I am a 53 year old woman. What should I be using on my face?
December 14, 2013 8:38 AM   Subscribe

I've always had radiant skin, according to family members and complete strangers, and am only recently beginning to notice a few extra ... laugh lines. I had read somewhere that I should no longer be washing my face with soap. What would be good products to clean and moisturize with that wouldn't be too terribly expensive? Up until just a few years ago I used Neutrogena bar soap (oily skin formula in the summer and regular the rest of the year) and loved it. I was an oily T zone type. I'm not a girly girl and don't want to take a great deal of time with this. Thanks.
posted by intrepid_simpleton to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I am a big believer in cold cream, applied with fingertips and wiped off gently with tissue. The best skin I've seen on a 60+ year old woman is on a lady who only uses cold cream. That said, I'm sure many people will say that it's too greasy. YMMV.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:54 AM on December 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

You'll find as many answers as there are faces; everyone's different. If you're in your fifties and have gorgeous skin without much effort, you'll likely continue to have gorgeous skin.

That said, I've heard a lot of raves about Cetaphil and CeraVe, both of which are gentle and available in drugstores.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:57 AM on December 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

MakeupAlley has tons of reviews of skin-care and makeup by actual users. You can do a search to see what other women with mature skin use and love. (Many swear by extra-virgin olive oil!)

I (age 50) use a line of skin-care called Lira, which I buy at my esthetician's. It's expensive, though. For drugstore products, Olay and Neutrogena are both good. Olay (I believe) has cleansing cloths that you can swipe over your face and you're done.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:00 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I find it helpful to read Paula Begoun's articles because she explains the purpose of each ingredient in a product, as well as whether certain ingredients are actually useful (like Retinol) or just hype (like collagen).

Also, I recommend skimming the highest-rated products on Beautypedia to get an idea of products that are good but not expensive (prices are listed). I really like Paula Begoun's products, but they are a bit pricey.

In general, you should avoid bar soaps because the ingredients that hold the soap together in bar form can clog your pores. Also, look for fragrance-free products, because added fragrances can irritate your skin. I think Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin is a good fragrance-free moisturizer; it absorbs quickly and isn't too heavy. But if you're concerned about wrinkles, you probably want a product with Retinol in it.
posted by neushoorn at 9:11 AM on December 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Honestly, if you're 53 and you're just starting to notice some lines, i think the best thing you could do is keep doing what you're doing. It's working.
posted by Kololo at 9:16 AM on December 14, 2013 [39 favorites]

I'm not convinced that skincare products have much structural effect at all, but I started using cold cream almost exclusively in my late forties, and I like it. It cleans well, and doesn't make my skin irritated or dry. Wrinkling is mostly just genetics and sunscreen, but the right skincare can make the top layer of skin look and feel better.

I make my own cold cream because I like it a lot better than the drugstore brands and because I am such a danged delicate little flower that I just assume any long ingredient list is going to have something that makes me red and itchy. I use a recipe similar to those on this page, with rose water for the water, and almond oil with a couple tablespoons of castor oil for the oils. Mine comes out a lot stiffer and less greasy than most prepared brands I've used, and because it's thicker, it lasts a lot longer too.

It's pretty quick and easy once you get the hang of it, and it ends up better quality and less expensive than anything else I've found.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:44 AM on December 14, 2013 [13 favorites]

I use CeraVe cleanser (normal-to-dry formula) every night to remove makeup -- and with my Clarisonic every other day or so in the morning (with the most delicate brush available). Every other night or so I use generic prescription Retina-A. It seems to work on those first lines that start creeping in. And of course sunscreen everyday! I am nearly 44 but I am told I look in my mid-30s. For a very fair-skinned lady who suffered way too many sunburns in her youth, I'll take it!
posted by quixotictic at 9:52 AM on December 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

Some people will probably shocked, but here's what I do:

I wash my face with water.

That's pretty much it. I don't use soap on my face. Sometimes, when the mood strikes me (which is less than one a week) I rub some coconut oil or cheap cocoabutter cream into my skin.

