Gorgeous Skin Tips for Your 20s
Shortly after I posted this article about my skincare routine, I received a reader email asking how to get clear skin. I could tell from the young woman's profile pic that she must be in her late teens or early twenties. The recent post I shared on clear, glowing skin is admittedly aimed more towards women my age - women in their thirties and up. The way I treated my skin in my teens and twenties has definitely evolved over the years, and I've learned so much more about good skincare since then. If I could share some clear-skin advice to my younger self, these are the top tips I'd give.
1. DETERMINE YOUR SKIN TYPE
When we talk about skin type, we're referring to oily, dry/sensitive, and oily combination skin. I just went over this with my oldest daughter who is reaching her tween years. I noticed she is having breakouts and oily skin on her T-zone (the area across the forehead and down the nose). Turns out she has oily skin just like me. Someone with oily skin needs deeper cleansing than someone with sensitive or dry skin. Though someone with oily skin can also have sensitive skin, which is what I've become lately. Your skin type can definitely change over the years and depending on your environment. It's fairly easy to determine your skin type. If you have oily skin only on your T-zone, for example, you have combination oily skin. Though if you've never really struggled with oil and breakouts, but tend to have flaky skin, you have a dry skin type. If you find yourself constantly reacting to products with flaking, itching, and/or redness; you definitely have sensitive dry skin. Dry and sensitive skin often go hand in hand.
2. USE THE RIGHT PRODUCTS FOR YOUR SKIN TYPE
Women with oily skin or combination oily skin should use oil-free products and avoid heavy primers and foundation. These will only make the oil build up on your skin worse and will cause breakouts. Opt for a light oil-free BB Cream and save the primer and foundation for special events. You can also find makeup products with blemish-fighting ingredients mixed in, like the Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Powder pictured above.
Women with oily skin may be afraid to use oils for moisturizers, but I've found that coconut oil is light enough, though I wouldn't use it every single day. Besides, if you're in your 20s, you really don't need a heavy moisturizer unless you have dry skin. Find a light daytime moisturizer with sunscreen to prevent wrinkles, and use a thicker retinol cream at night. Retinol is the easiest way to get all of the benefits you need in one product - firming, treating fine lines, and clearing up dark spots. I really like the L'Oreal Paris Advanced RevitaLift Night Cream. It isn't too strong like some of the concentrated fast-acting retinols, but it definitely does the job! When I was in my twenties, I often got stopped in the beauty aisle as I picked out wrinkle creme. "You're too young for that!" A lot of women would say. But it's because I started early that my skin has aged so little the last ten years.
If you have dry and/or sensitive skin, always go with something gentle and free of harsh scents, like this Burt's Bees Sensitive Facial Cleanser. If you have a tendency to react to products, always introduce new skin care products one at a time and give it at least a week. That way if you have a reaction, you'll know exactly what caused it and can stop using it immediately. Use only facial products on your face and body lotions on the body only. Natural skin care is a wonderful option for sensitive skin types. Try lemon juice as a light astringent, and try coconut oil as a natural moisturizer. Don't forget about the makeup too. Unless it's organic, makeup is full of chemicals that can cause irritation. Organic makeup can be a little expensive, but the Physicians Formula Organic Wear line is quite affordable.
For early onset wrinkles, you can use retinols as I mentioned above, but for dry skin, it's best to use retinol cream every other day as it can cause irritation and flaking. If flaking occurs either from a reaction to wrinkle cream or simply dry skin, start with a natural exfoliating cleanse. Mix one part baking soda with some gentle liquid soap and a little water to make a paste then spread it evenly over the face and gently scrub. Rinse thoroughly with warm water, pat dry, then slather on your coconut oil or some Vaseline and use a terry cloth towel to gently rub of the moisturizer. That will take care of most if not all of the flakes. If the retinol is too harsh for your skin, try Aveeno Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream. For an all-natural treatment, use a yogurt mask. Plain yogurt (regular dairy yogurt - not Greek yogurt) has enough lactic acid to act as a very gentle peel, and a yogurt mask also helps to brighten dark spots. Mix it with honey for additional moisturizing and antibacterial benefits. Try a heavier face cream at night, and try a moisturizing facial mask once a week if you still struggle with dry skin.
3. FIND THE RIGHT CLEANSER FOR YOUR SKIN
The right cleansing routine is the foundation of good skin care. It doesn't matter what kind of lotion or makeup you use if you don't start with a good, clean face. As I mentioned above for those with sensitive and/or dry skin, you really want to stick with a gentle cleanser, and try baking soda for a gentle and all-natural exfoliating treatment once a week.You could also use sugar and honey for a gentle and all-natural moisturizing exfoliating treatment. If your skin is too sensitive for regular exfoliating, try an steam facial. I used to do this with my sister all the time. Boil some water then pour it into a large bowl. Lean over the bowl and cover your head and face with a towel to trap the steam from the hot water. You can even add in calming chamomile tea bags to the water.
