Here’s a Customized Skin-Care Routine for Your 20s

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The skincare routine you used in your 20s isn’t the same thing you need as you move through your 30s, 40s, or 50s. Not only is your skin constantly changing (both inside and out), but also the amount of time and money you’re willing to spend on your face is forever in flux. So SELF talked to three dermatologists to see what they recommend for their clients at every age. (Spoiler alert: Every one of them said SPF is a daily requirement in every age group). Keep reading to find out how to build your best skin-care routine, and get our editor-approved product recommendations, too.

You’re busy building your career and enjoying your postgrad life, so you don’t have time for a 10-step skin-care routine. When you’re living the #NoWorries life, it’s about minimalism. And having great skin is more about how you live your life overall. “Maintain a healthy lifestyle with adequate sleep and healthy eating, while keeping stress levels down,” says Julie Russak, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in NYC. “The skin is at its peak in the 20s with strong collagen production and oodles of elastin, making it plump and firm.” Your 20s are all about taking a preventative stance—good habits now mean better skin in the future. Here’s how to start.
An acne-fighting treatment: If you’re dealing with breakouts, try a cleanser or spot treatment that has a boost of salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. These active ingredients will help get rid of acne-causing bacteria and calm an oily, acne-prone complexion. Try Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser ($7, ulta.com).
A SPF moisturizer: The foundation of any good skin-care routine is SPF. “Sunscreens are your first line of defense against UV damage,” Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mt. Sinai Hospital in NYC, tells SELF. “They prevent UV light from penetrating skin and minimize free radical damage, which can cause premature aging.” And we know that UV rays are the culprit behind 80 percent of the visible signs of aging. Wearing SPF 30+ daily is also crucial to preventing skin cancer. We like La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ulta Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 60 ($30, ulta.com).
An over-the-counter retinol: You’re probably thinking, “Why do I need retinol if I don’t have any wrinkles?” News flash: Collagen can start to break down as early as your mid-20s. “After the age of 20, 1 percent less collagen is produced in the dermis each year,” says Dr. Russak. Incorporating an over-the-counter retinol like Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Night Moisturizer ($22, ulta.com) at night can help stave off the signs of aging. Retinoids not only stimulate collagen production, but they also help even out skin tone. Make sure to apply the product right up to the lower lash line (but skip lids altogether).

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