What is the best skincare routine for your age?

When it comes to your skincare routine, there are several things to consider when choosing the right products for your skin. You will have to consider your skin’s health, your overall health, the weather or season, your family’s genetics, and your age.

It is no secret that our skin will change as we age, and the products we use will have to change alongside it. The problems that plagued you in your 20s will likely disappear by your 50s, but will give rise to different concerns. You will also find the products you use in your 20s and 30s may be too harsh or ineffective for the skin you have post-menopause. As life changes, so do our skincare routines!

It is important to understand the science behind how our skin ages, so we can choose the right skincare products to address any problems we have now and prevent problems in the future.

Here we will break down what the best skincare regimen would look like for women at each decade, with a focus on nighttime skincare only. As always, skincare is an individual experience – use what works best for you and your skin! Most of these products are highly reviewed or dermatologist recommended, and should work well for most women. Of course, if you are in doubt, ask your doctor or dermatologist!

Best skin care routine for 20s

For most women, your skin is at its best in your 20s! Your skin is taut, even toned, and generally in amazing shape. However, many women still deal with acne at this age, either on a regular basis or due to hormone fluctuations. In your 20s, you may still be dealing with the same skin issues as you did in your teens, but things like birth control and a better skincare routine can help. You may also not have the budget to start buying anti-aging skincare products, and that’s okay! Invest in a good cleanser and sunscreen, and save your money for other things!

Your 20s are also the decade to prevent future skincare problems. It’s never too early to start! Sun damage is the leading cause of many skincare problems as we age, like pigmentation, wrinkles, uneven tone, and more. So wear your sunscreen every day, rain or shine – and stay out of tanning beds!

The skin care regimen for 20 year olds

Common Problems: hormonal acne, preventing sun damage, establishing a good routine

Cleanser: Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser

Having a great all-around cleanser is important in your 20s, and this one is amazing for oily or acne-prone skin! I’ve been using it for almost a decade now, and it does an amazing job at removing makeup, controlling oily skin, and keeping my skin feeling clean. It’s also inexpensive, which is always a plus in your 20s!

Skincare Brush: Clarisonic Mia 2 Cleansing Brush System

While this may seem like a bit of a splurge in your 20s, a good cleansing brush like the Clarisonic Mia 2 will last you well into your 30s. Exfoliating the skin is important in your 20s, especially if you have problems with acne or oily skin. It’s a good habit to establish now, and take with you into your 30s and even your 40s.

Face Mask: Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask

Face masks aren’t really necessary when you are 20, so it’s not important to spend a lot on them. The Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask is a great one for clearing pores, preventing breakouts, and at only $3/tube, a great cheap face mask.

Moisturizer: Clean and Clear Essentials Dual Action Moisturizer

Since acne is still an issue for most women in their 20s, using a moisturizer with salicylic acid is vital to preventing and treating breakouts. I still use this moisturizer in my 30s because it does the job, but doesn’t dry out my skin like many other acne treatments do. I use it year-round to keep my skin feeling healthy and moisturized!

Best Skincare Routine for 30s

Estrogen levels start to slowly decrease in your 30s, which means your skin will not bounce back as easily as it did in your 20s. Dryness, acne, and inflammation are more common in your 30s, and your skin won’t heal as quickly as it used to. Many women also have children in their 30s, which can wreak havoc on your skin both during and after pregnancy.  You may also start seeing more fine lines around your mouth and eyes, and start to see the effects of earlier sun damage.

Most women start using anti-aging products in their 30s, and the products they use will vary greatly depending on how their skin reacts to the early signs of aging. Much like me, many will have to continue using anti-acne skincare products and anti-aging products at the same time!

The skin care regiment for 30 year olds

Common Problems: fine lines, sensitivity, hormonal acne due to pregnancy, loss of elasticity, uneven/dry skin

Cleanser: Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser

This is still a great cleanser to use in your 30s, as it is non-irritating and will keep your skin feeling clean and fresh. A lot of my friends recommend using a gentle cleanser like this during pregnancy, when hormones can cause more severe acne and other issues.

