If you’re in your twenties, you may have started thinking about how to best take care of your skin - which can be a very different process than when you were a teenager!
New skin concerns may start to appear, and the added responsibilities of life, and being an independent adult, may make it hard to develop a consistent skincare routine. Here are some tips to keep your skin glowing, fresh, and clear in your twenties.
SKINCARE IN YOUR TWENTIES: THE BEST ROUTINE
Skin loves consistency. Whether you’re part-way through college, starting a new job, or getting your own place for the first time, the twenties can be a challenge when it comes to developing (and sticking to) a skincare routine each day.
However, keeping your skin happy and healthy doesn’t have to take extraordinary amounts of time or money! Here is a helpful guide:
REMOVE YOUR MAKEUP
After an especially late-running party or an exhausting day at work or school, it may be tempting to just fall into bed without cleansing your face, but don’t give in to the temptation! Makeup particles can settle into pores and creases while skin is trying to renew itself at night, leading to wrinkles and clogged skin.
- Use a gentle sulfate-free facewash to remove makeup, especially important before bed.
- If you can’t bring yourself to do a full face wash, use a cotton round and a micellar water cleanser to quickly dissolve the makeup, oil, and grime from the day and once those are removed, rinsing isn't mandatory!
- After cleansing, toning is excellent for rebalancing skin and ensuring all traces of the cleanser and daily dirt are gone.
This is most likely an obvious one, but skin does not respond well to constant UVA and UVB radiation. The aging process can accelerate dramatically in sun-damaged skin, leaving you with sunspots, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkling.
- Get in the habit of wearing a face-specific, non-comedogenic sunscreen of at least SPF 30 each morning, whether under makeup or by itself.
- When you are out in the sun, be sure to apply sunscreen to the body as well to prevent aging in areas that will show age first, like the hands and the décolletage.
USE AN EXFOLIANT—SPARINGLY
Our uppermost layers of skin are constantly undergoing cell turnover, the process of releasing dead skin cells and revealing fresh layers of skin cells beneath.
Aging can cause that process to slow down, leaving skin more dull and textured, and it can even leave wrinkles more visible. If you imagine a single wrinkle in the skin, the more dead skin cells surrounding the wrinkle, the deeper it appears! If you remove dead layers of skin, the wrinkle becomes more “shallow” and therefore less visible.
- Chemical exfoliation can help reduce the appearance of pores and de-clog skin. Certain acids, alpha hydroxy acids in particular, can dive deeply into clogged pores, loosening detritus and allowing it to be cleansed away, leaving a smoother, clearer complexion. Look for acid concentrations of less than 10%.
- Physical exfoliation such as scrubs can be a good way to remove dry skin and flakiness, but as your skin ages, be careful not to over-exfoliate or use scrubs that are too abrasive and can damage skin.
- Add exfoliation to your routine once per week in the beginning, and follow up with a soothing toner and serum.
USE A SERUM AND A MOISTURIZER
Moisturized skin is happy skin, and this is one area where you don’t want to cut corners. Think of serums as a healthy beverage for skin, full of essential nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins - elements that will help your skin produce collagen and look younger longer, while moisturizers are a creamy coating to lock in those benefits and simultaneously provide a firming boost.
- Serums, especially those containing hyaluronic acid help keep the skin hydrated without a heavy or greasy feel. Oilier skin types may be suitable for a serum alone, but drier skin types will need a moisturizer. Serums should be applied after cleansing and toning, but before applying a heavier cream.
- Get in the habit of using a moisturizer in the morning before makeup, and a night cream before bed after you cleanse. This is true for oily skin as well, more on that soon.
LOOK FOR PRODUCTS THAT ARE pH BALANCED
The term “pH” stands for “potential hydrogen,” and is a method of describing the scale of a solution from acid to alkaline. Skin requires a certain level of acidity in order to kill bad bacteria that may be present, but if skin is too acidic, it can start to become irritated and inflamed.
