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By the time we enter our 50s, the signs of aging are generally visible on the skin. You might notice that wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots are becoming more prominent as the skin thins and weakens.
During your 50s, it’s more important than ever to protect your complexion and follow a quality and supportive skincare routine.
But with so many anti-aging products on the market, knowing which are right for your skin’s needs and sensitivities can be challenging.
In this article, we outline exactly what happens to the skin in your 50s, as well as how to look after it as you get older. We’ve also provided a list of dermatologically-approved anti-aging ingredients to help you get started.
When you enter your 50s, it’s likely that common signs of aging—such as fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation—are already visible.
For background, your skin constantly produces new cells that rise to the surface and replace older dead cells on the very exterior of your skin layer. These new cells naturally replace old and damaged cells that have built up on the surface. In this way, the cell turnover process helps minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, heals the skin and blemishes, and restores a more supple look. New skin cells appear smoother, help skin heal quickly, and ultimately promote a more youthful appearance.
At the same time, collagen production declines. Collagen is an essential protein that helps keep the skin firm and supple, helping to reduce the visible signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines. It also improves the skin’s overall hydration and elasticity. Consider the bounce and smoothness of a baby's cheeks compared to the papery texture of older skin and you'll recognize some of these process in action.
As women enter their 50s, the body also experiences a rapid decline in estrogen production as menopause begins.
Among its many functions, estrogen is a hormone that helps the complexion retain moisture to keep the skin functioning optimally. It also promotes collagen production.
When estrogen levels start to decline, the skin tends to become drier and more vulnerable to damage or irritation.
“You have to remember that the aging process is natural and largely out of our control,” says Dr. Lilliana Ramirez, a board-certified dermatologist and the Director of Skincare Success at Nava MD. “With that said, there are lifestyle and external factors that can make signs of aging more noticeable on mature skin.”
When the skin is exposed to the sun without proper sun protection, it’s vulnerable to damage from UV radiation. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) on labels of sunscreen products tell you how long the sun’s radiation would take to damage your skin when using that product compared to without sunscreen.
UV radiation also prompts the skin to produce melanin—the substance that determines the pigment concentration in the skin—as a protective measure.
If the skin has to produce more melanin than usual to protect itself from the sun, this can contribute to sun spots known as hyperpigmentation.
Dermatologists recommend an SPF of 30 daily to help reduce the affects of UV radiation. According to Dr. Ramirez, it' the single most important thing you can do throughout life to keep your skin healthy.
Stressful experiences prompt the body to release a hormone called cortisol that acts as a built-in alarm system. Although cortisol is meant to help the body when it perceives danger, high levels of this hormone can wreak havoc on the skin.
Cortisol weakens collagen and elastin fibers, which can cause the skin to lose its firmness. The body can also experience a condition called oxidative stress. This condition occurs when the body is exposed to:
When we experience oxidative stress, antioxidant levels decline and become less effective against free radicals. These molecules damage healthy skin cells and contribute to less healthy skin.
You might not think that common lifestyle choices have a big impact on your skin, but many everyday habits play a big role in the aging process.
If you’ve seen long-time smokers with sallow, wrinkled skin, there’s a reason.
Using nicotine products, particularly combustible cigarettes, releases free radicals among other toxins in the body. These molecules can damage healthy skin cells and cause them to lose elasticity.
Smoking can also constrict blood vessels that supply the skin with much-needed oxygen. Not only does this cause the skin to become dry, but it can also lead to a decline in vitamin A, one micronutrient that combats the aging process.
Foods that have a high glycemic index (GI) can also contribute to skin aging. The GI measures the glucose (or sugar) levels in different types of food. If the food that you eat has a high GI, it’s absorbed and converted into energy much more quickly than those with a low GI.
Although consuming glucose in moderation is part of a balanced lifestyle, too causes collagen glycation. This weakens collagen fibers and decreases skin elasticity. It contributes to metabolic disorders like diabetes and obesity, which can lead to adipose tissue (fat) buildup and accelerated signs of aging. The skin begins to sag and may also appear dull, with wrinkles becoming more noticeable over time. Glucose can also deactivate the body’s natural antioxidant enzymes, leaving the skin vulnerable to free radical damage.
