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In your 50s? Dermatologists recommend adding these staples to your skin care routine

Protection from the sun's rays, one of the leading causes of premature aging, is "an absolute must."
Kara Birnbaum / TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

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 several top dermatologists to come up with our list of skin care products for glowing, youthful skin in your 50s and beyond.

Keep scrolling to see their advice and picks, or use the links below to jump to a specific category.

What to look for | Best sunscreens | Best cleansers | Best eye creams | Best retinols and serums | Best night moisturizers | Meet our experts

What should I consider when building a skin care routine in my 50s?

Our expert dermatologists advise women over 50 to incorporate the following into their skin care routine:

  • Sun protection. When it comes to avoiding damage from UV rays and preventing skin cancer, experts say sunscreen is an absolute must. "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," says Dr. Maral Kibarian Skelsey, director of the Dermatologic Surgery Center of Washington and clinical associate professor of dermatology at Georgetown University.
  • Non-drying, barrier-strengthening ingredients. "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 K. Shah of New York City's SmarterSkin Dermatology tells us.
  • Gentle exfoliants. "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," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jessie Cheung of Chicago's Cheung Aesthetics and Wellness.
  • The right eye cream. "Eye cream is important in your 50s, as the skin under the eyes is thinner and more sensitive," dermatologist Dr. David E. Bank says.
  • Retinoids and antioxidants. "Retinoids are the gold standard anti-aging treatment product," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Annie Chiu of The Derm Institute. "Use them at least once a day to help with fine lines, collagen boosting, wrinkle prevention and dull skin cell turnover," she adds. And antioxidants like vitamin C can protect skin from free radicals and cumulative damage.
  • Heavier moisturizers and creams. "The oil glands in the skin slow down significantly in this decade," Chiu explains. "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."

Best sunscreen for your 50s

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

What we like
  • Worked wonders for "mature, acne-prone skin." 
  • "Silky smooth, light, moisturizing." 
Something to note
  • Those with sensitive skin might experience irritation. 

Size: 1.7 oz. | Skin type: Mature, acne-prone skin | Key ingredients: Niacinamide, zinc oxide

UV rays are one of the leading causes of premature aging and skin cancer, so daily sunscreen application in your 50s and beyond 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," New York City-based dermatologist and founder/medical director of Wall Street Dermatology, Dr. Julia Tzu, tells Shop TODAY.

Best cleansers for your 50s

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

What we like
  • Thoroughly cleanses skin. 
  • "Leaves face feeling soft and clean."
Something to note
  • Those with sensitive skin might experience irritation. 
  • Some reviewers noted dry patches and bumps after use. 

Size: 8, 12 and 16 oz. options | Skin type: Normal to dry skin | Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid

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.

CeraVe's Hydrating Facial Cleanser contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid to strengthen and hydrate the skin's barrier, and the non-foaming formula is gentle on sensitive skin. In fact, former Shop TODAY associate editor Fran Sales, who has combination skin that gets severely dry around the nose and cheeks, can use this daily (sometimes twice a day) and feel thoroughly cleansed but not stripped of moisture.

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Waterproof Makeup Removing Towelettes

What we like
  • Doesn't leave face feeling oily after. 
  • "Perfect for sensitive skin." 
Something to note
  • Different formula compared to previous versions of the product. 
  • Some reviewers noted these weren't "moist enough," dry after few uses. 

Amount: 25 wipes per one package | Skin type: All skin types, including sensitive | Key ingredients: No notable callouts, but free of fragrances, parabens and sulfates.

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 says. "Skin in its 50s becomes more sensitive, but these wipes can remove waterproof makeup without aggravating it."

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

What we like
  • "Light, scentless and effective."
  • "Top tier cleanser." 
Something to note
  • Some reviewers experienced breakouts. 

Size: 8 and 16 oz. options | Skin type: Normal skin | Key ingredients: Salicylic acid

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 — and CeraVe, known for its gentle but effective formulas, again doesn't disappoint.

This cleanser partners salicylic acid with three ceramides and hyaluronic acid, so it moisturizes and polishes skin as it cleanses. It also doesn't contain any harsh microbeads, so it's gentle enough to use several times a week — as Sales can also attest to (this is her favorite exfoliating cleanser).

Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser

What we like
  • Fragrance-free formula.
  • "Lathers good, leaves skin smooth and clean." 
Something to note
  • Some reviewers noted breakouts and dry skin after use. 

Size: 2.5 and 8 oz. options | Skin type: Sensitive skin | Key ingredients: No notable callouts, but is fragrance- and sulfate-free

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!" says Dr. Edidiong Kaminska, a board-certified dermatologist in Chicago and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Best eye creams for your 50s

Cetaphil Deep Hydration Refreshing Eye Serum

What we like
  • Applicator makes this product easy to use. 
  • Under eyes feel and look "more hydrated." 
Something to note
  • Those with sensitive skin experienced irritation. 

Size: 0.5 oz. tube | Skin type: Sensitive | Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, vitamins E and B5

This is the decade where you should roll up your sleeves and get to work on finding the perfect eye cream for your needs.

Cetaphil's eye serum uses a HydroSensitiv Complex, hyaluronic acid and 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.

The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream

What we like
  • "Gives a very nice cooling sensation." 
  • Some reviewers noted that the caffeine kicks in, helping to brighten and awaken the under eyes. 
Something to note
  • Some reviewers noted no noticeable difference in under eyes. 

Size: 0.5 oz. tube | Skin type: Normal, dry, combo and oily skin | Key ingredients: Caffeine

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.

Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream

What we like
  • "This product is incredibly comfortable...moisturizing." 
Something to note
  • Those with eczema and sensitive skin experienced irritation. 

Size: 0.33 oz. tube | Skin type: Sensitive | Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, chamomile

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 says.

