When it comes to choosing the best cleanser for aging skin, hydration is a major part of the equation. “As we age, our sebaceous glands produce less oil, which leads to drier skin,” explains Dallas dermatologist Rebecca Marcus, MD. “In addition, cell turnover in the skin slows down, and collagen and elastin are less plentiful. For aging skin, it’s helpful to look for a product that hydrates, promotes collagen production and encourages brightening.”
Why Age Matters When It Comes to Skin Care
Miami dermatologist Anna Chacon, MD expresses the importance of cleansing, no matter your age. “Regular face washing assists in maintaining clear pores, thereby potentially reducing the occurrence of skin conditions, such as acne,” she says. In terms of cleansers for mature skin, Dr. Chacon recommends using a cleanser that hydrates, lightly exfoliates and brightens the skin. “This is because, over time, the skin becomes thinner with less collagen and elasticity, and increased wrinkles and dryness.”
Ingredients to Avoid in Your Cleanser
Omaha, NE dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD prefers face washes with ingredients that leave out synthetic fragrances and harsh chemicals. “This is the most important concept in my mind. Simple is better.” These are 19 multitasking face cleansers for skin over 50 that come highly recommended by top dermatologists.
The Best Cleanser for Aging Skin, According to Top Derms
“For 26 years, I have highly recommended this face cleanser. This is a great cleanser for all ages with a glycolic acid base for the gentle exfoliation of dead, dull skin cells. I recommend it to patients at least five times today. It’s a nonirritating formula that also works for those with sensitive skin, and it works to promote skin radiance, too. It’s a wonderful addition to any skincare routine.” —Monroe, LA dermatologist Janine Hopkins, MD
“Mature skin—those age 50 and up—on the face tends to be more fragile and dry. The goal is not to degrease the skin because there are rarely acne issues, but rather to remove makeup without being too aggressive with the skin barrier. The skin should be washed gently with either using water or a wipe on/off-type cleanser with no water.
Avène’s Gentle Cleanser is my over-50 go-to product that works on the face and eyes. Alastin and SkinCeuticals also have gentle-wash face cleansers that my patients like.” —Delray Beach, FL dermatologist Dr. Janet Allenby
“In general, gentle cleansers that cleanse the skin without overdrying it are my favorites for skin over 50, or aging skin. Overdrying the skin emphasizes pore size, lines and wrinkles, while hydrated skin with a ‘dewy’ appearance is more forgiving and more youthful.
Mature skin also tends to be more sensitive, so these gentle face cleansers that protect and cleanse the skin without irritation are essential. Alastin’s Gentle Cleanser does this beautifully.” —Houston dermatologist Jennifer Segal, MD
“This is my favorite cleanser for mature skin. It contains meadowfoam seed oil and olive oil extract, as well as 3 percent afaLUXE. This is an ingredient that helps to exfoliate gently, while also improving clarity of the skin. Most cleansers that are aimed at the older population give up exfoliation for gentle cleansing, which ends up leaving a dull or tired look to the skin. It’s important to address both of these, while also providing a cleanser that won’t harm the more fragile skin as we age.”
“For mature skin, I like mild, cream-based cleansers versus foams and gels. Cream cleansers are more hydrating and less drying, and can help to remove makeup without upsetting the skin’s delicate moisture balance, making them ideal for dry or sensitive skin. This product is free of fragrance and artificial colorants. It helps aging skin with marine-derived red and brown algae, and has an antioxidant-rich apple amino acid.” —Dallas dermatologist Elizabeth Bahar Houshmand, MD
“This hydrating face cleanser contains natural prebiotics and helps to support the skin barrier, making it good for those with mature skin. It works to enhance the DefenAge core defensin technology while helping to dissolve makeup and lift away dirt and debris.” —New York dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD
“Prequel’s Gleanser—short for glycerin-based cleanser—is particularly good for mature skin, which tends to be more dry and sensitive. The high concentration of glycerin not only hydrates the skin, but also protects the skin’s natural and essential lipids. Aside from being hydrating and gentle, the unique gel-to-foam texture offers a luxurious and a satisfying cleansing experience.” —Danville, CA dermatologist Sam Ellis, MD
“Mature skin needs a cleanser with effective ingredients that doesn’t disrupt the skin barrier. Our skin’s acid mantle refers to the acidity of the epidermis. When it is balanced, the microbiome of the skin is healthy. This cleanser optimizes it.