As mentioned before, women in their 50s typically start to experience menopausal symptoms, a process that signals changes in a woman’s reproductive cycle.
Research has shown that menopause can cause estrogen levels to decrease by approximately 2% each year.
Estrogen is essential for stimulating collagen production and keeping the skin moisturized. Lower estrogen and collagen levels can also cause the skin to become thinner, leaving it more vulnerable to dryness and hyperpigmentation.
Skincare in your 50s may look a little different from previous decades. Since the signs of aging have begun to set in, the focus is on keeping your skin healthy as you work to prevent the formation of new wrinkles.
Luckily, a few easy steps can help protect your complexion and keep it looking great.
Properly moisturized and hydrated skin is essential for maintaining a great complexion.
When the skin is sufficiently hydrated and moisturized, elasticity is improved and the appearance of wrinkles can be minimized.
The skin barrier also needs adequate moisture to protect the complexion from external stressors. Although the skin typically produces enough sebum (oil) to maintain adequate hydration on its own, this tends to decline as we get older.
To prevent the skin from becoming dehydrated, dermatologists recommend incorporating a quality moisturizer into your skincare routine as you age.
Exposing the skin to the sun without proper protection causes damage to collagen and elastin fibers. Using a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is an effective way to protect the skin from harmful UV radiation. It’s also a good idea to wear a hat when outside for long periods of time.
Because the cell turnover process slows down as we age, blemishes can take longer to heal. The skin also struggles to remove dead skin cells and other impurities from the surface quickly.
That’s why dermatologists recommend using gentle exfoliants like azelaic or glycolic acid products with some regularity. These can help keep the skin's surface free from dead cells, oil, dirt, and bacteria. Using an exfoliating cleanser can also stimulate collagen production.
Many people think that using gobs of skincare products is the best way to take care of an aging complexion.
However, double-cleansing and layering different moisturizers or serums can be more damaging to thinning skin.
This may lead to the skin becoming dry, inflamed, or dull, which can make fine lines, wrinkles, or sagging skin more obvious.
Skincare products containing alcohol or fragrances often strip the complexion of its natural oils.
Dry and sensitive skin is more vulnerable to damage from external stressors like UV radiation and pollutants. Not only are fine lines more visible when the skin is dry, but there’s also a risk of developing inflammation and irritation. Combined, this contributes to a loss in elasticity and difficulty keeping the skin healthy.
Not all anti-aging skincare products are made equal. When you know which ingredients to look for and how to shop for your skin type, you’ll have a much better chance of finding the right products.
“The best way to ensure that you get the most out of your skincare products is to use those that will work for your skin’s unique needs,” says Dr. Ramirez.
For example, if you have oily skin, you’ll probably want to choose a lightweight moisturizer that won’t clog your pores.
Similarly, knowing how your skin reacts to certain ingredients can also go a long way in finding the right products. Understanding and shopping for your skin type also minimizes the risk of experiencing severe adverse reactions that can damage the complexion.
This knowledge can help you identify the formula and concentration of active ingredients that will be most effective for your skin’s needs.
Retinoids are derived from vitamin A, a well-known and highly prized micronutrient with various anti-aging properties.
Retinoids, like retinol and tretinoin, stimulate and accelerate the skin’s cell turnover process, an essential part of maintaining a smooth and youthful-looking complexion. The cell turnover process replaces damaged cells that contribute to the formation of wrinkles, thereby improving the appearance of aging skin.
Retinoids are available in a range of concentrations to suit all skin types, making them some of the most effective anti-aging skincare ingredients on the market.
Vitamin C is an ascorbic acid that is essential for maintaining the skin and body’s overall health.
As a skincare ingredient, it helps to stimulate the production of collagen. Vitamin C can also strengthen collagen fibers to help them fight external damage while maintaining the skin’s structure.