I'm 45 and people frequently tell be they find that hard to believe. Apparently I look like I'm thirty-something. The fact that I don't smoke or sunbathe probably helps a lot.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:12 AM on December 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

Seconding Cetaphil. It's gentle, inexpensive, and available in most drugstores. I use it alone in the morning and with my Clarisonic brush (sensitive skin version) at night.
posted by rpfields at 10:41 AM on December 14, 2013 [4 favorites]

Yes to cold cream! There's a reason Ponds has been in business since the 1900s.
posted by BostonTerrier at 10:42 AM on December 14, 2013

2-part answer. My mother is 60(!) (let me go call her) and is praised for fantastic skin. She, like me, originally had oily skin. She has been using Cetaphil cleansers since I was in high school. Before that it was the "regular" Clinique soap. The "traditional" Cetaphil is a bit of an adjustment. You smear it on your face and wipe off with a washcloth. It's not greasy as such, but it's still overkill for me (at 36). I do believe they have one now that is foamy and designed to rinse.

From time to time she exfoliates with the St. Ives apricot scrub, not the one with salicylic acid.

Her official moisturizer is the Clinique yellow moisturizer. Then she tries various eye creams and such depending on her inclination at the moment.

I think the foundation there is not overwashing.


I have a bit of a different approach, because I hardly ever wear makeup. Mom has to wash with something because she wears full makeup. Like Too-Ticky, I just don't wash my face as much as I used to. Around 32 my oil glands took a dive. I can't say I minded because I stopped breaking out.

As of today, I rinse my face with water in the bathtub in the morning, as part of my regular ablutions. Soap gets in there anyway, from leftover shampoo. About once a week, I wash with soap in the tub because I feel like I need to, and I then regret it because my skin feels too dry.

From time to time, I, too, exfoliate with the St. Ives apricot scrub, but still the salicylic acid kind for me.

In the winter in the AM, when my skin feels dry, I moisturize with Rite Aid brand Renewal Complete Beauty Lotion, spf 15. It took getting used to because I was afraid I'd break out, but you might be past that. It does not have a disgusting smell or feel greasy.

At night I will rinse off and then wipe with TP or tissues (to get the dirt off--no gross pre-used towel). If I have been in a dirty place, let's say walking the streets all day, then I will wash LIGHTLY with soap. I don't need a night moisturizer yet, but I would try the Rite Aid again if so.
posted by skbw at 10:45 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

More than any product you put on your face, you probably have bigger things going right: genetics, good nutrition, avoided sunburns and smoking. Also, having oily skin when younger probably helped too. But really, wrinkles are caused by more than just the layer of skin on top of your face where products can affect the skin. Fat, muscles, tendons, collagen, all play a part.

Anywho, having said that. I like Aveeno ultra-calming Foaming Cleanser because it is barely enough soap to get the oil off my nose/forehead, and doesn't dry out the rest of my skin. I buy it at target for $5. Lasts several months.

It took me a few tries to find a moisturizer I liked with sunscreen in it. I also wanted it to be UVA/UVB, and stronger than 5 or 10 spf like you usually find in daily moisturizers. I settled on Vichy Aqualia Thermal Moisturizer. Its pricier at $30/bottle, but i'd estimate a bottle lasts me 4-6 months, a bit less in the winter than the summer.
posted by fontophilic at 11:19 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm another water only person. When I get out of the shower I put on a bit of Aveeno lotion. Finished. I hate makeup and don't wear it, so really, there's not a lot to get off my skin.

I have a round baby face. I'm almost 40 (OMG, when did that happen!!) and I'm often mistaken for being in my mid-late 20s.
posted by kathrynm at 11:23 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm all about the Pond's cold cream, especially in winter. I sometimes do a St. Ives apricot blackead scrub thinger, which feels nice and costs about $4, if I'm getting blemishy.
posted by windykites at 11:29 AM on December 14, 2013

My minimalist routine is to wash with Cetaphil then apply this Paula's Choice moisturizer that has a little bit of an exfoliant in it. I read about it on Makeup Alley first, and liked that you can order sample sizes to try before you buy.
posted by abecedarium radiolarium at 11:47 AM on December 14, 2013

If you are really concerned, you could see a dermatologist and ask about what you should be doing now and what you should do as you go into menopause. (And maybe a mole check wouldn't hurt, as long you're paying for parking.)

