Photo: Frederic Farre/Figarophoto/Getty Contour
It's tempting to run out and buy a new miracle cream every time you notice a wrinkle or laugh line on your face—but you don't have to get carried away (or spend thousands of dollars) to keep your skin plump and happy. You just need to know exactly what your skin is battling at which point in your life. That might mean oil in your 20s, fresh dark circles in your 30s, or newly dry skin in your 40s. Here's a guide to exactly which products you should add to your skincare routine upon entering each decade.
IN YOUR 20’s
Do: Start an anti-aging regimen—& use eye cream!
Consider this the decade of prevention. “Women should begin being proactive about anti-aging in their 20’s,” says Dr. Dennis Gross, MD, board-certified dermatologist and creator of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare. “Research shows that as early as age 25, collagen and elastin decrease.” Add anti-aging products to your routine now, especially a good eye cream.
Don’t: Blow off a good cleansing routine
“This is the age where you need to develop an effective, basic skincare program for a glowing complexion,” advises Kate Somerville, celebrity esthetician and creator of Kate Somerville Skincare. “You need to cleanse properly, exfoliate regularly, and use a high-quality moisturizer and sunscreen.”
Don’t: Use the same products you used in your teens
Upgrade your acne products. “Many people in their 20’s continue to use the same harsh cleansers and drying astringents they used when they were teenagers,” says Dr. Gross. He warns that at this age, oil glands are starting to shrink, so these products can cause redness and irritation. Find products suited to your adult skin and avoid over-correcting any dryness with a heavy moisturizer. “This decade is prone to breakouts as well as clogged and/or permanently enlarged pores from moisturizing overkill and/or lack of exfoliation.”
Do: Eat right for better skin
Skip the disco fries. “Another great tip for anti-aging is eating right,” says Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salon and Skincare Collection. “You need tons of greens in your diet to help oxygenate the skin, fight bacteria and keep it clean. You will have never-ending breakouts if you don’t eat well.” She advises adding her greens-packed Daily Serum to your shelf.
IN YOUR 30’s
Do: Add a good serum and peptides to your routine
Invest in a potent serum and a night cream containing peptides. “Address dehydrated skin and expression lines with a serum or treatment packed with hyaluronic acid and advanced actives,” explains Somerville. “Also, if you haven’t started using peptides already, now is the time!” She recommends her RetAsphere 2-in-1 Retinol Night Cream for a peptide boost.
Don’t: Forget the Multitasking Products
Go for multitasking products for an efficient routine. “I don’t advocate products with just one active ingredient when women are in their 30’s,” says Dr. Gross. “If we know ten ingredients that can help treat lines, I want all ten in one bottle, so look for products that list multiple antioxidants on the label.”
Do: Add dry brushing to your routine
This ritual helps keep cellulite at bay. “Dry brushing before your shower every morning is a great way to exfoliate the body while stimulating collagen production and maintaining elasticity all over,” says Vargas.
Don’t: Hang onto bad habits
This is the decade during which a lack of nutrients and sleep really starts to show. “You must make positive changes to your lifestyle to ensure optimal skin health,” advises Somerville. “Get rid of any bad habits left over from your 20’s like sleeping with your makeup on, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise.”
IN YOUR 40’s
Do: Boost collagen
“Collagen production really starts to slow down here, which can mean deeper creases and enlarged pores,” says Dr. Gross. “Choose products with potent ingredients like retinol or Genistein, a soy extract that blocks and diminishes collagen-destroying enzymes.” Antioxidants—specifically green tea extract, vitamins C and E and lycopenes—also help protect collagen.
Don’t: Use bar soaps and drying cleansers
Avoid using anything that removes essential hydration. “Choose a non-foaming cleanser and avoid bar soaps, which can be drying,” says Dr. Gross, who recommends All-In-One Facial Cleanser with Toner.
Do: Embrace targeted products
Good skin care habits are your greatest ally. “The basic principles of skincare you’ve been using in your 30’s can be carried over, but now’s the time to use targeted treatment products,” states Somerville. “Skin discoloration is a major issue for many of my patients in various forms; sunspots, dark spots, hyper-pigmentation, and melasma,” explains Dr. Gross, who suggests a combination of ferulic acid and retinol to lighten dark spots and even skin tone.
Don’t: Forget to exfoliate
Scrub down for better skin. “I tell women in their 40’s to exfoliate without fail every other day to keep some cell turnover going, and to do fruit acid peels monthly,” says Vargas. “At this age, sun damage emerges and exfoliation is the best way to address it.”
50’s AND BEYOND
Do: Use hyaluronic acid
Avoid dehydration and/or loss of volume in the face. “Look for moisturizers that contain hyaluronic acid, which brings water from the atmosphere into your skin, so it looks plumper and firmer,” Dr. Gross advises.
Don’t: Forget the neck and chest
Sun exposure may haunt you. “Many women of this age complain their necks and chests look older than the rest of them,” says Dr. Gross. “Applying the same good facial skin-care habits to these areas can return them to a smoother, clearer state. Sunscreen, vitamin C, retinol, multi-acids, and antioxidants can be incorporated into your daily regimen.”
Do: Soothe inflammation
You may look flushed more frequently. “This age group is prone to redness and irritation, which can be due to inflammation, rosacea and/or excessive circulation, as well as hormonal changes,” Dr. Gross says. He suggests green tea extract to sooth the skin—studies even show it can help prevent skin cancer.” He also mentions that Bisabolol, a derivative of chamomile, is an effective anti-inflammatory.
Don’t: Forget your lips
Dr. Gross notes that your lips may change. “I have many patients who find the area above the mouth becomes heavily lined and their lips start to thin. A good solid skin-care regimen with proven anti-aging ingredients such as vitamin C, retinol, and exfoliating acids will help smooth these lines and make them less visible.”