En español | Up until 2000 we counted on our friends, hairdresser and women's magazines for beauty advice. Then along came Google, YouTube and TikTok. Thanks to them we can find answers to our dumbest, craziest most embarrassing questions anonymously, day or night. Sure, they are fun to read or watch but here's the thing. Search for “Most googled beauty questions” and you'll notice most are not relevant to our 50-plus looks and lives. Sorry, but we're not into hair “plopping,” dermaplaning or using dollar bills to apply cat-eye liner! So here are the 10 questions we're really asking now, answered by a seasoned beauty editor: me.
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PHOTO BY: Ulta Beauty (3)
1. What's probiotic skin care and should I try it?
It's one thing to eat yogurt and another to slather it on your face! However probiotic skin care is a hot beauty trend. The same friendly microorganisms that soothe your belly and gut work in a similar way in facial moisturizers, serums and cleansers. Simplified, your skin and body contain a large microbiome: a mix of bacteria, yeast and parasites, some good, some bad. Probiotics contain live organisms to contribute to your good gut bacteria, while prebiotics are their actual food source. Probiotics and prebiotics work together to keep the microbiome balanced and our complexions dewy, clear and healthy by preventing inflammation and reducing irritation so ideal for conditions like rosacea, eczema, breakouts and dry itchy skin. For a reboot, try probiotic creams like Clinique Redness Solutions Daily Relief Cream With Probiotic Technology ($53, ulta.com), cleansers like Korres Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser ($26, ulta.com) and serums like Beekman 1802 Milk Drops Probiotic Ceramide Serum ($45, ulta.com).
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PHOTO BY: Walmart (2); Amazon
2. Are heat-styling brushes safe for thin, fine, damaged hair?
Hair dryer brushes that combine heat and styling are a proven trend. However, not all brush-dryers work for mature hair that's thinning or already damaged from chemical processes and heat tools. To avoid tangles and breakage skip brush-dryers with spinning rotating brushes and those with spiky bristles. A small barrel-style brush like the Flower Ionic 1” Volumizing Styling Hot Hair Brush ($45, walmart.com) or John Frieda Salon Shape 1.5 Inch Hot Air Brush ($50, amazon.com) is perfect for fine, thin hair, and shorter layered cuts and bobs. The ionic technology in these dryers keeps heat consistent and they won't get too hot even when used close to the scalp for bounce and shape. For those with medium to long hair wanting a straight look, try a paddle style like the InfinitiPRO by Conair Hot Air Paddle Brush ($24, walmart.com) since there's no need to work in sections. Build volume by bending at the waist to blow dry the underside and sides before flipping up and drying the top. All heat-style brushes work better if you detangle hair first, apply a heat protectant and work on damp, not sopping wet, hair.
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PHOTO BY: Target (3)
3. Are Vitamin C serums a must-have for women 50+?
Affordable Vitamin C serums like CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum ($22, target.com), RoC Multi Correxion Revive + Glow Daily Serum + Vitamin C ($32, target.com) and Olay Regenerist Brightening + Vitamin C Serum ($29, target.com) are drugstore superstars thanks to their ability to brighten dull, aging skin, minimize discolorations and stimulate collagen production. Applied under daily moisturizer and/or sunscreen, C works on pigmentation issues such as brown spots, protects from UV light and firms up saggy skin. While updated C formulas like those buffered with hydrating ingredients are gentle but potent, C serums can be irritating to some sensitive skins. Add one to your routine gradually — starting twice a week, building to every other day and so on — to monitor your tolerance. Avoid wearing a Vitamin C serum with a retinol cream. If you want benefits from both, use C during the day, retinol at night for a proven solution.
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PHOTO BY: Amazon; Nordstrom; Sephora
4. Is the SPF in my makeup and moisturizer all I need?
We all want to do more with less these days. Double-duty moisturizers and makeup with SPF 30+ do protect; however, to stay protected all day you'd need to reapply them every two hours. You have two choices: Use a portable, hybrid tinted moisturizer with SPF 30 and simply reapply, or touch up with an SPF 30+ powder sunscreen like Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen Mineral Powder SPF 50 ($52–$69, amazon.com), Supergoop! (Re)setting 100% Mineral Powder SPF 35 ($30, nordstrom.com) or Tarte Sea Set & Protect Mineral Sunscreen Powder SPF 30 ($28, sephora.com). Consider SPF cosmetics as backup since they do provide a second line of defense — like a UPF sun hat. However, to be safe, dermatologists still suggest we layer a separate broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen with SPF 30+ under moisturizer and makeup (if using a chemical sunscreen) or over moisturizer and under makeup (if using a mineral sunscreen), and reapply a touch-up, too, so you are fully covered.
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PHOTO BY: Sephora; Ulta Beauty; Target (2)
5. Are de-frizz serums the best humidity solution?
Way before Brazilian blowouts and salon keratin treatments got a bad rap, silicone de-frizz serums that coated the hair cuticle saved those of us who wanted straighter, sleeker hair. Unfortunately, using too much or too often made our hair look greasy and flat. New frizz-defying shampoos and conditioners, like Garnier Whole Blends Sulfate Free Remedy Coconut Oil Shampoo and Conditioner for Very Frizzy Hair ($8 each, target.com), provide a base-level calming and moisturizing with botanical oils and should be your first step. But the more potent styling sprays and creams are the real game-changers. Longer-hold styling sprays like Kérastase Discipline Fluidissime Complete Anti-Frizz Care Spray ($39, sephora.com) and Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray ($12, ulta.com) work with the heat and tension of a round-brush blow-dry to retrain your hair (the latter's smoothing lasts through three shampoos). But de-frizzers are not just for those who want a straighter look. Cream de-frizzers like Odele Air Dry Styler ($15, target.com) add separation and a smooth glossy look to hair that's textured, curly or air-dried, too.
