Thinning skin over 50 and how to fix it

Over 50s beauty hub: Your makeup, skincare, and haircare questions answered

30th April 2024 | Author: Victoria Woollaston-Webber

From the best skincare lines for over 50s skin to what causes turkey neck, how to apply concealer to mature skin, and more. Here’s everything you need to know about beauty in your 50s


Click the links below to jump to the relevant section:

What happens to your skin in your 50s?

Over 50s beauty: FAQ

Best skincare lines for over 50s

When you reach your 50s, a combination of ageing, menopause and another decade round the sun can do a number on your skin.

Skincare products that have always worked for you seemingly stop, there are more lines and creases for you to navigate when applying makeup and it can be one of the biggest transitions, mentally and physically, that you ever go through.

With this in mind, we wanted to make this decade a little bit easier by creating this hub dedicated to over 50s beauty.

We’ve already had a number of questions from readers and we’re going to be using this page to answer as many as we can – whether it’s the best skincare lines for over 50s skin, how to apply makeup to hooded, over 50 eyes, or which hairstyles are best as we age.

In addition, we’ve created a list for all of our over 50 and mature skin content, to help you find even more help. There’s a lot here so if you don’t want to read it all, use the links in the box to the left to jump to the most relevant section, or bookmark this page for future reference.

We’ll be constantly adding to this page so feel free to share any questions you have on our socials – Facebook and Instagram. We’re also on Pinterest now too!

FURTHER READING: Our pick of the best makeup for over 60s and people with mature skin

What happens to your skin in your 50s? 

Skin care. Half face portrait of mature womanGetty Images/iStockphoto

To help you get to grips with your new over 50s beauty routine, it can help to understand what happens to your skin in your 50s.

The most significant change you’re likely to notice is that your skin becomes a lot drier. This is largely because your levels of oestrogen drop – as a result of ageing and going through menopause – your skin can become less hydrated and rougher.

What’s happening?

Below we outline the main changes in your skin in your 50s, click the link next to each symptom to jump straight to that section and learn more about how to tackle it.

You can read more about this in our What happens to skin and hair during menopause? Tips on how to manage menopause symptoms guide. 

How to tackle these changes

Below we explain how to tackle each of the changes you’re likely to experience in your 50s.

Dry skin over 50

Signs of dehydrated skin vs dry skinmamabella | mamabella

Why? Skin becomes drier and rougher as we get older due to a drop in oestrogen, and the natural reduction in oils. This dry skin can become flaky, itchy, red, irritated and, due to the fact it can get more dehydrated easily, it’s also prone to fine lines and wrinkles.

How to fix it

  • Switch to rich creams: If you’ve been using lightweight moisturisers up to this point, your 50s is the time to increase the richness. Many of the best anti-ageing creams contain oils, petroleum jelly, and they’ll likely be labelled as “rich”, so you know they’re better suited to mature skin.
  • Add facial oils: Your 50s is a good time to add facial oils to your routine if you haven’t already, because they deeply hydrate, protect and plump up the skin. They also help counteract the loss of natural sebum too, which has a positive knock-on effect to how elastic your skin is.
  • Get serious about serums: Similarly, serums become more important in your over 50s skincare routine because they help repair the weakened skin barrier and can restore and rebuild it from the inside out.
  • Gently exfoliate: As we age, our skin cell turnover slows down. This means it takes longer for new skin cells to replace old ones. This slower process can lead to a buildup of dead skin cells on the surface, which can contribute to a dull, flaky appearance and increased dryness. Gently exfoliating regularly helps remove this build up. It also helps your richer creams and oils better penetrate the skin.

mamabella recommends: Byoma Moisturising Rich Cream (£13.99); Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream (£74); Paula’s Choice BHA Exfoliant (£32); Face Theory Bakuchiol Night Oil (£28);

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Adult acne and breakouts over 50

Get rid of spots fast and get rid of blemishesPixabay

Why? The drop in oestrogen, coupled with a rise in androgen in your 40s and 50s can lead to breakouts and adult acne. Androgens stimulate the oil glands in your skin, similar to what happens during puberty, which can lead to clogged pores and breakouts.