If you have oily skin, you need something a little stronger to prevent breakouts. For your daily cleanser, look for products containing salicylic acid. If you also struggle with blackheads, this Freeman charcoal mask is amazing! I use it once a week and have noticed a huge change in my skin, especially around my nose and other areas that are typically more oily. A clay mask is a great deep-cleansing option for sensitive/dry skin.
4. TREAT THE REALLY BIG BLEMISHES INDIVIDUALLY
Whether you have oily or dry skin, sometimes blemishes like pimples and stubborn dark spots need some extra attention. The kind of medication it sometimes takes to treat these issues are too strong to use all over every day, especially on sensitive skin. Use a cotton swab to apply more concentrated products exclusively to those bigger blemishes.
5. GIVE YOUR SKIN A LITTLE EXTRA LOVE ONCE A WEEK
With both your cleansing and moisturizing, I suggest a weekly routine in addition to your daily routine. I do this with both skin care and hair care. Some products are too harsh or heavy to use daily (or are simply too expensive), but can really make a big difference if you incorporate them once a week into your beauty routine.
6. FIGHT HIDDEN SOURCES OF BACTERIA
As I mentioned above, never wait until bedtime to wash your face. As soon as you get home from work, school, or the gym; wash up and moisturize. Don't wait until bedtime to take off all of your makeup. On the other hand, it's just as bad to over-cleanse or under-moisturize. Using too little moisturizer can seriously backfire, causing your skin to over produce oil. If you have a tendency to skip washing either late at night or after the gym, keep these cleansing facial wipes handy. You should also be wary of other common sources of blemish-causing bacteria like makeup brushes, your phone, your pillow case, and your hands. Anything that comes in regular contact with your face - keep it clean! Here is a great tutorial on how to your makeup brushes.
7. EAT FOR BEAUTIFUL SKIN
All of the skin care tips above will only do so much if you aren't eating a healthy diet. It starts with moisturizing from the inside out. Eat healthy fats and drink more water! Just by doing those two thing, your skin will look better. With a regular diet of fruits and veggies, your skin and hair will naturally look better. Here is a list of foods to eat for beautiful skin. There are also foods you should avoid, like sugar and alcohol. You don't have to skip on it all the time. But if you have an event or photo shoot coming up that you want to look your best for, take a few days off from the junk food and replace it with foods from the beautiful-skin food list.
8. FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT
If you still struggle with getting clear, glowing skin after taking all of this advice, fake it! Try a few different foundations until you find one that really works for your skin. And if you must use a primer daily, I really love this Rimmel Fix And Perfect Pro Primer. It isn't too heavy but does a great job of evening skin tone and mattifying for control oil.
Create a glow with bronzer that has a slight shimmer to it. I love to use a baked bronzer/blush combo to get a natural glow on my cheeks. Brighten up your eyes by applying a slightly shimmering light shadow to the inner corners of the eyes, and cover dark circles and blemishes with a yellow-toned concealer.
9. FIND WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU
Everyone's skin is different. Even among the same skin types, two people can react to the same product quite differently. Test different products to find which one works best for you. You don't have to spend a lot of money, though you can't always expect great results from bargain brands. Try mid range brands like Garnier and L'oreal. (Those are my favorites!)
10. DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
This is the most important part. I feel like it would be irresponsible of me to dole out beauty advice to young women without touching on the issue of self esteem. I know what it's like to struggle with confidence. When I was in my teens and twenties, I was in great shape and had the perfect skin, and yet I never felt pretty. I was too wrapped up in what everyone else looked like, and I'd find myself obsessed with every little bit of beauty advice I could get my hands on. You have to shift the focus from caring about what other people think to what you think. And please ignore the articles that try to tell you how to be more attractive to a man. You really want to be more attractive? Be confident and happy with yourself. What do you like about yourself? What makes you feel beautiful? And how can you be your best self? Embrace your own beauty, and you will glow from the inside out. That's the best kind of beauty, isn't it?
Pictured: 1. Freeman Facial Charcoal & Black Sugar Polish Mask 2. Clean & Clear Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment 3. Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Powder 4. L'Oreal Paris Advanced RevitaLift Night Cream 5. stila Cheek Duo, Pink Glow 6. Yes To Cucumber Hypoallergenic Facial Towelettes 7. Neutrogena Clear Face Sunblock Lotion 8. Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector Bb Cream, Combination To Oily Skin