My 29th birthday is next month, and to be honest, it’s fucking me up a bit. That’s as late into “late 20’s” as one can get, you know? Aaliyah said, “Age ain’t nothin’ but a number” but I’m still freaking out. Shit, I’m dating myself by quoting Aaliyah, aren’t I? Oh well. In this post I’m sharing some of the steps I’ve added into my skincare routine, as well as some of my favorite products. So read on, my friends!
Skincare is a MAJOR KEY
I’ve noticed a lot of changes in myself since crossing over into my late 20’s. I wake up with a hangover after two glasses of wine (why, God, why?), I drink wine or fancy cocktails when I go out (nary a shot), I keep a budget, I need at least 72 hours notice to “go out”, and I read more self-help books than any other genre.
Additionally, my skin is changing as I age. I thought I was invincible in my early 20’s. A special cleanser? Harsh soap is fine with me. Moisturizer? Nah. Eye cream? What am I, 80? SPF was an afterthought and serums and oils weren’t even close to being on my radar.
Now, I notice every wrinkle and fine line, my under-eye circles are deepening by the day, I’ll have a smattering of zits on my cheek and flaky dry patches on my forehead simultaneously, and I’ve got random hairs growing out of my chin.
Getting older rules.
But with age comes wisdom, my friends, so I’ve started taking much better care of my skin.
Allow me to share with you some of my tips and favorite products so you, too, can try and defy time.
1. Wash your face
I know, this one is like, a no-brainer. But if you were anything like I was in college, you had some nights where you were too, um, tired to wash your face. A late night paired with an, “Oh, shit, I have to be in class in 5 minutes” morning meant I was lucky if I made it to the bathroom to splash water on my face before I left (#dormlyfe).
That doesn’t fly anymore.
Before bed, I like to take my makeup off with either a makeup wipe (Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes) or some kind of cleansing balm (Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm). After using a cleansing balm or cleansing wipe to remove makeup, it’s important to go in with a cleanser to remove any residue those products may have left, as well as oils, dirt, and all the other delicious things our faces gather throughout the day.
Something I think a lot of people overlook is cleansing in the morning. Think about it: our pillowcases collect germs throughout the night (unless you’re some freak of nature who doesn’t drool and goes to sleep with clean hair every night, but, come on) and those germs get transferred to our faces as we sleep. A good rinse in the morning will help, but a gentle cleansing sesh is even better.
2. Find the right cleanser for your skin type
This one’s an important one, so listen up. There is so much content out there about skincare (including this blog post) and it can be completely overwhelming. A lot of this content is sponsored as well, so it can be difficult knowing whether or not the opinion is genuine or manufactured.
Everyone’s skin is different, and different products will work differently for each person, so finding the right cleanser can take a bit of trial and error. Sephora and Ulta both have options on their websites where you are able to filter your search results based on your skin type. This can help you narrow down your options significantly. Then, you can take a look at reviews written by people with similar skin types, ingredient lists, and price points and choose a cleanser that looks like a good fit for you.
Of course, you have to try the product to see if it plays well with your skin. If your skin gets irritated or breaks out, that product probably isn’t the best fit. Sephora and Ulta both have really fantastic return policies that will allow you to return a product you’re dissatisfied with within 60 days.
In case you’re wondering what I’ve been using on my combination skin, it’s the Philosophy Purity Made Simple Cleanser. It’s super gentle, effective, and doesn’t leave my face overly dry or oily.
3. Toner? I barely know her!
I can sense all the eye rolls I got from that joke. I’m sorry.
Toner is another skincare product I never even thought to use in my younger years. I always thought toners were too harsh and would strip my skin – many toners do contain alcohol, but not all of them. There are also many toners that remove excess dirt/oil/makeup left behind after cleansing that are also hydrating, balancing, and protect skin from environmental stressors.
The toner I’ve been using is the Son & Park Beauty Water. I find this product to be super cleansing and gentle, and I’ve been using it both in the morning and at night. It contains papaya extract, which helps gently exfoliate, green tea to smooth irritated skin, and rose and lavender water for hydration.
4. Upgrade your moisturizing game
As I mentioned before, I gave zero fucks about moisturizing my face in my late teens and early 20’s, so upgrading my moisturizer game wasn’t very hard.
