Skin Care Musts Through the Ages: Essential Regimens in Your 20s, 30s, and 40s

Every cell in our body rejuvenates every seven years, according to the Stanford School of Medicine (and Grey's Anatomy).

This means that each decade, our skin changes and renews itself, but not always in the same way. What is good for the goose may also be good for the gander, but what is good for the 25-year-old is not necessarily as good for the woman in her 40s.


We need to change and grow with our skin and care for it with special routines for each decade. Beauty expert Laura Carson Miller writes about beauty and maintains the blog, Your Stylish Life, where she writes about just such concerns.

The first thing Miller recommends is that all women, regardless of age, make sure to use a quality sunscreen.

But that's not all.

Are you in your 20s?

Getting in the habit of removing makeup at night, cleansing, exfoliating as needed, and applying moisturizer is imperative. It's also important to learn that the skin around the eyes is very delicate and to be gentle when using eye makeup remover and cleansing in the eye area. Even in your 20s you need to treat this thin skin with kid gloves. Apply sunblock daily to face, chest, neck, and backs of hands, says Miller.

More for people in their 20s:

Learn your skin type and get a good (gentle) cleanser, exfoliator, serum, and moisturizer. This is also the time of breakouts (long past adolescence), so maintain your acne treatment product or acne prevention skin care line if you need it. Food can also make a difference, so eat blueberries and salmon and high antioxidant foods to fight free radical damage. Also: Sunblock! Sunblock! Sunblock!

In your 30s? 

Again, antioxidant rich foods matter.Toners can also be helpful at this age. They remove any cleanser that might be left on the skin, along with any dirt or makeup left after cleansing and they set skins pH to prepare for serums and moisturizer. Exfoliation is very important now. Dr. Jessica Krant, a dermatologist based in New York, adds:

"Starting a nightly cream containing over the counter retinol (a retiniod, relative of vitamin A) can help start to reverse already accumulated sun damage and prevent fine lines and wrinkles (it can also help acne).If the skin is too sensitive to tolerate these, many over the counter anti-aging creams containing oligopeptides, shitake mushroom, or copper peptide may be helpful. This is also a good time to start remembering to put sunscreen on the hands, which are a definite age giveaway later in life."

In your 40s:

As you head toward the 40s, things do start to change. Sun damage is more readily apparent and fine lines and wrinkles may start to appear. Retinol products are key to combat age spots, fine lines, and deep wrinkles, and for evening the skin tone. Peptides are great as they signal the skin to make more collagen, plumping it up.

"Later in life, skin starts to lose its ability to maintain moisture, which leads to a thinned and dull appearance with more visible fine lines. A heavier night cream is often useful to start in this decade, to keep the skin supple and full," says Dr. Krant. "Applying the night cream and any gentle enough anti-aging products to the neck and chest area is also important to remember." 

Also in your 40s:

Exfoliation is the most important element, as it reveals the fresh new skin that is under the dull, dead cells. Removing them gives your skin an instant glow and allows all your skin care products to penetrate the skin and work much more effectively. "Products can't work if they're merely lying on top of dead skin cells," Miller says. "Also, by your 40s you might've experimented with facials, peels, microdermabrasion, or other skin care treatments. If one or a combination of these things really makes a difference for you, you can work it into your budget."

How do you care for your skin through the ages?


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