The Evolution of Skin Care: Keep Your Skin Healthy at Any Age


The aging process may be inevitable but adding some preventive measures to your skin care routine can boost your skin health throughout your life.

It’s a fact of life: Our bodies change as we age.

Hormones, genetics, medications, and age-related bone and muscle loss can affect multiple body areas, including the skin. Lifestyle factors like diet and exercise may also make an impact.

Some of these changes are noticeable — perhaps most notably, the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Others, like collagen loss, might not be noticeable for decades.

Here’s what dermatologists and researchers suggest doing during each decade of your life to help keep your skin healthy at every age.

Whether it’s a tried-and-true skin care regimen, how often you wash your hair, or the cosmetics you’re curious about, beauty is personal.

That’s why we rely on a diverse group of writers, educators, and other experts to share their tips on everything from how product application varies to the best sheet mask for your individual needs.

We only recommend something we genuinely love, so if you see a shop link to a specific product or brand, know that it’s been thoroughly researched by our team.

Skin care in your 20s

When you’re in your 20s, wrinkles might be the furthest thing from your mind. But your skin is changing, even if it’s not noticeable yet.

Collagen production

Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, a board certified dermatologist based in NYC, notes collagen decreases by 1% each year, beginning in your 20s.

“The loss of collagen may contribute to fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging,” Garshick says.

Sun safety

Garshick says people in their 20s can avoid speeding up collagen loss by protecting their skin from the sun.

“Sunscreen can be very important for those in their 20s, as we know UV exposure can contribute to collagen breakdown,” she says.

Garshick suggests using a moisturizing sunscreen. Here are some of our favorite moisturizers with SPF.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) recommends choosing a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF that protects against both UVA and UVB rays — known as broad-spectrum.

Michele Green, MD, recommends people ask their primary care doctor or a dermatologist to do a skin cancer check each year starting in their 20s, particularly if they have a family history of melanoma.


Though acne is sometimes thought of as a “teenage problem,” it can continue into the 20s and beyond. Acne in your post-teen years can also be hormonal and even related to medications you may be taking. This might include lithium, certain hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs), and testosterone or other hormonal treatments.

Green says the stress 20-somethings experience from finishing school and starting their careers can worsen acne.

2017 studyTrusted Source of women ages 22 to 24 suggested that stress increases the severity of acne.

Green advises people experiencing mild acne to:

  • select a gel-based cleanser
  • use toners with alpha hydroxy acids (like glycolic acid) or salicylic acid
  • find a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid

People with mild acne should also consider:

  • applying sunscreen
  • washing the face twice a day and also after working out
  • using products that are labeled noncomedogenic


Green says sleep can benefit the skin. She explains that your skin naturally replaces dead cells and restores new ones while you sleep.

“Inadequate sleep will deprive the body of its regenerative cycle,” Green adds.

Skin care in your 30s

In your 30s, you may begin to experience fine lines and signs of sun damage.

Even more sun protection

Fine lines are often an early sign of sun damage.

According to a 2022 review of researchTrusted Source, UV exposure can cause photoaging.

Photoaging refers to mild changes to the epidermis (the outer layer of skin) and major changes to the dermis (the layer of tissue beneath the epidermis).

One study reviewed in the article suggests that UV rays are responsible for 80% of the noticeable signs of photoaging in the facial skin of white women. Another study mentioned looked at people exposed to UVA light through glass who received more exposure on one side of the face than the other. These individuals had “aggravated” signs of photoaging on the exposed side of the face compared to the other.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA)Trusted Source recommends opting for a broad-spectrum sunscreen, applying it 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure, and reapplying every 2 hours.

UVA rays can penetrateTrusted Source through glass, such as windows. This can also cause the breakdown of collagen and pigment in your skin. Consider applying broad-spectrum sunscreen or mineral-based sunscreen on exposed skin, even if you’re indoors.

“Overexposure to the sun during your teens and 20s can contribute to the formation of wrinkles, dark spots, and increase the likelihood of developing skin cancer,” Green says.

Continued skin care checks are essential for this reason.

Volume, collagen, and exfoliation

Green says people may also notice a loss of volume around the cheeks and eye area because of collagen loss.

“This is the time to ramp up your skin care routine by adding exfoliation after cleansing … and eye cream,” Green says.

Garshick adds that exfoliants can remove dead skin cells and keep the skin glowing.

Consider using a chemical exfoliant. If you want to use a physical exfoliant, you may want to limit use to 1 to 2 days per week, as these exfoliants may dry out the skin.

Vitamin C

2017 reviewTrusted Source and a 2020 studyTrusted Source suggested topical use of vitamin C could benefit your skin as it ages, including the ability to increase collagen synthesis, reduce free radicals, and lighten dark spots.

You can choose the best vitamin C serums for your skin based on your skin type and concerns.