How to fix it

  • Gently cleanse: Switch to a gentle, hydrating cleanser and make sure you’re washing your face for at least 60 seconds. Avoid harsh scrubs or drying products that can irritate your skin.
  • Exfoliate: Exfoliating can help with dryness but it can also help clear your pores. You may not be able to manage all of the hormone-related spots but you can at least reduce the spots caused by bacteria etc.
  • Drink more water: Drinking water can help flush out toxins in your body. It won’t get rid of spots completely, but it help all of your organs and regulatory systems work better.

mamabella recommends: CeraVe Foaming Cleanser (£10); Aegle’s Acne Clear Now (£32 on subscription); Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster (£40); The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% (£9.90)

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pH imbalance over 50

Microbiome skincare and makeupShutterstock

Why? Healthy skin has a slightly acidic pH – between 4.7 and 5.5. This helps protect the skin from the growth of bacteria as well as irritation from things like harsh soaps and pollutants. As we get older, the outer layer of our skin becomes more alkaline. Partly because we’re producing less sebum and sebum has a slightly acidic pH, and because the skin barrier function becomes weaker which allows moisture to escape. This can also make the skin more susceptible to environmental factors that might disrupt its pH balance.

How to fix it:

  • Probiotic skincare: If you want to balance your skin’s pH, try probiotic skincare. Probiotics are effectively ‘good’ bacteria that help to restore the skin’s natural microbiome. This helps regulate everything from hydration to sensitivity.
  • Gentle cleansers: In your 50s it’s even more important to avoid harsh soaps and cleansers that can strip away natural oils and disrupt the skin’s pH. Opt for gentle, fragrance-free cleansers and look for ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin. These ingredients help hydrate and soothe the skin. In particular, opt for a cream cleanser or cleansing balm, and milk toner.
  • Help your skin barrier: Opt for products that promise to restore and repair your skin barrier. The stronger your skin barrier, the healthier your skin and the less likely it is have its pH balance thrown out of whack.

mamabella recommends: Green People Gentle Cleanse (£27); Beauty Pie Uber Youth Microbiome Mist-on Serum (£20 for Beauty Pie members); ESPA Tri-Active Resilience Pro-Biome Serum (£105); Byoma Clarifying Serum (£12.99)

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Thinning skin over 50

Thinning skin over 50 and how to fix itShutterstock

Why? Skin constantly renews itself by producing new skin cells but as we get older and especially in our 50s, this production almost grinds to a halt. This means fewer new skin cells are generated to replace the older ones, leading to a gradual thinning of the skin overall. As a result, the cells that contain pigment, known as melanocytes, are also reduced which can leave your skin looking pale and translucent.

How to fix it: 

  • Start using retinol (if you’re not already): Retinol is great for helping to stimulate collagen production and increase cell turnover. If you haven’t used retinol before, you need to introduce it gradually to give your skin time to get used to it. If you don’t, it can make skin thinning worse. Alternatively, you can also use more gentle retinol alternatives, like Avon’s own Protinol, or bakuchiol.
  • Introduce peptides: Peptides are short chains of amino acids that act as “messengers” in the skin. Some peptides can also help stimulate collagen production and cell turnover. Look for products containing peptides to help counteract your skin’s thinning.
  • Take collagen supplements: Collagen has lots of benefits to the body, including your skin and hair, so the sooner you start taking collagen supplements the better. You can buy collagen skincare but it doesn’t have the same penetration and potential impact that collagen supplements do.

mamabella recommends: The Inkey List Bakuchiol Serum (£11.49); Face Theory Bakuchiol Night Oil (£28); The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% In Squalene (£11); Olay Regenerist 3-Point Moisturiser (£32); Avon Skin Renewal Power Cream (£21)

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Age spots over 50

How to get rid of dark spotsiStock

Why? Age spots, also known as dark spots or liver spots, become more widespread in your 50s. This is because you’ve been alive for an extra decade which means you’ve experienced an extra decade of sun exposure, and because of your thinning skin which makes them more visible. It can take several weeks or even months to see dark spots fade so the key is to be consistent with whichever approach you take.

