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At age 20, it’s not surprising that your skin is actually still catching up from the trials and tribulations of puberty. It’s incredibly common for those in their early twenties to still have residual acne (especially hormonal acne around periods) or at least still deal with beating the occasional breakout. But even though your skin might still be acting like a teenager, it’s probably time to graduate to a grown-up cleanser. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone’s cleanser needs are going to be different so your BFF’s favorite face wash might make your face flip out. Whether you’re oily, more on the dry side, or just looking for something to keep your face clear, there’s a cleanser out there that will do the job. With a little bit of trial and error, you should be able to find a cleanser that will work wonders for your complexion, and you’ll be SO glad you did.
Save: Burt’s Bees Orange Essence Facial Cleanser $5.59
Spend: Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser $18
Makeup Remover and/or Cleansing Oil
At 21 life feels like one big party. It’s legal for you to drink, you’ve probably been out of the house for some time, and every day is energetic and exciting. But with living life like a party comes the very necessary part of the end of party: clean up. And where this metaphor takes us is to something you HAVE to have in your skincare routine at 21—a really solid way of cleaning your face at the end of each day. Whether or not you wear makeup, you shouldn’t be going to bed without really making sure you’ve truly washed the day off. Cleansing before using your cleanser ensures you’re not just rubbing the dirt, oil, foundation, and whatever else might be crawling around on your 21-year-old face all over. You’re really cleaning, really taking care of your skin. And the you that will wake up and not see a greaseball the next morning with thank you.
Spend: Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm $29.50
Splurge: La Mer The Cleansing Oil $90
Really, you should have worked sun protection into your routine before hitting 22. But better late than never. The earlier and more proactive you are with protecting your skin from the sun (Yes! Even if you’re not going outside that day! Windows still let in UV rays!) the better. Even if you don’t see visible deterioration to your skin you still want to be shielding it from the damage that can’t be seen. Look for a broad spectrum, minimum SPF 30 sunscreen and wear it every day. No excuses. Even if your friends who live for tanning make fun of you, the lack of damage you’ll have to your face when you hit your 40s will be so, so worth it.
Save: Olay Complete All Day Moisture SPF Skin Cream $5.89
Spend: Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 35 $25
Splurge: Supergoop City Sunscreen Serum SPF 30 $42
If your goal is to have supple, bouncy, and glowing skin, skimping on moisture is a no-go. And at 23, your skincare line up should be an established routine and less “sometimes I use a makeup wipe at night.” And a solid moisturizer is the base of a well-established routine. No matter your skin type, moisture is 100% necessary. Yes! Even if you think you have oily skin that doesn’t need extra hydrating. You’re wrong! Skipping moisturizer can actually cause your skin to think it needs more oil production, which in turn, makes you break out more. So find a moisturizer you love and use it at least twice a day. No exceptions.
Save: L’Oreal Paris Hydra Genius Glowing Water Cream $13.49.
Spend: Glossier Priming Moisturizer $35
Splurge: Tatcha Silk Cream $120
Are antioxidants completely necessary? No. They’re no sunscreen or moisturizer, and no one’s debating that. But experts agree that having at least one product in your regimen that contains a healthy amount of antioxidants when you’re in your twenties can help save your skin from spots and fine lines, as well as shield your skin from pollutants and overall unevenness. When you start inching towards your mid-twenties, it’s time to stop sticking to the basics and adding things in that will really set your skin up for success. And serums and antioxidants are the way to do just that.
Save: The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% $17.80
Spend: Skin Inc. French Pine Bark Serum $35
Splurge: Drunk Elephant C-Firma™ Day Serum $80
Even if you’re not seeing visible signs of aging and fine lines around your eyes at 25, eye cream is something to work into your routine. The skin around your eyes actually ages 5 to 10 years faster than the rest of the skin on your face. So even if the rest of you is still getting carded everywhere, your eyes could be aging at a far more rapid pace. The sooner you start treating the delicate skin around your eyes and lids with the care it deserves, the better. You can not only fight fine lines that occur from everyday things like squinting and laughing, but you can stop dark circles, puffiness, and overall dehydration by making sure that a really good cream is in your routine in your twenties.
Save: No7 Youthful Eye Serum $23.99
Splurge: Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado $48
Welcome to 26 AKA: Officially your late twenties. This means getting your own health insurance, (ideally) saving for retirement, and having a body and skin that unfortunately don’t bounce back quite as quickly as they used to. It’s time to face it (no pun intended): you’re getting older and you need to take care of yourself. One of the best ways to repair your skin is by letting it heal overnight. And how do you do that? With a mask of course! Overnight masks are specifically designed to really repair and penetrate your skin over a longer period of time than a typical mask. That length of time (while you’re sleeping) allows for a deeper level of healing and saturation of whatever ingredients are in the mask. At 26 you deserve to treat yourself and your skin, and overnight masks couldn’t make doing that easier.
Save: Olay Regenerist Luminous Overnight Mask $24.19
Spend: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask $45
Splurge: Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Night Concentrate $110
Treating Dullness, Brightening, and Overall Evenness
At 27 it’s not unheard of for your skin to show signs of getting older and some of the less-than-awesome things that it’s been through throughout the years. Dullness, dark spots, scarring from acne, even hyperpigmentation can all be hanging out on your face depending on your genes, your skin history, or how well you’ve cared for it in years prior. But all is not lost! Finding a product specifically designed to target the damage that’s been done can give you back the skin you may have taken for granted at 19 or 20. Things like lactic acid, glycolic acid, green tea extract, and more are all meant to be like little warriors for your complexion.
Save: Ole Henriksen Truth Serum $48
Spend: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyface $80
Splurge: Sunday Riley Good Genes $158
At 28 you might be in denial that it’s time to fight against aging and work in products that retain your skin’s youth…but you’re wrong. Retinoid was originally developed to be an acne treatment, but dermatologists quickly noticed that banishing breakouts wasn’t this medicine’s only benefit. Patients using retinoid had brighter skin, fewer fine lines, and commented that their skin was overall more supple and soft. The best part about retinoid? Even though it was developed by doctors it’s not a prescription based product. SO you can fight back against your skin aging more than you’d like it to without needing to go to a doctor.
Save: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid* 2% Emulsion $9.80
Collagen and Anti-Aging
At 29 you’re exiting your twenties and heading towards a whole new decade of skincare. Collagen is a naturally occurring protein in our bodies that essentially maintains our body’s structure. As we get older our collagen production lowers, which, when we’re talking about skin can mean more wrinkles, uneven texture, and a lowering of elasticity. Whether supplemental or used in something like a moisturizer, having a collagen product (or something with similar-esque ingredients) will set your skin up to put your best face forward for your thirties. And setting yourself (and your skin!!) up for some successful years to come is what your twenties really are all about.
Splurge: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare C+ Collagen Deep Cream $72