What is the best skin care for seniors? I've treated thousands of seniors over my years of practice and skin care matters more and more as we age. Skin changes with age and becomes prone to dryness. I was recently asked what the best skin care is for seniors by a reader and I want to share my answer.
Dear Dr. Bailey, I have used your glycolic acid body lotion and the Salux cloth for years to keep barnacles at bay, and I love the smooth results that I get from this combination. My 87-year-old mother has thinning sensitive skin and is prone to barnacles also. Is it safe for her to try this same regimen? Thank you! Susan A.
Thank you for telling me that my skin care routine is helping keep your skin healthy! I have many patients in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s who use AHAs and exfoliation for their skin care. That’s the basis of my Ultra-Fast Triple Action Body Smoothing Kit and it keeps skin hydrated, smooth and healthy as we age.
The AHA in the Glycolic Acid Body Lotion is glycolic acid. The physical exfoliation comes from scrubbing the skin with the Salux Cloth. Because it is professional-grade skin care, my body AHA skin care routine is great for keeping skin healthy.
Why is glycolic acid a good choice for senior skin care?
- keeps skin hydrated,
- keeps skin smooth,
- it increases hyaluronic acid production in skin, something that declines with age, and
- it boosts the skin’s barrier function, thus helping it keep the outside world of chemicals and stressors out, and the inside world of water and “good stuff” in.
That said, it’s also a treatment that you modify to be stronger, or more gentle, based on how you use it.
At 87, her use should be gauged for the thinner and finer skin that most 87-year-olds have.
How do you modify an exfoliating alpha hydroxy anti-aging skin care routine such as my Anti-Aging Body Kit to make it stronger or gentler?
It is possible to dilute the glycolic acid concentration using a bland cream so that you’re using a weaker AHA to start. Any professional AHA capable of changing your skin must have 10% or higher AHA and an acid pH. This can be irritating to sensitive skin.
You can tweak the Glycolic Acid Body Lotion, which has a robust 15% glycolic acid concentration, to fit your skin's sensitivity and gradually work up over time.
Do the math and change the concentration of the AHA by adding a non-AHA cream
Adding a dollop of bland cream to your palm and adding the same size AHA cream dollop will cut the AHA in half. Yes, you get less benefit, but it is like strength training with weights – start with the lower weights you can actually lift, and work up as you gain fitness. It's the same with your AHA skin conditioning: start with lower AHA concentrations and gradually add less bland cream as your skin health is improved and can tolerate the higher AHA levels.
Apply less pressure with the Salux cloth for less exfoliation
When you scrub It’s obvious from washing pots and pans that the harder you scrub the more you change washing into abrasion. The same is true with exfoliation. Start gently, especially in the more delicate areas such as the décolleté, skin folds, neck, etc. Plus, as we age, skin becomes thin and fragile.
Press lightly with the Salux Cloth on the thin skin on the arms, legs, chest, etc. The skin of backs and tummies is usually stronger.
Separate the exfoliation step from the AHA cream step to help skin adjust
When you exfoliate with the Salux, you create little areas of micro-abrasion, causing the AHA to sting when you apply it. Eventually your skin will be so healthy that it does not micro-abrade with a simple shower exfoliation cloth. Until then, apply just a bland cream after the shower where you used the Salux cloth.
Apply your AHA cream after the shower on a day that you did not use the Salux Cloth. Eventually you will be able to scrub with the Salux, step out of the shower, and apply full strength Glycolic Acid 15% Body Lotion.
Remember the weight lifting analogy though, you don’t start with the giant barbells, you start with what you can handle. Start slowly Start using the kit once or twice a week and work up. Pay attention to the areas of the skin that are more sensitive and go easier there, or avoid them all together.
Use the tricks I mentioned above. Slowly your skin changes, barnacles (seborrheic keratosis) flatten, and go away, skin is less dry (and thus less porous), and skin barrier strength is improved. Eventually most people can use the AHA and physical exfoliation just as I describe in my kit. It’s near magic for keeping body, arm, and leg skin healthy, hydrated, and smooth.
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. Great question, thanks for asking it!
Cynthia Bailey MD, Dermatologist
Disclaimer: Please realize that availing yourself of the opportunity to submit and receive answers to your questions from Dr. Bailey does not confer a doctor/patient relationship with Dr. Bailey. The information provided by Dr. Bailey is general health information inspired by your question. It should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem (and is not an extension of the care Dr. Bailey has provided in her office for existing patients of her practice). Never ignore your own doctor’s advice because of something you read here; this information is for general informational purpose only.