appropriate can be challenging. After all, each decade comes with unique complexion concerns, and what worked for you five years ago might suddenly irritate you to no end.
If you're approaching your 50s — or are already 50 and fabulous — you might be wondering where you should focus your attention and what skin care products you should be using. To help, Shop TODAY consulted top dermatologists to get the ultimate list of every type of product you need for glowing, youthful skin in your 50s.
Best sunscreens for your 50s
"Sun protection in your 50s can help slow down aging but also decrease the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma," said Dr. Maral Skelsey, director of the Dermatologic Surgery Center of Washington and clinical associate professor of dermatology at Georgetown University.
This broad-spectrum SPF makes the process of slathering on sunscreen a bit less of a chore with its cooling formula that feels like water on the skin. Its Cell-Ox Shield antioxidant technology shields skin from free radicals and the paraben-free formula is safe for even the most sensitive skin.
A base SPF is a must, but if you're looking for ultimate sun protection and anti-aging benefits, try doubling up and wearing a tinted moisturizer with SPF. Neutrogena's Healthy Skin Enhancer offers broad-spectrum protection and is formulated with retinol to help smooth fine lines as it protects you from the sun.
"It's tinted and has a nice matte finish in addition to anti-aging retinol. Since it has a lower SPF, it's more ideal for wintertime/non-outdoor usage or on top of an SPF," New York City-based dermatologist and founder/medical director of Wall Street Dermatology Julia Tzu told Shop TODAY.
UV rays are one of the leading causes of premature aging and skin cancer, so daily sunscreen application in your 50s is an easy way to slow down the clock and keep your skin healthy. EltaMD's SPF 46 takes on both UVA and UVB rays, clears pores with lactic acid, and moisturizes as it protects thanks to sodium hyaluronate.
"It has a nice sheer application, is great for all ages, and it also helps reduce redness with the help of niacinamide," Tzu said.
Best cleansers for your 50s
As you age, your skin naturally gets a bit more sensitive, so it's important to seek out the right cleanser that won't feel abrasive.
"Choose gentle, soap-free cleansers or creamy cleansers with barrier strengthening and moisturizing ingredients. These types of cleansers are less likely to strip the skin of its natural oils and cause more dryness," Dr. Sejal Shah of New York City's SmarterSkin Dermatology told us.
When you're wearing makeup, sometimes it's helpful to start off with a makeup removing wipe to thoroughly cleanse your skin. Garnier's micellar water wipes gently banish oil, dirt and makeup without irritating skin and are the perfect first step in any cleansing routine.
"Micellar water is a good way to remove makeup without drying out the skin," Skelsey said. "Skin in its 50s becomes more sensitive, but these wipes can remove waterproof makeup without aggravating it."
Many exfoliators can feel a bit harsh on your skin in your 50s, but regular exfoliation is the key to glowing skin, so finding a gentle product to help you remove dead skin cells is pretty important.
"Cell turnover slows down as we age, so our skin loses the youthful glow and looks dull. Avoid harsh scrubs since mature skin is thinner and less resilient," said board-certified dermatologist Jessie Cheung of Chicago's Cheung Aesthetics and Wellness.
This cleanser from Murad uses jojoba beads and salicylic, lactic and glycolic acids to polish skin as it cleanses. The AHA/BHA cleanser gently exfoliates and the inclusion of sodium PCA helps dry skin retain its moisture. Plus, it's gentle enough to use several times a week!
As you get older, the name of the cleansing game is "gentle, gentle, gentle." This creamy Vanicream cleanser lacks irritating ingredients like dyes, fragrance and formaldehyde, and it won't clog your pores thanks to its non-comedogenic formula.
"It's great for all skin types, especially sensitive ones, and gets rid of oil, dirt and makeup without drying out your skin. Sometimes, simple is better!" Dr. Edidiong Kaminska, a board-certified dermatologist in Chicago and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, told Shop TODAY.
Best eye creams for your 50s
This is the decade where you should roll up your sleeves and get to work on finding the perfect eye cream for your needs.
