Glance at your phone at any given time, and what do you see? Probably an avalanche of tweets, TikTok videos, Facebook updates and Instagram posts ― many of them touting a trendy new skin care product or some influencer’s morning and nighttime routines. It’s truly impossible to keep up with what’s hot in skin care (eco-friendly packaging, electrolytes) while maintaining some knowledge of what docs say is actually effective (retinol, squalane, hyaluronic acid).
On the flip side, you’ll see the internet go crazy when it finds out Elizabeth Warren, whose skin is absolutely glowing at age 70, never washes her face and uses nothing but Pond’s moisturizer.
HuffPost turned to the OG skin care gurus: moms, aunts, grandmas and other women over the age of 55 who’ve accumulated life experience that has only made their faces more beautiful. They told us exactly what they do to keep their skin looking and feeling luminous.
Among their recommendations, you’ll find tried-and-true favorites like Vaseline and Oil of Olay, and beloved brands like Kiehl’s, Philosophy and Cetaphil. Some of the women shop at Sam’s Club, Walmart and Family Dollar, while others rely on products from higher-end brands. The one thing they all have in common? Unanimous agreement that sunscreen, exercise and drinking lots of water are essential to skin health.
If you want to snag some of their go-to products for your own bathroom shelf, read on for their recommendations (and reminiscences).
Darlene Oates, 60
Realtor, radio DJ and travel agent
Morning and nighttime routine: Splash face with water, then apply organic coconut oil.
Darlene says: “I think keeping it simple is the best way to go, honestly. I splash my face with lukewarm water and then I apply the coconut oil onto my skin. I rub it in a rotational direction around my cheeks, in the T-zone, and just get it into my cells.”
Geri “Nana” Fotsch, 87
Mom of eight; grandmother of 31; great-grandmother of 14; patron of/volunteer at Ronald McDonald House, Marquette University, Women’s Care Center (Milwaukee), Operation Finally Home, Kathy’s House (Milwaukee) and others
Nighttime routine: Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes followed by the StriVectin moisturizer and eye cream
Once a week: Cleanses with Dove soap
Nana says: “Once a week, I wash my face with Dove. My husband’s grandma, who died at age 107, she used nothing but Dove soap. And I often thought I should have, when she was still alive, sent a picture of her in to Dove, because she was the best advertisement ever.”
Deb Carey, 61
Crime victim specialist
Modesa Gentle Skin Cleanser (Family Dollar’s Cetaphil equivalent)
Olay Complete Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15
Nighttime routine: Morning products plus Olay Total Effects 7 in One Anti-Aging Transforming Eye Cream
Deb says: “When I was a very young girl, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, who passed away three years ago at the age of 98, and she looked like she was 70. Every morning, she would wash her face and then slather on Oil of Olay. So I started doing it and I have never stopped using it. One of my co-workers yesterday sent me an email and she said, ‘We have an intern coming on, they want to learn more about what we do.’ And at the end of the email, she wrote, ‘And you have to tell them about Oil of Olay!’”
Gail Cagianese, 82
Mom of three; stepmom of one; grandmother of four; step-grandmother of four; former Long Island College and jazz festival queen; former print and photographer’s model; retired airline steward
Nighttime routine: Daily cleansing mask, toner and Rodan+Fields Redefine Overnight Restorative Cream
Three times a week: ZO Skin Health Growth Factor Serum in place of the Rodan+Fields overnight cream
Once a year: Skin check at the dermatologist
Gail says: Her mom, an Irish immigrant, used to apply egg whites to her skin as a mask: “When she was doing it, she would put some on me, and there I was, 11 years old, 12. And you want to know something? It certainly helps! There are products that you can use in your own kitchen.”
“We have only one life to live. Live it carefully, but enjoy it. But get a good skin care regimen, and then people who live into their 80s and 90s will have great skin.”
Jan Michell, 60s
Splash water on face
Kiehl’s Youth Dose Eye Treatment (“tiny dabs”)
Vaseline (tiny bit, under eyes)
Occasionally: Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask
As needed: “One more vital accessory: a great pair of sunglasses!”
Jan says: “I moisturize like crazy, I stay out of the sun (mostly) and I am diligent about cleansing and moisturizing at night, even when I’m dead tired. My nighttime routine takes about 15 minutes, including brushing my teeth, etc. It’s a pain, but perhaps it is paying off!”
Sue Collier, 56
Freelance content marketing writer
Sue says: “I’ve worn sunscreen since my 20s. I’ve worn it every day, religiously ― always, always, always on my face. Sometimes, if I go run in the early morning, I leave it off of my body, but not my face.”
Cathy Martin, 67
Mom of two; grandmother of five
Cathy says: “I tried the Olay retinol night stuff, and I just kind of fell in love. Your skin just feels so smooth, so soft.”
Diane Holmes, 63
Mom of two; grandmother of three
Morning and nighttime routine: Dove soap
Diane says: “I don’t do anything. I wash my face in the morning. At night, I wash it before I go to bed. My mother never used anything. And neither do any of my sisters, come to think about it.”
Shelagh C. Burke, 60
Nighttime routine: Morning routine plus Bobbi Brown Extra Eye Repair Cream (under eyes and on top lip)
During the summer: LaRoche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen Milk SPF 60
During the winter, for lips: E.L.F. Lip Exfoliator and Vaseline
Shelagh says: “I use Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion because it contains no perfume and I like the fact that it’s not greasy. I like the way it feels on my face.”
Allyson Williams, 58
Mom of two; retired from Verizon
Morning and nighttime routine is a combination of:
Allyson says: “My skin has gone through some stages. After driving cross-country last September, my skin broke out and became sensitive to everything, so I only used warm water on my face. A few months ago, I went on vacation to Mexico and took in a lot of vitamin D, and my skin immediately began to clear up.”
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