Skincare in your 20s
Updated: Aug 31
Our 20's are a special yet confusing time for our skin (and other areas of our lives too but that is another blog post!) There's nothing like that gorgeous plump youthful glow that our 20s brings. Our hormones start to balance out from puberty around 22-25 years old, yet for some, acne may stick around. At the same time, we may start to see some fine lines appear or throw a pregnancy into the mix which can have its own set of skin issues. Our skin won't let us forget about those sunburns we got as a kid and now that damage is showing up to the party. SKIN, ARE YOU DRUNK? What's happening? I am a firm believer that sunscreen should be worn from birth and around the time someone graduates from high school start adding a few well formulated antioxidant and AHA products to their routine. (Not that I added chemical exfoliants into my routine at that age but I wish I did.) As for anti aging products, start using them as early as your 20s. Remember, prevention is key, I can't stress this enough! It's much easier to prevent sun damage or loss of collagen from happening than it is to try to repair the damage once it has already occurred.
A WORD ON AGING There is absolutely nothing wrong with aging. Put that thought in your back pocket, reference it on a day when you see a wrinkle and embrace the shit out of it. In our society and especially for women the concept of aging is considered negative and something that should be avoided at all costs. Billions of dollars a year are spent on "anti-aging" products and it's among the top skin care concerns.
Let's change this mentality, shall we? Think of it this way, aging skin means you are alive. Those freckles mean you have lived a life outdoors in the sunshine. Smile lines mean you have smiled! Maybe those forehead lines mean you have told countless numbers of super animated stories. All of which are fantastic things and you really shouldn't be so hard on yourself for.
Now, can you age gracefully while slowing down the process a little with good habits and skin care while maintaining skin health? You betcha.
1. WEAR SUNSCREEN If you take one piece of information away from this blog post it's WEAR SUNSCREEN, EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even on cloudy days, during rainy seasons... and make sure you reapply! Wearing a hat is a good idea too! 90% of skin aging is due to UV exposure from the sun. Plus, the much scarier risk of skin cancer. Enough said. 2. DO NOT SLEEP WITH YOUR MAKEUP ON This seems like a simple thing to do, but laziness, crazy work/school schedules or late nights + cocktails = makeup on your pillowcase. This is a no-go people. When we sleep is when our body cells regenerate and it can cause inflammation in the skin along with clogged pores and acne.
Picture this - during the day we sweat, oil is produced, the wind blows dirt and pollution on our skin and then mix that with makeup. Then you go to sleep with all of that on your face smearing it into your pillow and face, possibly night after night. GAG. Wash your face! And wipes don't count as a true cleansing.
3. BE GENTLE WITH YOUR SKIN Stick with mild synthetic fragrance-free skin appropriate cleanser formulas, toners (without alcohol), gentle exfoliants, a quality moisturizer and SPF. Using harsh products will only cause inflammation and redness which can lead to a stripped barrier layer, allowing free radicals into the skin which cause premature aging. It also can create an overproduction of oil which can lead to acne and clogged pores. 4. DON'T RELY ON GENETICS Only about 20-25% of aging is due to genetics so you can't rely on how your mother or grandmother aged. Lifestyle factors such as sun exposure, smoking, pollution, facial expressions, how you sleep on your face, stress, weight, and diet all affect how the skin looks over time. 5. START USING AHAs/BHAs/PHAs and enzymes aka chemical exfoliants Chemical exfoliation helps to keep pores clear, provides a smooth texture and encourages healthy skin cell turnover.
Common types of AHAs are glycolic, lactic and mandelic are ideal for texture, hyperpigmentation and skin brightening. The most common type of BHAs is salicylic acid and is ideal for texture, acne, reducing sebum production and unclogging pores.
Common types of PHAs are gluconolactone and lactobionic acid which are best for sensitive skin and work like AHAs.
Common enzymes are papaya extract and pineapple extract. They work like AHAs and are ideal for gentle surface exfoliation.
6. APPLY + EAT ANTIOXIDANTS A vitamin C or combination antioxidant serum will help to protect the skin from environmental damage as well as maintaining collagen production. Eating anti-inflammatory foods rich in antioxidants and omegas, will also help the entire body's cells age slower.
7. USE PEPTIDES Peptides are pieces of proteins and amino acids which are an essential part of collagen production. In combination with antioxidants, SPF and nourishing ingredients, studies have shown them to be an effective ingredient in slowing the aging process and signs of aging. 8. MOISTURIZE YOUR EYE AREA Since the eye area is 7x thinner than the skin on the rest of the face it shows the first signs of aging. Keeping that thin skin hydrated, nourished and stimulating collagen is a must. Truth be told, most eye creams are just moisturizers in a tiny jar that are overpriced. You don't need them - just use your moisturizer around your eye area. Wearing sunglasses and being aware if you are squinting isn't a bad idea either!
9. BE MINDFUL OF YOUR SUGAR INTAKE Eating sugar and refined carbohydrates contribute to a process called glycation. The insulin in the body surges from that late night pizza creating a surge of inflammation. This produces an enzyme that attaches to collagen fibers breaking them down and causing them to lose strength and flexibility. The result? Skin is more vulnerable to sun damage, loss of elasticity and is prone to develop wrinkles and sagging.
What also happens with this surge of insulin is an increase of hormones which puts oil glands into overdrive. This creates a perfect breeding ground for acne bacteria to form. So think of it this way, sugar/carbs → hormones → sebum → bacteria → acne. 10. DON'T FORGET THE SKIN ON YOUR BODY Pretty often the skin on our neck, chest, hands, and arms look significantly older and sun damaged than our faces. These areas are often neglected, so apply your skin care products from your forehead to your nips! Remember, the sun comes in through the windows in your home, office or car! SPF up people! Don't forget to exfoliate your body weekly and moisturize daily! 11. SLEEP You know you need it and at least 7-8 hours of it.
Lack of sleep → higher levels of cortisol = skin and body inflammation.
12. NO SMOKING I won't lecture you on the overall negative health impacts of smoking because I am sure you are well aware. Now skin-wise, I absolutely will!
When estheticians have clients come in, they can immediately tell if they are smokers. Not from the obvious smell of cigarette smoke, but from how their faces look. Sallow, lifeless, dehydrated, the skin can look waxy but also frail and paper-like with lines and wrinkles around the mouth and lips. They can also tell the dominant hand of a person too because on the side of the face where they regularly puff is a ton of congestion and blackheads. Super sexy right?
Since smoking constricts blood vessels, it's basically depleting the skin of oxygen and nutrients. Smokers also have a high rate of skin cancer. 13. RETINOIDS Since we start to lose 1% of our body's collagen at around 28 years old, this is when adding a retinoid product at night is beneficial. Retinoids are wonderful for smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, helping to keep pores clear and fading discoloration. Retinoids are considered safe when not used in any sunlight or while pregnant. 14. NO PICKING Don't pick your face! No seriously, don't do it. I know, it's extremely tempting when a whitehead is winking at you in the mirror. But there IS an appropriate way to gently extract a whitehead without looking like a massacre on your face and leaving a long-lasting or permanent scar. After a shower → clean skin → clean hands → wrap your two fingers in tissue and with the pads of your fingers (not nails) gently apply pressure on the outside parts of the white head. If it doesn't pop right away abort mission, it's not ready! Icing a pimple is a great option too!
Now go forth and apply this information.
As you go through life, grow through it.