If you go with personal opinions and ideas, then, as meteoroid baby says, "You'll find as many answers as there are faces; everyone's different."

For every trendy thing discussed on the internets or sold on Etsy, there has been a well-attended presentation at a derm conference about the disastrous results some faces have with that trendy regime and how to talk your clients out of that trend.

Frankly, if my skin could take it, I'll use a wide variety of fancy scented moisturizers for fun. (Things that that smell pretty are as shiny things to my inner magpie.)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:47 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

My grandma had amazing skin--some wrinkles, because that is unavoidable, but very few. And she was a lifelong smoker. Some of it is surely genetic. She used some Clinique bar soap and the yellow moisturizer another commenter mentioned above.

I think if you're only starting to notice lines now, you're probably doing really well, and the few you are noticing are, well, unavoidable.

I also use Neutrogena (the unscented liquid) and Cetaphil in the winter when it's dry.
posted by elizeh at 11:49 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just use water, and follow with neutrogena non-comedogenic moisturizer. (I also use a topical acne cream because I have roseacea, yay, but that's not part of your routine.) when I wear eye makeup, I take it off with a homemade cleanser that's just no-tears baby shampoo mixed with water.

I am (now) vigilant about keeping my face out of the sun (also mildly allergic to sunblock). I agree with others that it sounds like you've got good genes and/or lifelong good habits.

All of which is to say, just water and moisturizer if you need it is enough to keep things clean. My dermatologist said so.
posted by data hound at 12:42 PM on December 14, 2013

Another Paula Begoun fan here, her advice as much as her products. I'm also about your age and have nice, albeit oily, skin and have never been much of a makeup user. As per Paula's advice, during my morning shower I use Cetaphil sensitive skin cleanser (or its store brand equivalent; my local drug store sells its own name brand that has an identical ingredient list) and about 1 tsp of baking soda in a paste, rub it around my face and neck, and rinse off. I buy the Cetaphil when it's on sale or the drug store equivalent which is half the regular cost of Cetaphil, and the baking soda I keep in a little Tupperware-type container in the shower and replenish as needed.

Before getting dressed, I use this Paula's Choice exfoliant followed by this other exfoliant.

Again, going on Paula's advice, at night I was wiping my face with a non-alcohol, fragrance-free baby wipe and still keep those in my desk at work. But I got tired of the waste and so bought a stack of cheap washcloths and keep them in the bathroom. Before bed I rinse out a clean washcloth in warm water and rub it over my face. Then the two exfoliants as in the morning. That's it. About 60 seconds morning and evening. I don't do anything else.
posted by angiep at 1:51 PM on December 14, 2013

That you used to have oily skin and have always had radiant skin and are only now starting to notice your first lines at 53 is no coincidence. Echoing the comments here, oily skin tends to age well.

Nthing use sunscreen/sun avoidance, a nighttime Retinol (Differin has been really gentle on my skin for years), and the occasional exfoliator such as a Clarisonic.
posted by hush at 1:55 PM on December 14, 2013

two characteristics of radiant skin--

* no dusty coating of dry dead skin cells on the surface

* cells are plumped with moisture

Exfoliation removes the dry dead skin cells. There are two methods-- chemical and mechanical. Chemical exfoliation lotions have salicylic acid or AHA-- both of these will slough off the outer layer of skin, revealing fresh cells. Mechanical exfoliation uses scrubs or brush/puff. I like this silicon face scrubber, using liquid glycerin soap.

Moisturizing has two components-- getting water inside the cell, and sealing it with oil. It helps to drink a lot of water. I use rosewater and glycerin, with a splash of jojoba oil.
posted by ohshenandoah at 10:39 AM on December 15, 2013

I am also 53 and I have not always had radiant skin but I've been getting lots of compliments lately and people seem to think I'm 10 to 15 years younger than I am (but I may just act childish).

A couple of years ago I discovered DHC and now I use their products religiously. Specifically, for cleaning my face I use their Deep Cleansing Oil followed by their Mild Soap. I also really like their whole Coenzyme Q10 line.

Give them a call and ask for samples. They'll send them to you happily.
posted by janey47 at 10:31 AM on December 16, 2013

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