From putting toothpaste on a zit to snoozing with a face full of foundation and thinking a placid expression would keep us young, we’ve all done good and bad things to our skin, thinking it didn’t matter in the long run.
Well, the long run is here! Below, women in their 50s and older share their skin and beauty wisdom.
“I’m a trained aesthetician. My advice has always been to never go to bed with makeup on, otherwise your pores will be clogged and your face will look dirty and puffy when you wake up. Learned that the hard way!” — Darlene Tenes, 55
Verified: Cleansing off the day’s makeup and pollution can reduce irritation, which can age or irritate your skin. One case study last year found that 25 years of inadequate mascara removal can lead to major irritation.
“Everyone always tells me that I look young for my age. I think it’s just because I’m always smiling and laughing. The happier you appear, the younger you look! I wasted too many years in my life not smiling.” — Ann Wolinsky, 64
Verified: There’s no need to shy away from crow’s feet! Wrinkles are known to show our overall disposition, and if the crinkles appear because of our smiles, then a permanent marker of our happiness is all the better.
“Skin care products don’t have to be fancy or pricey! I make my own face washes and lotions using essential oils and other natural, plant-based products. For instance, I made my daily moisturizer by combining organic, unrefined coconut oil and lavender essential oil.” — Jill Lebofsky, 49
Verified: A skin care routine that’s out of your budget isn’t a routine for you. Likewise, everyone has a different approach and tolerance to popular ingredients.
Evidence around coconut oil for skin is mixed, as coconut oil is comedogenic — meaning it can clog pores and cause acne, blackheads, or whiteheads. When it’s mixed with lavender essential oil, it may be able to help fight inflammation and wounds as well. Experiment with your routine, but always remember to patch test.
“I do an armpit detox at least once a year to […] stop the stink. I find this increases the efficacy of natural deodorants so I don’t have to use more toxic deodorants. Who wouldn’t want their deodorant to be more effective?” — Lebofsky
Verified: Armpit detoxes may be able to help with smells and deodorant buildup, but if you’re looking for a surefire answer about efficacy, there’s none at the moment. However, we find the matter of sweat to be a personal matter — when it comes to feeling the pits, a mask might be just want you need.
“Never wash your face with bar of generic soap! It’ll dry your skin out. For example, I only use a more delicate facial foaming cleanser before I shower which I then rinse off under the shower water.” — Patricia Cole, 76
Verified: When soaps aren’t formulated for the face, it can mess up your pH balance and dry it out. There are many other ways to wash your face, from oil cleansers to sonic brushes. Check out the 15 do’s and don’ts for washing your face.
“The most obvious advice is to stay out of the sun as much as possible, but I’ve found that there’s one product that minimizes the effects of sun damage: vitamin C serum. My favorite product is the Skinceuticals CE Ferulic serum, which I apply a few drops of every morning. I’m actually 60 and no one believes me when I tell them!” — Silvia Tobler, 60
Verified: Vitamin C is one of the best hydrating, brightening, and firming antioxidant ingredients for your skin. Combined with vitamin E and ferulic acid — which help stabilize the product — it’s a win-win for your healthiest skin.
“I wish I thought about my hands and all the possible sun exposure and damage that can happen while driving! I would have been more diligent with sunscreen on the hands or driving with gloves.” — Margina Dennis, 51
Verified: On top of hands, the earlobes, neck, chest, and eyelids are other areas many people forget to sunscreen.
“Those products may be a little pricier but can have therapeutic benefits while moisturizing, reducing fine lines, [and reducing skin irritations and inflammation, including mature skin acne]. Two products I especially I love are Clean Coconut’s CBD lotions and No Borders Natural’s moisturizer. It’s worth trying.” — Aliza Sherman, 53
Verified: CBD is an up and coming contender in the beauty space, with its moisturizing and anti-inflammation properties — though you should check if it’s available in your area. People with dry skin may find it especially helpful. But it’s far from the best and shouldn’t replace tried-and-true ingredients like retinol.
“My biggest tip is to stay out of the sun or, when you are in the sun, wear good sunscreen. I am 55 years old and have sun spots from sun exposure. Many of my friends and I have excessive or early wrinkles from the sun. We used to lay out in the sun slathered with baby oil! I wish instead of focusing on how tan I was I had just used sunblock all year round.” — Maria Leonard Olsen, 55
Verified: UV rays are a number one contributor to photoaging and skin damage. Protecting yourself with sunscreen daily is one easy way of preventing surprise skin changes, such as wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, spots, damage, and burning.
