Skincare routine. Two words that are enough to intimidate just about anyone. Trust me, I know from experience and that’s exactly the reason I’m taking the daunting concept of skincare and making it a hell of a lot less overwhelming for all of us aboard the struggle bus. It’s so hard to know what to use and when to use it so I decided to highlight some of the best kinds of products to use in your skincare routine, based on your age.
Each decade of your life is so different for so many reasons and the same goes for your skin. While you may be solely focused on breakouts as a teen, you’ll probably become equally obsessed with fine lines and wrinkles in your 30’s, and your routine should reflect that. I’ve broken it down by each decade and provided a couple example routines whether you’re in your teens, twenties or thirties.
*Disclaimer: The routines listed below are meant to give you an idea of the best products for each age. Skincare is not one-size-fits-all so take into account your own skin type + sensitivities before trying any of these products.
Now this one is no secret… in your teens your main focus should be fighting acne. That isn’t a huge surprise, and it definitely doesn’t mean we’re safe from acne after our 18th birthday… Nevertheless, your skin most likely is producing more oil because of all the hormone changes goin’ on in your body, so, teen years are the perfect time to introduce your skin to a consistent, skin-clearing routine.
In your teens, you mainly to focus on forcing yourself to wash your face every day, just getting into the habit, which I know sounds so simple but getting yourself to actually do it is hard! So I would start cleansing—morning and night, no exceptions—and introduce a simple routine that won’t take up too much time. Look for acne-fighting products that won’t dry out your skin, products with salicylic acid, sulfur, tea-tree oil and benzoyl peroxide–to name a few–are ideal.
Cleanser: Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser
Micellar Water/Makeup Remover: Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water
Toner: Sunday Riley Martian Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Toner
Moisturizer: Eau Thermale Avene Antirougeurs Day Redness Relief Soothing Cream
Spot Treatment: COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch and Mario Badescu Drying Lotion
If you’re having trouble and want a little more help, Dr. Dennis Gross made a list of all the acne-causing ingredients you should avoid!
I have to interrupt myself to say that it is so crazy important that you wear eye cream. I’ll never forget when my mom introduced me to eye cream as I was entering middle school, and I’ve been using it religiously ever since. Put it this way, if you graduated high school before 2016, you’re old enough to start using an eye cream and you will thank yourself later–trust me!
I have crazy bags under my eyes. I like to think it’s because I’m Italian, but let’s be real, it’s because I’m tired. Anyway, I’ve tried about a thousand but these ones really get the job done and are my favorites at the moment:
When you’re twenty-something, the breakouts may have slowed down a little, and by now your finding your skin looking bleh after all the damage you’ve done to it in your youthful years.
If you’re in your mid/late- twenties, you may have started to see traces of crow’s feet around your eyes—or the smile lines around your mouth are getting more noticeable— and you may start seeing the beginning stages of dark spots. I read recently that, as young as 25, our collagen production starts to slow down, which is absolutely terrifying to someone (me) who has six more months of collagen producing bliss.
No matter what twenty-something you are, your twenties are all about preserving your youth and protecting your skin from outdoor irritants to ultimately avoid the most horrible trap of all… aging. Because your mid-twenties are when cell turnover starts to lag, now is the time to introduce exfoliating products like AHAs, to boost cell turnover and products with antioxidants to protect the skin from UV rays/outdoor pollutants to your skincare repertoire. Towards your late twenties, start thinking about using products with retinol to shrink pores and really amp up your anti-aging efforts.
Because you’re trying to focus on so many things at once, it could be helpful to buy a product that does more than one thing at once like IS Clinical Active Serum or Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum–it’s packed with all types of antioxidants so it targets a multitude of problems at once–who doesn’t love a good timesaver?
By now you should begin saying goodbye to your beloved makeup wipe and start washing your face once in the morning and once at night—maybe even double cleansing when you’re wearing makeup–double cleansing= washing once with an oil based cleanser and then again with a water-based one. People always skip the first in the morning because we think our skin can’t get that dirty if we’ve just been sleeping, but I’m telling you, I saw significant changes in my skin’s texture and how my skin looks under makeup when I started forcing myself to wash my face right when I woke up and at night.
Side note: Your twenties are a perfect time to start practicing the rule that your face extends from your hairline to your nipples, and start giving your neck and chest much needed and necessary T.L.C!
Cleanser: IS Clinical Cleansing Complex
Treatment: Dr.Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads
Serum: Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum
Moisturizer: Caudalie VINEACTIV 3-in-1 Moisturizer
SPF: Supergoop Defense Refresh Setting Mist SPF30
Cleanser: EVE LOM Gel Balm Cleanser
Micellar Water/Makeup Remover: Bioderma Sensibio H2o Micellar Water
Toner/Chemical Exfoliator: Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 1970
Serum: SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel
Retinol: Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Booster (2x-3x a week)
Moisturizer: Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream
If you haven’t, no problem, just stick with me and use this list as a template to help build your own routine. In your thirties you should be focusing on preventing signs of aging. Similar to your twenties, but now, you’ll want to choose products that aid in fading dark spots/acne-scars, like vitamin C and niacinimide, and products that are reverse signs of aging, like AHAs and peptides.
Hopefully, by now–or when you’re finished reading this–you’re cleansing both in the morning and at night, chemically exfoliating two-three times a week and using serums both morning and night. By 30, you should familiarize yourself with acids, you may have a favorite face mask, you’re using eye cream every night and you hopefully remember SPF more often than not–I swear all of this isn’t nearly as complicated as it looks written out.
As we age, our skin becomes more dry, so I’d try to avoid those harsh acne-fighting products you used in your teen’s and twenties and start adding hydrating products like a hydrating toner or a product heavy in hyaluronic acid–the moisture-making acid. If you absolutely cannot live without your spot treatment, opt for one with natural ingredients instead of harsh acids as you Segway into this new decade.
Your routine at 30 is a bit more complex than it was before but, hey, your life’s probably more a bit more complex. As long as you remember that your routines serve two purposes: the purpose of your AM routine is to protect your skin from air, sun and all those pollutants awaiting you outside your house, and your PM routine is to help repair the skin after all the damage done to it during the day! Vitamin C, for example, is perfect to use during the day because it’s a natural UVB corrector.
Quickly before I get into the best routine for thirty-somethings, I want to make sure I note do’s and don’ts for pregnant people as far as ingredients. Pregnant ladies, listen up! For these nine months, try to avoid these ingredients.
Cleanser: Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel
Toner: Fresh Rose Hydrating Toner
Serum: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic
Serum: Sunday Riley Good Genes
Moisturizer: Charlotte Tillbury Magic Cream
SPF: Supergoop’s Defense Refresh Setting Mist SPF 50
Oil-Based Cleanser: Tata Harper Nourishing Oil Cleanser
Water-Based Cleanser: IS Clinical Cleansing Complex
Micellar Water/Makeup Remover: Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Water
Toner: Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 1970
Serum: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum OR Resurface by Shani Darden Retinol Reform Peel (alternate)
Serum: IS Clinical Active Serum + True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster
Moisturizer: Tatcha The Water Cream