Skin Care Steps For 20-Somethings

When you leave the pimple-prone teen years behind but haven't quite entered the targeted years of anti-wrinkle cream regimens, it can be tricky to figure out how to best take care of your skin. That's why I went to dermatologists to see what a twenty-something's skin care routine should look like. Back in high school it was all about the medicated face washes and oil-nixing toners and blotting sheets. Most of our bathrooms were filled with bottles that pinky swore they'd get rid of our acne and banish blackheads, and most of us didn't worry about things like face cream with SPF in it because there were mean, angry zits to tackle.

Meanwhile, women in their 30's and beyond are well aware of what their morning face regimen should look like, mainly because no magazine cover or beauty ad will let them forget. There are about a million different face creams for all sorts of "aging elements" — from fine lines to crows feet — that they can pick up from any drugstore aisle or department store counter alike. But what if you're stuck somewhere in the middle? In the limbo that are the twenties, it can be tricky to know if you're taking care of your skin as best as you could.

So below two dermatologists sound off on the best skin routines for twenty-somethings. Are you doing them all?

Image: Unsplash (1)


What The Ideal Day Routine Would Look Like

Skin Solutions Vitamin C + E, $30, Amazon

While it's tricky prescribing an ideal routine when you take into account how variable everyone's skin types and needs are, most people can maintain their skin using a simple routine.

According to New York Dermatologic Surgeon and RealSelf Contributor Dr. Sejal Shah, in the morning you should focus on cleansing and then following up with an antioxidant serum and moisturizer with an SPF.

"For a serum, I like one with Vitamin C. As for moisturizer, for daily use this can be either a moisturizer with SPF, or moisturizer and a separate sunscreen, However, if you are going to be outdoors for a prolonged period of time like at the beach I do recommend a separate sunscreen."

Make sure all these products are in your bathroom, and you'll be doing your best to take care of your skin.


What The Ideal Night Routine Would Look Like

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Cream, $24, Amazon

For the evening, you're going to switch up the products a bit. Dr. Shah recommends cleansing and using some kind of retinoid cream. "Use retinoids as tolerated, or some product containing another ingredient that can encourage cell turnover such as glycolic acid," she shares. This is the foundation of any good anti-aging regimen, and as you get older you can add more products to your routine. You finish it off with a moisturizer and head to bed!


What Face Wash Ingredients To Avoid

Simple Kind to Skin Cleansing Water, $5, Amazon

If you have a a normal skin type that doesn't have major concerns (like acne or eczema,) then you might not have to spend your money on fancy face washes. "Washing your face is almost unnecessary, beyond removing make up or sweat or excess oils. Often rinsing with water or, even better, with the new micellar waters, is the best for your skin," Dr. Ellen Marmur, certified dermatologist and dermatological surgeon, shares with Bustle.

However, if you do want to buy a nice cleanser, there are a few things you should avoid on the ingredients label. "Avoid preservatives and SLS (which stands for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, a widely used and cheap-to-produce chemical found in many mainstream beauty products) because they inflame the skin too much. I would recommend using Previse Purify or Beauty Counter cleanser — both are excellent," Marmur advises.

Also try to avoid fragrance and harsh preservatives like parabens and alcohol as those are very jarring on your skin and create reactions.


What Face Wash Ingredients To Look For

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanse, $8, Amazon

Now that we know alcohol and chemicals like SLS are to be avoided, what should we look for? It all depends what kind of skin type you have.

"If you have sensitive or dry skin, look for a gentle cleanser with reparative and soothing ingredients like ceramides or niacinamide. If you have more oily or acne prone skin, you will likely benefit from a cleanser with more active ingredients like alpha or beta hydroxy acids," Dr. Shah shares. Depending on your skin type, choose cleansers that will help balance your ailments, but don't use harsh ingredients.


What To Look For In Toners

NARSskin Multi-Action Hydrating Toner, $32, NARS

While toners aren't a necessary step in a skin care routine, they can help bring some extra moisture and nutrients to your skin if you choose correctly. "They act as a second step in cleansing and a way to add active ingredients like antioxidants, moisturizers or exfoliants," Dr. Shah explains. "A more traditional toner is best for acne-prone or oily skin, but toners have really changed over the years and now there are ones that are even formulated for sensitive skin with moisturizing and soothing ingredients."

As you look for toners that deliver moisture and soften the skin, one thing to watch out for are products that are alcohol based, since they can be very drying and harsh.


You Have To Moisturize Daily

Previse Skincare Defend Hyaluronic Serum, $50, Amazon

Even if you don't have super dry skin, your face needs the nutrients and the moisture so be sure to lotion daily. "This is essential," Dr. Marmur stresses. "I love Sente Dermal Repair cream or Previse Nutrify serum especially for this." Make sure to put on cream right after you wash your face in the morning and before you go to bed.


You Also Have To Put On Sunblock Daily

Daily UV Protector SPF 30, $34, ColoreScience

It doesn't matter if it's pouring rain outside or it's the dead of winter and there's no sun — you still need to protect your face from UV rays. "Sunscreen daily is virtual money in the anti-aging bank for you! I am loving Sente tinted SPF 30 — it feels invisible. And I always love Colorescience entire SPF line from lips to powders," Dr. Marmur recommends.

Slather it on your face, neck, and lips in order to keep your skin protected.


Feel Free To Add A Collagen Booster Into The Mix

Advanced Cell Renewal Moisturizer, $90, Faceplace

While it might feel weird looking at anti-wrinkle products in your twenties, it's not all together a bad idea. "Starting a product that helps your collagen in your twenties is completely fine as these products are really for prevention and maintenance so starting early is key," Dr. Shah shares. There's nothing wrong with keeping your skin pristine.


Conclusion: How To Keep Your Skin Looking It's Best

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Feel free to bookmark this slide and use it as your cheat sheet when you're looking for which products to stock up. In summary, Dr. Marmur breaks down what you should always have in rotation. "You should avoid things that sting or dry your skin. Instead, baby your skin and protect it from environmental stresses — excess cold, heat, wind, wet, sun, pollution, and sweat," Dr. Marmur explains. "Cleanse gently, moisturize often with a product that feels right for your skin (even oily skin), wear daily SPF and reapply it throughout the day, and see your dermatologist yearly for the right products for your perfect, young, incredible 20-something skin!" Follow these instructions and you'll have gorgeous skin throughout the decade.

Images: Unsplash (1); Ulta (2); Face Place (1); ColoreScience (1); Amazon (4); NARS (1)