Dr. Cynthia Bailey: Skin Care for the 60s, 70s, and Beyond

Skin Care
Take the right steps to have beautiful skin in your 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Hard to believe, but 43% of the U.S. population will be 50 or older in 2015.  In other words, almost half of the U.S. will be 50 or older in just two years.

With that said, skin care for seniors has never become more important.  As the skin ages, it becomes thinner and drier, with reduced collagen production, more disorganized elastin fiber organization, and fewer naturally-produced oils.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to shape up your skin, but start them slowly and be patient:

1.)  Mix potent anti-aging ingredients with bland creams for “step-up” therapy.

Use a more bland cream to cut potent creams in your skin care.

Yes, alpha hydroxy acids and retinoids have many notable benefits, ranging from skin-clearing to collagen-stimulating.  However, these ingredients can be harsh for thinner and more sensitive older skin.

People with sensitive skin can start treatment with these potent ingredients slowly by diluting them with a bland cream.  For example, with  10% or higher AHA and 0.5% or higher retinoids, a dallop of AHA cream and the same size dallop of bland cream will cut the dose in half.  Over time, as your skin adjusts to the potent ingredients, you can dial down the use of the bland creams and scale up the amount of AHA or retinoid that you use.

2.) Avoid using alpha hydroxy acids and retinoids together.

Despite internet rumors, you don’t want to apply AHAs and retinoids to your skin at the same time.  There are two main reasons: First, both AHAs and retinoids increase skin exfoliation,which makes your skin more prone to irritation from either of these potent ingredients. Second is the fact that retinoids have to undergo hydrolysis to retinal and retinoic acid within the skin to be effective, a process which has been shown to be optimized at a pH of 4.5 to 5.5 .  This means using a more acidic AHA will not allow the conversion process within your skin to be optimized.

3.)   Apply less pressure when you scrub – especially on décolleté, skin folds, neck, and face.

Be sure to scrub gently, as your skin gets more delicate as you age.

You may have gotten to ripe ol’ age with some mix of grace and grit, but when it comes to exfoliation, be careful with the grit and keep grace prevalent.  Older skin is more delicate; it’s thin and fragile and tends to abrade easily.  Start gently, especially in the more delicate areas such as the décolleté, skin folds, neck, etc.  The skin of backs and tummies is usually stronger.

4.)  Start slowly

Patience is a virtue!  Use products with alpha hydroxy acids, retinoids, or niacin once or twice perweek to start. Gradually work up to three times weekly.  Eventually, you can get to daily use, but this is a marathon, not a sprint.

When in doubt, see your dermatologist because proper skin care starts with the correct diagnosis.  And, remember, don’t treat sores or rashes with this skin care routine.

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  • Eileen

    As the population ages, it’s great to see more articles that address the beauty needs of us Boomers. I am 68 and have been using a prescription strength retinoic acid in a soothing, emollient base for years and years. That, in combination with a comforting and hydrating cream is the perfect anti-aging combination. Every night I apply my prescription cream first, wait about 30 minutes and then apply my nurturing cream over it. The result? Beautiful skin that is the envy of women considerably younger than I. Do I have wrinkles? Of course, but my skin looks healthy, smooth, and luminous. The use of a retinoic acid also does a great job of counteracting that sallowness that old skin can develop.

    There is one crucial detail, though, that must not be overlooked: It is vital that a good sunscreen be used even when a person thinks they won’t be going out. Because retinoic acid makes the skin super venerable to sun damage, I use a physical sunscreen for sensitive skin every single day.

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