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PHOTO BY: Target (4)
6. Are my 2021 breakouts from maskne, hormones or stress?
Yes, yes and yes. In 2020 spiking cortisol levels (cortisol is a stress hormone), frequent sugar snacks and daily masks all contributed to new unexplained breakouts in women 50+. However, lots of us are finding our usually stable skin remains more reactive in 2021. Usually we'd rush for oil-free everything and ditch our creams and serums but, not so fast. One help is adding a topical retinoid to your routine. Known for wrinkle smoothing, sun-damage-reversing benefits, retinol also treats clogged pores and breakout-prone skin by encouraging cell turnover. Choose formulas that soothe and boost the skin with ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, like Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Hyaluronic Acid & Retinol Cream ($29, target.com), No7 Restore & Renew Face & Neck Multiaction Serum ($35, target.com) or RoC Correxion Line Smoothing Night Serum Capsules ($25, target.com). Another alternative is to try a plant-based version like Womaness Overnight Magic Facial Treatment ($22, target.com) with bakuchiol, a vegan retinol alternative.
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PHOTO BY: Herbivore; Target (2)
7. Do gemstone skin rollers firm your face?
Since our 50+ skin is thinner, drier, more fragile and prone to discolorations, we're intrigued but cautious. Applying serums with a jade or rose quartz roller is said to help the skin with lymphatic drainage and firm up saggy areas. What you can realistically expect is a healthy rosy glow, some de-puffing and a relaxed expression due to the gentle massage and serum — not a face-lift. Should you choose jade or rose quartz? Real or fake? It doesn't really matter since all gemstone rollers are cooling and soothing. Choose a double-sided roller like the Herbivore Jade De-Puffing Face Roller ($30, herbivorebotanicals.com), Sonia Kashuk Rose Quartz Roller ($15, target.com) or Plum Beauty Amethyst Facial Roller ($20, target.com). Use the wider roller on cheeks and jaw, the smaller side under the eyes. Roll from the inner face outward in an upward movement against the direction of gravity, and avoid using a back-and-forth motion or pressing too hard. They're a good pick-me-up when you're looking fatigued or feel stressed. Pop rollers in the fridge an hour before using to help accelerate the benefits.
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PHOTO BY: Amazon (2)
8. How can I look better on Zoom and FaceTime?
Ever watch experts do Zoom interviews on TV? You'll notice lots of mature faces seem to have double (or triple!) chins, deep expression lines and under-eye circles. While makeup helps, poor lighting and placement of the device are the bad guys here. Your light source should never be directly above you, behind you or coming from the side next to your face. All cast shadows that exaggerate lines, discolorations, saggy skin and puffiness. Indirect sunlight from windows is great but so is a lamp placed behind your laptop or phone. A small ring light, like the Whellan Selfie Ring Light ($14, amazon.com) or Qiaya Selfie Light Ring ($13, amazon.com), that attaches to your cellphone or laptop supplements your light source to really make a difference, too. You don't need a fancy tripod setup. Make sure your phone or laptop is elevated to eye level — up and directly in front of your face — by propping it on a stack of books or shoeboxes on a table or desk. Add some lip and eye makeup for definition, tinted moisturizer or blush for a healthy look and groom the hair around your face (no one sees the back!), too.
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PHOTO BY: Target (3)
9. When do beauty products really expire?
This question never goes away. Get yourself a waterproof Sharpie and label dates whenever you buy new items, from shampoo and body lotion to makeup. Most products now have sell-by dates on the package or a symbol of a jar indicating its shelf-life from the date opened by a number like 6 or 12 for months. (This won't help unless you also label the in-use date as above.) Wet products like double-dip liquid lipsticks and glosses, pen eyeliners and open-neck jar foundations and face creams go quickly. Replace those every six months and mascara every three months since bacteria thrive in moist environments. Try to choose pump, tube, spray or dropper formats when possible, for less exposure to light, moisture and bacteria, but know even these expire. Toss any product that has a funky smell, has separated or has changed texture — like watery foundation or gummy lipstick. Clean makeup sponges, sponge-tip shadow wands and makeup brushes weekly to avoid cross-contamination and reduce the chance of infection.
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PHOTO BY: CVS; Target; Nordstrom
10. Are vegan/organic beauty products better than regular?
If you think choosing natural/vegan/organic/clean skin and makeup products is going to improve your looks and life — welcome to the wellness trend. Whether vegan in diet or not, women 50+ have become more health and environmentally conscious in their beauty thinking. The idea of products grown without pesticides, that do not contain potentially toxic chemicals, have no animal-derived ingredients, and have not been tested on animals has never been more appealing. There's an undeniable feel-good boost from promoting kindness to animals, reducing environmental damage and making a healthy choice. Both “regular” cosmetics and those in the clean category have great, bad and “meh” products at every price point from luxury to low. One is not better than the other when it comes to formula, application and performance. Only you know what works for you.
Lois Joy Johnson is a beauty and style editor who focuses on women 50 and older. She was the beauty and style editor at Ladies’ Home Journal and a founding editor of More magazine. She has written three books: The Makeup Wakeup, The Wardrobe Wakeup and The Woman's Wakeup.
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