Green says laser therapy may also be a good choice for people in their 30s. Still, it’s essential to speak with a dermatologist about options first. These may include:

  • Intense pulsed light (IPL) laser therapy: IPL laser therapy can treat sun damage, broken blood vessels, and some types of hyperpigmentation.
  • Broadband light (BBL) laser therapy: BBL lasers can also address minor skin concerns like IPL lasers.
  • Fractional or pro-fractional laser therapy: These lasers penetrate deeper into the skin and can help reduce the appearance of enlarged pores, fine lines, wrinkles, and scars.

Laser therapy may help reduce:

Green also notes that some people may want to start Botox at this time around the forehead and eyes, two areas where persistent facial expressions may begin to create wrinkles.

Sleep routine

Maintaining a good sleep routine or starting one if you did not do so in your 20s is also important to help your skin repair, Green notes.


Hormonal acne can also affect people in their 30s and 40s. According to the AAD, This may be due to fluctuating hormones, stress, or a genetic predisposition. It may also be due to a health condition or appear as a side effect from medication.

If you’re experiencing adult acne, a dermatologist can prescribe treatment to help control outbreaks and reduce the appearance of acne scars.

Skin care in your 40s

Green says her patients are often most concerned with loss of elasticity and wrinkles as they hit their 40s.

Continuing with sunscreen and vitamin C use can help prevent sun damage and reduce its effects.

Skin building-blocks

There’s a science behind these issues, Green explains. The skin’s supportive tissue has three building blocks:

The body produces less of them as time goes on, reducing your skin’s elasticity. It may be particularly noticeable on the face and neck, according to Green.

Sun damage

Sun damage could begin to show in the 40s if it didn’t happen in your 30s.

“Hyperpigmentation can become more prominent during this time as well, largely due to accumulated sun damage over time,” says Peterson Pierre, MD, a board certified dermatologist of the Pierre Skin Care Institute.


“Swap out your cleanser for a cleansing balm to hydrate your skin as it cleanses,” Green says. “Your toner should also rebalance your skin, so use a toner that will replenish lost moisture.”

Green suggests a toner with aloe.

Check out our lists of best cleansers for dry skin and top toners by skin type for options that have been medically vetted by our team.

Cell turnover

Exfoliation is also a key step in your 40s,” she adds. “Your skin needs all the help it can get to stimulate cell turnover. This will help maintain a healthy complexion.”

Consider trying a top-rated gentle chemical exfoliator.

Topical retinol or a retinoid can also help skin cells turn over.

Plant-derived stem cells

Plant-derived stem cells are undifferentiated cells. These stem cells come from many plants, each having different benefits.

For example, grapeseed may help with protection from sun damage and can be found in some sunscreens.

2016 reviewTrusted Source suggested that using grapeseed oil along with common sunscreen absorbers may reduce the number of UV rays the skin absorbs.

Garshick says other common benefits of plant-derived stem cells may include:

  • protecting against free radical damage through antioxidant activity
  • boosting collagen production
  • providing anti-inflammatory benefits

Many products claim to contain plant-derived stem cells, but a 2017 reviewTrusted Source indicated these items mostly contained plant-derived stem cell extracts. The study suggested live versions are better for skin and that more studies were needed.


Garshick says using products with vitamin C is still a good idea, but she suggests also looking for items with peptides.

“When peptides are incorporated into skin care products, they tell your body to produce more collagen,” she says.

A small 2020 studyTrusted Source of 22 healthy Asian participants over 40 suggested the use of peptides for 2 weeks could reduce wrinkles.

Garshick says there are various types of peptides, including:

  • Carrier peptides: These deliver minerals for wound healing, like copper, and promote collagen production.
  • Signal peptides: These send messages to the skin to stimulate the production of collagen, elastin, and other proteins.
  • Neurotransmitter peptides: These block the release of the chemicals that cause the contraction of facial expression muscles.

She says peptides may help with:

  • sagging skin
  • the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • elasticity

Check out some of our favorite peptide products for skin.

Consider Botox

Aside from products, Pierre says people may consider Botox at this time if they did not begin it in their 30s.

“Botox [can] relax muscles and improve expression lines, [and] filler injections [can] replace lost volume,” he says.

2019 literature reviewTrusted Source indicated Botox was safe and effective at reducing wrinkles.

PRP and microneedling

Green suggests combining microneedling with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy — a treatment that uses a patient’s blood plasma to aid in faster healing.

“PRP with microneedling utilizes the protein-rich plasma containing growth factors to stimulate cell turnover and collagen production by creating tiny micro-channels into the skin infused with PRP,” she explains. “As the skin heals, the cells stimulate collagen production. The result is younger-looking skin.”

Orthopedic surgeons use PRP to help athletes recover from injuries more quickly. Dermatologists may use PRP to support graceful aging. However, the AAD notes that there isn’t enough evidence that it works or doesn’t work.

Lifestyle changes

A few lifestyle tweaks may also help.

