Aug 22, 2022 · 9 min read
There are many things to look forward to as you age, but aging skin may not be one of them. As we age, a whole new set of skin concerns can develop, including dullness, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkling. The best moisturizers for aging skin include ingredients that can hydrate and protect your skin, like hyaluronic acid and ceramides. For dull skin, use brightening ingredients like niacinamide and, of course, wrinkle-erasers—if it was only that easy—like retinol.
Stick with us, and we’ll show you how to moisturize older skin.
Before we start, we want to clear one thing up: we’re not anti-aging—we’re about aging well and accepting the natural changes that occur over time. After all, a laugh line is a reverse smile! But if you want your skin to maintain a youthful glow, you’ll need to carefully select the ingredients you use as your skin matures and stick with a skincare routine you can commit to. Mature skin tends to get dryer as we age and loses its elasticity and collagen, which is why it sometimes looks and feels dull, dry, and thin. The good news is many skincare products contain ingredients that work together to support youthful-looking skin.
Here are some of the best ingredients to use to help slow or prevent the signs of aging.
Hyaluronic acid. Naturally produced by the body, hyaluronic acid hydrates, cushions, and lubricates joints. It attracts and retains water helping with your skin’s plumpness, elasticity, and adaptability. The normal aging process and external factors, like exposure to the sun’s rays, can cause your skin to lose moisture (water). Using products with hyaluronic acid can help your skin attract and hold onto moisture.¹
Ceramides. These are naturally occurring lipids (fats) in the skin. Ceramides act as the mortar of skin cells, preventing water loss and protecting the body from the outside environment.²
Glycerin. This acts as a humectant, similar to hyaluronic acid, and attracts and retains water.³ Humectants pull water from deeper layers of the skin as well as the outside environment. Glycerin also has emollient properties that help soften and smooth the skin.
Shea butter. Rich in fatty acids, shea butter has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.⁴ When used in lotions and creams, shea butter helps restore skin barrier function. Like glycerin, it acts as an emollient.
Retinoids. Tretinoin is a prescription-strength retinoid that was first approved for acne treatment in 1971. It quickly grew in popularity as a powerful anti-aging ingredient. Tretinoin increases skin cell turnover rate, boosting collagen production and helping improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Retinoids are synthetic or natural derivatives of vitamin A.⁵
Sun protection. You’ll want to use a broad spectrum sunscreen or moisturizer with at least SPF 30. Sun damage from UV rays causes changes that can lead to premature aging, sunburns, and even skin cancer. Both UVA and UVB rays can also damage elastin and collagen fibers.⁶
A few other additives in moisturizers that may benefit aging skin include aloe, oatmeal, and jojoba oil. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), including glycolic and lactic acid, are also anti-aging ingredients that can help with skin hydration.
Not used to a skincare routine just yet? Here are some tips to get started.
There’s no one best moisturizer for mature skin. Nonetheless, here are the products we recommend to our patients.
Curology rich moisturizer is our dermatologist-designed, specially formulated rich moisturizer with six key hydrating ingredients to help smooth tiny cracks, add moisture, and keep that hydration locked in. Call us biased, but we think it’s one of the best face moisturizers for aging skin over 50—give it a try and let us know!
EltaMD AM is a long-lasting non-comedogenic lightweight moisturizer with niacinamide and willow bark to help stimulate cell turnover for smoother skin.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream can quench even the driest skin. It absorbs quickly like a gel but has staying power for all-day hydration. It’s one of the best moisturizers for 70-year-old skin.
Cetaphil Rich Hydrating Cream deeply nourishes your skin and helps restore your natural skin barrier. This cream can be perfect for dry and aging skin and a top pick for the best face moisturizer for aging skin over 60.
Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer with Broad Spectrum SPF 50-Sensitive Skin is gentle for mature skin with sun protection and hydration. It also helps prevent the effects of skin aging.
Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture SPF 35 is oil-free and non-greasy and serves double-duty as sun protection and hydration.
Cetaphil Dermacontrol Oil Absorbing Moisturizer SPF 30 is a lightweight lotion that hydrates your skin for up to 24 hours.
EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 is a perfect moisturizing sunscreen for oily skin. This is another oil-free moisturizer and is ideal for sensitive skin.
Because our skin tends to get drier as we age, many of us can benefit from a thicker moisturizer. That said, it doesn't necessarily need to be marketed as an anti-aging moisturizer. Finding a facial moisturizer and sunscreen that you like and using them consistently is most important. And in case you’re wondering, there’s no single dermatologist-recommended body lotion for aging skin.
If you decide to use an anti-aging moisturizer, here are some upsides to choosing a moisturizer formulated for aging skin.
Improves age spots. Products containing ingredients like glycolic acid, azelaic acid, and kojic acid can reduce the appearance of age spots.
