En español | Here's a common 50-plus skin tale: You're on track to smoother, bouncier, glowier skin. You've checked all the boxes for sunscreen, cleansers and moisturizers, and stayed the course … and then winter shows up. Almost overnight, all those months of smearing, moisturizing and pampering get blown away by cold, windy weather and indoor heating. What went wrong? Nothing that these 10 tweaks can't fix.
- 1 of
PHOTO BY: Target (2); Nordstrom
1. Switch to a humectant-emollient moisturizer
First, know what's really going on with your skin. Dry skin is normal at age 50, thanks to decreased skin oils known as lipids. In winter skin gets even drier and may feel rough, flaky, itchy or tight. Dehydrated skin is about water loss and may be temporary, if managed. It even may look saggy, more lined or even inflamed. You may have dry or dehydrated skin — or most likely both. Packing the skin with humectants (like hyaluronic acid and glycerin), which attract and lock in moisture, and emollients (like shea or coconut butter, coconut oil, ceramides and fatty acids), which strengthen the outer barrier layer so moisture doesn't escape, benefits both conditions. Try a dual problem solver like CeraVe Moisturizing Cream for Normal to Dry Skin ($19, target.com), Cetaphil Rich Hydrating Cream ($18, walgreens.com), or Paula's Choice Skin Recovery Replenishing Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid + Peptides for Dry/Very Dry ($29, nordstrom.com).
- 2 of
PHOTO BY: Target; Walgreens; CVS
2. Add an eye cream
If you've been counting on your face cream to do double duty or totally skipping an eye-specific moisturizer, this is the time to make eye cream a daily habit. The skin in the eye area is super-thin and dry, so exposure to temperature extremes is extra damaging. Look for a soothing gel or gel cream formula with hyaluronic acid, like Cetaphil Hydrating Eye Gel-Cream ($17, target.com), Olay Eyes Deep Hydrating Eye Gel ($34, cvs.com) or Neutrogena Hydro-Boost Eye Gel-Cream ($21, walgreens.com). These won't interfere with your makeup, migrate into your eyes or irritate them if they tear up. The bonus: A moisturized eye area makes your entire face look fresher. If puffs and bags are among your issues, keep these products in the fridge — the cold will help with the puffiness.
- 3 of
PHOTO BY: Target (2); Ulta Beauty
3. Layer your skin products correctly
Adding a serum and/or oil to your routine can enhance the benefits of your moisturizer. Pick one that targets your biggest concern, which right now is getting more moisture into the skin. To do that you need a serum that emphasizes hyaluronic acid, like Cosmedica Skincare Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($15, target.com) or L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum ($30, target.com), though many also contain peptides to address wrinkles or vitamin C to reboot brightness as well. Serums have a higher concentration of active ingredients than moisturizers and contain smaller molecules, so they penetrate more deeply into the skin. However, they don't moisturize, so always apply one under a cream. A skin oil like The Ordinary 100% Cold Pressed Virgin Marula Oil ($10, ulta.com) can increase radiance. Oils work when they're applied sparingly over moisturizer on extra-dry areas. This skin “sandwich” of serum, moisturizer and oil is a seasonal game changer for many mature faces.
- 4 of
PHOTO BY: Target; CVS; Walgreens
4. Prepare for skin sensitivity with calming solutions
By 50 you know skin flares are triggered by wind, biting cold and toasty indoor heating, among other things. While every tip on this list will help keep your skin seasonally healthy, having a few special solutions on standby (especially if you're prone to eczema, psoriasis or rosacea) is a good idea. Creams, balms and ointments like CeraVe Healing Ointment for Dry and Chaffed Skin ($20, target.com), Aveeno Skin Relief Moisture Repair Cream ($16, cvs.com) and La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 Soothing Multi Purpose Cream for Dry Skin ($15, walgreens.com) include two or more soothing ingredients, like colloidal oatmeal, niacinamide (also known as B3), shea butter and glycerin. Of course, in an emergency, classic petrolatum ointments like Vaseline and Aquaphor work well, too. Smooth them on.
- 5 of
PHOTO BY: Walgreens (2); CVS
5. Exfoliate head to toe
Polishing away dead cells is now a routine part of your weekly facial care, right? But I bet you haven't been paying attention to those soon-to-be-flaky arms and legs. And how about the crusty elbows and knees we hide under sweaters and leggings? The only way to keep all silky smooth (and the insides of your dark tees, sweaters, tights and leggings from becoming landfills for flakes) is by stepping up the body buffing. Shower fans can try a liquid body wash like Caress Exfoliating Body Wash Evenly Gorgeous with Burnt Brown Sugar and Karite Butter ($5, walgreens.com) or Softsoap Exfoliating Body Wash Scrub Coconut Butter ($6, walgreens.com). Bath junkies might prefer a thicker polish, like Dove Exfoliating Body Scrub in Pomegranate Seeds & Shea Butter ($8, cvs.com). Here's a friendly warning: Never use a body scrub on your face. No matter how delicious it seems, it's too harsh.