How to fix it: 

  • Wear SPF: This is an evergreen skincare tip but when it comes to age spots, prevention is just as important as the cure. Wearing SPF protects your skin from harmful UV rays and reduces the chances of you developing age spots. Note: This includes applying SPF to your hands!
  • Up your use of retinol: Due to the fact retinol promotes cell turnover, it can help get rid of the dark patches and reduce the overall appearance of age spots.
  • Add Vitamin C skincare: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that brightens the skin and can help fade age spots over time.
  • Laser treatments: Lasers target and destroy melanin in age spots, effectively getting rid of them. Different types of lasers may be used depending on the severity and location of the age spots.
  • Chemical peels: Chemical peels use a solution to remove the top layer of skin, which can lighten age spots and improve overall skin texture. They should be done by a professional, and this means they can be pricey, but they’re a faster solution.

mamabella recommends: Face Theory Bakuchiol Night Oil (£28); The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA (£10.50); Dr. Dennis Gross Dark Spot Concentrated Serum (£99)

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Fine lines and wrinkles over 50

Fine lines and crow's feetShutterstock

Why? Many of the causes listed for all of the other skincare concerns – a drop in oestrogen, falling levels of collagen, increased dryness, thinning of the skin – all combine to leave your skin covered in fine lines and wrinkles. If you think about how a grape starts to wrinkle as the natural moisture evaporates, a similar thing happens to our skin. The good news is that the amount of fine lines and wrinkles, which start appearing as early as your mid-20s, tend to plateau in your 50s.

How to fix it: 

As many of the causes are the same as with other skincare concerns, many of the treatments are the same.

  • Hydrate: Keeping your skin, and body, as hydrated as possible through your diet, water and skincare plays a huge role in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Switch to rich creams: Many of the best anti-ageing creams contain oils, petroleum jelly, and they’ll likely be labelled as “rich”, so you know they’re better suited to mature skin.
  • Add facial oils: Facial oils hydrate, protect and plump up the skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. They also help counteract the loss of natural sebum too.
  • Serums: Serums help repair the weakened skin barrier and can restore and rebuild it from the inside out, which can boost and plump the skin. Adding a hyaluronic acid serum is key as this replaces the natural levels we lose as we get older.
  • Gently exfoliate: Gently exfoliating regularly helps freshen the skin and improves the effectiveness of your rich creams and facial oils.
  • Use retinol, or a retinol alternative: Retinol helps stimulate collagen and increase cell turnover to make your skin healthier, and less likely to wrinkle.
  • Take collagen supplements: Start taking collagen supplements or introduce collagen skincare.
  • Introduce an eye cream: Eye creams should be a staple, both morning and night as you get older as they can help plump up the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and Crow’s Feet.

mamabella recommends: Olay Regenerist Whip SPF30 (£32); Nivea Q10 Power Anti-Wrinkle & Firming Day Cream (£5.50); Elizavecca Milky Piggy Hyaluronic Acid Pure (£22.99); Glow Hub Hydrating Serum (£14)

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Jowls and sagging over 50

Jowls and sagging over 50Shutterstock

Why? The skin around our jaw and eyes start to sag as we get older because our natural levels of collagen and elastin drop. This loss allows gravity to pull more at the skin causing it to sag, and jowls to form. Genetics can also play a role and if your parents had jowls, there’s a strong chance you’ll develop them as well. Elsewhere, smoking, poor diet, and dehydration can worsen the effects.

We explain this in more detail in our guide on how to get rid of jowls naturally.

How to fix it: 

  • Lifestyle changes: Wear SPF everyday, getting more fruit and veg into your diet, staying hydrated, and quitting smoking can all improve skin health and potentially slow down sagging.
  • Facial exercises: The evidence about the impact of facial exercises is mixed but using a gua sha with oils, practicing facial massage and even wearing chin lift masks can help improve definition and firmness.
  • Retinol: Retinol creams can stimulate collagen production and improve skin texture. However, results are gradual and you need to be doing it religiously every day to see results.
  • Facelift: This is a more invasive option that helps counteract sagging skin on the lower face and neck through surgery. It provides long-lasting results but is expensive and can have a long recovery time.

