The Best Skin-Care Routine for Your 20s

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Hide the signs of late nights on Tinder—and even later nights out with your friends—with this dermatologist-prescribed skin routine that helps prevent premature aging. When you’re 35 and mistaken for being 26, you’ll look back at this moment and be beyond happy that you got with the plan.

Clean Up
If you don’t already wash your face at night, start. Like, tonight. Because that lovely mask of makeup, skin oils, and dirt that you end up with by the end of the day doesn’t just lead to zits. Cosmetics can also trap skin-damaging free radicals that float in the air (think: bus exhaust) against your skin, eventually leading to premature lines, wrinkles, and crepiness. We love Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash because it removes makeup and grime like a boss without drying out our skin.

Clean Up the Half-Assed Way
Say you’re too tired to wash your face. (We feel you.) Keep face wipes on your nightstand and clean up in the laziest way possible. “It’s enough to get off the gunk from the day,” says Jeannette Graf, a dermatologist in Great Neck, New York. (We like Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes, which don’t leave a film behind.) Oh, and one more thing: Give your phone screen a swipe, too. “All the dirt and bacteria on it can quickly break you out,” says Joshua Zeichner, an assistant professor of dermatology at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital.

Get Radiant Skin—fast
This thing only looks like a vibrator. (Well, it actually does vibrate—but it’s for using above your neck.) Exfoliating cleansing brushes, like the Foreo Luna, get rid of the layer of old skin cells that dull your complexion. And unlike most other cleansing brushes out there, this one is made of silicone, so it can’t grow bacteria and you don’t have to be all OCD about cleaning it. Use it once a day and just watch how quickly your skin starts glowing.

Your Eyes Are Young—keep Them That Way
Learn from others’ mistakes and wear an eye cream with SPF every single day. The skin around your eyes is so thin, even a few minutes of sun exposure here and there can add up to wrinkles over time, says Zeichner. And not to be extra depressing but there aren’t a whole lot of good eye creams with SPF. That’s why we like Clinique Superdefense Age Defense Eye Cream SPF 20: It’s not so heavy that it messes with your makeup, and (in our experience) it doesn’t irritate sensitive eyes.

Prevent Perma Walk-Of-Shame Face
Puffy eyes give away a lot. Lucky for you, we’ve got lots of experience testing quick fixes. The two that work best so far? Garnier Skin Renew Anti-Puff Eye Roller, which shrinks bags with caffeine and a cold metal tip (keep it in the fridge and it’ll work even better). Or dab on a makeshift eye mask with a cotton ball soaked in whole milk, half-and-half, or even artificial creamer (you’ll smell like vanilla!). They contain fat and proteins that will depuff eyes in about ten minutes.

Use the Baby Foot Priniciple on Your Face
But not actual Baby Foot—that would be horrible. Instead, when your skin is beyond-tinted-moisturizer’s-help dull, a facial peel with glycolic acid revives it. “Glycolic acid is one of the most effective exfoliators because it penetrates deeply,” says Fredric Brandt, a dermatologist in New York City and Miami. Avon Anew Clinical Advanced Retexturizing Peel pads are a mouthful, but they’ve won four Allure Best of Beauty awards because they really work. Your skin will be even glowier if you apply a moisturizer right after using the peel, since hydrating ingredients can better penetrate freshly exfoliated skin.

Speaking Of, Get a Good Basic Moisturizer
The best ones actually suck water from the air into your skin with ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid (put them on in a muggy bathroom, when your skin is still slightly damp). Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream is lightweight, smells like cucumber, and (most importantly) makes skin dewy on the spot.

Try This Cult-Fave Oily Skin Fix…
It’s not exactly a toner, and it’s not quite a serum. But it doesn’t really matter what you call it when you consider that practically every facialist and beauty editor we know is obsessed with Biologique Recherche Lotion P50V. This breakout obliterator has got niacinimide (which controls redness), lactic acid (which cleans out pores), sulfur (which sops up oil and makes your skin produce less of it), and something along the lines of unicorn tears (to account for the nearly supernatural results).

…Or Mattifier That Actually Mattifies
So how do you know? Check the label for one of these ingredients: silica, nylon-12, glutamic acid, and polymethyl methacrylate. “They’re all effective at curbing oil production throughout the day,” says Ni’Kita Wilson, who should know since she’s a cosmetic chemist who also happens to have oily skin. Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30 contains the most unpronounceable of the four, polymethyl methacrylate. Eau Thermale Avène Cleansing Foam and Mattifying Fluid uses glutamic acid to inhibit an enzyme in the skin that makes oil production spike—meaning your face won’t just look less greasy, it’ll actual be less greasy in the long run.

If You Only Do One Thing, Make It This
You probably already know that the single best thing you can do for your skin is to wear SPF 30 or higher every day. But get this: People who wore sunscreen every day for four years didn’t appear to age at all in one Australian study. And even grabbing coffee or lunch or being outside for five minutes a day without sunscreen can break down enough collagen in the skin to cause wrinkles in a few years, says Zeichner. But sunscreen only works if it’s light, silky, and sheer enough that you’ll actually wear it. We like Dermalogica Pure Light SPF 50 and Coppertone ClearlySheer Faces for Sunny Days Broad Spectrum SPF 30 because they sink right in.

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