Best Skin Care Tips For Every Decade — 20s, 30s, 40s, & Beyond
How we treat ourselves changes with time. This is true of nutrition, movement, mental health practices, and, yes, skin included. As we get older, different concerns may creep up—as well as fundamental changes to our skin structure due to environmental exposure, hormones, and the sort of changes that just happen naturally. And as this occurs, we must be thoughtful about how we address the skin.
At mindbodygreen, we are never ones to be reactive and instead look to care for ourselves in gentle, proactive ways. We favor lifestyle solutions and holistic routines that serve the skin, and never harm it in the name of aesthetics. We look for rituals that sustain us and that we look forward to practicing rather than those that make us feel bad about ourselves. We opt to fuel and feed our skin with efficient, targeted nutrients—both from the outside in and inside out.*
Everyone's different, sure, but there are some universal skin care truths that we can all more-or-less follow. And that's what we're talking about here. As you read on, you can click through each decade to find the full list of tips and advice.
I guess that old saying is true: With age comes wisdom.
Twenties: Keep it simple.
The 20s should be viewed through a less-is-more lens. Your roaring 20s is definitely a time for experimentation, but with so many trendy options available, you may be tempted to make yourself a beauty product guinea pig. The more stuff you slather on your face, the bigger the likelihood that chaos can break loose in the form of redness, irritation, and breakouts.
In fact, the growing number of 20-somethings who think they have sensitive skin, many times they've simply just sensitized it. "This is something you are doing to yourself," board-certified dermatologist Whitney Bowe, M.D., tells us in this story about sensitive versus sensitized skin. It's done by stripping the top layer of skin: Essentially, you can turn otherwise healthy, balanced skin into reactive skin by experimenting away that protective layer with scrubs, face brushes, acids, harsh toners, irritating makeup, and so on. "It's a tricky balance. You want to remove dead skin cells so you get a nice glow but don't want to do it too much and thin out that layer," warns Bowe. "You need to be careful." Choose a basic routine and stick to it in order to help keep you in the clear.
Thirties: Be proactive.
Your 30s can actually be a really good skin time. Wrinkles and fine lines generally aren't too pronounced, and hopefully, blemish issues have eased, if not completely subsided. But it is an ideal time to start smart prevention. "[This age] is when collagen production naturally begins to slow down, and stressors like UV exposure and dietary factors can speed up its breakdown and prevent new collagen formation," says holistic and board-certified dermatologist Keira Barr, M.D.
Really make sure you've nailed down your skin care routine, be smart about sun care, start eating mindfully, begin a supplement routine, and start to look into targeted topical products, like serums or treatments (if you haven't already!). These will help your skin in the long run.* Trust us.
Forties: Be smart about your choices.
By now, you likely have a skin care routine in place. And perhaps you've incorporated some more tailored steps, like a brightening serum or a weekly exfoliation treatment. But now's the time to really think about what chances—big and small—you see in your skin, and how you want to address it. "In your 40s, signs of sun exposure may show up more prominently with decreased skin elasticity and enlarged pores," says board-certified dermatologist Keira Barr, M.D. "Hormones may be shifting, which means more dryness, irritation, and breakouts."
What does this mean for your basic routines? Start getting smart about the sort of products and actives you are using: Really research ingredients and their primary function so you can target your specific needs. Think about why you are taking each step of the routine: Does it make sense for you, or is it just something you've always done? Your 40s are about homing in on how you can best tend to your specific skin.
Fifties: Be adaptable.
According to a Harris Poll, the adults surveyed tended to agree that 50 is the so-called perfect age. (Whatever perfect means, mind you.) You feel comfortable in your skin, and the data suggested that it's "the average age Americans would like to live at if they could skip time and live forever in good health at a particular age." That said, major changes such as menopause can affect the way you'll want to approach skin care. "This is the time when you really begin to see collagen loss and saggy skin," says holistic esthetician Elle Feldman. "Hormone [issues] cause collagen production to drop off sharply and the skin to become drier." So learn to be adaptable in this decade: Monitor your skin's needs on a regular basis, and adjust accordingly.
Sixties & beyond: Proceed with care.
Of course, a huge benefit of being in your 60s is celebrating how you're aging gracefully and not sweating the small stuff too much, including the wrinkles you've earned through the years. "My older patients actually want to have a more simplified regimen," says board-certified dermatologist Zenovia Gabriel, M.D. If you're looking to pare back, we recommend leaning into the super-hydrating stuff—skin tends to get dryer as you get older—and skipping the exfoliation.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.