- 6 of
PHOTO BY: Walgreens; Sephora; Target
6. Use a mask when you bathe or shower
A long soak in the tub or a steamy shower sounds great, but save the hot water for some decaf green tea or cocoa. Instead, grab 10 or 15 minutes in a sauna-like bathroom environment that will add an extra dose of hydration to parched skin and plump up lines and wrinkles. Before you step into the shower or tub is the ideal time to smooth on a hydrating mask like the Vichy Quenching Mineral Mask ($20, walgreens.com), the Origins Drink Up 10 Minute Hydrating Mask ($23, nordstrom.com) or the SheaMoisture Manuka Yogurt & Honey Glow Getter Honey Mask ($11, target.com). Then let humidity do its thing. (Think about how you can “de-wrinkle” a dress or blouse by hanging it up in a steamy bathroom!) Make sure to immediately apply moisturizer to your still-damp face and body when you blot dry. Moisturizer penetrates damp warm skin but has a hard time once skin is bone dry. Waiting too long is the number one mistake women make.
- 7 of
PHOTO BY: Ulta Beauty (3)
7. Get a facial mist
All summer we grumbled about what the humidity was doing to our hair and makeup, but we never gave it credit for keeping our skin hydrated. Well, water retention (in a good way) is the ticket to healthier skin. I know that adding plants to your indoor space and getting a humidifier is recommended, but very few of us actually do it. Instead, pick up a facial mist like Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Cucumber and Green Tea ($7, ulta.com), Garnier Travel Size SkinActive Facial Mist Spray with Rosewater ($4, ulta.com) or Clinique Moisture Surge Face Spray ($26, ulta.com), which contain humectants and do-good anti-inflammatory ingredients like green tea, aloe, rosewater or cucumber. Spritz anytime (avoid your eyes!) to add a dose of extra hydration or prep skin if you want to add more moisturizer during the day without having to wash your face. And please stay away from alcohol and salt, since they cause water to be retained in a negative way. You want plumped-up skin and lines — not a bloated belly or ankles.
- 8 of
PHOTO BY: Walgreens (2); Nordstrom
8. Keep the high-SPF sunscreen going
Skin-damaging rays ignore seasons, rain, snow and clouds. UVA rays — the ones responsible for wrinkles and brown spots — penetrate glass, so working in front of a window or driving doesn't protect you, and snow is like a giant reflector. Now's the time to look for creamy moisturizing sunscreens like Neutrogena Hydro Boost Moisturizing Sunscreen SPF 50 ($10, walgreens.com), Aveeno Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 ($9, walgreens.com) and Supergoop! Glow Screen Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40 ($36, nordstrom.com) that contain skincare-like ingredients. Slather it on your hands and neck, too, if they're exposed.
- 9 of
PHOTO BY: Target (3)
9. Switch to light creamy face makeup
This is not the time for powders, matte textures or a full face of cosmetics, all of which make our dry and sensitive faces look and feel even drier. Sure, BB and CC creams and tinted moisturizers are great, but this season's drier complexions benefit from hydrating formulas with a little more moisture and radiance. Upgraded foundations like NYX Professional Makeup Born to Glow Radiant Foundation ($10, target.com) with an astonishing 45 shades, Range Beauty True Intentions Hydrating Formula ($20, target.com) with 21 shades designed exclusively for darker skin tones, and Maybelline Dream Radiant Liquid Foundation with Hyaluronic Acid + Collagen ($14, target.com) with 20 shades all have silky textures that mimic real skin but are buildable, so you can customize your coverage. It will be worth the seasonal switch.
- 10 of
PHOTO BY: Target (2); Walgreens
10. Protect and sooth your lips
I know we’re all wearing masks, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore what’s going on beneath them. Lips (like the eye area) are super vulnerable to the drying effects of cold weather. Lip scrubs like Milani Rose Sugar Lip Scrub ($12, target.com) are designed to gently massage away flakes and dryness and leave your kisser baby smooth. Do not, however, use a scrub if you have a cold sore, serious peeling or cracks! They’re meant to be a prep for your lipsticks and balms. Let a barrier ointment like Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($4, walgreens.com) do the serious soothing and repair work at home, then heal at work or socially distanced dinners with an emollient-rich balm like Blistex Lip Vibrance Lip Balm ($3, target.com) with shea butter and vitamin E.