The big 5-OH. This is a decade of hormonal ups and downs. Menopause — peri- and the real deal — affects nearly every woman in her 50s. As a result, you will experience a steady decline in estrogen, which causes a fast and furious decline in collagen production — and with it your skin’s bounce, moisture and glow may seem to disappear overnight. Now is the time to fight back. Hormone therapy, where estrogen levels are raised just high enough to alleviate symptoms, is a safe option for many women. At home, focus on strengthening the skin’s moisture barrier, encouraging collagen production and working to thicken the skin. Arm yourself with these skin care essentials and helpful tips.
Cleanse and exfoliate
Ditch harsh soaps, lower the temperature of the water and wash your face only at night in order to preserve the already-low levels of moisture in your skin. Choose a low- or no-foam cleanser that will replenish the skin with essential nutrients as it rinses away makeup, dirt and airborne toxins. Look for hydrating ingredients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.
Skin 2 Skin White Tea Face Wash ($37 in the shop) uses mild cleansing agents that are naturally-derived and is pH balanced to protect the delicate balance of the skin’s acid mantle. It also contains antioxidants like white and green tea, phytonutrients and moisturizing glycerin. You may also like Ao Skincare Prepare Cleanser ($39.95 in the shop). This milky wash is packed with antioxidants, like totarol and ferulic acid, as well as essential omega fatty acids to strengthen the skin barrier.
Once you’ve gotten comfy with a cleanser, get in the habit of weekly exfoliation. This helps create a canvas that lets anti-aging treatments penetrate more effectively. Your starting point may be daily sloughing with a cleansing brush that removes debris and dead cells to keep the skin clear. (Both aforementioned cleansers are compatible with cleansing brushes.)
Or, if your skin can tolerate it, consider bi-weekly exfoliation with alpha hydroxy acids, such as glycolic or mandelic acid, to promote cell turnover. Try Lifeline Stem Cell Skin Care Dual Action Exfoliator ($65 in the shop), a gentle scrub with glycolic acid, or Dr. Dennis Gross Original Alpha Beta Peel ($88 in the shop), which uses a blend of AHAs and BHAs.
Perhaps the most important step in your regimen is moisturizing. Because dry skin exacerbates the look of fine lines, wrinkles and uneven texture, you’ll want to load up. Moisturizer replenishes the lipids on the surface of the skin that are weakened in your fifties due to estrogen loss. Find a consistency you are comfortable with — whether it be a rich cream, lightweight lotion or hydrating serum — and a formula that has barrier-bolstering lipids, omega fatty acids and polyphenols.
These days well-formulated creams and serums multitask with added anti-aging benefits, so you may also want to scan ingredient lists for plumping peptides, collagen-boosting vitamin C, anti-inflammatory niacinamide and radiance-enhancing enzymes. A couple of good options are Ayelet Opulence Nutrient Dense Moisture Cream ($42 in the shop) and Dawn Lorraine Pomegranate Lift Crème ($59 in the shop). For a lighter hit of hydration, try Your Best Face Hydrate B Concentrate ($45 in the shop).
Get in a retinol routine
Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A that is commonly known for slowing the signs of aging skin. Other forms include retinal, retinoic acid and retinyl ester. Years of research shows this group promotes cell regeneration and can stimulate the production of new collagen, thus decreasing wrinkle depth, smoothing the surface of skin and the lessening the look of dark spots.
If you are new to retinol, start slowly. Try Ao Skincare Rewind Retinal ($119.95 in the shop); it uses retinal, which is less likely to cause skin irritation and flaking, and supports it with antioxidants like bakuchiol and astaxanthin. Apply it every other night, gradually increasing use over time. For a stronger dose, try Sciote Advanced Retinol Crème ($64 in the shop) with a potent 2 percent retinol that is buffered in a soothing aloe base.
Because retinoids can make skin more sensitive to the sun, always apply at night and don’t forget that daily use of sunscreen is a must.
To finetune your regimen, consider taking these extra steps.
Remodel the mouth area
Dermatologists agree, the mouth tends to be the area that bothers women in their 50s most. Sagging skin around the mouth and chin, the folds (or marionette lines) that accompany sag and lip lines are all cause for concern. Treat lax skin to plumping peptides like Matrixyl 3000 and caprooyl tetrapeptide-3. Try Sciote Peptide + Defense Firming Youth Serum ($105 in the shop). To soften vertical lip lines, go for Your Best Face Define (70 in the shop), which uses a peptide complex called Hilurlip.
Give your eyes a lift
Do your eyes appear tired and sunken? Consider an eye cream with retinol, like Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic & Retinol Eye Cream ($68 in the shop). By building collagen, these creams help to minimize the appearance of dark circles that are in-part caused by blood vessels close to the surface of thinner skin while also reducing lines and wrinkles.
Pay attention to your neck
The neck has a major gravitational disadvantage. Pay attention to it now to prevent sagging and creases later on. We like fast-absorbing ClarityRx Keep Your Chin Up Age-Defying Neck Serum ($69.50 in the shop). We also recommend using the red LED light and ultrasonic waves settings on the Truth Vitality Lux Renew ($279 in the shop) along the jawline and neck to tighten skin.