You’ve made it – you’re finally an adult who’s finished basic schooling and is moving into college or the workforce. Your life is changing and you’re excited about the world and the adventure that awaits. Congratulations!
For a lot of people, their 20s is the first time they start to really look after themselves and make strides in personal appearance. And that means lots of new skin care enthusiasts! But if you looked at your face in the mirror, you’d think you don’t have to already start thinking about anti-ageing – right? Wrong!
There’s no need to go slathering yourself in La Mer and praying to the skin care goddesses for mercy just yet. You’ve still got another decade of skin that will forgive you for all your sins. But deep down, it’s taking notice and remembering every late night and bottle of soda for breakfast – and it will come back to bite you.
How you treat your skin over the next while will have a direct impact on how you look when you’re 30, 40 and 50 onwards. Everything you do has an effect. If you’re serious about healthy skin, it’s time to man up and treat it right. Now is the time to set up good habits for life. Think of the smug feeling when you go to your school reunion and everyone looks dried up and you are glowing. Thankfully anti-ageing care is all pretty smooth sailing at this age.
Let’s design the best all-rounder lifestyle and product routine and skin care tips for navigating your 20s!
Repeat after me: protection and prevention
No, not that kind of protection (though also use that too).
This is the decade to make or break your future skin. Don’t worry about night creams and botox and lasers just yet – focus on prevention and overall wellbeing and you’re on your way.
When you’re young you need to retain what you already have. You might not notice it yet because we humans have a tendency to ignore our blessings and curse our flaws. When you’re a young adult, you spend your time whining about lingering acne but fail to appreciate what you do have. In the anti-aging realm, your blessings for now are moisture and elasticity. How can you keep moisture and elasticity you ask? With the right products and lifestyle.
The 20-something’s products
Recalibrating your hydration goals
Here’s a nugget of wisdom: moisturised skin is the most naturally protected and healthy skin. When choosing products and forming your routine, gentleness and hydration maintenance properties are key. This means stepping away from the acne-fighting cleansers and soaps from your teens and into the low-foaming cream cleansers and losing the fear of all things oily.
Some new products to incorporate:
Cream or low-foaming cleanser – No more Panoxyl or (gasp) rubbing alcohol-laden products. Remove surface debris without irritation.
Hydrating essence/serum – For use layering beneath a heavier moisturiser or alone for oilier skin to encourage moisture retention.
Facial oil – It softens the skin and prevents moisture loss, plus it gives you that trendy glow.
The environment is your enemy
Of course, spend time exploring the world, get your fresh air and enjoy the outdoors, but be sensible with your skin while doing it. Pretty much everything you’re exposed to is slowly but surely wearing out your skin (including pollution!). There are several ingredients that will help you begin to navigate anti-ageing from the outside in.
The world is a scary place. There’s already famine, war, and greed, and now you have to think about pollution attacking your precious collagen too?! Everything out there has an effect on our bodies, and pollution’s is really bad.
There are so many causes of damage and thankfully equally as many wonderful reasons to use antioxidants. antioxidants’ only goals in life are to soak up the free radicals that are barraging you all day long and keep you functioning at your best. That means keeping baby-butt smooth skin for longer – yes please!
The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 30% – It’s a set-and-forget environmental shield that’ll make your skin brighter in the short term too.
At this point I feel like a broken record. Are you sick of hearing about suncare yet? Sunscreen is the absolute, no brainer, all-in-one best anti-ageing skin secret ever. And it’s not even a secret – but some people are still dragging their heels when it comes to putting it on every day. Yes, I’m looking at you. Go read why you don’t want to be without it, get your hands on the most cosmetically elegant sunscreen you can find, grit your teeth, and put it on. Every. Morning. For the rest of your life.
Sunplay Skin Aqua UV Watery Gel– Invisible, not matte not shiny, lightweight, good protection, large bottle (for Asian standards). What more could you want?
