There are a few skincare products that are essential throughout your life—think a really good moisturizer, or a gentle cleanser that won’t dry out skin. But certain ingredients are more important than others, especially when your skin is undergoing big changes as you age (hello, fine lines, dark spots, and a loss of elasticity). Below, we polled dermatologists to find out the most important skincare products to have in your arsenal in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond.
3. Best skincare ingredient for your 20s: Salicylic acid
To keep breakouts at bay, reach for products that contain salicylic acid; this beta hydroxy acid can help speed up cell turnover to fight acne at the source. “Many people [in their 20s] still suffer from oily skin, so using a salicylic acid-based cleanser may be useful,” says Dr. Zeichner. Our pick: CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser, which will clear pores without being too drying.
4. Best skincare ingredient for your 20s: SPF
5. Your 30s skincare routine: Up the anti-aging ante
Minimizing stress is important, too, especially since many people in their 30s are handling bigger work responsibilities or entering new roles as parents. “We know that stress interferes with wound healing, can promote acne breakouts, and may be associated with early wrinkling,” says Dr. Zeichner.
This is also a good time to book an appointment with your dermatologist to see if she recommends any in-office preventative treatments. “Beginning non-invasive options in your 20s and 30s could help you to avoid a larger invasive procedure down the line,” says Arash Akhavan, MD, a dermatologist at the Dermatology and Laser Group in New York City.
6. Best skincare ingredient for your 30s: Retinol
Now is the time to start getting acquainted with your skin’s new BFF: retinol. “To help maintain a strong skin foundation and stimulate collagen production, add on topical retinol,” says Dr. Zeichner. He likes Roc Retinol Max Correction, which “delivers retinol effectively without irritating the skin” at a crazy-affordable price point.
7. Best skincare ingredient for your 30s: Hyaluronic acid
As collagen production starts to diminish, fine lines may start to become more noticeable. Keep your complexion plump and hydrated with hyaluronic acid, a humectant that helps attract moisture to skin. Dr. Jaliman likes Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream. It packs hyaluronic acid as well as niacinamide and amino peptides, “which are ideal for firming the skin.”
According to Dr. Akhavan, these two ingredients actually work better together. “Pair [retinol, which can] sometimes be drying and irritating with hyaluronic acid to even out its effects,” he says. Plus: more hyaluronic acid serums we love.
8. Your 40s skincare plan: Rest and repair
In addition to maintaining the good habits you’ve already set—a solid skincare routine, SPF every day, and healthy lifestyle choices like not smoking and drinking plenty of water—now is the time to pay closer attention to the quality of your sleep. “When we sleep, the skin undergoes rest and repair,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Not sleeping means that the skin won’t repair itself from today’s damage as well as it could.”
We suggest investing in a few products that will make catching those Zz’s a little more blissful, such as cooling bed sheets, a good white noise machine, and silk pillowcases (the gentle fabric won’t tug and pull while you snooze, contributing to fewer wrinkles)
9. Best skincare ingredient for your 40s: Antioxidants
“In your 40s, it is time to start adding an antioxidant to your routine,” says Dr. Zeichner. “As your skin’s natural antioxidant defenses start to slow down, the skin cannot protect itself as well as it once could from the environment.”
Feeling splurge-y? Try Dr. Jaliman’s favorite serum, Revaleskin Intense Recovery Treatment. It’s packed with good-for-skin antioxidants like grape seed extract, green tea, and tocopherol to combat free radicals and keep skin hydrated and clear.
11. Your 50s skincare plan: Hydrate
It’s likely you have some skin damage at this point, but avoid any further sun damage by wearing wide brim hats and clothing with UPF, says Dr. Jaliman.
She adds that at this age, you should swap out products that may dry your skin. “If you don’t have acne-prone skin, give up products that have salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide as they can dry the skin,” she says. “Women in their 50s should use products that hydrate the skin.”
Also important: Stay moving. “As skin cells get older, they don’t function optimally,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Exercise has been shown to help stimulate mitochondria activity, which are the skin cells’ powerhouses.
12. Best skincare ingredient for your 50s: Peptides
Dr. Jaliman agrees: “When you apply topical peptides, they minimize wrinkles and give your skin a more youthful appearance,” she says. Plus, peptides can also help boost collagen production.
Dr. Zeichner likes another powerful Olay anti-ager, Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Super Cream. “It contains a collagen stimulating peptide and a moisturizing base, which is important to treat dry skin with age,” he says.
13. Best skincare ingredient for your 50s: Retinol
That’s especially important in your 50s, she adds, since skin thickens as we age, and exfoliating is a great way to reveal fresher skin. She recommends Replenix All-trans-Retinol Smoothing Serum 3X, which delivers retinol as well as caffeine, green tea, and hyaluronic acid.
This article appeared on health