If you’re already managing your weight, exercising, eating healthy, and taking care of your brain health, then you probably have a skincare routine in place. Many adults start their day with their skincare routine and end the day with a skincare routine at night. But is your skincare routine actually good for your aging skin?
Products that can be damaging to skin
Not all products that are available to buy off the shelf are safe for use on your skin. In fact, seniors are especially prone to irritation and allergy from certain ingredients in skin products. Check out the products below to find out if your skincare routine could actually be bad for your skin!
Facial scrubs may smell amazing and feel good as you’re using them, but did you know that they’re likely too abrasive for your aging skin? Exfoliators such as muslin washcloths, rough sponges, Clarisonic brushes, gritty cleansers with ground-up walnuts, sugar scrubs, and smooth microbead scrubs are often too harsh for the skin, causing redness and irritation. When your skin is irritated, it has the opposite effect of anti-aging products - irritation can make hyperpigmentation, rosacea, and fine lines or wrinkles appear worse. Instead of using aggressive, potentially irritating physical exfoliators, dermatologists recommend chemical exfoliants such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) to gently remove dead skin cells and brighten skin.
Perfumes and products with added fragrance
Did you know that your favorite fragrance could be prematurely aging your skin? One of the main ingredients in perfumes is alcohol, which is not the best ingredient for skin. Alcohol is drying and may cause allergy, rash, redness, or itchiness. When sprayed directly on the skin, perfumes actually undermine your skin’s natural ability to protect itself against UV rays and strip the skin of any sunscreens, causing premature aging like fine lines and wrinkles, dark spots, and sun damage. Additionally, the thin skin of the neck is very vulnerable to the effects of the sun on aging, and many women apply perfume to their neck area. Perfume is likely the reason why you often see women with speckled pigmentation patches on their necks and chest.
In addition to perfumes, products with added fragrance can also be irritating to skin. Fragrance is one of the most common irritants for skin, regardless of whether you have sensitive or redness-prone skin or not. Even if you don’t see signs of irritation on your skin’s surface, products with fragrance can be causing long-term damage to your skin behind the scenes. The damage is cumulative and shows up on the surface of the skin years later as redness, hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, dullness, and even acne.
Essential oils and aromatherapy scents are very popular with seniors, but did you know that applying these products directly to your skin can be harmful? Most of these oils contain irritants that damage skin. Many essential oils include harsh citrus oils (such as lemon, lime, tangerine, grapefruit, and bergamot) that leave skin red and irritated. Also very irritating for skin are mint oils, such as peppermint, wintergreen, pennyroyal, and balm mint. All of these oils are popular ingredients in essential oil mixes, and are potentially damaging to your skin.
There are no essential oils with helpful ingredients for aging skin, and most essential oils contain damaging ingredients that strip skin of natural moisture barriers, clog pores, and cause redness, allergy, and irritation. When it comes to putting essential oils on aging skin, dermatologists recommend skipping it altogether.
Talcum powder, foot powder, and baby powder have historically been popular with seniors for use in reducing skin friction and rubbing, keeping skin dry, and preventing rash from chafing. But did you know that talc, in its natural form, contains asbestos - a substance known to cause cancer and be dangerous when inhaled? Talc is an ingredient in popular products like Gold Bond foot powder and Shower to Shower dusting powder and is a known carcinogen. Body powder has even been linked to ovarian cancer in women when applied to the pelvic area.
Because body powders have been linked to various cancers, dermatologists recommend skipping it altogether. Instead, try these talc alternative and safe body powder products to keep skin dry and healthy.
Products to love for aging skin
Now that we’ve covered some of the products you should avoid, let’s jump into the products that are ideal for senior skin issues. The below products have a great reputation and are excellent for managing common skin concerns that occur during aging.
Barrier creams help prevent moisture loss and protect sensitive skin. Essentially, barrier creams keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out - like oils, dirt, and environmental irritants. For seniors, barrier creams are especially useful in preventing and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by hydrating skin, soothing inflammation, and boosting dry or chapped skin. Popular barrier creams include Eucerin Aquaphor, Olay ProX, Vaseline, and CeraVe Ointment. By using barrier cream, you can help hydrate and protect your skin and even out your skin tone.
Antioxidant serums are anti-aging products that really work. As we age, we’re more likely to lose our natural supply of antioxidants that prevent fine lines and wrinkles and keep skin looking young and healthy. Whether you’re wanting to protect your skin against environmental and UV damage or brighten a dull complexion, serums offer hyper-concentrated doses of antioxidant benefits. Antioxidant serums containing vitamin C and E can help soften and smooth the skin and are especially beneficial for seniors looking to boost radiance and reduce brown spots.
Most seniors are familiar with retinoids such as Retin-a. Retinoids containing tretinoin have been around since the 1970s when they were created as collagen-boosters that prevent wrinkles. Retinoids can unclog pores, reduce acne and redness, and keep skin looking young and healthy by fighting inflammation.
Retinoids can reduce the appearance of sun damage on skin by stimulating new blood vessels in the skin to give it a rosy appearance, fade dark spots, and prevent surface effects of UV damage. Typically, prescription retinoids are more effective than over-the-counter products, but you can boost their effectiveness by using them with AHAs.
Hopefully, you’re already using a sunscreen every day to prevent sun damage, but if you’re not, now is a great time to start! Many seniors take medications that can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, the skin naturally gets thinner and more sensitive to the sun with age, and the risk of developing skin cancer increases during every year of life. As if all of this isn’t enough to make you want to use sunscreen, UVA and UVB rays can accelerate signs of aging such as brown spots, wrinkles, fine lines, hyperpigmentation, skin sagging, and speckled, crepey skin.
Sun damage can even occur on cloudy days or through windows to damage your skin when you’re indoors. (If you don’t believe me, check out this photo of a man who got sun damage on the left side of his face over many years in his job as a truck driver - the difference is staggering!) For best results, wear sunscreen every day. Don’t forget to apply it to your neck, behind the ears, hands, and of course, your face.
Products with hydroquinone are often called lightening or brightening agents, and they’re considered the gold standard for brightening skin and fading dark spots. These products are very effective at lightening hyperpigmentation and brown spots, but they can also make your skin more sensitive to the sun. If you’re using skin lightening agents that contain hydroquinone, always be sure to use sunscreen and avoid direct exposure to the sun.