The best skincare routine for your 20s is the one that prepares you for your 30s. It sounds like it should be pretty basic, but your skincare routine is actually highly personal. Because it all depends on your skin type, your primary skin concerns, and your budget. On the flip side, some things are straight-up universal. Hint: cleansing!
We’ll cover the very basics which are all about maintaining healthy skin, treating major skin concerns, and preventing wrinkles. There’s always another step to add or another set of skincare products to use in your 20s if you want to branch out, of course. But for now, let’s keep it simple and focus on the very essentials. But first, here’s why you need a skincare routine in your 20s.
The Importance of a Skincare Routine in Your 20s
It’s common knowledge that in your 20s, you have what they call ‘young skin’. Your skin is thriving with collagen production and the skin turnover rate is on track. What women in their 20s complain about the most is acne, which is actually highly manageable with a good skincare routine and with the help of a dermatologist. So basically, you’re good if you can manage to maintain healthy skin.
On the flip side, your 20s are when your skin is most prone to elements that accumulate and start to show up in your 30s. For example, most of us realized in our 30s that we have dark spots that aren’t going anywhere. We then later realized that it was because we didn’t take care of our skin in our 20s with a proper SPF.
In simplest terms, in your 20s, you have this opportunity to prevent or at least delay certain skin concerns to a great extent. When skin care becomes a habit you practice day in and day out throughout your 20s, along with healthy habits of course, you’re unlikely to deal with early signs of aging or premature wrinkles (1). That’s why a skincare routine is important in your 20s.
Additionally, and this is my two cents as a former teacher, a skincare routine is basically a healthy habit of self-care. This is a chance for you to take some time for yourself, even if it’s just a few minutes. The need for self-care, at least in my day, wasn’t something we were aware of. But the self-massage and the cleansing where you get rid of the day’s dirt are also about creating healthy routines. It should be like coming home and changing your clothes, or making your bed after waking up.
The Best Skincare Routine For Your 20s
Below is a basic step-by-step skincare routine you can follow in your 20s both in the morning and evening.
This is the universal step of every skincare routine. Whether it’s your morning routine or your evening routine, keep your skin clean. If you have to wash your face once a day, then skip the morning time and wash it before bed.
The makeup left on the skin, the pollution particles, and the dust settle on the skin during the day. They have the potential to clog pores, cause breakouts, and ruin your texture.
It doesn’t even matter if you don’t wear makeup. Unless you’re walking around with a space helmet, your face needs cleansing! Find a cleanser suitable for your skin type and get to cleaning.
If you have oily skin in your 20s, a salicylic acid cleanser will help with acne and will also have anti-aging benefits. And for dry skin, try non-drying cleansers with ceramides and niacinamide.
You don’t have to spend a ton on a facial cleanser. But in your evening routine, consider double cleansing with an oil/balm cleanser to remove makeup and use your second cleanser to wash everything off.
If you don’t know where to start, see our round-up of the best cleansers to use in your 20s for every skin type.
Toners are supplementary skincare products that allow you to gently address skin issues. There are hydrating toners you can use to boost hydration.
There are cleansing toners that can give you super clean skin while minimizing the appearance of pores. There are exfoliating toners that allow you to get rid of dead skin cells, brighten skin, unclog pores, and minimize acne.
So after washing your face, find a toner suitable for your skin type and skin issues and use it once or twice a day. A good face toner that’s custom to your needs can even make a treatment serum redundant.
3. Apply Treatment Serum
After cleansing and toning, apply your liquid products such as your treatment serums. There are a ton of active ingredients you can make use of.
Vitamin C, alpha-hydroxy acids, beta-hydroxy acids, niacinamide, retinol, hyaluronic acid, and more. These potent ingredients are incredibly helpful in treating specific skin issues (2).
Not to mention, they’re some of the most effective ingredients in an anti-aging skincare routine in your 20s. Because anti-aging is anti-aging if you start doing it before aging begins. Otherwise, you’re just aging.
Starting from your early and mid-20s, slowly incorporate active ingredients like retinol and antioxidants into your daily routine.
There are some amazing face serums you can use in your 20s made with these active ingredients. You can always include them in your moisturizer, but serums penetrate the skin better.