“When I was younger I used to lay in the sun with my hair covered in Sun-In and lemon juice. But that’ll only dry out your hair and cause breakage! I wish I had started going to a professional hairstylist to color my hair earlier.” — Patty Bell, 58
Verified: Whether you’re DIY-ing rainbow hair or looking to cover up small grays, it’s worth consulting a professional. Hair treatments can vary depending on your texture, thickness, and overall hair health, whether it’s been treated with chemicals or not. Speaking to a professional about the right treatment can end up saving you money in the long-run.
“Don’t smoke. Ever. Quit! It’s so bad for your skin and teeth.” — Bell
“I wish I had known the impact diet would have on my future health and aging. I always say, ‘If I had known in my 20s what I learned in my 40s, I would look like I was 10 today.’ I wish I had started eating more raw food soon. I truly think adding more raw foods to my diet has given me an edge, more energy, and reduce overall inflammation. Plus, it helps me maintain a healthy weight.” — Carol Alt, 58
Verified: A raw diet is focused in fruits and vegetables, which science has shown to help with heart health, weight maintenance, and digestion. It never hurts to eat more raw vegetables and whole foods if you’re not already, but don’t go too far in one direction. A raw vegan diet increases your risk for being nutritionally unbalanced.
“I am a breast cancer survivor as well as a September 11th widow. I have been through trauma in my life, but I live my life healthfully and peacefully and I am always told how young I look for my age. I think the reason is that I use skin care with clean ingredients, which help add brightness and clarity to my complexion.” — Meryl Marshall, 60
Verified: Clean beauty is a buzzword that’s making rounds in the industry, but what does it mean? It basically comes down to being “non-toxic” and often “all-natural.” For many, it’s a safe indicator that a product won’t irritate their skin. However, these terms aren’t regulated by the FDA, so it’s important to do your research before adding a product to your shopping cart.
“I aim to drink a gallon of water each day. It plumps up my skin and gives me more energy.” — Tracee Gluhaich, 53
Verified: Drinking enough water is one of the best ways to get your body running optimally. It can help relieve constipation and get waste out of your body faster, prevent dehydrated skin to help maintain your glow, and more.
“Acupuncture has helped greatly with my skin overall. I’ve noticed the texture and quality of my skin has improved, and the tiny lines have begun to soften quite noticeably. The best way to explain it is that I feel like my skin has gone back 10 years. It’s more plump, clearer and I feel fresher and more awake. I definitely recommend facial acupuncture. I wish that I had found it as soon as my skin started to show its age”. — Lisa A, 50
Verified: Facial acupuncture is reported to brighten up complexion, stimulate collagen, reduce jaw tension, and soften overall appearance. While there’s not enough research to fully conclude these benefits, the science looks promising.
“Moisturize your neck now, so that you don’t have to be afraid about covering it all up later. In my opinion, one of the loveliest parts of a woman’s body as she ages is the “portrait” area — from the top of the bust to the chin.
Think about Renaissance paintings, you can always see this area. But as women get older, they cover this area up! If you carry your skin care routine below the neck you’ll have more confidence to rock an off-shoulder, sweetheart, or V neckline when you get older.” — Andrea Pflaumer, 71
Verified: Skin health doesn’t stop at the face! As mentioned above, the neck and chest area are two places people often forget to sunscreen.
“I’m a firm believer in being the best we can be at the age we are. As a breast cancer survivor who went through five surgeries as well as multiple rounds of chemo and radiation, I [believe] in not having to take drastic measures so that you can feel as good on the outside as you feel on the inside at any age. Because the cancer meds caused me to dry up, I encountered all sorts of issues after treatment, including skin-related challenges.
My biggest piece of advice to younger women is to start thinking about noninvasive, nonsurgical technologies… probably way before you would normally start to think about it. We’re so fortunate to live in an age where women have access to wonderful technological options!” — Meryl Kern, 62
Verified: While you might not be ready for lasers or injections, knowing exactly what goes into noninvasive procedures — instead of finding out about them too late — is a critical step to feeling confident about achieving your ideal skin.
For example, being against Botox is easy in your 20s but your skin changes sometimes exponentially in your 30s and 40s. Knowing the facts around Botox may change your perspective and provide a less challenging journey as a result. If after you know the facts, you discover you still don’t want Botox, lasering, or chemical peels, realizing that there’s nothing else to be done can provide a world of relief and confidence in yourself, too.
Gabrielle Kassel is a rugby-playing, mud-running, protein-smoothie-blending, meal-prepping, CrossFitting, New York–based wellness writer. She’s become a morning person, tried the Whole30 challenge, and eaten, drunk, brushed with, scrubbed with, and bathed with charcoal, all in the name of journalism. In her free time, she can be found reading self-help books, bench-pressing, or practicing hygge. Follow her on Instagram.