Do: Understand Your Skin
It's time to find out more about your skin type. "In your 20s skin is changing, and the focus is transitioning from breakouts into anti-aging," says Renee Rouleau. Take the quiz on her website (reneerouleau.com) to help identify your face situation. If you're still in doubt, consult a dermatologist.
"What's going on in the 20s is skin cells are regenerating fast, which means skin is still young and youthful-looking."
Do: Give Your Neck Some Love
"Someone once told me, 'You're only as young as your neck,'" Rouleau says. "Starting in your 20s, treat your neck as an extension of your face": use sunscreen, cleanser, moisturizer, and even your face exfoliator on the neck area.
Don't: Neglect Moisturizer
"Skin needs water to stay healthy, so use a moisturizer that's appropriate for your skin type," Rouleau says. If you're worried by heaviness, try an oil-free formula.
Do: Indulge in Facials
Save up some money, because Rouleau suggest getting a facial every season. "Most people in their 20s need improvement on managing clogged pores, occasional breakouts, and discoloration left from said breakouts," she says. These can be remedied with light chemical peels, but a facial is even more effective. "Deep pore-cleansing facials will clear clogged skin and even out skin tones."
Don't: Treat Adult Acne Like Teenage Acne
Just when you thought breakouts were over, there are some new blemishes in town, but for new reasons, including, possibly, prescribed medications. "If people are taking any prescription medications, whether it's for acne or birth control pills—make sure to reassess things with your doctor and see if these prescriptions [internal and topical] or dosages are still appropriate." Blemishes may also be more concentrated on your chin, which Rouleau says is most likely due to stress and hormones.
Instead of smearing acne-fighting products all over the place, only treat the irritated areas. Astringents and strong cleansers can be harsh, and using them on non-blemished areas can dry out skin. "Focus more on purchasing effective spot treatments," Rouleau says, "and then just treat smaller areas."
Don't: Use Irritating Products
Rouleau suggests removing alcohol and sulfates, which can dehydrate skin, from your product lineup. Look for toners and cleansers—or really any skin-care goods—that don't include them.
Do: Say Yes to Vitamin C
A lot of 20-somethings wonder if their routine should have an anti-aging component. The answer is both yes and no: "Young skin is already metabolically active," Rouleau says, which means that skin is quickly regenerating and doesn't need anti-aging ingredients such as peptides and vitamin A, which can be too stimulating.
"Sunscreen is the number one most biologically active anti-aging product on the planet."
But if you want to get a head start on preventing fine lines and discoloration, start with something tame such as vitamin C. "Using a vitamin C serum every day is great—it's like putting a bodyguard over your skin cells to prevent free-radical, sun, and environmental damage," she says. Rouleau recommends applying these before sunscreen.
Do: Use Sunscreen, Duh
"Sunscreen is the number one most biologically active anti-aging product on the planet," Rouleau says. Although people want to avoid greasy and thick formulas, that's no reason to skip it: find a sunscreen that works for you (there are light ones out there, we swear!). Apply one ounce to your face and neck every day.
Do: Invest in an Eye Cream
A lightweight eye treatment will help brighten your eyes and fight the effects of partying, studying, and working overtime, all of which can cause dark circles.