How To Care For Your Skin In Your 50s & Beyond

By Lucy Slight
Photo / Babiche Martens

Skin experts, nutritionists and cosmetic doctors share how to get the best from your skin.

There really is no one-size-fits-all approach to ageing; there are those who embrace every line as a sign of a life well lived and those who would rather they disappear altogether.

Whichever camp you fall

We asked some leading experts from around Australasia to share their words of wisdom, particularly for people in their 50s, but for all of us to live by as we age.

Skincare secrets

The skin goes through significant changes in our 50s, especially for women experiencing menopause. Along with a decrease in oestrogen, there’s a reduction in collagen and elastin in the skin which help keep the skin firm and structurally supported. A decrease in hydration comes from decreased levels of hyaluronic acid and ceramides. “Our skin becomes thinner and drier, less supple and firm and our lines and wrinkles then become more pronounced,” says Jackie Smith, co-founder and director of Caci.

She recommends using a retinol serum “to support healthy collagen levels and target the appearance of lines and wrinkles”. Retinol can also be beneficial for anyone experiencing hormonal acne.

Vitamin C is another powerhouse ingredient for skin in this age group thanks to its ability to brighten and even out the complexion by reducing pigmentation. But not all vitamin C products are created equal, says Dr Ginni Mansberg, founder of E.S.K Evidence Skincare and author of The M Word: How to Thrive in Menopause.

“Look for ascorbic acid in the ingredient list; it should be one of the first four ingredients, and make sure water is not the first ingredient on the list,” she explains, as too much water can cause the product to oxidise or go off quickly.

“Look for a concentration of vitamin C of between 8 and 20 per cent. Just know that the higher the concentration, the harder it is to keep the vitamin C fresh, plus the possibility of irritation increases.”

Remember, it is never too late to start using sunscreen — every day. Rain, hail or shine.

“An SPF you love is a non-negotiable for every skincare routine,” says Jackie. “It’s the easiest way to prevent dark spots, lines and wrinkles and general premature skin ageing due to sun damage. And when used correctly — making sure to reapply — sunscreen can protect against sunburn and reduce your risk of skin cancers including melanoma.”


For hard-working retinol: Skinsmiths PRO Strength Retinol, $129.

For a serious vitamin C serum: E.S.K C Forte, $100.

For broad-spectrum sun protection with a silky finish: Raaie Sun Milk Drops Tinted SPF 50+, $110.

Nutrition notes

We all know that skincare is only part of the solution to healthy skin as our skin really does reflect what’s happening internally. Nutrition, therefore, plays a big role in how we look and feel — at every age. It’s no surprise that sugar comes out on top as a key ingredient to avoid in our 50s, due to the vulnerability of our collagen and elastin production.

“Sugar can stick to proteins in a process called glycation, damaging their structure and function,” says naturopath, nutritionist and medical herbalist Annaliese Jones. “Unfortunately, the proteins collagen and elastin are vulnerable to this process. The by-products of glycation damage our collagen and elastin, leading to increased wrinkling and sagging of the skin.”

“It’s also notorious for giving you a pillowed look under the eyes and a dull, flat skin tone,” adds Marianna Glucina, director and founder of About Face.

Dehydration, malnutrition, sleep deprivation, chronic stress, poor gut health and excess exposure to UV rays, chemicals and pollutants all hasten the inflammation process, says Dr Lisa Walker, lead researcher and clinic manager at BePure. For this reason, she recommends nourishing your body with an anti-inflammatory diet.

“A diet that is rich in colourful fruits and vegetables supplies our bodies with an array of health-boosting nutrients and antioxidants,” she says. “Nutrient and antioxidant-rich foods help to foster greater immune function and to quench free radicals that contribute to chronic inflammation.”

Pro-inflammatory foods are obvious — alcohol, sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed meats — but thankfully the list of anti-inflammatory foods is exponentially longer.

“Eating a lot of vegetables, moderate fruit, olive oil, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish and other good quality protein will have you heading in the anti-inflammatory direction,” says Annaliese. “Extra points for regular fresh ginger, garlic and turmeric, fresh herbs and deep-sea oily fish. Supplement-wise, omega 3 and turmeric are great all-rounders.”

Supplementation can help with additional vitamins and minerals for increasing antioxidants, reducing inflammation and supporting the body too. Annaliese recommends vitamin C, milk thistle or coQ10 as they are all great antioxidants. Broad-spectrum probiotics, pre-biotics and post-biotics are also important for gut health.

“Eating nose to tail provides our body with the building blocks we need for good skin health. Bone broth and collagen powders all contain key amino acids that our skin needs to rejuvenate and rebuild. When combined with zinc, vitamin E, vitamin C and bioflavonoids, these foods help to foster greater skin barrier function, immune resilience and skin repair,” adds Dr Lisa.

Tweaks and treatments

While the ageing process is inevitable, some signs of ageing can be reversed with subtle “tweakments”. “If you’ve noticed lines and wrinkles that are bothering you, don’t be afraid to enhance your features with tweakments such as Botox or filler,” says Dr Vihang Sharma, cosmetic doctor and founder of Skin Club.

“The important thing is to consult a trusted clinic that can ensure your tweakments don’t go too far and end up with results that are frozen or an over-filled face. Subtly is key and sometimes less is more when it comes to embracing injectables.”

If needles aren’t your thing, there are plenty of non-invasive ways to improve the appearance of your skin if you wish to. “Loss of elastin means things start sliding south,” says Marianna, with noticeable changes being the “sit and fit” of the skin and visible signs of time spent in the sun, such as brown spots and pigmentation.

“It’s all about improving the ‘scaffolding’ to restore volume — an investment in laser skin rejuvenation is the gold standard, or regular micro needling. An annual course is generally required as part of your beauty budget,” she says. “For colour changes, both red and brown, which become more obvious post 50, an annual course of IPL skin rejuvenation, Fraxel or laser Cutera Excel V+ are my anti-ageing drugs of choice.

“I believe our faces tell the story of our lives and, for me, I don’t choose to erase my lines, but having said that, most of us still want to look as good as we can for as long as we can, and that takes some effort and commitment.”

Here, discover the appearance medicines treatments to try for 2023, from non-invasive lasers to injectable alternatives.

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