Healthy Skin Tips for Every Age

How To Get Healthy Skin in Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and Beyond

Your skin changes over time and so should your skin care routine. If you're still following the same regimen you did for the past decade, it's time to shake things up.

But you want way more than just anti-aging hacks and beauty tips. You want to create healthy skin that looks good and feels good. Here's how you can create the perfect skin care routine for each stage of your life.

1
Skin Care for Your 20s

Woman washing her face
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Now is the time to create healthy skin habits. Building a good foundation now will help stave off problems down the road.

Changes You May See

Skin in your twenties looks plump and firm, thanks to a robust subcutaneous layer. New skin cells are being created relatively quickly, and sebaceous glands are still revved-up, giving 20-year-old skin a dewy glow.

Although you've left your teen years behind, your skin may not have gotten the memo. It's normal for super oily skin, blackheads, and pimples to still hang around at this age.

Key Ingredients This Decade: Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Your skin will benefit from gentle exfoliation (the key word here is gentle!). If you've spent high school scrubbing away at your skin with super gritty scrubs, it's time to move on to a more sophisticated way to exfoliate. Alpha hydroxy acids, specifically glycolic acid and lactic acid, will help smooth, soften, and brighten your complexion without the friction from a scrub. A facial mask that contains AHAs, used a few times per week, is a nice treat for your skin.

Product to Add to Your Routine: Sunscreen

Want to know the number one skin care product you could ever use? Sunscreen. It isn't chic, exotic, or sexy, but sunscreen is the one product you should never be without. Choose a broad-spectrum product with SPF 30 or more.

Don't reserve your SPF for days at the beach. Slather it on every day, over all exposed areas of skin. Doing this now will save your skin down the road. You'll reduce premature aging, dark spots, and uneven skin tone, as well as your risk of developing skin cancer. It's the most important thing you can do for healthy skin.

Tips for Your 20s

  • Don't tan. Ultraviolet light from the sun—and from tanning booths—can prematurely age your skin and put you at higher risk of skin cancer. There is no such thing as a safe tan. Really like that sun-kissed bronzed look? Sunless tanners are the best way to go.
  • If pimples are a problem, start an acne treatment regimen. Over-the-counter acne products can work for minor breakouts, but don't be afraid to talk with your doctor if they aren't working. There are prescription acne medications available that will get your acne under control.
  • Always cleanse your face before going to bed. Makeup, sweat, and oil can clog your pores or just leave your skin looking not so bright. Never go to bed without cleansing. Cleanser and water is always preferable, but if you're super-tired, a wipe with a facial cleansing cloth is better than skipping the nightly cleanse.

2
Skin Care for Your 30s

It's best to start on an anti-aging routine before you start noticing those fine lines and wrinkles. So your 30s is the perfect time to add those into your skin care routine.

Changes You May See

You'll probably enter your 30s without seeing much change in your skin, especially if you've been diligent with your skin care routine. But beneath the surface some of the fat stores diminish, making your face look slightly less rounded and more lean. Collagen and elastin fibers begin to break down, and there is a reduction of the number of melanocytes produced.

In your 30s you might notice a sallowness and dullness creeping into your skin tone, as cell turnover rates slow. Once you hit your mid-30s, fine lines—especially around the eye area—make their appearance.

Rosacea also commonly appears at this age, and can be mistaken for adult acne. With rosacea, though, redness and flushing come and go especially when you eat spicy foods or drink warm beverages. If you think you may have rosacea, have it checked out by a doctor.

Key Ingredients this Decade: Retinol

Retinol is the best over-the-counter anti-ager available. Retinol helps boost collagen production, speeds up cell turnover, and makes your complexion look brighter. It may also help stave off signs of aging. Look for retinol in your leave-on treatments like moisturizers and serums.

Products to Add to Your Routine: Eye Cream

If you haven't already, it's time to add an eye cream to your daily routine. The thin skin around your eyes is the first to show signs of aging. It's also prone to drying out. You don't need a super fancy or expensive product, just one to keep that delicate eye area moisturized.

Tips for Your 30s

  • Don't forget about your neck. Your neck is second only to the eyes when it comes to showing signs of aging. Whatever products you use on your face, also apply them to your neck and chest (cleansers, moisturizers, sunscreen and the like).
  • Eat your fruits and veggies to combat sallowness from the inside out. Carotenoids are responsible for giving fruits and vegetables their gorgeous colors, and they give our skin a bright, healthy color as well. Another reason to eat more veggies!
  • Exercise also brightens your complexion by increasing circulation and creating a rosy glow.

3
Skin Care for Your 40s

Often, it's during the 40s that people start to get serious about skin care, because this is the decade noticeable changes appear on the skin. If you've skimped on skin care until now, it's not too late to start.

Changes You May See

Loss of skin tone is the most obvious change you'll see during this decade. Your skin is starting to look and feel more lax. The sun damage you've incurred in your youth is starting to show as uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation. Sebaceous glands are producing less oil than they used to.

Sebaceous hyperplasia is another common skin issue that often appears during this decade. These bumps look alarming, but they're harmless. They are caused when the sebaceous gland swells. They can happen anywhere but most often appear on the face.

Key Ingredients This Decade: Hyaluronic Acid

Because those oil glands have gotten lazy, and the epidermis is thinning out, your skin probably feels drier than it has before. To help combat dryness, look for moisturizers that contain hyaluronic acid. This skin care ingredient helps replenish moisture in the skin, plumping cells and making the skin look firm and smooth.

