Esthetician's Guide: Skincare Tips for Your 20's and 30's

Atlanta esthetician lauren siso smiling with arms crossed

Skin-care Tips for Young Adulthood

There’s a lot to be thankful for as you move into your 20s and 30s.

If you suffered skin trauma in your teen years, by now you’ve probably come out of it and developed a skin-care regimen that yields positive results.

If acne continues to be an issue, as it sometimes does, there are numerous strategies that can help you cope.

If I’ve learned anything in my practice, it’s that everyone’s skin is unique and responds differently, so it is important to meet with a licensed skincare expert if acne continues to trouble you.

He or she can prescribe a special treatment tailored to your needs.

Some of the habits you adopted in your teens should be maintained as you reach your 20s and 30s.

Sunscreen, vitamins, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and exercise are your constant companions.

If you make healthy living part of your routine, you will find that time really is on your side.

Your 20s and 30s, if you practice good skin care, can be the best, most glowing years of your life. It’s the sweet spot between the acne and oiliness of puberty and the inevitable wrinkles and loss of elasticity that comes with age.

Noninvasive and preventative skin care is very important in these years.

The focus at this point in your life should be on the preventive steps you can take to maintain your skin’s health and beauty.

The surgery that may come into play later will help turn the clock back, but the skin care and minimally invasive procedures your adopt while you’re still young – from lasers to preventive Botox or Dysport – will pause skin aging significantly.

Prevention, of course, also significantly delays the need for surgery; and when you do opt for surgery, the healthiest skin often yields the best outcome.

If you can slow down the skin-aging process with sun protection and skin care at this age, it can make a tremendous difference for years- or even decades – to come.

Avoid department-store skin care brands

Whatever your age, if you want the best results from your skin-care routine, you need to look beyond the fancy packaging and outsize promises at your local department-store counter and seek out the prescription-strength products that are really going to benefit your skin.

Department-store skin care is a lot of bragging and bluster, with little in the way of measurable results.

Only prescription products can truly penetrate the skin’s epidermis and dermis, and make a visible difference in your skin.

The Food and Drug Administration has mandated that over-the-counter skin care must not penetrate beneath the skin’s surface; if it can, it’s considered therapeutic and must be supervised by a doctor.

Consult with your medical aesthetician to find the cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and age-defying serums that will improve your skin quality, texture, and tone.

Avoid the Plastic Surgery for now

Though your 20s are often the years when women look their best, ironically enough they can be the time of greatest anxiety and insecurity about one’s looks.

For that reason, it is recommended that women steer clear of permanent plastic-surgery modifications at this age.

Do too much at this age and you risk looking too drawn, harsh and old before your time.

At this age, there’s a danger of patients rushing into procedures before they are emotionally ready.

Many are still dealing with the tail end of their teenage years, still feeling the insecurities about their appearance that may have caused them pain in high school.

But I think it’s important for women in their 20s to realize that they are still in formation.

Skin-care Regimen for your 20s and 30s

At this age, you are likely either just starting to notice the signs of aging and are looking to start or revamp your skin care routine.

The earlier your start, the better as it can pay long-term dividends.


One of the most important steps in a skin-care regimen. A thorough cleansing routine with a great cleanser every morning or evening is essential for healthy skin.

When you are cleansing, make sure you’re getting a really deep cleanse and removing all the layers of makeup, pollutants, dead skin and product from the day.

One of the most damaging things you can do to your skin is to go to sleep in your makeup. It is during sleep that your skin has the opportunity to breathe and heal.

If you leave your skin covered in makeup, neither of those things can happen; and if you sleep on your side, your makeup grinds even more deeply into your skin.


How intensely you exfoliate in your 20s is often determined by skin type.

For patients with oily or combination skin, a more intense exfoliation with medical-strength alpha hydroxy acids may be a necessity to keep pores clean and free of the dead skin, sebum, and bacteria buildup that can lead to pimples.

But someone with normal skin may not need such an agressive approach. I suggest gauging your needs according to a skin analysis by your medical esthetician.

If you want to keep your skin looking fresh while speeding cell turnover, a scrub may also be a great tool – one that will help slough away dead skin cells but won’t damage your skin.

By your 30s, you may require some kind of exfoliation to give skin-cell turnover an extra nudge.

And when you move into your late 30s and early 40s, you will most likely want to switch to a chemical exfoliation with retinol or a higher percentage of alpha hydorxy acids, which begins the anti-aging process.

As a rule of thumb, I recommend exfoliating two to three times a week, depending on your skin type.

Protect and Moisturize

Proper moisturizing is one of those daily habits that, if begun in your 20s before fine lines are even visible, can significantly delay skin aging.

The benefits of moisturizer may not be immediately apparent but will yield significant long-term results. Moisturizer is a good way to keep fine lines and crow’s feet at bay.

The best approach is to do double duty and incorporate an absolutely essential daily sunscreen with a truly effective moisturizer.


Most important, for the kind of protection that will pay off for decades to come, protect your skin from the sun.

One of the most profoundly damaging habits will begin to reveal itself in premature aging as early as your 20s and 30s is the devastating loss of collagen and the breakdown of skin elasticity resulting from prolonged exposure to the sun.

To avoid these damaging effects, use sunscreen with at least a 30 SPF every day, rain or shine, since harmful UVA and UVB rays penetrate the skin whether the sun is out or not.

Find a sunscreen that feels good on your skin. If your daily sunscreen is too greasy or has a texture that doesn’t work with your makeup, you will be much less likely to use it.

If you adopt the daily use of a comfortable sunscreen in your 20s, you’ll be able to see the benefits as you age: your skin will look far better than that of your friends who don’t take this vital daily step.

You can often do double duty by finding a moisturizer with an SPF of at least 30. If breakouts are an issue, choose a non-comedogenic moisturizer and sunscreen that won’t clog pores.

Corrective Treatments for your 20s and 30s

As you age, you may find that you need a little extra something to combat the formation of line lines and wrinkles.

However, at this age, you want to avoid doing too much too soon with aggressive products. These corrective treatments can help speed up the process of any anti-aging routine.

Microdermabrasion and Photofacials

Both microdermabrasion and photofacials offer significant exfoliation for more problematic skin.

If scarring from previous bouts of acne is an issue, then microdermabrasion might be a great choice for sloughing away evidence of your skin’s past.

Photofacials are great for helping reduce previous damage from sun exposure that may have caused pigmentation in the skin.

If you have a few small brown spots or old acne scars, a targeted laser treatment might be the best solution.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are an excellent minimally invasive treatment that can do wonders to brighten and clarify an uneven complexion through your 30s.

Though downtime is minimal, you may experience some irritation and redness following the peel.


A form of vitamin A, retinols are the go-to treatment to achieve glowing, clear skin, because they speed skin-cell turnover, which can mean a visible reduction in pore size and fine lines.

As early as your 20s, you should begin a regimen with a retinol cream and an antioxidant serum.

These two products not only maintain the skin, they improve it.

The advantage of a retinol cream can do wonders in treating the fine lines and wrinkles that can begin to crop up in your 30s.


While many people don’t think of Botox until fine lines and wrinkles have already formed, Botox can actually be used to prevent wrinkles from getting more pronounced.

If you’re out in the sun a lot and you’re frowning and starting to notice the formation of lines, you might start with Botox treatments at an earlier age.

Final Thoughts

Your 20s and 30s are a good time to solidify good habits and lay the foundation for great skin as you age!

If you’d like to learn more and get a personalized treatment plan specifically for your skin type and goals, schedule a consultation with our licensed skincare experts!

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