Promotes skin firmness. Retinol has firming effects and is found in many anti-aging creams. You can get retinol over the counter but tretinoin is prescription-only. Talk to your in-person medical provider about getting a tretinoin prescription, or start a free consultation online through Curology—more on this later!
Boosts skin hydration. Most anti-aging lotions have humectants for improved skin hydration, including hyaluronic acid and glycerin.
There’s no magic age to start using an "anti-aging" moisturizer, which means you can begin using a moisturizer as early as you want! It's never too early to start using sunscreen or moisturizer with SPF protection; just remember to keep it consistent year-round during both summer and winter.
Here’s a guide to follow showing which ingredients to consider using at different milestones of your life. (These aren’t hard and fast rules, but they are a place to start!)
Sunscreen—use all the time
Hyaluronic acid—used at any age
Vitamin C—consider starting in your 20s-30s
AHAs—consider starting in your 20s to 30s
Retinol—consider starting in your 30s-40s
There are other products you can choose to use with anti-aging benefits, including:
Sunscreen with an SPF 30
Vitamin C serum
Anti-aging eye creams
Eating healthily and maintaining an active lifestyle can do wonders for your skin’s health. But skin health is also connected to several other factors, including:
Avoid the sun and artificial tanning beds. Because sun exposure is inevitable, aim to protect yourself by wearing sunscreen with SPF 30 and wearing sun-protective clothing. Pro tip: if you really want to get a sun-kissed glow, consider a sunless tanner to avoid harmful UV rays.
Eating a healthy diet of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein. Consider cutting down on dairy—especially if you get a negative reaction from dairy—high glycemic index foods (bread, white rice, and potatoes), and sugar.
Getting enough sleep. Catch that Zzzs! Research shows that sleep deprivation results in a worsening perception of hanging eyelids, red eyes, and fine lines and wrinkles.⁷
Not smoking. There are a number of reasons to avoid smoking cigarettes—decreasing your risk of disease, high blood pressure, and premature aging. Smoking causes elastosis and can lead to a breakdown of the collagen and elastic fibers of the skin, components of your skin that keep it firm and supple. This can lead to signs of premature aging.⁸
Curology can help treat your anti-aging concerns with skincare that’s customized for you. Our licensed dermatology providers deeply understand skincare concerns and create one-on-one relationships with patients to help them navigate the world of skincare to help find clarity. After you sign up and complete your skin quiz, we evaluate your skin profile, skin goals, and medical history to create a custom prescription formula and personalized plan designed to help address skin concerns. Your personalized prescription formula includes three active, effective ingredients for anti-aging skin concerns.
We also have a full line of skin care products to complete your routine, each designed by dermatologists to be non-comedogenic, dye-free, paraben-free, and hypoallergenic to keep your skin looking and feeling healthy. Interested? You can get a free month of Curology—just pay $4.95 (plus tax) to cover shipping and handling on your first box. After that, you can choose the subscription plan that works for you.
Still have questions? Here are a few FAQs about aging skin and moisturizers for aging skin that Curology often receives:
Ultraviolet radiation speeds up the aging process and is a primary factor in the development of wrinkles. Other factors include smoking and repeated facial expressions (like furrowing your brow or even smiling). To help protect you from the sun’s rays, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30. And don’t forget to reapply every two hours or after toweling off, wiping your face, swimming, or sweating.
Like other moisturizing ingredients, coconut oil can help minimize the appearance of wrinkles. Coconut oil is comedogenic, though—meaning it can clog your pores—so if you have acne-prone skin, it may be best to try something else.
Yep! Don’t forget to care for your lips. They’re just as susceptible to sun damage from UV radiation as the skin on your face. Use petroleum jelly or a wax-based lip protectant with SPF 30. We personally like ones with a physical barrier like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Pavicic T, et al. Efficacy of cream-based novel formulations of hyaluronic acid of different molecular weights in anti-wrinkle treatment. J Drugs Dermatol. (2011).
Meckfessel, M.H., et al. The Structure, Function, and Importance of Ceramides in Skin and Their Use as Therapeutic Agents in Skincare Products. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (2014, March 21).
Sethi, A., et al. Moisturizers: The Slippery Road. Indian Journal of Dermatology. (2016, May-June).
Lin, T.K., et al. Anti-inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. (2018).
Baldwin, H.E., et al. 40 Years of Tretinoin Use in Review. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. (2013, June 1).
Yale Medicine. Photoaging (Sun Damage). (n.d.).
Sundelin, T., et al. Cues of Fatigue: Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Facial Appearance. (2013, September 1).
Kennedy, C., et al. Effect of Smoking and Sun on the Aging Skin. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. (2003, April).
* Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Trial is 30 days. Results may vary.
Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C