The prevention big guns
Retinol/Retinoids or ‘Vitamin A’ is the first step to big-girl anti-ageing. It’s hands down the most effective one ingredient you can add to your routine to prevent and even reverse ageing. By making cellular changes, Vitamin A tackles all facets of ageing, including environmental damage per above as well as plain old ‘you’re just getting older’ things like sagging and dryness (read more sciencey stuff about it here).
Starting small and early is the key. Find yourself a low-dose retinol to get your skin used to it over the coming years.
The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane – Ease into Vitamin A with this basic no-frills affordable option.
The 20-something’s lifestyle
We all know our 20’s are a time for partying, finding yourself, visiting faraway beaches, enjoying freedom, and – realistically – surviving on ramen and pulling all-nighters. It’s fun to finally be in control of your own choices. But you should still try to keep a semblance of a healthy lifestyle to maintain yourself from the inside out. Learning these habits now will also improve your overall wellbeing for life.
Here are the common pitfalls for a young adult:
It’s no secret that your 20s can be a stressful time in many ways. While you might not yet have children or mortgages, finding your feet in the world can be a tough process.
There’s no point protecting and preventing ageing from the outside if it’s what’s happening inside your body and mind that’s causing you harm. Stress builds up cortisol in your body, leading to deep inflammation and damage. If you can’t escape the causes or feelings of being overwhelmed on your own, it’s time to reach out to someone who can help.
By getting better sleep, our bodies have time to regenerate from any outside interference that slipped past our skin care during the day. It affects the basic function and ageing of our skin. Curing stress will help massively, but have you heard of ‘sleep hygiene‘? That’s cleaning up the routine you have before and during the resting hours to ensure you are set up for getting the most out of it.
To make it simple:
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol etc.
- No devices/blue light leading up to bed.
- Have a consistent routine that your body will recognise.
- Keep the temperature cool.
- Sleep in the dark and quiet.
- Get your 8 hours a night.
I drink around 5-10 times a year and cap it at 2-3 standard drinks. Setting your personal limit and staying well below the recommended guidelines for alcohol is ideal. Though letting loose once or twice is something almost everyone experiences, heavy or binge drinking is just not worth the dehydrating effects, not to mention long-term health risks. Just don’t do it.
Noooope. Nope. Nope. You have no excuse by now. Nip it in the bud. Here’s why.
Keep processed foods, dairy and sugars to a low. That doesn’t mean cut it out entirely, but just be mindful of what portion of your diet is fresh and light vs. processed and rich. Even if you’re on a budget, get all your vitamins and minerals by not relying too much on one food group and changing it up. That’s it! No need for crazy changes to your diet that you won’t maintain.
This doesn’t have to be weightlifting at the gym if that’s not your thing. Go for a walk. Use the stairs at work. Dance while you clean. Get your heart pumping a little once in a while. Again, you won’t notice the benefits of being active right away, but in the years it will come (are you seeing a theme here?). Here’s what exercise can do for your skin.
Finally: here’s an example of the best skin care routine for someone in their 20s.
Splash water/Toner/Gentle cleanser
Vitamin A (can be used every other night at first)
Other actives (e.g. exfoliants)
Lifelong skin care is a long play and hard to do. If it was easy to look young forever, everyone would do it. It’s so tempting to leave your makeup on at the end of the night and go sunbathing when it’s what everyone else is doing. But if you keep your eyes on the goal of having healthy, beautiful skin throughout your life, well you have to make some sacrifices now.
I’ll leave you with a final tip: Ignore those who make fun of you. That’s just a good general life lesson. People are weird and want to bring everyone down to their level. They don’t like those who don’t fit the status quo. I couldn’t tell you the number of times my friends have bothered me to go tanning or to stay out later than I wanted to. Just smile and politely decline. Keeping your health as a priority in your 20s will be worth it in the end.
Most of all, enjoy your life! Your skin isn’t the be-all end-all, and you’ll look back and remember the places you went, experiences you had and the friends you made.
Next up: tackling the flirty 30s.