14 Skincare Tips For Your 20's + Routine
Our 20's are a special yet confusing time for our skin (and other areas of our lives too but that is another blog post!) There's nothing like that gorgeous plump youthful glow that our 20's brings. Our hormones start to balance out from puberty around 22-25 years old, yet for some, acne may stick around. At the same time, we may start to see some fine lines appear or throw a pregnancy into the mix which can have its own set of skin issues. Our skin won't let us forget about those sunburns we got as a kid and now that damage is showing up to the party. SKIN, ARE YOU DRUNK? What's happening?
I often get asked when someone should start using anti-aging products which are often around the time that big 3-0 birthday rolls around. Remember, prevention is key, I can't stress this enough! It's much easier to prevent sun damage or loss of collagen from happening than it is to try to repair the damage once it has already occurred. I am a firm believer that sunscreen should be worn from birth and around the time someone graduates from high school start adding a few well formulated antioxidant and AHA products to their routine.
A word on aging
I will first start this blog post by saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with aging. Put that thought in your back pocket, reference it on a day when you see a wrinkle and embrace the shit out of it. In our society and especially for women the concept of aging is considered negative and something that should be avoided at all costs. Billions of dollars a year is spent on "anti-aging" products and from my experience in the facial room, it's the number one skin care concern. Let's change this mentality, shall we?
Think of it this way, aging skin means you alive. Those freckles mean you have lived a life outdoors in the sunshine, smile lines mean you have smiled! Maybe those forehead lines mean you have told countless numbers of super animated stories. All of which are fantastic things and you really shouldn't be so hard on yourself for. Now, can you age gracefully while slowing down the process a little with good habits and skin care while maintaining skin health? You betcha.
On a personal note, I became an esthetician at 21 years old. That is when I started wearing sunscreen daily, using glycolic acid, getting microdermabrasion/peels etc. I am about to be 36 next month and most people think I am at least 10 years younger than I am, so what I am about to tell you I have lived, tried and tested!
1. Wear sunscreen + do not tan
If you take one piece of information away from this blog post it's WEAR SUNSCREEN, EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even on cloudy days, in the winter time and make sure you reapply! Wearing a hat is a good idea too! 90% of skin aging is due to UV exposure from the sun or tanning beds. Plus, the much scarier risk of skin cancer. Enough said.
On that note, DO NOT TAN. No tanning beds or baking yourself at the pool/beach! I have seen women that are in their 20's look 10-15 years older because of laying out and tanning beds. On the flip side, I have also seen women that are in their 60's look 20 years younger from not tanning. I get it, bronzed skin looks gorgeous...it makes you feel sexy. But, there are plenty of sunless tanning options that look really natural nowadays. My favorite brand of sunless tanner is NKD SKN which makes gradual tanners, pre-shower tans, and a tanning mousse.
Read my full blog post with sunscreen recommendations: The Ultimate Guide to Sun Protection
2. DO NOT SLEEP WITH YOUR MAKEUP ON
This seems like a simple thing to do, but laziness, crazy work/school schedules or late nights + cocktails = makeup on your pillowcase. This is a no-go people. While we sleep is when our body's cells regenerate and it can cause inflammation in the skin along with clogged pores and acne. Picture this - during the day we sweat, oil is produced, the wind blows dirt and pollution on our skin and then mix that with makeup. Then you go to sleep with all of that on your face smearing it into your pillow and face, possibly night after night. GAG.
Wash your face! And wipes don't count as a true cleansing.
3. Be gentle with your skin
Stick with mild synthetic fragrance-free skin appropriate cleanser formulas, toners (without alcohol), gentle exfoliants, a quality moisturizer, eye cream and SPF. Using harsh products (or ones that are skin appropriate) will only cause inflammation and redness which can lead to a stripped barrier layer allowing free radicals into the skin which cause premature aging. It also can create an overproduction of oil which can lead to acne and clogged pores.
4. Don't rely on genetics
Only about 20-25% of aging is due to genetics so you can't rely on how your mother or grandmother aged. Lifestyle factors such as sun exposure, smoking, pollution, facial expressions, how you sleep on your face, stress, weight, and diet all affect how the skin looks over time.
5. Start using AHA/BHA
The use of alpha or beta hydroxy acids will help to keep pores clear, provide a smooth texture and encourages healthy skin cell turnover.
AHA's like glycolic, lactic and mandelic are ideal for dry, combo or sensitive skin types.
BHA like salicylic acid is ideal for acne prone, congested, textured, oily or combination skin.
6. Apply + eat Antioxidants
A vitamin C or combination antioxidant serum will help to protect the skin from environmental damage as well as maintaining collagen production. Including anti-inflammatory foods rich in antioxidants and omegas, will also help the entire body's cells age slower.
7. Use peptides
Peptides are pieces of proteins and amino acids which are an essential part of collagen production. In combination with antioxidants, SPF and nourishing ingredients studies have shown them to be an effective ingredient in slowing the aging process and signs of aging.