On the other hand, if skin’s balance is too alkaline, it may become excessively dehydrated and prone to infections. The skin’s moisture barrier, also called the “acid mantle,” protects skin from pathogens, germs, irritants, and environmental factors while simultaneously keeping moisture locked in.
- Since skin’s natural/ideal pH is around 5.5, skincare products should be pH balanced to help skin maintain that ratio. Make sure you look for products that are “pH balanced,” meaning they won’t throw off your skin’s natural ratio of acid to base.
- Using a super acidic cleanser, for example, will strip your skin of its moisture and leave you dehydrated and inflamed. Harsh surfactants, like sulfates, are a common culprit to be avoided.
- Following cleansers with a gentle toner such as witch hazel or rose water can further help protect the pH balance of your skin.
ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS: SKIN’S BEST ANTI-AGING DEFENSE FOR THE TWENTIES
Alpha hydroxy acids, also known as AHAs, can be extremely effective at increasing cell turnover and skin’s hydration. Their moisture-binding properties allow AHA's to keep skin moisturized while simultaneously purging dead skin cells.
Why should you care about this in your twenties? As you pass your mid-twenties, your skin is already starting to slow its cell turnover, which can leave you with skin that is dull and textured. In addition, if you struggle with adult acne, AHAs can be very helpful at clearing pores and reducing active breakouts.
The most common AHAs are glycolic acid, mandelic acid, and lactic acid. All are effective chemical exfoliators, while also promoting moisture within the skin - a fantastic combination!
- Due to its large molecular size, lactic acid is one of the gentler AHAs as it has difficulty absorbing into the deepest layers of skin). It is therefore an excellent starting place for beginners to experience chemical exfoliation.
Mandelic acid also has a fairly large molecular size, rendering it quite gentle, but has the added benefit of being oil-soluble, allowing it to travel deep into pores that are clogged with sebum.
Glycolic acid is the most common AHA, and has the ability to travel deeply into the layers of skin due to its small molecular size. Glycolic acid, in combination with other ingredients, is also an effective treatment for melasma.
All AHAs help boost collagen production, leaving skin firmer and plumper, and can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, leaving users with a more youthful, revitalized appearance!
TREATING ACNE IN YOUR TWENTIES: THE GENTLE WAY
As a teenager with acne, you may have used a variety of acne-fighting scrubs, cleansers, and creams - most with fairly high concentrations of salicylic acid, and a low moisturizing content.
Then, as you enter your twenties, remember that maintaining moisture is a major concern. A strong moisture barrier allows your skin to slow the aging process, which will keep your skin looking young for as long as possible. When treating acne in your twenties:
MOISTURIZE, NO MATTER WHAT. While it may be tempting to skip this step, if you’re using acne-fighting products with salicylic acid or another drying acid, your skin will get dehydrated very quickly. As teenagers, our skin typically has an overabundance of oil production which prevents skin dehydration. That changes in the twenties, and your skin will thank you (now and later!) if you give it daily, consistent moisture.
DON’T STRIP YOUR SKIN. Harsh cleansers that aren’t properly pH balanced will take away all of your skin’s natural oil and leave you vulnerable to inflammation. Acne-prone skin needs to be treated even more gently - it’s sensitive, after all - so use a gentle cleanser!
USE A LOW CONCENTRATION OF ACID. Salicylic acid is the most commonly used product to fight acne, but products often contain much more acid than you should really use on a daily basis, leaving your skin dry, unhappy, and vulnerable to further breakouts. Look for acid concentrations of less than 1.5% and be consistent with your daily use. Consistency is the key.
SKINCARE IN YOUR TWENTIES: THE ROUNDUP
The twenties can be a challenging decade filled with life changes and new experiences, but don’t forget that with a little self-care, your skin can stay healthy, glowing and radiant. If you create a simple skincare routine and make time for it every day, you’ll find that your skin reflects your effort, and you’ll enter your thirties with a youthful, bright complexion!
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