Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
CLOSE ×

Search

Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

DIY Skin Care Fixes That Don’t Require a Dermatologist

Simple over-the-counter solutions for common skin problems


spinner image woman applying hyaluronic drop and skin mask beauty treatment on her face
DisobeyArt/Getty Images

Skin care at 50 can be daunting to navigate, especially when you search the thousands of creams, serums and treatments claiming to brighten, tighten and smooth mature faces. It’s smart to see a dermatologist for skin cancer checks, rosacea or dermatitis, and perhaps a little Botox … but deciding which moisturizer, cleanser or eye cream to use? No way. Not when you’re the real expert on your own skin care history, sun damage and daily habits. Here are six simple fixes that will improve and upgrade your self-care strategy. 

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership

Join AARP for $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal. Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine

Join Now

spinner image Olay Regenerist Vitamin C+ Peptide 24 SPF 30 Moisturizer; Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer SPF 50; Colorscience Unforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50
(Left to right) Olay Regenerist Vitamin C + Peptide 24 SPF 30 Moisturizer; Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer SPF 50; Colorescience Unforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50
Target; Ulta Beauty; Colorescience

1. Fix: a daily SPF 30 + sunscreen you’ll actually wear

If you do one thing to thwart incoming brown spots, wrinkles and skin cancer, add a daily sunscreen to your everyday routine. Many people dutifully apply sunscreen for outdoor sports and sun at the beach but skip it on cloudy, rainy or cold days, when wearing face makeup or working indoors. Big mistake! Skin-damaging UVA/UVB rays are relentlessly beaming 365 days a year right through foundation, self-tanner, car, home and office windows and nasty weather. The best “lifestyle” protection is the double-dip method. Start the day with a double-duty moisturizer/sunscreen like Olay Regenerist Vitamin C + Peptide 24 SPF 30 Moisturizer ($30, target.com) or Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer SPF 50 ($30, ulta.com) and simply reapply as needed to refresh protection, or top with a serious sunscreen when the seasons and outdoor time demand it. Makeup wearers can double protect by whisking on a portable brush-on powder sunscreen like Colorescience Unforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50 ($69, colorescience.com) — this comes in fair to deep shades — as a topcoat. So handy for T-zone shine control in humid summer temperatures, too.

spinner image woman looking into a circular bathroom mirror holding a bottle of skin serum

A Guide to Better Skin After 50

Have healthy looking skin at any age  

Tips, advice and resources

spinner image CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin; Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser; La Roche-Posay Ultra Fine Face Scrub Exfoliating Face Wash for Sensitive Skin; Aveeno Calm + Restore Nourishing PHA Exfoliator
(Left to right) CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin; Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser; La Roche-Posay Ultra-Fine Face Scrub Exfoliating Face Wash for Sensitive Skin; Aveeno Calm + Restore Nourishing PHA Exfoliator
CVS; Ulta Beauty; CVS; Target

2. Fix: cleansers that improve mature skin

Bet your face cleanser doesn’t get the attention your creams do. It should, since washing is the first line of defense against dryness and wrinkles — but don’t use any old soap or cleanser. A creamy hydrating formula with hyaluronic acid and/or glycerin like CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin ($14, cvs.com) or Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($12, ulta.com) can soften skin, plump up lines and complement all serums and moisturizers without a conflict of ingredients. Power washing once every seven to 10 days with a mild exfoliating cleanser such as La Roche-Posay Ultra-Fine Face Scrub Exfoliating Face Wash for Sensitive Skin ($19, cvs.com) or Aveeno Calm + Restore Nourishing PHA Exfoliator ($13, target.com) — both are nonabrasive, non-drying and kind to thin, sensitive, skin — will help loosen the bonds between dead cells and buff them off. This additional cleansing step prevents slowed cell turnover from blocking penetration of the serums and creams you apply.

spinner image L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Hyaluronic Acid Line-Plumping Water Cream; Clinique Moisture Surge 100H Auto-Replenishing Hydrator; Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream Moisturizer
(Left to right) L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Hyaluronic Acid Line-Plumping Water Cream; Clinique Moisture Surge 100H Auto-Replenishing Hydrator; Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream Moisturizer
Target; Clinique; Kohl's

3. Fix: moisturizers that plump up wrinkles

Ever look in the mirror and pull back your face for a face-lift effect? Me, too, and so do plenty of 50-plus women who wonder about taking the scalpel or filler route to firmer, smoother skin. Drastic and dreamy thoughts aside, the right moisturizer — one with hyaluronic acid and/or peptides — can truly improve lined, saggy, wrinkled skin. Here’s why: Hyaluronic acid attracts water like a sponge, drenching the skin and plumping up lines and expression creases like a before-and-after balloon that’s blown up. Peptides help reboot collagen and elastin (the underlying support fibers of the skin) for a bouncier, firmer texture. Look for moisturizers that emphasize one or both ingredients like L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Hyaluronic Acid Line-Plumping Water Cream ($32, target.com), Clinique Moisture Surge 100H Auto-Replenishing Hydrator ($28, clinique.com) with hyaluronic acid, and Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream Moisturizer ($29, kohls.com) with hyaluronic and peptides. Don’t forget to apply to your neck and décolletage!

spinner image Vichy Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum; Bliss Drench & Quench Serum; RoC Multi Correxion Revive + Glow Vitamin C Serum; Burt’s Bees Facial Oil With Rosehip Seed Extract
(Left to right) Vichy Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum; Bliss Drench & Quench Serum; RoC Multi Correxion Revive + Glow Vitamin C Serum; Burt’s Bees Facial Oil With Rosehip Seed Extract
Ulta Beauty; Amazon; Target; CVS

4. Fix: power serums and oils that boost moisturizers 

Think your usual moisturizer has stopped doing its job? Don’t toss it. All you may need is a serum beneath it or a facial oil patted on top. Serums are highly concentrated silky liquids that deliver specific active ingredients deep into the skin’s epidermis. When layered after cleanser and before a day or night cream, they amplify the formula. Two of the most beneficial serums for mature skin focus on hyaluronic acid, such as Vichy Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum ($20,  ulta.com) and Bliss Drench & Quench Serum ($27, amazon.com) for a moisture boost, and C serums like RoC Multi Correxion Revive + Glow Vitamin C Serum ($29, target.com) for added radiance. Serums do not replace moisturizer; you still need that topcoat of cream. Facial oils like Burt’s Bees Facial Oil With Rosehip Seed Extract ($22, cvs.com) are rich in nourishing essential fatty acids and work at the surface level to increase glow. Pat over moisturizer on spots where skin is especially tight, dull or dry, or apply instead of moisturizer or night cream as needed. Curious about the TikTok trend for skin flooding to boost hydration? Try applying a face mist before hyaluronic serum and moisturizer to trap extra moisture.

Entertainment

Ancestry

30% off a 1-year subscription

See more Entertainment offers >
spinner image Womaness Plump It Up Gentle Retinol Face Serum; No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Fragrance Free Night Cream; Acure Radically Rejuvenating Dual Phase Bakuchiol Serum
(Left to right) Womaness Plump It Up Gentle Retinol Face Serum; No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Fragrance Free Night Cream; Acure Radically Rejuvenating Dual Phase Bakuchiol Serum
Target; No7; Amazon

5. Fix: retinol and bakuchiol for sun damage 

Retinol is still the no-prescription-needed superhero for reversing sun damage and refining skin texture. Ignore its old bad rep for irritation and dryness and give updated retinol creams and serums and the plant-based retinol alternative bakuchiol a try. Newcomers to retinol and those with sensitivity issues benefit from retinol buffered with hyaluronic acid, such as the gentle No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Fragrance Free Night Cream ($21, walmart) and Womaness Plump It Up Gentle Retinol Face Serum ($29, target.com). Bukuchiol, now popular in serum formats like Acure Radically Rejuvenating Dual Phase Bakuchiol Serum ($18, amazon.com), delivers similar results and is a good choice for those reactive to retinol or wary of its side effects. All work best at night when skin is at rest and free of sun, AHAs, BHA and vitamin C, which increase sensitivity and irritation. Layer retinol and bakuchiol serums under a night cream or dual day/night cream free of the above three ingredients. Start usage slowly and gradually work up from once or twice a week to every other night or daily for safe, optimal results.

spinner image The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream; Ole Henriksen Banana Bright + Eye Crème; DHC Eye Bright Eye Moisturizer Gel
(Left to right) The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream; Ole Henriksen Banana Bright + Eye Crème; DHC Eye Bright Eye Moisturizer Gel
Kohl's; Sephora; Amazon

6. Fix: eye cream to wake up your face

No matter how great your hair looks or how fabulous your outfit, count on your eyes to reveal fatigue and stress to all. That’s because the eye area is even thinner, drier and more delicate than facial skin and vulnerable to under-eye shadows, puffy lids and sag. Any moisturizing eye cream or gel with hyaluronic acid, squalane or glycerin will freshen the eye area and soften lines and crinkles better than a face cream (they’re richer, more concentrated and designed for eye area use). However, two additional ingredients — caffeine and vitamin C — can target specific issues. Try one with caffeine like The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream ($11, kohls.com) or DHC Eye Bright Eye Moisturizer Gel ($17, amazon.com) to deflate puffiness and reduce discoloration beneath the eyes. Ole Henriksen Banana Bright + Eye Crème ($42, sephora.com) with vitamin C will brighten the entire eye area and color correct dark areas. Whichever eye fix you choose, store it in the fridge for a cooling effect upon application that soothes and helps the de-puff process.

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.

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?