Now more than ever, young men and women in their 20s are getting a jump start on preventative skin aging by applying sunscreen daily, eating a less-processed, more nutrient-rich diet, incorporating good skin care habits and using quality products. They are hoping for a payoff in years to come with beautiful, glowing skin and fewer lines, wrinkles and brown spots. Sound familiar? It’s a known fact that preventing visible skin aging is far easier and less expensive than getting rid of them once they appear, so here’s ten things that anyone in their 20s needs to be doing in their quest for ultimate skin health and a long-lasting youthful appearance.
1. Re-assess your prescription medication with your doctor. The most popular medications for those in their 20s are oral antibiotics and topical blemish creams (both for clearing breakouts) and birth control pills. However, as you get well into your 20s, they may no longer be necessary, and could be negatively affecting the appearance of your skin.
Did you know that one of the side effects of birth control pills is the darkening of skin pigmentation above the upper lip as well as the cheeks and forehead? A lot of people wonder why they have a dark shading (kind of like a mustache) above their lip, and more than likely, this is caused from the hormonal changes occurring from birth control pills that stimulate melanin production. Skin cells have a memory, so the longer the pigmentation is there, the harder it may be to get rid of later on. If this is something you are experiencing and you’re looking for improvement, talk with your doctor about possibly switching to another type of pill or other birth control options. Read more about how birth control pills affects the skin.
In the case of topical and oral medications for treating acne, I find that many people in their 20s will still be using the same prescriptions that they have been on since their teenage years when their acne was much worse. They are afraid to go off of the medications in fear of their skin breaking out again. But in a lot of cases, by the time you’re in your 20s, you have outgrown the severe hormone-induced acne from your younger years. Personally, I’m a believer that oral antibiotics should be a short-term strategy and not be overused, so consider discussing this with your doctor. If a topical prescription gel or cream is drying out your skin and breakouts are few and far between, this can be easily controlled with more gentle, non-prescription options like a salicylic acid serum (I recommend my clients to use BHA Clarifying Serum) or by using a spot treatment specifically designed for monthly hormonal breakouts (like Anti Cyst Treatment). The 20s are all about creating a healthy, balanced environment for the skin so it can look its best, as well as slowing down what is inevitably to come.
2. Don’t get caught in the cycle of over-drying your skin. I can’t tell you how many people in their 20s say to me, “My skin can get dry so I need a good moisturizer that won’t cause me to breakout.” Sound familiar? My first question to them is always “Why is your skin feeling so dry?” The answer is because they are using a cleanser that is way too strong for their skin and stripping out essential moisture resulting in dead skin cell buildup. As mentioned above (about transitioning away from harsh acne topical prescription creams), the same applies for what you wash your skin with. It makes no sense to strip the skin during the cleansing process and then have to apply something heavy (and potentially pore-clogging) to replace what was just taken out. Only use cleansers that are ‘sulfate-free’, meaning they avoid the use of drying detergents. Your skin cells are like fish and need water to live so you don’t want to start off your skin care routine by putting the skin in an unhealthy state, and then any products applied afterward have to go into repair mode. Make sense? Read: Five Ways To Hydrate Oily, Acne-Prone Skin Without Causing Breakouts
3. Get to know your skin type and use products that best suit your needs and goals. For most, your skin acts way different now than when you were a teenager, so it’s very important to transition your skin routine to give you your desired result. This usually includes lessening oil production without over-drying, clearing clogged pores and blackheads, and preventing breakouts—all while keeping the skin balanced and hydrated. It’s hard to find a routine that works in harmony to create this but it is possible. Find your true skin type by taking my skin type quiz. Your skin changes in your 20s (especially between your early 20s and late 20s) and you need to know the best way to care for it.
4. Be careful when using “anti-aging” products. A lot of people in their 20s want to get a jump start on using potent anti-aging ingredients to get ahead of wrinkles. While this is certainly understandable, for some skin types, this can also create more problems for two reasons. The first is that anti-aging products are formulated with intensive moisturizing ingredients (such as lipid-rich oils), which are appropriate for dry skin types, but may potentially clog the pores of skin that produces oil and prone to clogged pores and breakouts. The second reason is that many of these products have active ingredients in them that are designed to be anti-aging by increasing the metabolism of the cells (such as certain vitamin combinations and peptides). While these are excellent for preventing wrinkles, they may be too stimulating for a younger skin that already has an active metabolism. The result could be increased breakouts. Only use products that are suited for your specific skin type.
5. Wear sunscreen faithfully—365 days a year, rain or shine, inside or out. Daylight and sunlight (even when coming through windows in your car, home or office) is causing a considerable amount of DNA damage to your skin without you even realizing it. While some people already know this, many women and men in their 20s simply are not making use of sunscreen an everyday habit. The reason for this is usually because they can’t find a proper sunscreen that is compatible with their breakout-prone skin type. I’m here to tell you that sunscreens have come a long way and there are many great formulas available that won’t feel greasy or clog the pores. Find one that you’ll enjoy wearing day in and day out, and feel confident that you’re using the best preventative wrinkle product on the planet. (My recommendation: Daily Protection SPF 30 is a very lightweight daily moisturizer and will not cause breakouts. Trust me on this one.)
6. Treat your neck as an extension of your face. Here’s the sad news about the neck for those in their 20s: while you have the wisdom of caring for your skin better than your mother did (due to more awareness and better products available now than ever before), with technology more so embraced by younger people, you are creating what is known as “tech neck.” The 45-degree angle that you hang your head to look at your cell phone causes a repeated squishing of the neck resulting in premature folds and wrinkles to appear. Even without ever doing this, the neck is at a disadvantage for appearing older than the face since there is less bone structure to support the skin. This will all lead to eventual sagginess, so getting a jump start on caring for your neck now will help a lot.
