The Best Skin Care Routine By Age, According To Dermatologists

September 1, 2023

Best Skincare Routine By Age


Your skin changes as you age. From an increase in fine lines, wrinkles, and dry skin, to menopause-induced collagen loss, sagging, and puffiness, skin in your 50s is different from your 20s.

As your skin grows, so should how you take care of it. Additional steps in your skin care routine are needed as you get older, including vitamins and antioxidants, to slow the appearance of aging. Let’s take a look at the best skin care routine by age, according to U.S. Dermatology Partner and Nurse Practitioner, Tashara Lester.

“What you do in your twenties will show in your thirties, to your forties, to your fifties, and so on,” Lester said. “That’s why it is so important to have different skincare regimens for each stage of your life.”

Age 20-29

“A lot of the time less is better in our twenties,” she said. “That’s when we have our best collagen production, our best elastin, and good moisturization in our skin.” The most important skin care products in your 20s are sunscreen and facial cleanser, she says.

Step 1 Moisturizing Cleanser

You should start with a high quality cleanser, preferably with lactic acid, glycolic acid, or salicylic acid. These acids are gentle chemical exfoliants which help with cell turnover in the skin. That means they can prevent hyperpigmentation, like dark spots, and dryness, with a more even skin tone.

Step 2 Moisturizer

The key to moisturized skin is water intake. Lester says internal health impacts your external skin, which means water, diet, and other factors will be visible on your face. Use a daily lightweight moisturizer, like the Shani Darden moisturizer, for weightless hydration without congestion.

Step 3 Sunscreen

For each age range, not just in your 20s, she recommended using sunscreen up to SPF 30. Although darker skin tones are proven to be less impacted by aging from sun exposure, hyperpigmentation, premature aging and skin cancer still remains a threat.

Age 30-39

“We’re losing collagen and elastin which starts to diminish around your mid-twenties,” Lester said. “We lose one percent of collagen each year, so if you don’t replenish that then you’re going to start seeing more fine lines, more wrinkles.”

In addition to increased collagen loss, your skin can also be impacted by hormonal changes during gestation and childbirth in your thirties. According to Lester, your skin may not have been breaking out in your twenties, but in your thirties you may see breakouts in addition to fine lines and wrinkles.

Step 1 Moisturizing Cleanser

With less collagen and elastin, and more fine lines and wrinkles, our skin becomes more dry. Even more moisturizing than in your twenties, your cleanser is the foundation of your skin care routine.

Add Vitamin C

The best skin care routine in your thirties has a higher content of vitamins. Vitamin C, an antioxidant, is found not only in oranges and medicine, but skin care products. Lester recommends adding the vitamin to your morning skin care routine to help with collagen production and decrease sun damage.

Add Retinol

Retinol, a prescription-grade tretinoin, is a must-have skin care ingredient in your thirties. This is because retinol helps with skin turnover, similar to chemical exfoliants, which will reduce dry skin. The retinol will also replenish the reduction of collagen your skin faces in your 30s to slow the appearance of aging.

And, as with every age group, your skin care routine is not complete without sunscreen.

Age 40-49

“We start seeing more sagging and puffiness around our forties and fifties,” she said. “We can’t turn back the hands of time, but we can at least try to slow the process of aging.”

You may have used skin care products high in vitamins and antioxidants throughout your earlier years. However, these ingredients are the most important in your forties. According to Lester, we should continue using antioxidants, like vitamin C, and other ingredients like hyaluronic acid, retinol and retinoid to help with collagen depletion as we age.

Add Hyaluronic Acid

In addition to vitamin C and retinol, you should add hyaluronic acid to your skin care routine in your forties. Lester described the acid as a “skin plumper” and additional ingredient to assist with collagen production.

Hyaluronic acid, when used with retinol, helps not only with fine lines and wrinkles, but discoloration and moisture in your skin. As you age, your skin’s ability to retain moisture decreases due to the depletion of your skin barrier. The acid helps prevent moisture loss through barrier support and hydration.

Age 50-59

“What works in your 20s won’t work in your fifties,” Lester said. Menopause, diagnosed after 12 months without a menstrual cycle, is the onset of high hormonal changes which will impact your skin.

The average age of menopause in the United States is 51 years old. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), skin loses about 30 percent of collagen during the first five years of menopause, which, on average, is between 51 and 56 years old.

In addition to collagen and elastin loss, your skin starts to lose fat, becoming more thin and bruising easier. According to Lester, all of the steps in your skin care routine from your 20s will show on your skin in your fifties. Your internal health is the most important ingredient in your skin care routine after age 50, which includes skin cancer prevention.

“The most important thing at any stage in your life is sunscreen,” she said.

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