PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 August, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 August, 2003, 12:00am

The 50s seem to be the new 40s, with more 50-somethings than ever at the top of their game. Isabella Rossellini, Jerry Hall and Susan Sarandon are still in demand by fashion and beauty houses. Nor are women in their 60s put out to grass: Tina Turner is still shaking her booty; dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench continue to win Oscar nominations; and the beauty of soon-to-be-60 Catherine Deneuve is such that a statue of French heroine Marianne has been created in her likeness.

The 50s are the time to up the ante when it comes to skin care because the menopause causes big physical changes. With oestrogen and metabolic levels at an all-time low, skin becomes drier, thinner and less radiant. Oil glands almost shut down and the loss of subcutaneous fat means the skin can't stop itself dehydrating. A build up of sugars in the skin attacks what little collagen, the main protein responsible for the skin's thickness and resilience, remains, while elastin, the connective tissue in the skin's dermis that gives skin its elasticity, loses its ability to spring back once stretched, and skin droops.

Because skin functions such as cell turnover have slowed considerably, gentle exfoliation is a must for cleaning away dead cells. Skin needs all the help it can get, particularly for those in their 60s and beyond, because it no longer has much natural protection. Super-rich creams must be called into play to rehydrate skin and regular facials, preferably those that also oxygenate the skin, can help with radiance.

Although they show up later, when skin is delicate, brown 'liver spots' aren't caused by ageing but UV damage. Most moisturisers offer sun protection but if yours does not, apply it separately. And if a youthful complexion still eludes you, take heart. Wrinkles, said Mark Twain, merely indicate where the smiles have been.


Re-Nutiv Ultimate Lifting Creme, $1,800 (before discount) from Estee Lauder. Estee Lauder's age-buster contains anti-oxidants and ingredients to prevent skin sagging, help the skin produce collagen and strengthen the lipid barrier for improved moisture level.

Substantific Day Lotion with SPF15 ($500/30ml) and Night Cream ($780) from Guerlain. These rich, high-density products are super-hydrating and formulated specially for very dry and mature skins.

Chanel's Precision anti-wrinkle, anti-feather-ing lip care ($175) gives lips moisture and stops lipstick bleeding into lines.