Skincare Routines For Your 20’s

Hollie Shirley / Hair & Skincare Editor

Your 20’s is the time to put the building blocks in place, so follow our guide on getting started with the best skincare routine for your 20’s.

Your 20’s can be a pretty chaotic time – you’re finding out who you are, what you want to do with your life and trying to be an adult properly for the first time. Along with this list of newly assigned responsibilities, your skin can start to go through changes throughout your 20s and the products you may have been using since your teens just aren’t going to hack it anymore. 

From personal experience, I know how difficult and hectic your 20’s can be, and although I don’t claim to have all the answers for you in this one blog post, the least I can do is share some of the skincare wisdom that I learned, through trial and error.

I was quite fortunate in my 20’s to land a job that was in a large department store, and made friends quite quickly with the girls on the makeup and skincare counters who would impart their wisdom and tricks on me – this is where I first learned how to do my eyebrows properly, why toner is an important part of your routine, and how to match your foundation properly. I also learned how to calm my acne that I’d had since I was a teenager and the importance of washing my makeup brushes. So today, I want to pass this on to you, my dear reader. These are 7 small steps you can start implementing in your 20’s to ensure your skin looks its best – even when you get in at 4 am and have to be at work at 8.30 am (true story).

Ditch makeup wipes for a proper cleanser and toner 

Those handy dandy makeup wipes that we all bought in our teens should be swept aside now and make room for a cleanser and toner for your skin type, and with good reason. Makeup wipes dehydrate and spread dirt and grime all over your face. When you’re a teen and not wearing makeup, sure they can be great and easy and convenient but they really don’t actually do a good job of cleansing your skin. Instead, choose a gentle, sulfate-free cleansing lotion or gel that will properly remove all the makeup, oil, dirt and dead skin cells from your face. Once you’ve done this step, reach for a toner to help balance your skin’s PH level and prepare your skin to be moisturised.

Take off all your makeup every night

One of the things I was most guilty of in my late teens and early twenties was going to bed with my makeup left on, especially after a night out when the last thing I wanted to do was drag myself into the bathroom to wash my face.  In the morning I would wake up and wash it off, sure, but by that time it’s gotten into my pores, all around my eyes and my skin looks a mess – as did my pillowcase. When I went onto my second round of Accutane in my early 20’s, I got into the habit of religiously removing all my makeup before bed and have continued to do so every night now, even if at the very least its swiping makeup remover over my face with a cotton round. It’s so important to remove your makeup, especially if you suffer from breakouts. If you are a side sleeper, pillow hugger and face squisher, you are just going to move the makeup around your face, clogging your pores which will lead to breakouts. Clean skin is healthy skin. Be very meticulous about cleaning a day’s worth of makeup, dirt, and bacteria from your skin so you’ll get the best results from serums and moisturizers applied afterwards.

Start using a daily SPF

If you ask any dermatologist what essential product you need to apply to your skin each day, they’ll tell you to reach for an SPF. We know it seems like a lot of effort, but when you consider that 90% of how your skin ages are within your control and are directly linked to sun damage, it’s definitely worth it. So during the summer months, you should apply a sunscreen with SPF 30 and 5-star UVA rating, however, in the winter months, you can get away with simply applying a product containing SPF – whether that be a moisturiser, BB cream, or foundation.

benzoyl peroxide vs salicylic acid

Treat your adult acne

Although acne is something most people associate with their teenage years, if you’re unlucky like me you will continue to get cystic breakouts throughout your 20’s (and beyond). Treating your adult acne correctly is paramount, so reach for a cleanser with salicylic acid which will help to break down the bacteria and dirt in your pores. Avoid irritants and avoid those makeup wipes as they won’t do anything to help, and don’t over-exfoliate – no more than twice a week – as this can damage your skin. If your acne is sore, angry red and painful, you can try benzoyl peroxide which is available without a prescription, or consult your doctor. Remember, your monthly cycle, birth control options and hormones can affect this so it’s always worth speaking to a doctor before reaching for anything. Read our blog here about treating acne-prone skin.

Wash your makeup brushes and sponges

This one is more of a game-changer than you realise. Even if you have a great skincare routine, you’re using spot treatments correctly and still breaking out, it could well be your makeup brushes and particularly your sponges. While the texture of those beloved, egg-shaped tools blends foundation, concealer, and even powder seamlessly, it can also easily hold a lot of gross bacteria. Makeup brushes and sponges collect everything off your skin — oil, dead skin cells, bacteria, — which is then transferred back to your skin and your makeup products if you don’t clean them regularly. This can potentially lead to acne, infections, or other skin issues. They can also become more dry and abrasive as makeup is caked on them, causing irritation and ineffective application. With a proper cleansing routine, you can help sidestep these breakouts and keep your brushes and sponges working their best for longer. 

Treat uneven skin tone

One of the most common skincare issues women in their 20s face is melasma, which is when your skin tone becomes noticeably uneven. It’s caused by a mix of sun exposure combined with hormones that are normally a result of the pill or other methods of hormonal birth control.  To treat it, try using a tranexamic acid or skin-brightening vitamin C (commonly labelled as L-ascorbic acid). Although, with all skin conditions, we suggest booking an appointment with your GP. You should also make sure you apply SPF every day to help protect your skin from sun damage, as the sun makes scarring and pigmentation worse.

Get your foundation professionally matched to your skin tone

Now, this isn’t exactly a skincare tip, more of just a tip in general. I have very light skin with a peach undertone, and for a long time it was really difficult for me to get a foundation from the drugstore to match my skin tone, and always had to drag foundation so far down my neck and onto my ears it would stain my shirt – not a great look when you are in a customer-facing role. So getting my foundation properly matched in the store was a game-changer for me. You can’t just walk into a store or go online and make an educated guess and find the exact match you need – you might need to mix shades, and you need to consider if it oxidises on your skin. Getting someone else to properly test a number of shades on your face and your skin type will really help with the application. They will be able to assess your skin’s needs – is it dry, oily, do you want fuller coverage or just a light sweep of colour – and recommend a formula and shade right for you. You can then take this new-found knowledge and apply it to other (read cheaper) foundation ranges if you wish. 

Hollie Shirley
Hair & Skincare Editor

Hollie Shirley is SILKUP’s hair and skincare editor. She’s obsessed with all things hair care and results-driven skincare, that is kind to the environment and your wallet. She has a weakness for limited edition eyeshadows and is always testing out the newest and greatest deep conditioners. Hollie has a passion for hair and is studying Trichology, working towards becoming a Member of the Association of Registered Trichologists.