How Your Skincare Should Evolve As You Age

How Your Skincare Should Evolve As You Age

Dr. Pimple Popper shares the skincare essentials you need in your 20s, 30s, and 40s.


2 minute read

No matter your age, your primary skincare goal should be giving your skin exactly what it needs to remain healthy and resilient. But with so many ingredients and products crowding the skincare aisle, how do you know what’s best for your skin at every stage?

Here, we get the inside scoop from dermatologist and SLMD Skincare founder Sandra Lee, MD (aka Dr. Pimple Popper), who shares her tips for keeping your skin in top shape in your 20s, 30s, and 40s.

The best skincare in your 20s

Skincare in your twenties is all about managing breakouts (nope – we don’t always outgrow acne), combined with a plan to prevent (for as long as possible!) the visible signs of aging.

Your twenties is also when stress, lack of sleep, and too many days soaking in the sun can lead to tired, dull-looking skin.

Now is the perfect time to establish a solid skincare routine that can set the stage for a healthy, glowing complexion for years to come. Dr. Lee favors a simple Cleanse, Treat, Moisturize routine that's easy to stick to. 

  • Cleanse: use a face wash with salicylic acid, says Dr. Lee, to exfoliate dead skin cells and keep pores clear — which prevents acne.
  • Treat: this is a perfect time to introduce treatments that target the very first signs of skin damage. Look for antioxidants and chemical exfoliants, says Dr. Lee — but don't overdo it.
  • Moisturize. Even if your skin is oily, you need a lightweight moisturizer to keep it balanced and protect the skin barrier. Don't forget to follow up with sunscreen, notes Dr. Lee.

Dr. Pimple Popper's Picks: 20s Skincare

Skincare tips in your 30s

Typically, your thirties is when those first signs of aging start to show up: fine lines around the eyes (aka crow’s feet), grooves around the mouth (marionette lines) and maybe some unevenness from sun damage or past breakouts.

Adding to the issue, maybe you’re still experiencing acne flare ups due to fluctuating hormones or mask irritation (aka maskne).

So how do you handle both skin aging and acne/clogged pores in your thirties? Dr. Lee suggests adding retinol into your skincare routine. This vitamin A derivative encourages cell turnover, minimizing fine lines and wrinkles and boosting collagen to keep skin plump and firm. Use retinol at night, while skin is regenerating and repairing itself.

Dr. Pimple Popper's Picks: 30s Skincare

Skincare products for your 40s

Although consistent use of preventative skincare products (think: sunscreen and retinol) may delay or improve immediate signs of aging, eventually everyone’s skin begins to sag and crease – creating laxity and wrinkles.

As we age, we lose collagen and elastin (healthy skin’s building blocks) – and we also lose volume. To compound the problem, certain lifestyle choices (like skipping SPF, smoking, and not getting enough sleep) all contribute to those visible signs of aging. Adding ingredients that plump up skin (like hyaluronic acid) into your routine can help restore a more youthful look.

Typically in our forties we begin to see more hyperpigmentation, too: those dark spots (sometimes called liver spots or sun spots) that creep up after years of UV exposure. To take care of your delicate 40s skin and help minimize the look of dark spots, Dr. Lee recommends adding brightening products with protective antioxidants to neutralize damaging free radicals.

Dr. Pimple Popper's Picks: 40s Skincare

Dr Sandra Lee

Dr. Lee's Last Word

Our skin changes over time – so adapting our skincare routine is a must. But it doesn’t need to be complicated or confusing. Choosing effective ingredients and quality formulas will help keep your skin healthy and youthful-looking into the future. I always say: it's never too early — or to late — to start taking care of your skin.


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