So what should you do? Most people know to apply moisturizer to the neck, and many do this, but the mistake is made in treating the neck as an afterthought. For example, a person will typically rub moisturizer onto his or her face and then whatever is left over on the fingertips will extend down on to the neck. Sound like you? While the intention is good, it’s truly not helping that much in the quest for keeping the skin on the neck tight and smooth. This particularly applies with sunscreen, since the #1 cause of premature skin aging is UV rays given off from the sun. The little amount being applied as an afterthought, is hardly enough to do its intended job since sunscreen needs to be applied generously in order to offer full sun protection. The best way to apply sunscreen to this area is by doing a full second application exclusively to the neck. In addition to sunscreen, be sure to apply your serums and moisturizers in an upward
motion to go against gravity.
Someone once told me, “You’re only as young as your neck.” I kind of agree.
7. Start using eye cream NOW. Since the eye area is the first area to age due to wear and tear from smiling, squinting and rubbing your eyes, keeping it hydrated and nourished is essential for preventing premature lines and wrinkles. In your early 20s, you definitely don’t need something heavy and greasy but instead, I recommend for my younger clients to use a lightweight creamy/gel consistency eye cream (like Vitamin C Eye Brightener). And once they are in their late 20s, start using a more moisturizing and active eye cream (like Total Eye Repair Cream). I swear by eye creams for the prevention of wrinkles and I talk more about why I believe this here.
8. Use a product with retinol or a prescription retinoid. Hands down, the most tried and true, biologically proven topical anti-aging ingredient is vitamin A, known as retinoid or retinol. If you happen to be currently using a prescription retinoid (such as Retin-A or Differin) as recommended by your dermatologist for when your acne was more problematic in your younger years, consider yourself lucky for getting a head start on the benefits of it as an anti-aging product. If you’re not experiencing any harsh side effects (like peeling and dryness) then continue using it and know that it’s helping in the next phase of your skin care for the prevention of wrinkles.
If you’ve never used a vitamin A product before, and your breakouts are mainly a thing of the past, then you should start using a non-prescription retinol product. I recommend Advanced Resurfacing Serum to my clients because it’s so safe for sensitive skin and you will not experience the harsh side effects that can come with a prescription retinoid. For most people in their 20s, if you start using a retinol product consistently now, then you should never have to switch over to a stronger prescription. The idea is that you’re getting ahead of the wrinkles by using it preventatively, versus someone in their 50s (who already shows a lot of sun damage) who might have to start immediately with a prescription, and then try to manage the side effects of dryness and peeling.
One thing to note: Daily use of sunscreen (applied generously) is crucial to seeing successful results with retinol or a retinoid. And speaking of anti-aging; a common myth is that retinol is good for both breakouts and wrinkles, but this is not always the case. Read more about that here.
9. Use a Botox-free alternative for preventing forehead and between-the-brow wrinkles. I get asked all the time by young men and women in their 20s, “Do you think I should start getting Botox to prevent wrinkles? I’m starting to notice a crease. Is Botox safe?” No, I generally don’t think it’s a good idea for most people in their 20s to start getting Botox (read why here), but yes, I believe it’s perfectly safe. However, a much less expensive option for the prevention of wrinkles is to reduce the amount of wear and tear (damage to the facial tissue supporting the epidermis) from continual repetitive motions such as frowning, squinting, smiling. You can easily do this by applying Frownies at night while you sleep. Surprisingly, when you dream at night, and the position of your face when you sleep on your pillow, can create a lot of facial movements. So applying these easy-to-use patches can really make a difference in the prevention of lines and wrinkles. And of course, using sunscreen and products with retinol and antioxidants all help the greater good, too.
10. Get regular facials and chemical peels. While using a good home care routine designed for your specific skin type is essential, your skin will greatly benefit from additional care with professional treatments by a trusted esthetician or other skin care provider. Read 10 reasons why you need a facial and all the benefits from getting
Keep in mind that not all chemical peels are equal. The ones that I think are most beneficial for those in their 20s use salicylic, lactic, or glycolic acid to give an effective exfoliation. Depending on the strength used, the side effects can be very minimal. While a peel can be done every few months (or a lighter one added on to a facial) will all be anti-aging, they also can target specific conditions like brown spots, post-breakout marks, and clearing acne. However, don’t fall into the trap of only getting peels and constantly injuring the skin, like I see so many people do. Your skin can really benefit from manual deep pore extractions and soothing antioxidant hydration all found in a traditional facial. Your skin will respond best with a variety of treatments, so schedule a consultation to develop the best plan for your skin.
So there you have it. These ten things to start doing NOW will truly prepare your skin for a lifetime of healthy and beautiful skin with a #ReneeRouleauGLOW. Trust me when I say, don’t just rely on good genetics to carry you through. Good habits are EVERYTHING. (And my 11th tip is to read my blog for more of my expert advice. Enjoy!)
Need expert advice from a licensed esthetician? Schedule a virtual consultation to get customized advice in person, over the phone or online via Skype or FaceTime.For more expert advice check out the blog. Also sign up for our skin tip e-newsletter, follow Renée Rouleau on Twitter and Instagram and join the discussion on our Facebook page. You’ll be your own skin care expert in no time. Get the #ReneeRouleauGlow!