Spring Clean Your Skin Care Routine: Must-Have Products for Women Over 50

woman over 50 in a straw hat outside with cherry blossoms

It’s never too late (or too early) for a little spring cleaning. If you’re already pulling a Marie Kondo and ridding your life of items that don’t bring you joy, why not do the same for your skin care routine?

The temperature change on its own is a good excuse to declutter — something you should consider doing since most skin care products have expiration dates. Exposure to light, air, and bacteria break down ingredients. Not even sealed packages last forever, since they can be affected by heat and humidity.

So how long do most skin care products last? Moisturizers, sunscreens, eye creams, and anti-aging creams last up to a year. If you have old products, ditch those first to make room for the ones you’ll need during warm weather months.

If you’re over age 50, here’s your definitive list of what to toss and what to keep as you declutter your skin care routine.

Three to Ditch

1. Anything with a long list of synthetic ingredients

Synthetic ingredients aren’t just hard to pronounce, they can be genuinely harmful to your health. Check the ingredients of your existing moisturizers and lotions. If you see anything in the list below, toss that product.  

  • Polyethylene. These are the tiny beads you’ll find in exfoliating face washes and body scrubs. Not only are they terrible for the environment (our water filtration systems can’t remove them, and they get eaten by fish and marine animals), polyethylene beads are considered a human carcinogen and are a known skin irritant.
  • Artifical fragrance. Synthetic fragrances are hormone disruptors and one of the top allergens. 
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate. You’ll find this common ingredient in everything from face washes to foundation. It can irritate sensitive skin and is believed to contribute to cystic acne.

2. Heavy moisturizers

If you’re prone to dry skin, you may want to keep a heavier cream-based moisturizer on hand just in case. But for many women, a light, water-based moisturizer is enough in the warmer months, when heavier creams are more likely to clog pores and cause breakouts.

If you’re looking for a lighter moisturizer for your face, be sure to choose one with SPF. A BB cream can do double duty for those who want the coverage of a foundation and the benefits of a moisturizer. And, yes, you do still need a moisturizer in the spring and summer. Pick one with hyaluronic acid, which has the added benefit of keeping your skin looking young and maintaining moisture throughout the day.

3. Moisturizers with fragrances or dyes

As mentioned above, fragrance can be irritating, Likewise dyes. They can even trigger an allergy you didn’t know you had. Moisturizers (and other products like powder and soap) with fragrances and dyes can be especially bad for the vulva. Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis can also triggered by fragrance and dye.

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Three to Add

1. Light, water-based moisturizer

Why water based? A water-based moisturizer simultaneously lets your skin breath and locks in moisture by creating a protective barrier for your skin. It won’t clog pores and cause breakouts like some oil-based moisturizers can. Think about it: When you’re thirsty, your best bet is to reach for water. That’s how your skin works, too.

Look for water-based moisturizers with hyaluronic acid for extra skin-plumping goodness. Vitamin C is another key ingredient in moisturizers, especially for the face. It’s a powerful antioxidant that can help fade age spots and plays a role in the skin’s regeneration process.

2. Sunscreen

You need to wear sunscreen. Every. Single. Day. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to prevent early skin aging and skin cancer. Look for face and body moisturizers that contain SPF; they can do double duty by locking in moisture and providing protection.

3. Vaginal moisturizer

Menopause can wreak havoc on your skin. The decrease in estrogen can leave your entire body feeling dry, since estrogen stimulates the collagen and oils needed to maintain moisture. This includes the skin on your vulva and outer part of your vagina. 

So look for a water-based, vaginal moisturizer with hyaluronic acid and vitamin E. (Noticing a pattern here?) A vaginal moisturizer is not the same thing as a lubricant, which is used for sex. A vaginal moisturizer should be used as often as necessary to relieve the discomfort of dryness. 

Choose the right skin care

Skin care should change not only with the seasons, but also as you age. It’s important to check in with yourself and note changes in dryness or irritation.

To learn about how menopause affects your skin, read 7 Myths About Menopause and Skincare.

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