In sum, treating skin issues is essential. Because you don’t want to drag these issues into your 30s. So whether it’s for hyperpigmentation, acne, or scars, try a face serum such as an exfoliating serum, a liquid peel, or even spot treatments.
Whatever you choose, don’t ignore these issues and tackle them head-on. It’s all up to you to decide whether you want to apply treatment products in your morning routine or evening routine.
However, generally speaking, morning routines can make it difficult to incorporate a treatment product such as an acne serum.
So consider using antioxidant serums in the morning and retinol or acne treatments in the evening routine. If you need help getting started with retinol, see our guide to using retinol in your 20s.
Learn your skin type and use the appropriate moisturizer. Every skin type needs hydration and moisture. And oily and acne-prone skin is not exempt from this rule! Hydration keeps the skin barrier intact, prevents sun damage, and keeps the skin plump.
Plus, dehydrated skin is more prone to early signs of aging. So, apply your moisturizer after your serum and do it daily and nightly.
If you don’t like to layer products, you can always try anti-aging creams in your 20s that contain active ingredients. They will moisturize and help prevent wrinkles.
But other than that, a basic moisturizer suitable for your skin type will keep your skin soft, supple, and radiant. You can get one and use it both in the morning and evening.
5. Apply Eye Cream
Under-eye care is one of the most important steps in a skincare routine. The earlier you start, the better. If you don’t want to deal with flaky under eyes, dark circles, and fine lines later on, start using eye creams in your 20s.
You can try a simple hydrating eye cream to keep the undereye area hydrated. And for your evening routine, a potent anti-aging eye cream with retinol will delay the signs of aging and keep that skin tight.
If you want to keep things affordable, you don’t have to get two separate eye creams. A good one that hydrates and moisturizes will work just fine!
6. Apply SPF
The sun is the one thing that directly affects your skin’s health. It’s the most important factor in causing early signs of aging. It ages you, dehydrates your skin, and gives you dark spots.
Let me put it this way, sunscreen is the only crucial step in your routine! Forget retinol, antioxidants, or peptides, sunscreen is the ultimate anti-ager! So use sunscreen daily.
In your 20s, you won’t be able to see what exactly it does to your complexion. And yes, it’s difficult to squeeze that into your makeup routine.
But if you find them heavy, try using a spray formula. Either way, sun protection is the best investment for your skin if you want to prevent sun damage (3).
Maintaining healthy skin not only depends on your skincare routine but your lifestyle as well. Drinking water, exercising, eating healthy, you know the drill.
But if you want to be proactive, you can consider getting regular facials. You can also try non-invasive procedures like preventative Botox in your 20s.
But more importantly, be aware of your daily habits that harm your skin or speed up the formation of signs of aging. Bad habits, unhealthy lifestyle, picking the face… They all come back and bite you in the ass in the form of scars, dark circles, age spots, and more.
Related: How to Prevent Wrinkles in Your 20s
Stick with your routine and be consistent. It’s always fun to buy new products and try different things. But you need at least 30 days to see if a product is working or not. So, it’s important that you establish a skincare routine in your 20s and actually follow through.
It’s not about sleeping with a face mask on and waking up to whole new skin the next day. All of these steps have cumulative value together. Your routine will make a difference only if you do it consistently over a long period of time.
So, remember to maintain, treat, and prevent. That’s the core of a healthy skincare routine in your 20s.
- Messaraa, C., Robertson, N., Walsh, M., Hurley, S., Doyle, L., Mansfield, A., Daly, L., Tansey, C., & Mavon, A. (2020). Clinical evidences of benefits from an advanced skin care routine in comparison with a simple routine. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 19(8), 1993–1999. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocd.13252
- Ganceviciene, R., Liakou, A. I., Theodoridis, A., Makrantonaki, E., & Zouboulis, C. C. (2012). Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermato-endocrinology, 4(3), 308–319. https://doi.org/10.4161/derm.22804
- Randhawa, M., Wang, S., Leyden, J. J., Cula, G. O., Pagnoni, A., & Southall, M. D. (2016). Daily Use of a Facial Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Over One-Year Significantly Improves Clinical Evaluation of Photoaging. Dermatologic surgery : official publication for American Society for Dermatologic Surgery [et al.], 42(12), 1354–1361. https://doi.org/10.1097/DSS.0000000000000879