Products to Add to Your Routine: Serum

If the signs of aging are bothering you, consider adding an anti-aging serum to your daily routine. Those containing vitamin C and antioxidants will help protect your skin and can revitalize your complexion.

Tips for Your 40s

  • If dry skin is a problem, switch to a more emollient moisturizer and drop the astringent for a non-drying toner.
  • Be on the lookout for milia. These pesky white bumps often pop up in the eye area, and unfortunately can be trigger by use of heavier eye creams. If they're a problem, try switching to a noncomedogenic brand.
  • Consider chemical resurfacing. Superficial chemical peels can be done at your local skin spa or salon and will give your skin an immediate boost. A series of treatments can help fade hyperpigmentation, reduce the appearance of pores and fine lines, and generally smooth and brighten your complexion.

4
Skin Care for Your 50s

The products you've used faithfully over the years may suddenly cause your skin to rebel. Hormonal shifts during this decade (for women) can cause major changes in the skin. It's time for a complete skin care overhaul.

Changes You May See

Your skin may, seemingly overnight, become very dry and dehydrated. It may seem more rough than typical too.

Ladies, it's normal to see an increase in facial hair on the upper lip, chin, and around the sideburns. For random odd hairs, you can simply tweeze them. Threading, waxing, or dermaplaning are good choices for hair removal across larger areas of the face.

Be on the lookout for actinic keratoses: rough, scaly patches or bumps. These common precancerous growths should be treated by your physician.

Key Ingredients This Decade: Prescription Retinoids

If signs of aging are bothering you, it's time to bring in the big guns. Prescription retinoids are incredibly effective anti-agers. Retinoids can reduce dark spots and unevenness, reduce the depth of wrinkles, and smooth and resurface the skin. They can cause irritation, though, so you should slowly introduce them into your daily routine.

Products to Add to Your Routine: Night Cream

Because your skin is likely feeling dry and dehydrated, a thicker night cream may be in order. You can get away with wearing a heavier product than you can during the day, since you don't need to worry about oily shine.

Tips for Your 50s

  • If your current cleanser is drying out your skin, switch to a non-soap cleansing wash or non-foaming cleansing lotion. These products are more emollient and less stripping than traditional foaming cleansers.
  • Start doing monthly self-exams for skin cancer. Look for any changes in moles, rough scaly patches or sores that aren't healing, and any new bumps or growths. Let your physician know of any changes you find.
  • Watch out for highly-fragranced products. Your skin may become more sensitive to fragrance now, even in products you've used for ages. If your skin is showing signs of irritation, switch to fragrance-free products to see if it helps.

5
Skin Care for Your 60s and Beyond

Gentle, emollient skin care is the goal now. Keeping your skin well moisturized not only helps it look and feel better, but also helps keep it in good condition. Ditch any product that seems to irritate your skin in favor of soothing alternatives.

Changes You May See

Even if you've never smoked a day in your life, you may notice lines forming around your lips. Age spots (AKA sun damage) may become more prominent.

Because the subcutaneous layer beneath your skin continues to thin, you may notice your skin is much more delicate than it used to be. You'll be more prone to bruising and scrapes and, because the skin repairs itself more slowly now those injuries will take longer to heal. You may also notice you sweat less, because sweat glands shrink and become less effective.

The vast majority of people over 60 also develop seborrheic keratoses. Also called skin barnacles, these growths may look worrisome but are completely benign.

Key Ingredients This Decade: Dimethicone and Glycerin

Glycerin is a humectant ingredient that helps hydrate the skin. Dimethicone is a silicone-based ingredient that forms a protective, moisturizing barrier on the skin. They're especially effective ingredients in body lotions, helping keep your legs, arms, feet and hands moisturized.

Products to Add to Your Routine: Facial Oil

Do you feel like your skin is dull and dry looking, even after gently exfoliating and moisturizing? Facial oils can give that dewy look to the skin, and may help seal in moisture too. Choose a fragrance-free brand if you're prone to sensitive skin.

Tips for Your 60s and Beyond:

  • Protect your skin's natural barrier: Don't take showers that are too hot or soak in the tub for too long. This can dry out your skin. After bathing, slather on moisturizer and body lotion.
  • Skip the morning cleanse. Cleansing too often can also dry out your skin. Just a splash of water will do, or skip it altogether.
  • Don't over-exfoliate. If your regular routine of alpha hydroxy acids or retinoids starts to irritate your skin, try backing off use to every other day or just a couple of times per week instead.

A Word From Verywell

Your skin changes a lot over your lifetime, so your skin care routine should too. You don't need expensive products or a complicated regimen, you just need to listen to your skin. If you need help creating the right skin care routine, or if you have any questions or concerns, you can always call your dermatologist for advice.

Sources:

Draelos ZD. "Facial Skin Care Products and Cosmetics." Clinics in Dermatology. 2014 Nov-Dec;32(6):809-12.

Griffith JL, McCowan NK. "Basic Skin Care: A Pragmatic Approach to Better Skin Using Over-the-Counter Cosmeceuticals." Journal of the Mississippi State Medical Association. 2014 Oct;55(10):316-20.

Tan KW, Graf BA, Mitra SR, Stephen ID. "Daily Consumption of a Fruit and Vegetable Smoothie Alters Facial Skin Color." PLoS One. 2015 Jul 17;10(7):e0133445.

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