"Eye cream is important in your 50s, as the skin under the eyes is thinner and more sensitive," dermatologist Dr. David E. Bank said.
Cetaphil's eye serum uses a HydroSensitiv Complex, hyaluronic acid, vitamins B5 and E to hydrate and soothe sensitive skin. The formula also works to reduce those pesky dark circles and puffiness we all dread so much.
Preventing and treating the early signs of aging isn't all that eye cream can do. This multitasking product category can also reduce puffiness if you had a sleepless night.
Skelsey swears by this one with caffeine and Matrixyl 3000, a peptide that takes on fine lines and wrinkles with ease. The lightweight cream also works as a nice base for your eye makeup!
This soothing eye cream is made with thermal spring water, which reduces redness, tightness and irritation with ease. Vitamin E and other antioxidants hydrate and protect skin, while dextran sulfate helps combat puffiness.
"The gentle, rich formulation is perfect for the delicate skin around the eyes and helps maturing skin retain moisture and reduces fine lines," Tzu said.
Best retinols and serums for your 50s
With the help of an amino-peptide complex, this popular product travels through 10 layers of skin to offer plenty of moisture. The gel formula works to regenerate surface cells and plump up lackluster complexions.
"If your skin is sensitive, serums with peptide technology have collagen stimulating effects that can tighten and smooth the skin," said board-certified cosmetic and general dermatologist Annie Chiu, who works at The Derm Institute in California.
Antioxidants can protect skin from free radicals and cumulative damage, and they're not difficult to incorporate into your routine. This vitamin C serum serves as a triple threat by hydrating, evening skin tone and protecting complexions from oxidative damage.
"Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is an antioxidant that can both brighten skin and boost collagen," said Dr. Robert Anolik, a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Who said makeup couldn't be good for your skin? This primer-serum hybrid preps skin for foundation and adds a healthy glow. You can also wear it alone for a nice complexion boost.
"The primer/serum combo nourishes skin with the antioxidant vitamin E and promotes collagen production with peptides," Anolik said.
"Topical vitamin A (retinol) is a must," Skelsey said. "It stimulates collagen production, reduces irregular pigmentation and fine lines and increases cell turnover."
Honest Beauty’s retinol serum also incorporates hyaluronic acid into the mix to plump up dry skin. The multitasking product also evens out skin tone and moisturizes with the help of squalane.
Best nighttime moisturizers for your 50s
In your 50s, creams will provide a lot more hydration than lotions or gels.
"Look for ingredients that support the skin barrier as well as growth factors or peptides to help with collagen synthesis, cell repair and hydration," Shah said. "Don’t forget to moisturize in the morning and at night."
This cream contains strengthening ceramides, anti-aging centella asiatica and sunflower seed oil for a boost of antioxidants. Luckily, the lightweight formula is suitable for dry, combination and sensitive skin!
"Retinoids are the gold standard anti-aging treatment product," Chiu said. "Use them at least once a day to help with fine lines, collagen boosting, wrinkle prevention and dull skin cell turnover."
RoC's retinol night cream helps reverse visible signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles and helps increase collagen production, which in turn reveals more youthful skin.
Perfect for both day and night, this cream combines probiotics, collagen-boosting peptides and moisturizing squalene to balance and repair dehydrated, aging skin.
"The oil glands in the skin slow down significantly in this decade," Chiu explained. "Replenishing that skin barrier health is important by using a slightly heavier moisturizer than you might have used in your 20s or 30s when you were worried about breaking out."
Oftentimes, we only consider facial skin when developing a skin care routine, but your body needs some attention too! This body cream offers 48-hour hydration thanks to its star ingredients: niacinamide, shea butter and glycerin.
"As someone ages, they have less production of natural oils, and moisturizers prevent and treat dry skin and can improve skin texture," said Sourab Choudhury, a board-certified dermatologist and a co-founder of The Dermatology Specialists.
For more stories like this, check out:
- 7 buzzy beauty ingredients that work for anti-aging, acne and more
- 12 Glamour Beauty Award winners to add to your routine — starting at $12
- 12 stylist-recommended hair products to help your hair age as gracefully as you