Again, finding the proper moisturizer for your skin type is key, here. A super heavy moisturizer for dry skin most likely isn’t going to be the best option for me. Two that I have been using and loving are the belif True Cream Moisturizing Bomb and the First Aid Beauty Hello FAB Coconut Water Cream. The belif True Cream is great when my skin is a little drier, and the new Coconut Water Cream from First Aid Beauty is awesome for when I need something more lightweight.
Also, be aware of how you’re using your moisturizer. Firstly, I think most of us use waaaay more moisturizer than is necessary. A dime to nickel-sized dollop of product will suffice, trust me. Secondly, slapping moisturizer on your face and calling it a day isn’t the best way to get the most out of your product. Instead, apply moisturizer within the first few minutes of cleansing your skin, and gently rub upward in circular motions. This will help stimulate circulation without tugging or pulling at the skin. Remember to get your neck!
5. SPF is not for suckers
My mom always told me to wear suncreen when I was younger but I was an extremely rebellious teen and laid out on our porch, without sunscreen, reading the latest Harry Potter book. Just to be clear, I was not rebellious at all and stayed home on the weekends, didn’t go to parties and skipped class only to audition for musical theatre programs. I do wish I had listened to her and worn sunscreen more religiously.
Wearing SPF daily is an easy way to ensure healthy skin as you age. Extended unprotected exposure to the sun can lead to wrinkles, sun spots/sun damage, and cancer. Having a deep tan just isn’t worth that risk to me anymore.
SPF is best applied after a regular moisturizer, and before makeup. There are ton of facial SPF options at the drugstore level as well as higher end, so there is something for everyone out there.
6. Take care of your under eye area
It makes me hardcore cringe when I think of how I’ve treated my poor under eye area over the years. I pulled and tugged at the skin when I washed my face, rubbed my eyes like a madwoman when my allergies flared up – yeah, it wasn’t pretty.
The skin under the eye area is the most delicate skin on your face, so it’s important to be extremely gentle and take extra care in this area. This area also tends to get drier than the rest of the face, which shows age more and nobody’s trying to show age more. Being gentle when applying moisturizer in that area is great, but even better is using a specialized eye cream.
I like to dab the Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream around my eye area in the morning when I moisturize. This particular eye cream contains coffee beans for anti-aging and awakening, and ginseng for brightening and de-puffing. The cream also contains some mica, which reflects light, adding an instant brightening effect.
7. Mask on, mask off
*cue Future song*
I’ve been indulging in mad face masks as of late – sheet masks, clay masks, resurfacing masks – it depends on what my skin needs at the mo. Using a mask always makes me feel good because I’m taking time out of my day to take care of myself. Little self-care rituals go a long way in improving one’s day, I’ll tell ya what.
I love the Ahava Purifying Mud Mask when I’m feeling particularly oily. Mud masks typically absorb oils and deep clean pores, which I definitely need from time to time.
8. Get familiar with AHAs and BHAs
Not a fan of physical exfoliants? Me neither, which is why AHAs and BHAs are my new bff’s. AHA stands for Alpha Hydroxy Acid. AHAs work as a chemical exfoliant, getting rid of dead skin to reveal healthy, new, fresh skin. AHAs are especially good exfoliants for dry skin as they have hydrating properties and help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
BHA stands for Beta Hydroxy Acid. BHAs work inside the pores and are oil-soluble, making them ideal for oily or acne-prone skin. They help unclog pores, and have anti-bacterial properties, another reason they’re fantastic for acne-prone skin. They smooth texture and lessen the appearance of fine lines, like AHAs, but tend to be a little drying as they don’t have the same humectant properties.
I love the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum for my AHA/BHA fix. The serum is made up of an AHA/BHA blend (larger percentage of AHAs) to help reveal smoother, more even skin while helping unclog pores at the same time.
The Herbivore Blue Tansy AHA + BHA Clarity Mask is my jam as well. I wouldn’t suggest this mask for those of you with dry skin, as it has a BHA that contains salicylic acid, an ingredient that fights acne but can be drying.
9. Drink water
Need I say more?
If you’re in your late 20’s as well, what are some of your favorite skincare products or tips?