8. Moisturize your eye area
Since the eye area is 7x thinner than the skin on the rest of the face it shows the first signs of aging. Keeping that thin skin hydrated, nourished and stimulating collagen is a must. Truth be told, most eye creams are just moisturizers in a tiny jar that are priced higher. So if money is tight, just use your moisturizer around your eye area. Wearing sunglasses and being aware if you are squinting isn't a bad idea either!
9. Be mindful of your sugar intake
Eating sugar and refined carbohydrates contribute to a process called glycation. The insulin in the body surges from that late night pizza creating a surge of inflammation. This produces an enzyme that attaches to collagen fibers breaking them down and causing them to lose strength and flexibility. The result? Skin is more vulnerable to sun damage, loss of elasticity and is prone to develop wrinkles and sagging.
What also happens with this surge of insulin is an increase of hormones which puts oil glands into overdrive. This creates a perfect breeding ground for acne bacteria to form. So think of it this way, sugar/carbs → hormones → sebum → bacteria → acne.
10. Don't forget the skin on your body
Pretty often I have clients come in for a facial and the skin on their neck, chest, hands, and arms look significantly older and sun damaged than their face. These areas are often neglected, so apply your skin care products from your forehead to your nips! Remember, the sun comes in through the windows in your home, office or car! SPF up people!
Don't forget to exfoliate your body weekly and moisturize daily!
You know you need it and at least 7-8 hours of it. Lack of sleep → higher levels of cortisol = skin and body inflammation.
12. No smoking
I won't lecture you on the overall negative health impacts of smoking because I am sure you well aware. Now skin-wise, I absolutely will! Let me paint this picture for you, when I have a client come in that I have just met I can immediately tell they are a smoker. Not from the obvious smell of cigarette smoke, but from how their face looks. Gray, sallow, lifeless, dehydrated, the skin can look waxy but also frail and paper-like with lines and wrinkles around the mouth and lips. Also, I can tell the dominant hand of a person too because on the side of the face where they regularly puff is a ton of congestion and blackheads. Super sexy right? Since smoking constricts blood vessels, it's basically depleting the skin of oxygen and nutrients. Smokers also have a high rate of skin cancer.
Since we start to lose 1% of our body's collagen around 28 years old this is when adding a retinoid product at night is beneficial. Retinoids are wonderful for smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, helping to keep pores clear and fading discoloration. Retinoids are considered safe when not used in any sunlight or while pregnant. I recommend starting with an OTC retinol then when in your 30's switch to an Rx strength.
Read my full blog post with product recommendations: Your Ultimate Guide to Retinoids
14. No picking
Don't pick your face! No seriously, don't do it. I know, it's extremely tempting when a whitehead is winking at you in the mirror. But there IS an appropriate way to gently extract a whitehead without looking like a massacre on your face and leaving a long-lasting or permanent scar.
After a shower → clean skin → clean hands → wrap your two fingers in tissue and with the pads of your fingers (not nails) gently apply pressure on the outside parts of the white head. If it doesn't pop right away abort mission, it's not ready! Icing a pimple is a great option too!
So what would a good routine look like?
I know it can be overwhelming to pick out good skin care products with all the choices and products being marketing to you. I don't think routines need to be overly complicated and include lots of steps. There are ingredients that have been studied for decades that are proven to effective in slowing the aging process. Skincare routines should be tailored to individual needs and vary person to person. Maybe a person needs an Rx acne medication in addition, so working with a dermatologist or esthetician will really produce a tailored routine for you.
The following is an example of a good routine to maintain the health of the skin and slow down the aging process. This routine is pretty general and skin type/condition appropriate products should be selected for each step. (Example: gel cleanser for oily skin while a dry skin type will do better with a milky cleanser.)
Also, if you would like routine help I am now booking Facetime/Skype consultations with tailored routines of what I would recommend, arranging your current products or helping you transition to clean beauty. (For a small fee, cause mama needs to pay rent!) Feel free to email me if you have a question or schedule an appointment!
3. Vitamin C or antioxidant serum
4. Peptide serum (or add to moisturizer)
6. Eye Cream
7. SPF 30
3. Peptide serum
4. AHA/BHA serum/toner OR Rx/OTC/Natural Retinoid (If you would like to include both a retinoid and acid, alternate every other night.)
5. Moisturizer and/or face oil
6. Eye Cream
7. Spot treatment (if needed)
Exfoliate - 1-3 times a week with skin type/condition appropriate enzyme, chemical (AHA/BHA), peel pad or scrub.
Mask - 1-3 times a week with skin type/condition appropriate mask such as clay, hydrating, brightening, renewing
Monthly/Seasonally: (4x a year, every 3 months)
Get a facial or peel to freshen your skin up, get professional extractions and custom skin care advice.