These Are the Skin-Care Rules to Live by for Every Stage of Your Life

What your skin needs in your 20s isn't the same as in your 50s. We talked to experts to find out the most important skin needs during each decades and the best regimen to address them so you can have your best complexion at any age.

In your 20s

01-20s-The Best Skin Care For Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s_585385892-verona-studioverona studio/ShutterstockHow you treat your complexion in your younger years can set you up for skincare success later in life. In your 20s, it's mostly about prevention. Do you know the correct age to begin these vital skin care practices?

Prevent sun damage

02-prevent-sun-The Best Skin Care For Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s_667116655-MelpomeneMelpomene/ShutterstockAny dermatologist will tell you that one of the most important things you can do to protect your skin is to wear a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30+ every single day, rain or shine. UV rays damage collagen and elastic tissue and cause wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, brown spots, broken blood vessels, and uneven texture, explains Debra Jaliman, MD, a board certified dermatologist in New York City. People who wear sunscreen religiously tend to look much younger (not to mention it helps protect against skin cancer), so this is important for every age group. Need some product recommendations? These are the 13 sunscreens top dermatologists actually use on themselves.

Handle breakouts

03-breakouts-The Best Skin Care For Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s_204648787-AvesunAvesun/ShutterstockJust because you're out of your teenage years doesn't mean acne suddenly disappears (but wouldn't that be amazing?!). To keep skin clear, Dr. Jaliman suggests using a cleanser or pre-soaked pads with salicylic acid. Try: Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Face Wash Cream Cleanser or Peter Thomas Roth Max Complexion Correction Pads. Find out the OTC drugstore, acne-fighters dermatologist trust.

Content continues below ad

Deep clean pores

04-pores-The Best Skin Care For Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s_397380802-VoyagerixVoyagerix/ShutterstockAnd once a week, use a purifying mask to really give pores a deep clean. Look for formulas with ingredients including charcoal or clay. Try: Biore Self Heating One Minute Mask or Yes To Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Mud Mask. If you have acne-prone skin, these blemish-busting face masks are a must!

Treat tired eyes

05-eyes-The Best Skin Care For Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s_369824570-Kaspars-GrinvaldsKaspars Grinvalds/ShutterstockEye masks (or patches) are great for faking a well rested look—even after those late nights. Try: G.M. Collin Instant Radiance Eye Patches or Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Eye Mask. Didn't catch enough zzzs? These genius makeup tips will help you look less tired.

In your 30s

06-eyes-The Best Skin Care For Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s_520099090-puhhhapuhhha/ShutterstockDuring this decade, hormone changes and stress can throw your skin out of whack. And if you didn't take care of your complexion in your 20s, it's time to do some damage control, pronto.

Content continues below ad

Deal with discoloration

07-discoloration-The Best Skin Care For Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s_620479751-VisutaVisuta/Shutterstock"When it comes to patients in their 30s, I see a lot discoloration—mostly from pregnancy, melasma, and sun damage," says Dr. Jaliman. She suggests using vitamin C in the morning. Try: Ole Henriksen Truth Serum or Glossier Super Glow. Dealing with dark spots and uneven tone? These 12 magical makeup tricks will make flaws disappear.

Fight hormonal breakouts

08-breakout-The Best Skin Care For Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s_369387554-wavebreakmediawavebreakmediaSadly blemishes can follow you until your 30s. If you're still struggling with blemishes or inflammation, try a pH balancing (alcohol-free) toner, like Jasmine Green Tea Balancing Toner or Cocokind Raspberry Vinegar Toner.

Step up your anti-aging game

09-anti-aging-The Best Skin Care For Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s_369387611-wavebreakmediawavebreakmedia/ShutterstockRetinol (vitamin A) is a favorite among dermatologists, prized for its ability to promote cell turnover, thus boosting radiance and diminishing fine lines and discoloration. Because retinol increases photosensitivity, it's best to use it at night Try: Amarte HydroLift Cream. If you have sensitive skin, consider Roc Retinol Correxion Anti-Aging Sensitive Skin Night Cream or Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum. This is what dermatologists wish you knew about preventing and treating wrinkles.

Content continues below ad

In your 40s

10-40s-The Best Skin Care For Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s_601820639-Africa-StudioAfrica Studio/ShutterstockHaven't you heard 40 is the new 20? Make sure your skin gets the memo by stocking your medicine cabinet with plenty of nourishing products. (Related read: These are the 12 makeup rules you should know by the time you're 40.)

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

11-hydrate-The Best Skin Care For Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s_326884958-VoyagerixVoyagerix/ShutterstockAs skin ages it loses oil. Here's how to combat dryness: Replace astringent toners with gentle micellar water, like Lierac Paris Demaquillant Douceur - Micellar Cleansing Water. Swap harsh cleansers for creamy, nourishing formulas, like Youth To The People Age Prevention Superfood Cleanser or Aveeno Absolutely Ageless Facial Nourishing Anti‑Aging Cleanser, which remove impurities without stripping skin of precious natural oils. This is what your skincare routine should look like if you have dry skin.

Ditch dullness

12-dull-The Best Skin Care For Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s_462300469-puhhhapuhhha/ShutterstockDullness and dryness are common complaints of women in their 40s. Facial oil is a great way to boost radiance, luminosity, and moisture! All you need are a few drops in the AM and PM. We like: Edible Beauty & Snowflower Illuminating Face Oil or Herbivore Orchid Youth Preserving Facial Oil. Try these amazing tricks for healthy, glowing skin.

Content continues below ad

Banish crow's feet

13-crows-feet-The Best Skin Care For Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s_71418502-Elena-StepanovaElena Stepanova/ShutterstockYou'll also start to see fine lines around your eyes. Dr. Jaliman suggests formulas with peptides, like Sea Radiance Rapid Eye Lift or Biossance Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel, to smooth the delicate eye area.

In your 50s and beyond

14-50s-The Best Skin Care For Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s_394952335-goodluzgoodluz/ShutterstockDuring this decade, the most major concerns are wrinkles, sagging, uneven tone, and dryness.

Firm up

15-firm-The Best Skin Care For Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s_378837553-EKATERINA-SOLODILOVAEKATERINA SOLODILOVA/ShutterstockStart by investing in a serum with hyaluronic acid—this mega-moisturizing ingredient holds 1,000 times its weight in water. Advances in technology have produced low molecular weight hyaluronic acid (LMW-HA), which penetrate the skin more easily to help plump, hydrate, and firm. Try: SkinCeuticals H.A. Intensifier or PCA Skin Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum.

Content continues below ad

Tackle wrinkles

16-wrinkles-The Best Skin Care For Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s_644277301-Valeri-PotapovaValeri Potapova/ShutterstockRetinol-based night products are still going to be your best bet. But you can up the ante with a higher concentration or even a prescription option, like Renova (make an appointment with your dermatologist to determine the best option for you). Once a week try a concentrated anti-aging mask, like Shiseido Benefiance Pure Retinol Intensive Revitalizing Face Mask. Don't miss the retinoid rule dermatologists are urging everyone to follow.

Prevent cellular damage

17-cellular-damage-The Best Skin Care For Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s_551940703-Jacob-LundJacob Lund/ShutterstockCell turnover slows as we age, making damage more visible and difficult to reverse. Make the most of your beauty sleep with a reparative overnight treatment, like Amorepacific Moisture Bound Sleeping Recovery Mask or Exuviance Overnight Recovery Masque. Read up on the nighttime habits of people with great skin.
View as Slideshow

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.