Best retinols and serums for your 50s

CeraVe Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid

What we like
  • "Light texture and leaves a subtle glow." 
  • Affordable. 
Something to note
  • Reviewers had issues with delivery. 
  • Some reviewers noted peeling skin. 

Size: 1 oz. tube | Skin type: All skin types | Key ingredients: 10% pure vitamin C, vitamin B5, hyaluronic acid

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," says Dr. Robert Anolik, a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Olay Regenerist Fragrance-Free Regenerating Face Serum

What we like
  • Convenient size. 
  • Many reviewers noted they've used this product continuously for years.
Something to note
  • Reviewers noted issues with delivery; received wrong product

Size: 1.7 oz. bottle | Skin type: Doesn't specify | Key ingredients: Amino-peptide formula to aid with sensitive skin

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," says Chiu.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Radiant Booster Primer and Serum

What we like
  • "Feels great on my skin, gives just enough glow and is easy to apply." 
  • Lightweight formula. 
Something to note
  • Reviewers experienced issues with delivery. 

Size: 1 and 3.4 oz. options | Skin type: Sensitive | Key ingredients: Peptides and vitamin E

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 says.

Honest Beauty Honestly Pure Retinyl Serum

What we like
  • High-quality and effective. 
  • Soft texture, not sticky. 
Something to note
  • Reviewers with sensitive skin experienced irritation, burning sensation. 

Size: 1 oz. bottle | Skin Type: All skin types | Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid

"Topical vitamin A (retinol) is a must," Skelsey says. "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

RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Anti-Aging Retinol Night Cream

What we like
  • Leaves skin feeling soft, non-greasy. 
  • Reviewers note this serum is more affordable and effective than prescribed options. 
Something to note
  • Strong scent. 

Size: 1 oz. tube | Skin type: Normal | Key ingredients: Retinol

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.

In fact, Shop TODAY vouches for this cream so much that we have an exclusive code you can use on RoC's website — use TODAY20 at checkout for 20% off sitewide, anytime.

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Triple Repair Moisturizing Cream

What we like
  • Skin felt "hydrated instantly." 
  • Fragrance-free.
Something to note
  • Thick application. 
  • Some reviewers noted this formula is different compared to prior versions of the product. 

Size: 2.53, 6.76 and 13.52 oz. options | Skin type: Dry skin | Key ingredients: Shea butter, niacinamide

"As someone ages, they have less production of natural oils, and moisturizers prevent and treat dry skin and can improve skin texture," says Dr. Sourab Choudhury, a board-certified dermatologist and a co-founder of The Dermatology Specialists.

Oftentimes, we think this only applies to facial skin, but your body needs some attention, too. This body cream, formerly called "Lipikar Balm AP+M," offers 48-hour hydration thanks to its star ingredients: niacinamide, shea butter and glycerin.

COSRX Balancium Comfort Ceramide Cream

What we like
  • Jelly application that reviewers love the "texture" of compared to a cream. 
  • Leaves face feeling "hydrated and protected." 
Something to note
  • A number of reviewers dislike the bergamot oil ingredient. 

Size: 2.82 oz. tube | Skin type: All skin types | Key ingredients: Glycerin, centella asiatica leaf water

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 says. "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.

Tula 24-7 Moisture Hydrating Day and Night Cream

What we like
  • Keeps face "nice and hydrated." 
  • Lightweight formula.
Something to note
  • A small amount goes a long way. 
  • Oil-based, some reviewers didn't like the application. 

Size: 0.5, 1.5, 3.4 oz. options available | Skin type: All | Key ingredients: Probiotics, peptides, squalane and collagen

This pick is a splurge, but we think it's a worthy one.

Perfect for both day and night, this cream combines probiotics, collagen-boosting peptides and moisturizing squalene to balance and repair dehydrated, aging skin.

Several users highlight how lightweight it is despite being very moisturizing, and one verified Amazon reviewer adds, "I have tried many brands of skin care in my 70-plus years, high end and low end, but this, in my opinion, is the best! No greasy residue, fully absorbed into your skin and does what it says it will do. I’ve been using it for about four years now and I don’t intend to quit."

Meet our experts

  • Dr. Robert Anolik is a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in cosmetic dermatology and laser skin surgery. He is also a dermatology professor at NYU School of Medicine, as well as a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. Anolik is based in New York City.
  • Dr. David E. Bank, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder and director of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery. He is based in Westchester, New York.
  • Dr. Jessie Cheung, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist at Chicago's Cheung Aesthetics and Wellness, which also has a practice in New York City.
  • Dr. Annie Chiu, MD, is a board-certified cosmetic and general dermatologist who works at The Derm Institute in Manhattan Beach, California. She also works on skin cancer screening and community awareness.
  • Dr. Sourab Choudhury, is a board-certified dermatologist and a co-founder of The Dermatology Specialists in New York City.
  • Dr. Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist who serves patients in both New York and New Jersey. She is also an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Cornell's New York Presbyterian Medical Center.
  • Dr. Edidiong Kaminska, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Chicago and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. She specializes in medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology with a focus on acne and pigmentary disorders.
  • Dr. Sejal K. Shah, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist at New York City's SmarterSkin Dermatology. Her focus is on cosmetic dermatology and lasers, hair loss and ethnic skin.
  • Dr. Maral Kibarian Skelsey, MD, is director of the Dermatologic Surgery Center of Washington, which is based in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She is also clinical associate professor of dermatology at Georgetown University.
  • Dr. Julia Tzu, MD, FAAD, is a New York City-based dermatologist and the founder and medical director of Wall Street Dermatology. The triple board-certified doctor specializes in skin cancer and reconstructive skin surgery, laser surgery, and cosmetic dermatology.