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Turkey neck over 50

What causes turkey neck and does losing weight helpShutterstock

Why? Turkey neck occurs when the skin around your neck and jaw loses elasticity and begins to sag and droop. It’s caused as the levels of collagen and elastin – the proteins that give skin its firmness and elasticity – drop over time although factors like sun exposure, genetics, and lifestyle choices can make this worse. Smoking, poor diet, and lack of regular skincare can contribute to a premature loss of firmness.

How to fix it: 

  • Neck creams: Investing in skincare that’s rich in collagen-boosting ingredients like retinol and Vitamin C can improve skin elasticity on your neck.
  • Wear SPF: In terms of sun protection, any SPF will do but we recommend sunscreens for your face and neck here.
  • Neck massage: Massaging the neck area can stimulate blood flow and lymphatic drainage, helping to firm and tone the skin and get rid of your turkey neck.
  • Face and neck massager: You can also buy beauty gadgets that promise to help you tone your neck and get rid of your turkey neck. Some use vibrations, others use infrared technology to kickstart the production of collagen.
  • Diet: Diet alone won’t get rid of your turkey neck. However, eating foods that are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals supports overall skin health.

mamabella recommends: Ageless by Prai Throat & Décolletage Cream (£12); Beauty Pie Uber Youth Neck serum (£17.50); Elemis Pro Collagen Neck and Décolleté Balm (£53)

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Over 50s beauty: FAQ

Below we’re going to be answering readers questions about over 50s beauty. Feel free to share any questions you have on our socials – Facebook and Instagram. We’re also on Pinterest now too!

What are the best skincare lines for over 50s skin?

Which Olay Cream is best for oily, dry and sensitive skin chartmamabella | mamabella

While the vast majority of skincare lines sell products that are suitable for over 50s skin, there is a handful that specialise in the skin concerns and needs of 50-year-old skin.

These include:

  • SkinCeuticals: It’s an expensive brand but this high-end line offers a wide range of products that address the concerns of mature skin, including moisturisers, serums, and sunscreens.
  • La Roche-Posay: This high-street skincare brand offers a range of products for over 50s skin, many of which are affordable and suitable for sensitive skin.
  • L’Oreal Paris Age Perfect: Another affordable drugstore skincare line for over 50s skin, this collection is tailored specifically to meet the needs of skin that is dry, sagging, creasing and ageing.
  • Olay Regenerist: One of the original skincare lines for mature skin, Olay and its Regenerist range are each designed to fight the signs of ageing. You can learn more about what each of the products are good for in our: What do all the Olay creams do – and which is best for you? guide.

How to use concealer on mature skin

You can read the full step-by-step guide in our How to use concealer on mature skin guide, written by our resident makeup artist, Victoria Howe, but to summarise.

  1. Prepare the skin: Use a good eye cream ideally containing retinol and hydrating ingredients like vitamins A and C, peptides, and hyaluronic acid to soothe and hydrate the thin skin around your eyes.
  2. Choose a lightweight liquid concealer: Opt for a hydrating, lightweight liquid concealer. Avoid thick, creamy concealers as they can highlight wrinkles and fine lines.
  3. Select the Correct Shade: Choose a concealer shade lighter than your skin tone for the area around your eyes to brighten them. Match the rest of your skin exactly to your natural shade.
  4. Avoid fine lines where possible: Do not apply concealer on lined areas like smile lines or crow’s feet, as it will highlight these features.
  5. Apply multiple layers: Use a dry sponge for the first layer of concealer. After it dries, apply a second layer with a damp sponge for even coverage.
  6. Blot and set: While the concealer is still tacky, gently blot with tissue paper to remove excess. Immediately set with a setting powder to prevent creasing and extend wear.

What is the best foundation for mature skin?

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk foundation reviewmamabella | mamabella

You don’t have to be over 50 to use these foundations but if your skin is younger than 50, some of the foundations in this list may be too sheer or lightweight for you (depending on your skin type). We have more recommendations on our general best foundations for mature skin guide.

Read more about each of these foundations in our best foundation for mature skin over 50 guide.

FURTHER READING: The best Clinique moisturiser for your skin type, budget and concerns

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