When the complexion can maintain that suppleness, the skin looks firmer, and the appearance of fine lines is minimized. Since vitamin C is an antioxidant, it can also neutralize UV radiation and free radicals—two components that contribute to collagen fiber damage, hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone.
Niacinamide is a derivative of vitamin B3 that helps reduce excess oil production. It also hydrates, serves as an anti-inflammatory, and improves the skin’s elasticity.
As a gentle antioxidant, niacinamide rarely causes any adverse effects. This makes it a popular anti-aging ingredient. It can also be used to treat hyperpigmentation.
Ceramides are lipid molecules that help support and maintain a strong skin barrier—this is the outer layer of our complexion that protects it from external stressors like UV radiation.
These molecules work to fill and seal vulnerable parts of the skin to ensure that they remain protected. Ceramides also prevent water loss to maintain adequate moisture levels.
When the skin is moisturized, it appears more firm and supple and may even have fewer visible fine lines. Although the body produces ceramides naturally, this ability declines as we age, which is why ceramide-rich products can be great for your skincare routine.
Nava MD’s custom solutions have been created under the guidance of certified dermatologists and clinicians to improve the appearance of aging skin.
Our range of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) treatments contains tried-and-true anti-aging ingredients like:
And with Nava MD, getting a prescription skincare formula is easy and done online.
We’ve also formulated our range of OTC products to create a targeted anti-aging system for anyone.
The Full Radiance Set contains everything you need for a comprehensive and effective skincare routine. One of the noteworthy formulas for those in their 50’s is our eye cream. It’s formulated with vitamin C to brighten dark under-eye circles and reduce puffiness. This cream is intended to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and crow’s feet around the eye area to promote a more youthful appearance.
These also work well when paired with our custom prescription formulas.
Nava MD’s Benefits at a Glance:
Below, we’ve included several suggestions for over-the-counter skincare products to help you manage and improve the signs of aging during your 50s.
The La Roche Posay cleanser is a daily face wash with a creamy texture that’s intended to help hydrate skin while cleansing. It contains niacinamide and ceramides to help strengthen and maintain the skin barrier to ensure a protected complexion.
This formula is non-irritating, making it a good option for most skin types.
This moisturizer contains hyaluronic acid and essential ceramides to help keep the skin hydrated. The ceramide-rich formula is intended to restore and strengthen the skin barrier while protecting the skin from external stressors.
Since this moisturizer is non-comedogenic, it's gentle enough to use twice a day without clogging pores or irritating the skin.
This under-eye serum contains vitamin C that’s intended to neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative damage.These molecules are often responsible for sagging skin that magnifies the signs of aging.
Vitamin C can also brighten dark under-eye circles and moisturize dry skin to give the under-eye a firmer and more youthful appearance.
Night Cream: Roc Retinol Night CreamThe Roc Retinol Deep Wrinkle Night Cream is formulated with retinol to help reduce visible signs of aging without causing substantial irritation. It’s formulated with other hydrating ingredients like glycolic acid and squalane to minimize the risk of adverse reactions.
The night cream is designed to increase collagen production and help the skin maintain a firm structure.
This lightweight sunscreen is formulated with zinc oxide to absorb harmful UV radiation, and the unique winter cherry extract is meant to combat pollution and the blue light that breaks down collagen fibers and causes the skin to sag.
With an SPF 40, this sunscreen is intended to protect the skin all day. It’s also formulated to blend into the skin without leaving a white cast.
An age-appropriate skincare routine is one of the best ways to ensure that your skin stays protected in your 50s.
Using the right products and formulations is a big part of establishing an effective skincare routine, but it can be difficult to know where to start.
At Nava MD, we make it easy to get anti-aging advice straight from a licensed professional.
After completing an online consultation, one of our licensed dermatologist helps determine the right formula for your skin, and if appropriate, your custom solution is formulated by our partner pharmacy and sent to your door.
It’s like a dermatologist visit online, with no in-office visit required. Learn more and get started with Nava MD by clicking here.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency