Today I’m talking about skincare for the forty or fifty somethings and caring for your skin during midlife.
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I don’t know about you, but I have a bit of an issue with the term ‘anti-aging’ skincare, as though having mature skin is something to be ashamed of! (How about pro-aging, if it needs labelling at all?)
Same with so-called ‘menopausal skincare ranges’ – it feels like the marketers have suddenly spotted an opportunity to capitalise on this niche and I’m not a fan of that.
Caring for midlife skin doesn’t have to be complicated, in fact I think the simpler the better.
So now that I’ve reached my early 50s, the main priorities for me are SPF (sun protection factor), skin hydration and protecting the skin barrier. Here’s why these are important:
We know that sun exposure ages the skin prematurely, whether or not we burn in it.
I used to think the SPF in my moisturiser and foundation was sufficient to protect from everyday uv damage, but it’s not. Although a face cream may say it has a sun protection factor of 30 (meaning in theory you can stay out in the sun 30 times longer than without protection), the amount of product we use in one application is not sufficient to give that complete protection… you would have to use a lot more product, so it’s really misleading!
I can’t reverse a lifetime’s sun exposure, but I can try to prevent the pigmentation below the surface from advancing, by wearing a daily application of SPF all year round.
Both these products for the face are ideal as they just feel like an extra layer of skincare:
La Roche Posay – thin consistency, like a beauty fluid (also gives a subtle highlight to the skin)
Over the last year or so I noticed my complexion beginning to look more dehydrated, dull and lack-lustre. There seemed to be less volume and elasticity in the skin.
Although at first I put it down to inevitable aging, I’ve since learned there are plenty of things I can do to help boost my skin and get the glow back!
The key is preventing moisture loss and there are various ways we can do this:
staying hydrated by drinking water
using richer moisturisers (especially in winter)
eating a varied diet including essential fatty acids (omegas 3, 6, & 7 found in foods like salmon, walnuts, avocado)
avoiding very hot baths, scrubbing and harsh skin products
limiting alcohol and caffeine
taking a collagen supplement
aesthetic procedures e.g. Profhilo (which help rejuvinate the skin by injecting hyaluronic acid moisturiser beneath the surface)
3. Skin barrier
When we talk about skin barrier health, we are referring to the outermost layer of skin that acts as a watertight, protective shield. When healthy, the skin should be supple, plump and smooth; if the barrier is damaged skin will feel dry and rough and look dull. The damaged surface leads to moisture loss which is when we can look tired and aged. So protecting the skin barrier will help to keep your skin hydrated, giving a more youthful and radiant appearance.
I’ve always kept to a simple skincare routine which is key for protecting the skin barrier, keeping it healthy and intact. Too many different products can strip it and make it feel tight. It can end up irritated and cause a reaction. As we age it takes longer for the skin barrier to settle and repair. So treat it gently and don’t bombard it with too many products or anything to harsh.
My daily routine
1. Balm cleanser
I have become a devotee to to a balm cleanser to take my make up off and cleanse my skin. Clinique’s Take The Day Off cleansing balm initially hooked me in.
Balm cleansers are like a semi-solid product and as you apply, the warmth of your skin turns them to oil. Which is great for giving your face a little massage while also removing make up and dirt.
I usually remove the balm residue with warm water and a microfibre face cloth, then pat dry and go straight onto moisturiser.
Sometimes I will sweep over some micellar water. Other times I will use a gentle foaming face wash. It really depends on how much make up I’ve been wearing and if I want to do a double cleanse.
If your skin feels dry, these balms, although not a moisturiser in themselves, feel nourishing and like the first step in restoring and soothing the skin.
My no. 1 balm is from Emma Hardie, the Moringa Cleansing Balm, as it has a great smell (think citrus and aftersun) and a lovely consistency, it’s not too greasy and it also has a super fine and gentle exfoliator so your skin feels really cleansed and glowing after use.
It is expensive though (£47 which is the most I have EVER spent on a single skincare item!). As I have just used up all the precious contents of my pot, I thought I would try the more economical £12 Body Shop Camomile cleanser next as it is a very popular product. Not as luxurious and beautifully smelling, it’s still fine – does the job and is very buttery and rich in texture. I do miss the exfoliator part though.
I haven’t used a serum in a while, I just tend to go straight in with a moisturiser onto cleansed skin.
I don’t have a favourite – this summer I used Clinique’s Moisture Surge which is a gel like formula, light and cooling. I have recently used this Revolution moisturiser which is nothing fancy but adequate and then I moved onto Aldi’s Lacura Rejuvelate Day cream which is such a bargain at £3.49! It feels very rich and was inspired by Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream.
Now interestingly, I’ve just started using the old time favourite Nivea Creme, as it is thick and rich which I feel will benefit my skin in the colder months, protecting against moisture loss through harsh weather conditions and the drying heat of radiators indoors.
I have seen so many positive comments about Nivea keeping skin smooth and supple that I HAVE to give it a try. It is really thick though, so the best thing to do is warm it in your palms a little before applying and then massage it in steadily and gently until it goes from white to more of a glassy finish. I feel it will act as a really good barrier to prevent chapped skin and help to lock in precious moisture. I’m using it morning and night, although you may not fancy it as your daytime moisturiser – but it could be a fab night cream if you want to slather it on. I have been doing this on my face, feet and hands and I do wake with nice soft skin!
This 400ml Nivea cream in the blue tin is great value at around £5-6. It has been a staple of women’s beauty care for years and it can be applied everywhere, on the face and body. For those concerned about the product containing mineral oil, have a read of this interesting in depth article and review.
3. Eye cream
Sometimes I like to use eye cream – if my eyes feel tired or the skin around them looks dark/dull or dry. It feels really nice and cooling for an extra top up of hydration. I like both Clinique ‘All About Eyes’ and the Origins GinZing refreshing eye cream, which also seems to add a little illumination to the skin around the eye area, which is always good.
4. Facial Oil
After my moisturiser has soaked in, I apply a few drops of face oil. This is a newer step for me in my routine, something I never did before turning 50. Now I absolutely love it! It seals in my moisturiser and gives a dewy glow to the skin.
I don’t have an oily skin though so it may not suit everyone, but if your skin seems drier it could be worth a try for you too.
I use this Sunday Riley CEO Glow which is a lush oil, containing Vitamin C which helps brighten the skin. It is pricey (actually THIS is the one skincare item I have spent the most on!) but high quality and you only need a tiny amount – also I don’t use it every day (when I did it made my chin red and a little irritated). So now I just use it 2-3 times per week. On the other days I apply some Nuxe oil instead which feels less ‘active’ just nice and soothing and smells wonderful.
5. Jade Roller
Once I’ve applied my oil, I will try to remember to use a jade roller – this little tool feels very cooling and as you roll it over your skin it calms down any puffiness. This massaging step boosts circulation and helps to relax muscles, softening expression lines which can show when we are tense.
After the face oil has settled in a bit, I put on my SPF – a step I won’t neglect anymore! (I also put some on the back of my hands – a good tip from a friend!)
7. Marine Collagen
The final step in my routine is taking my marine collagen supplement from Known Nutrition. Over the last couple of months I have seen it help boost and rehydrate my skin. Some volume has been restored, fine dry lines lessened and a little more radiance has returned. The surface of my skin feels smooth and silky. I am also noticing that my skin all over is looking better, less dry and ‘grey’ on my legs and the tops of my arms which can get a bit bumpy now feel smooth.
So I am a total convert and will be carrying on with this part of my routine after the trial I’m on ends (I am justifying the cost by doing my own manicures now and buying less takeaway coffee!).
My Next steps
A clear healthy complexion relies on drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and I’m still working on this, swapping some of my cups of tea and coffee for a glass of water instead.
HRT is something I am looking forward to getting onto soon – research suggests that supplementing your hormones can maintain softer and smoother skin, boost hydration and enhance collagen production. Which all sounds amazing!
Finally, I am reading up on face yoga. To me it makes sense, when we have so many muscles in our face, to exercise them daily if we want to to help preserve structure and prevent sagging. I am definitely going to give this a try and it’s a topic I plan to come back to here on the blog once I’ve done a bit more research!
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