Since, well, forever, women of a certain age have been ignored by the hyper youth-obsessed fashion and beauty industry. (Ironic, since this is an era where healthy aging products are needed the most.) Of course, a huge benefit of being in your 60s is celebrating how you're aging gracefully, and not sweating the small stuff too much, including the wrinkles you've earned through the years. "My older patients actually want to have a more simplified regimen," says board-certified dermatologist Zenovia Gabriel, M.D. Here, some best practices:
Know your basics.
By now? You know your skin. You also know yourself: What sort of products you like, what your habits are, how much time you're willing to invest in skin care. That being said, your skin is always changing—so you want to be able to adapt with it. Just because you know what you like doesn't mean you have to be stuck in your routine at every step.
Wash less, not more.
In your 60s, your skin is likely to be on the dry side. Gabriel recommends using a gentle cleanser at night to remove makeup and the accumulated debris of the day (we like this Christina Moss Organic Facial Wash option to cleanse and hydrate), then simply rinse with warm water in the morning sans soap. Your skin is no longer burdened with the things that used to make a twice-daily lather necessarily (read: no overactive sebum and clogged pores). Enjoy this—and give your wash routine a rest, if you haven't already.
Take a smart supplement.
But at this point in your life, it's not just about protecting what you have—it's about tending to the changes you're already seeing like loss of firmness, wrinkles, age spots, and dryness.
For firmness, you'll want to enhance your natural collagen production, which you can do with collagen peptide supplements. The research shows that these collagen peptides are able to support skin elasticity and dermal collagen density.* How? Well hydrolyzed collagen peptides have been shown to help promote your body's natural production of collagen and other molecules that make up the skin, like elastin and fibrillin.* Additionally, you'll want to make sure you're ingesting vitamin C and E, as they are vital parts of the collagen synthesis process.*
Wrinkles and age spots, look for antioxidants with skin healthy benefits—a favorite of ours is the highly potent astaxanthin. In one study, astaxanthin supplementation significantly improved skin elasticity, smoothness, and hydration in just 12 weeks.* Another study found astaxanthin improved skin wrinkles, age spot size, and skin texture.* And in a recent double-blind clinical, subjects reported significant improvement in moisture levels (especially around the eyes), overall improved elasticity, and appearance of tone.* Another recent double-blind clinical found that it can even help skin's water-retention capacity and suppress barrier damage.*
For hydration concerns—phytoceramides can help support the lipid layer.* In one study, participants with clinically dry skin who took a phytoceramide-rich wheat extract oil for three months saw up to a 35% improvement in skin hydration.*
Monitor your stress levels.
"Managing your stress response is important for your overall health at any age, and your skin health is no exception. Stress leads to surges in the primary stress hormone, cortisol, which not only breaks down collagen in the skin but prevents its regeneration, so it's a double whammy," says holistic board-certified dermatologist Keira Barr, M.D. (The last point is the most important for this age group, as cell regeneration slows as you age anyway, so you want to make sure you're not inadvertently doing anything to further slow its renewal process.)
"Stress comes in many forms, from physiological to emotional, from environmental exposures, blood sugar instability, hormone imbalances or the feelings of anxiety and overwhelm," says Barr. Exercise, breathwork, meditation, and journaling can help.
"Skin becomes more sensitive after 60. The skin's barrier function becomes less proficient at keeping irritants out, and the skin is thinner, drier, and more vulnerable to outside assault," says holistic esthetician Elle Feldman. "You may have to reduce your exfoliating regimen and add products that calm the skin." If there was once an ingredient that you used to adore—retinol, a specific type of acid—that you can no longer use without redness or irritation, this is likely why. Pay attention to the signs your skin is telling you.
"Wear gloves while doing housework, gardening, and even while driving to protect your skin from harsh irritants and sunlight," Feldman notes, a good reminder that being gentle to your skin includes your whole body, not just your face.
Get rich quick.
There's a good chance that you've incorporated a thicker cream into your regimen at some point in your 40s or 50s, but feel free to really lean into the calming, occlusive creams now. "Kantic Calming Cream by Alchimie Forever is a miracle worker for aging and sensitive skin," says Feldman. "It's rich in natural antioxidants and a midweight moisturizer that calms redness and irritation. It minimizes the signs of stress and fatigue, leaving the skin looking youthful and radiant."
Keep your derm on speed dial.
Solar lentigines, more commonly known as "liver spots"—"though they have absolutely nothing to do with your liver!" says Gabriel—is common after 60. Unfortunately, there is not a topical that can treat them, and you'll need to see a dermatologist who can freeze them off. "I advise people over the age of 60 to see a dermatologist once a year for procedures and skin cancer checks," she says.
Stay extra hydrated.
This is twofold: Stay hydrated inside and on the outside. Internally, we know that drinking adequate water can actually increase dermal thickness, leading to plumper skin. Of course, drinking enough water throughout the day is a tough habit—for anyone—but be mindful of how important it is to stay hydrated and how it can affect your skin.
We've already talked about a thick facial moisturizer, but don't forget the body lotion: No matter how fastidious they are with their facial skin care habits, decade after decade, many women tend to skip body lotion after showering. Now is the time to commit to moisturizing from head to toe. According to Gabriel, skipping this step puts you at risk for dermatitis, which is often seen as itchy rough patches. During bath time, "use a soft washcloth and apply a fragrance-free body moisturizer to the body within three minutes of bathing," says Feldman.
Prioritize both SPF and vitamin D.
There used to be a train of thought that you accumulated the majority of your sun damage when you were in your teens, 20s, and 30s—and that after your 50s, ultraviolet light damage "stopped counting." We know that not to be true now, and that UV damage is UV damage no matter when you get it. Of course, getting adequate levels of vitamin D is essential (74% of us are deficient, and our bodies stop producing vitamin D as well after 70). So be sure to strike a balance: Be smart about wearing a mineral-based SPF lotion, like beautycounter's Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30, but also be sure to enjoy the sunlight.
You know your skin better than anyone; you've lived in it for 60-plus years after all. So take the lessons you've learned along the way and keep doing what works for you, with a few adjustments as needed based on how your skin is changing.
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Erin Flaherty is a beauty expert who has worked for publications such as Allure, Jane, Marie Claire, V, and Harper’s Bazaar. She received her B.A. in english literature from The College Of Santa Fe. She has traveled the world discovering indigenous ingredients and both traditional and modern beauty and wellness rituals. She lives in Woodstock, NY with her husband and two dogs.