Skincare Brush: Clarisonic Mia 2 Cleansing Brush System

Exfoliating the skin becomes more important in your 30s, when you typically start using more potent exfoliators and serums. The Mia 2 will not only cleanse the skin, but exfoliates your skin so those serums and moisturizers work more effectively!

Chemical Exfoliator: Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser

In your 30s, it is important to start working to prevent fine lines and uneven skin tone. AHA/BHA products are basically a mini acid peel for your skin, and work hard to undo some of the early signs of aging. You would use this on the days you don’t use the Mia 2 brush, since using an exfoliating cleanser with an exfoliating brush is overkill. This product is great because it is effective at keeping skin healthy, but it’s not as irritating as some more aggressive AHA/BHA products can be.

Face Mask: Mario Badescu Super Collagen Mask

Using a collagen mask like this one is a great way to give your skin a break from the harsh ingredients in your other skincare products. This mask will help reintroduce moisture into your skin, reduce redness, and give your skin a break from the harsh anti-aging ingredients in your other products.

Serum/Treatment: RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream

Retinols are important to start using in your 30s to prevent deep wrinkles and encourage collagen production for more even skin tone. The RoC Retinol Correxion cream is a great one to start with, since it is a low-dose retinol cream. This is the perfect product to use at night, when skin is already healing while you sleep.

Moisturizer: CeraVe Moisturizing Facial Lotion

This is a great, gentle moisturizer to finish your nighttime skincare routine. It contains hyaluronic acid, which traps moisture on the skin to help it heal. You can use a slightly heavier moisturizer than in your 20s, and one that helps your skin repair itself from the acids and retinols you’re exposing it to.

Best Skincare Routine for 40s

As your estrogen levels continue to rapidly drop in your 40s, your skin will start to change more dramatically during this decade. Your skin will lose elasticity and firmness, and many women experience loss of bone density in their face, which leads to sunken cheeks and eyes. In your 40s, you are also more likely to experience broken capillaries, age spots, dryness, and deeper wrinkles. Menopause will start to effect women at this age as well, which can leave skin ravaged. If you were not diligent about sunscreen in your younger years, this is also when you’ll start to see the effects!

Most women really ramp up their anti-aging skincare routine at this point, and start to look at more drastic treatments like injections and fillers to add volume back into the face. Adding and retaining moisture is also vital at this age, so your skincare products will usually focus on keeping skin moist and plump.

The skin care regimen for 40 year olds

Common Problems: loss of elasticity and collagen, pre-menopause, pigmentation, age spots, small wrinkles

Cleanser: Cetaphil Gentle Facial Cleanser

In your 40s, it is important to stick with gentle cleaners and moisturizers, since you’ll likely be using more irritating products in other areas of your skincare routine. This is an even gentler version of the Cetaphil cleanser mentioned above. It is more moisturizing than the other one, but still does a great job at removing makeup and dirt from the skin.

Skincare Brush: Clarisonic Mia 2 Cleansing Brush System

You can easily keep using this brush into your 40s, but you may not want to use it as often as you used to because your skin is thinner and more prone to injury. Use this brush once or twice a week at most, and stop using it if you find it too irritating. They do make a brush head for sensitive skin, so consider switching to that if you find it too irritating. Use it with your Cetaphil Gentle Facial Cleanser for a deep clean, and to prep your skin for the rest of your nighttime skincare routine.

Chemical Exfoliator: Yeouth Glycolic Acid Peel 30% Professional Chemical Face Peel with Retinol and Green Tea Extract

This is the decade where women have to get more aggressive with chemical exfoliation and retinols. While many women end up at the dermatologist for something like Retin-A, you can easily get similar effects at home through glycolic acid and retinol peels. This one contains enough ingredients for 15-20 at-home face peels, which is much cheaper than getting them done at the dermatologist or spa!

Face Mask: Pro-nu Spa Quality 24k Karat Gold Deep Tissue Rejuvenation Facial Mask

What better time to treat yourself than in your 40s? This mask is a luxurious sheet mask that contains 24k gold to increase collagen production, and other ingredients that help combat small wrinkles, pigmentation, and other issues common to skincare in your 40s. Plus, how cool is it to say you indulged in a gold face mask?