“As you get older, your metabolism slows down, and your body retains less water,” Green says.

Be sure to stay hydrated and include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Green suggests cooking with healthy oils and fats and consuming foods high in vitamins and calcium.

Green suggests limiting alcohol intake. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source recommends two drinks maximum per day for men and one drink maximum per day for women.

Alcohol can dehydrate the body, including the skin.

Skin care in your 50s

Your skin concerns are likely to shift as you enter your 50s.

Skin texture

“As we age, there’s a decrease in the amount of hyaluronic acid because of slowed production and increased breakdown of our natural hyaluronic acid. [This] can lead to dry skin and loss of moisture,” Garshick says.

A decrease in ceramide levels can also weaken the skin barrier, she adds.

This may lead to:

  • increased sensitivity
  • redness
  • irritation
  • dryness
  • dullness

Garshick recommends boosting hydration with topical moisturizing creams containing hyaluronic acid and ceramides to combat this issue.

2020 study suggested participants with dry, atopic eczema-prone skin saw significant improvements in skin hydration and dryness for 24 hours after a single application of a cream and lotion containing ceramides.


Menopause may also play a role in the appearance of skin.

“Fluctuations in hormone levels can cause facial fat to redistribute, potentially hollowing the face and causing it to appear thinner and more aged,” Green says.

She suggests dermal fillers can help the inner structure of the face and increase volume loss due to hormonal changes.


Green also says following a nutritious diet can continue to help skin, particularly as individuals begin to feel and see the effects of bone density loss and osteoporosis common with aging.

Bone loss in the face can also contribute to a changing appearance as you age.

Green says individuals can try to reduce the risk of these issues through foods with:

  • high amounts of protein, like lean meats
  • high calcium, such as yogurt and cheese
  • vitamin D, found in fish and eggs
  • vitamin K, often in green, leafy vegetables

Green says taking a collagen supplement and engaging in strength training are other lifestyle tweaks that may help.

Skin care in your 60s and beyond

Keep up the sun protection

As you move into your 60s, Garshick says the results of cumulative sun exposure may start to show in the form of dark spots.

“While these brown spots reflect prior sun damage that’s been done, it is just as important to continue to wear sun protection to prevent the spots from becoming darker,” she says. “At-home skin brighteners and lightening creams can be helpful.”

She suggests exfoliating a few times per week to improve skin appearance.


Garshick says retinol is still a key ingredient for those in their 60s and beyond.

2016 study suggested retinol and vitamin C could boost elasticity in postmenopausal women.

2021 review noted additional benefits of retinol on aging skin. These benefits include:

  • increasing production of elastin and collagen
  • reducing water loss from the skin
  • improving elasticity
  • absorbing UV radiation

Whole-body skin care

It’s important to take note of more than your facial skin.

“It becomes especially important to also pay attention to your hands, neck, and chest, as these areas will continue to show signs of aging as they lose volume and the skin appears thinner and more crepey,” she says.

Moisturizing these areas can help.

According to the AAD, skin becomes drier as we age. They suggest that people in their 60s and above should take steps to relieve dry skin. These include:

  • using gentle, fragrance-free cleansers to avoid irritation
  • using warm but not hot water when bathing
  • applying a gentle, fragrance-free body moisturizer within 3 minutes of bathing
  • using a humidifier when the air is dry
  • protecting the skin from harsh chemicals and sunlight, such as wearing gloves when cleaning or gardening and using SPF daily on the face, ears, and neck

Medication effects on the skin

A history of taking inhaled steroids or immunosuppressant medications can cause the skin to bruise and tear more easily. Keeping it moisturized may help support skin health.

In-office options

Garshick says in-office procedures may help with targeting skin concerns that come with mature skin, including:

Embrace the skin you’re in

It’s also important to remember that aging is inevitable. Above all, focus on accepting yourself as you are and growing older gracefully.

“It’s OK to accept and embrace the changes we experience and to remember that it’s a privilege to live longer and get older,” Garshick says.

She emphasizes that there’s no right or wrong.

“While there are options to help people feel better about themselves while going through the process, people should not feel pressure to do any of it,” Garshick says.

“When it comes down to it, aging is a sign of living.”

— Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD


Like the rest of your body, your skin will likely show signs of maturing as you get older. Fine lines, wrinkles, unwanted pigment, and loss of elasticity are four of the more noticeable and common signs of maturing skin.

The aging process starts in the 20s, when the skin begins to lose collagen. Damage from UV rays can speed up collagen loss, so wearing sunscreen is essential.

Continued use of sunscreen, as well as adding topical vitamin C, retinoids, and hyaluronic acid, can help fight the free radicals that cause further skin damage. This can help slow down the signs of aging.

Getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, and keeping alcohol intake to a minimum are lifestyle tweaks that support the skin as you age.

That said, it’s essential to remember aging is inevitable, and it’s OK to embrace the skin you have.


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