8 Essential Skincare Ingredients if You're Over 50, According to Experts
Save your skin from premature aging with these dermatologist-approved ingredients.
As you get older, your skin changes. Not only does it become thinner with time, but it also becomes more prone to fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, irregular pigmentation, and more. That's why, to maintain healthy and youthful skin past 50, your skincare routine will need to change along with it—and you'll want to pay special attention to the ingredients in your creams and serums.
However, with so many buzzed-about products to choose from, it's hard to know which ingredients are worth your investment—especially given the premium price tags attached to many of the top sellers. To cut through the noise, we spoke to four top medical experts to find out which skincare ingredients you should actually look for if you're over 50. Read on to hear their top eight recommendations for maintaining gorgeous, glowing skin as you get older.
Retinoids and bakuchiol
Experts say that retinoids are a crucial ingredient to look for in skincare products if you're over the age of 50.
"Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives that can affect gene expression, which makes them a very powerful ingredient for increasing skin cell turnover, reducing clogged pores, increasing collagen production, and decreasing discoloration," explains Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist specializing in medical and cosmetic dermatology.
However, she notes that plant-based alternatives to retinoids like bakuchiol and rambutan are gentler for sensitive skin.
Robert Schwarcz, MD, a double-board certified oculofacial plastic surgeon based in New York City, says bakuchiol is one of the most powerful anti-aging ingredients on the market. In fact, when formulating his own skincare product, Orvos Satin Eye Gel Cream, he made bakuchiol the star ingredient.
"Bakuchiol has been shown to have similar anti-aging, wrinkle-fighting, and collagen-building effects without many of the side effects of retinoids," he tells Best Life.
According to Beth Goldstein, MD, founder and Mohs surgeon at Central Dermatology Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, any skincare regimen you use—especially over 50—hinges on having adequate sun protection.
"I am old school here," Goldstein tells Best Life. "The main, main, main important ingredient for anti-aging is sunscreen. If you don't have a robust sun protection program with a great broad-spectrum sunscreen (I recommend tinted and all mineral-based) then forget antioxidants and the like."
Rekha Singh, MBBS, MD, an aesthetic dermatologist with Oliva Skin and Hair Clinic, agrees that sun protection is essential. She recommends wearing an SPF of 30 or higher every day and choosing sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, as these are "more effective at blocking UV rays."
Hyaluronic acid is another ingredient to look for in your skincare if you're over the age of 50, says Singh.
"Hyaluronic acid is a powerful humectant that helps keep skin hydrated and looking dewy and plump," she explains. "This ingredient can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water, making it an excellent choice for counteracting dryness and wrinkles. Look out for hyaluronic acid in moisturizers and serums."
Antioxidants help fight free radicals, which can damage skin cells and accelerate the aging process, says Singh. "Look out for antioxidants like green tea extract, resveratrol, vitamin C, vitamin E, ferulic acid, and coenzyme Q10 in your skincare products," she suggests.
But Schwarcz says that green tea is his preferred antioxidant ingredient for people over the age of 50.
"Green tea helps calm irritation, soothe redness, and de-puff with natural caffeine, which makes it a great ingredient for under-eye products," he says, noting that this is also a natural, plant-based ingredient.
Singh says that when scanning the ingredients label of your favorite skincare products, you should also look for peptides. In particular, she recommends looking out for peptide-rich products containing copper peptides or Matrixyl 3000.
"Peptides are chains of amino acids that can help stimulate collagen production and promote skin healing," she explains. "They're an excellent choice for reducing wrinkles, brightening dark spots, and improving overall skin texture."
Vitamin C is another key antioxidant your skin craves past 50. Schwarcz recommends looking for products that include Kakuda plum, a fruit native to Australia that has the highest recorded concentration of Vitamin C and can act as a powerful anti-aging tool.
"Kakadu plum is nature's Vitamin C powerhouse, long used for its medicinal qualities and potent antioxidants, as it contains up to 55 times the Vitamin C as in oranges," he explains. "It helps neutralize and fight free radicals while giving skin a beautiful, bright glow."
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The key to maintaining supple skin as you get older is always keeping it hydrated. Schwarcz recommends plant-based oils to help restore your natural elasticity and youthful appearance.
"Oils like rose hip seed oil and sunflower seed oil will help hydrate and soften skin, which is essential as we age, as aging skin naturally loses moisture," he explains.
Glycolic acid and other alpha hydroxy acids
Finally, skin experts widely recommend glycolic acid and other alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) for people over the age of 50.
"Used for chemical exfoliation of the skin, AHAs help dissolve the bonds that hold dead skin cells on the surface of skin," explains King. "Glycolic acid and other AHAs are effective at reducing sun damage and dark spots by increasing cell turnover and stimulating collagen production to improve tone and texture."
Goldstein agrees that these are crucial to skincare as you age. "Alpha hydroxy acids can help with improving the supportive structure of the dermis."