Serum: TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Serum for Face

Vitamin C serums are great to use in your 40s! They reduce hyperpigmentation, age spots, and wrinkles, leaving skin feeling better than it did in your 30s. I wouldn’t use this on the same day you use the chemical exfoliating peel because it could be too irritating. However, if you don’t like using the glycolic peels, this can easily be a part of your daily routine!

Moisturizer: Pond’s Extra Rich Dry Skin Cream

Dryness is a very common issue as your skin ages, so it is important to use a thicker moisturizer at night to help replenish and repair your skin. Since you are using so many chemicals in other parts of your routine, it is good to stick to a simple, thick moisturizer. Pond’s has been around for decades, and is the best moisturizer for aging skin.

Best Skincare Routine for 50s

Menopause hits at this point, which causes your estrogen levels to disappear and be replaced with testosterone. At this point, your skin will lose almost a third of its collagen levels, and continue to decrease as you move beyond your 50s. Your skin will become much thinner and more sensitive as you continue to age. This means your skin will be more prone to inflammation and irritation due to pollution, smoke, sun, and other irritants. You will also find that it’s almost impossible to prevent deeper wrinkles, age spots, and other signs of aging at this point. At this point, it’s more about keeping skin healthy and dealing with problems as they happen, rather than trying to prevent them.

Many women find that the skincare products they used in their younger years are too harsh for their skin at this age. Since the skin is thin and prone to damage, it is important to pay attention to moisture and using gentler skincare products. You should also pay close attention to pigmentation and age spots, and have regular checkups with your dermatologist to make sure you don’t have any signs of skin cancer, which can be more aggressive in your 50s and beyond.

The skin care regimen for 50+

Common Problems: menopause-related issues, sensitivity, thin and fragile skin, deep wrinkles, drying, age spots, bumps and skin tags

Cleanser: Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser

Gentle is the key to skincare in your 50s and beyond! This cleanser is great because it cleanses deeply without stripping oil from your skin. It is hypoallergenic and perfect for sensitive skin. Since skin becomes a lot more sensitive at this age, it’s good to find cleansers with fewer ingredients or allergens.

Skincare Brush: None…but you can try other devices instead!

At this point, your skin is probably too thin and fragile for a skincare brush. All of the research I have done says to stop using these devices during or after menopause because they just cause too much damage to the skin’s surface. Even using one made for sensitive skin can be too much, so be careful if you continue using one.

Instead, you could look into using a microcurrent face massage tool, like the NuFace Mini, to encourage circulation and tone the muscles under the skin. This has been shown to help lessen the look of wrinkles, sagging skin, and other signs of aging.

Chemical Exfoliator: None…or discuss with your doctor

Much like using an exfoliating brush, dermatologists recommend avoiding harsh chemical exfoliating products after menopause as well. The exfoliating serums and lotions you used in your 40s are likely too strong for your skin at this age, which could lead to allergic reactions, broken capillaries, or chemical burns. Instead, consult your dermatologist about what products to try, or avoid them altogether.

Face Mask: Silk Camel Anti-wrinkle & Moisturizing Skin Care Silk Facial Mask

This mask would be perfect for aging skin, as it’s meant for sensitive skin. It helps boost collagen and locks in moisture to the skin. The reviews online say it feels amazing on the skin, and keeps skin feeling moisturized long after you’ve taken it off.

Serum: TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Serum for Face

Since you will likely not be using a chemical exfoliant in your skincare routine, you can continue using this serum into your 50s and beyond! You may need to reduce using it to a few times a week, rather than every day, if you find it too irritating. It will keep working to reduce lines and wrinkles, as well as age spots and sun damage.

Moisturizer: Pond’s Extra Rich Dry Skin Cream

Just as in your 40s, I highly recommend using this moisturizer well after your 50s. It is a well-known, highly reviewed moisturizer that will soothe and treat your skin while you sleep. It doesn’t contain many ingredients, and will be gentle enough on even the most fragile skin.