Additionally, products that use encapsulation, like this face cleanser, allow for active ingredients to stay protected so they can penetrate the skin effectively and without irritation. I’ve never seen a cleanser that works like this. I think it’s a really innovative technology.” —New York dermatologist Dan Belkin, MD
“The pineapple phytoceramides in this cleanser provide a moisturization boost, which is great for skin over 50. This is because as we get older, our production of Natural Moisturization Factor (NMF) decreases. It declines even more so for those on medications such as statins (for hypercholesterolemia) and diuretics (for hypertension), as these drugs can contribute to additional skin dryness.
Bromelain also reduces bruising in the skin. Aging skin (50-plus) can experience a decrease in collagen around the blood vessels and increased senile purpura. The cleanser also contains niacinamide, white orchid and licorice extracts, which have been clinically found to prevent further oxidative damage in aging and aged skin, and reduce skin darkening from lentigines.” —Tucson, AZ dermatologist Indy Chabra, MD
“I also highly recommend this face cleanser for aging skin. This is always in my travel bag and on my vanity table. This cleanser gently cleanses while also hydrating and soothing skin. It works on all skin types, and you can use it on your face and eyes. Soap- and water-free, it’s all in one.” —Dr. Hopkins
“This cleanser effectively gets rid of dirt and buildup without leaving the skin feeling dry. It contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin, as well as ceramides to support and strengthen the skin barrier. It is a great cleanser for all skin types, including those with sensitive skin, as it is fragrance-free.” —Dr. Garshick
“This is an excellent gentle cleanser for dry and sensitive skin. It’s fragrance-free, soap-free and sulfate-free, and contains brightening niacinamide and skin barrier–boosting ceramides.” —Dr. Marcus
“As a deep cleansing balm, this helps to dissolve makeup, sunscreen and impurities, while also hydrating the skin. It contains prebiotic beta glucan to attract water to the skin and postbiotic Lactococcus Ferment Lysate to help stimulate skin cell renewal and support aging skin.
It also contains a Barrier Aid Complex with beta carotene, ceramide NP and squalane, which helps soften and smooth the skin, while also protecting it from free-radical damage.” —Dr. Garshick
“I also frequently recommend this dermatologist-tested cleanser for my patients who are active in tennis or at the gym and may need a stronger antimicrobial cleanser that is still gentle to the skin on the face. It’s also a good option for those with skin that’s prone to acne, rosacea or eczema.” —Dr. Segal
“This is a versatile product that functions as a remarkably hydrating cleansing balm and removes makeup, oil and debris while intensely moisturizing the skin. The cleanser doubles as an overnight hydrating mask, it contains hydrating glycerin, as well as nourishing, skin-smoothing oils: camellia, rose hip and arctic cloudberry.
Vitamin A encourages cell turnover to keep skin fresh, while vitamin C provides an antioxidant boost and brightens the complexion. Vitamin E functions as a soothing, hydrating emollient, which aging skin needs.” —Dr. Marcus
“For those who prefer a bar, I recommend this cleanser from Dove, as it effectively cleanses and washes away dirt without drying out the skin. It helps to replenish lost moisture, unlike ordinary soaps that can strip the skin of its natural oils.
This makes it a great multipurpose cleanser, as it can be used for the face, body and hands. It is formulated with one-fourth moisturizing cream, which helps to leave skin feeling soft and nourished. It is easy to use and can be used by all skin types, including aging skin.” —Dr. Garshick
“This face cleanser is gentle and hydrating for dry, extra-sensitive, and delicate skin. Gycerin, squalane, coconut oil, and safflower oil work together to deeply hydrate and protect the skin barrier while also providing a thorough cleanse that effectively removes makeup and sunscreen. It can be used with or without water, which is a bonus for those with very dry skin who may better tolerate a waterless cleanse.” —Dr. Marcus
“Formulated with bio-designed collagen and hyaluronic acid, this is a great cleanser for aging skin as part of a double cleanse or on its own. The cleansing balm helps to lift excess oil, makeup and debris off of the skin, while also nourishing the skin. And, it doesn’t leave the skin feeling dry or greasy.” —Dr. Garshick