The Best Skin-Care Tips And Products For Your 20s, 30s, And 40s

Everyone knows that taking care of your skin is important, but a one-size-fits-all approach is not the answer. Your skin type, environment, and age play huge factors in determining just how you should care for your skin.

There being a ton of products out there, and sometimes it seems you need an advanced chemistry degree just to understand the ingredients. Cut through the confusion and get your very best skin with these decade-specific tips from derma experts:

Skin-Care for Your 20s

Your old college habit of falling into bed with a face-full of makeup isn’t doing you any favors. Got it? Now is the time to start building a basic skin care routine that will pay off in the future, according to Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse.

“Get in the habit of washing your face at bedtime to remove make-up, grease, and grime from the day,” Shainhouse says. “These can all clog pores and cause inflammation that can trigger acne. If you’re acne-prone, consider using a face wash or body wash with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to unclog pores and kill bacteria, respectively.”

Related: Shop skin-loving facial cleansers.

But don’t stop there! Shainhouse recommends following up with a moisturizer (choosing something light-weight if you have acne-prone or greasy skin). Lastly, wearing sunscreen every day is a non-negotiable. “If you start now,” Shainhouse says, “you [can] look way younger than your friends when you are older.”

Related: 6 Healthy Habits I Wish I’d Learned When I Was Younger

Skin-Care For Your 30s

In your 30s, keeping up with a consistent skin-care routine is going to be your first step to maintaining healthy skin. But the 30s is also a great time to add a few anti-aging habits. You may also want to reevaluate the products you are using, making adjustments to accommodate changes to your skin.

For instance, unless you’re still fighting with acne, this decade is a good time to adjust your cleanser to a gel-based product. The primary responsibility of this sort of product is to remove any makeup or other sort of dirt before heading to bed.

“Makeup that sits in your pores can clog and irritate, triggering acne, and it can, theoretically, stretch out pores,” says Shainhouse. “The soot and particulate matter that are outside can cause inflammation in the skin and free radicals can oxidize DNA and damage collagen.”

At this age everyone should also be using a toner, according to licensed advanced esthetician, Melissa Allen. She suggests the addition of a hydrating mist toner with hyaluronic acid in it, which is used after cleansing but before moisturizing.

Related: 6 Floral Waters That Can Totally Replace Your Skin Toner

A broad-spectrum SPF should follow your cleanser, toner, and moisturizer, according to Shainhouse, who doesn’t believe the protection provided by your moisturizer or foundation is adequate. Go with an SPF 30, like the Antioxidant Natural Sunscreen by Derma E.

Skin Care for Your 40s+

In your 40s, slower cell turnover—along with changes to your hormones—may change the needs of your skin, according to Shainhouse. If you are noticing dryness and sensitivity, now is a good time to make the switch to a non-soap or cream cleanser.

If you haven’t begun to address your skin’s specific needs with topical treatments, your 40s is the time to make this habit. This is where serums with active ingredients come into play. There isn’t a one-size-fit-all recommendation, so you’ll likely need to chat with a dermatologist, health enthusiast, or esthetician to find the right cocktail for your skins needs. Some of the most common serums include hyaluronic acid for hydration, vitamin C for reducing inflammation, and rosehip seed oil for uneven skin tone.

Related: Shop fluids, oils, and serums for your skin care needs.

Retinoids, which are derived from vitamin A, are used to encourage cell turnover (and, in turn, a reduction in fine lines). “To help bring new skin cells to the surface and encourage new collagen growth, you may want to start using a retinoid serum or cream a few nights a week,” says Shainhouse. Collagen is also available in the form of capsules and powder.

Specialized treatments, like oils or retinoids, should follow your cleanser and toner but come before moisturizer and sunscreen. Shainhouse suggests adjusting your moisturizer based on your skin’s needs. “For warm-weather months, use a lightweight moisturizer on the areas that need it, and for cool dry months, switch to a heavier cream,” she says.

Related: Browse beautifying moisturizers from every skin type.