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  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

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Skincare by age: products and treatments for each decade

What to expect from your skin over time

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 6 min read
Women with white and red clothes standing back to back
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 6 min read
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

From the second we’re each born, we’re always growing and changing — and our skin sticks with us through all of it, growing and changing along with us. If you’re in search of advice on anti-aging skincare, keep this in mind: skincare isn’t one-size-fits-all, and there’s no uniform experience for each decade. We’re here to tell you what we know about keeping your skin happy for each of life’s big moments.

First thing’s first: sunscreen

It’s never too late to start using sunscreen, but the earlier you start best SPF practices, the better! That’s because sun protection just might be the single most important part of maintaining skin health. Just apply sunscreen with an SPF 30 (or more) daily, and re-apply it for every 2 hours you spend out in the sun.

Skincare for teens

Adolescence can be an exciting time of firsts — first kiss, first car, first day of high school — and, for many of us, our first breakout. So it’s a wise time to start building a basic skincare regimen.

Routine basics

  • Cleanse. Try cleansing whenever you brush your teeth — once in the morning, and once at the end of the day. Use a gentle cleanser that’s specially formulated for the face — no harsh soaps!

  • Treat. After your skin is prepped, use an anti-acne skin treatment as directed — but know your ingredients! In addition to doing your research about which skincare ingredients are ideal for your skin, you should double-check your products and cosmetics using the cosDNA test to make sure they don’t use any potentially pore-clogging ingredients.

  • Moisturize. If your skin is feeling tight or dry, you’ll want to use a facial moisturizer for your unique skin type. Learn if your skin is acne-prone, sensitive, dry, oily — or a combination of these types.

Teenage acne might be one of the great woes of adolescence, but when does acne stop? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. You might never get a breakout after puberty, or your acne might stick with you through your 20s. Your breakouts might stop for years and then suddenly start again. And others never get a breakout in their life only to wake up with acne at age 50.

Teens graphic for skincare

Skincare for your 20s

The routine basics from your teens still apply: cleanse, treat, moisturize, and use sun protection. But now that you’re a bonafide grown-up, you might take the following into consideration:

Routine updates

  • Remove makeup. First, try to avoid makeup with potentially pore-clogging or irritating ingredients. And removing your makeup at the end of the day is always a good idea. Try micellar water, which cleanses and removes makeup at the same time.

  • Use retinoids. Reach for anti-aging skincare products with vitamin A derivatives. Prescription retinoids like tretinoin are more powerful than over-the-counter ones like retinyl palmitate. Some retinoids (like tretinoin) can help with acne and early signs of aging. You can talk to a medical provider to see if it’s right for you!

  • Eat mindfully. Diets high in sugar, simple carbs, and dairy are associated with acne breakouts in some people. Research has also shown that a diet high in sugar can lead to wrinkles and sagging skin, so keep an eye on your nutrition.

  • Don’t smoke. There are a lot of good reasons to quit smoking now if you haven’t already — and better skin is one of them! Smoking leads to accelerated aging — “smoker’s face” is a term often used to describe the damage smoking can do to your skin. This includes making your skin look more wrinkled, coarse, and sallow than it would otherwise.

20s graphic for skincare

Skincare in your 30s

Your skin routine can be a constant ritual of self-care, no matter what your 30s brings. If you’re breakout-free by this age, you might start to swap your anti-acne products for anti-aging ones.

Routine updates

  • Cleanse daily. Feel free to skip the AM cleanse if you don’t need it, especially if you’re breakout-free. It’s still a good idea to wash your skin at night to clear any build-up from the day and prep the skin for other products.

  • Moisturize twice daily. Keeping your skin hydrated will help you look and feel great, so if you aren’t already, you might want to start moisturizing twice a day — especially if your skin feels tight and dry! You might even want to use two different kinds of moisturizers: one with SPF in the morning, and one for deep hydration in the evening.

  • Try an eye cream. Your 30s could be a time of career, kids, or other big life events that might cut in on your beauty rest. A hydrating eye cream with caffeine can help improve the appearance of dark circles and helps skin to look brighter, so you can look rested even when you’re not.

30s graphic for skincare

Skincare after 40

It’s not just a figure of speech to say we soften with time. Collagen production in our skin continues to slow down in our 40s. But — fun fact — collagen molecules are too large to be absorbed directly by the skin. Instead, incorporate a product into your routine that stimulates collagen synthesis:

  • Alpha hydroxy acids. That’s right — the same AHAs we recommended for skincare in your 20s are still a great option for skincare in your 40s! Use AHAs to help boost collagen synthesis, fade sunspots, and clear away dead skin cells.

  • Vitamin C serum. Vitamin C boosts not only your collagen but your sun protection, too! Try layering a vitamin C serum under your sunscreen in the morning to help maintain a youthful complexion.

  • Tretinoin. We’ve already mentioned that tret is a powerful retinoid, but did you know that it helps to support the normal structure of our skin? It increases cell turnover rate and collagen production, helping to improve skin texture issues like fine lines and wrinkles.

40s graphic for skincare

Truth be told — once you figure out what works for your skin, you can trust your instincts for how to adapt your routine over time. Sticking to a simple routine is the best way to stay focused on your skin goals, while cultivating confidence and a glowy complexion.

If you need more help building your skincare routine, Curology is here to help! Curology members get a customized prescription cream with a mix of 3 active ingredients to help your unique skin. We also offer a range of products to help complete your routine. Just like your skin, we’re in it for the long haul: your custom formula can be tweaked to meet your skin’s current needs. Come for the prescription-strength acne treatment, stay for the #SkincareJourney! Your first month of Curology is free — you’ll just pay $4.95 (plus tax) to cover the cost of shipping and handling.

Looking for more advice? Read the complete guide to skincare through the decades.

Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

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