As we have always stressed, ageing is completely inevitable and normal. However, if preserving your youthful appearance is part of your life goal, then that’s completely fine too! Your skin, your rules. In fact, that’s the purpose of this entire article — to get you jump-started on anti-ageing in your prime 20s.
When Should We Start Including Anti-ageing Products?
It seems like ageing creeps up on us when our age passes from 19 to 20. Suddenly 30 seems not too far away, and a mid-life crisis is impending. Some say it’s a placebo effect, but my dulling skin and fine lines prove otherwise.
Thankfully, anti-ageing is no stranger to the skincare world, and there is a vast catalogue of products designed for this specific purpose. But it can be too saturated — there is so much information online that it becomes confusing when and how we should navigate ageing. Are your 20s too early? Too late?
Personally, I like to follow this general rule. Your early 20s are best to start preventive measures, and as you cross over to your late 20s to 30s, your routine should start including more skincare products to maintain your prime time youth.
Depending on which end of the 20s spectrum you are closer to, here’s what you should be including in your routine:
Early 20s = Prevention
At this stage, the goal is to prevent the onset of ageing. This is the best time to form good skincare habits that are consistent and effective. While the popular Korean 10-step routine may have created the impression that a range of products is needed to achieve visible results, it is more important to get your basics right. The additional steps (such as serums, essences or the like) are meant to treat specific problems, such as dry patches or hyperpigmentation.
So What Exactly are the Basics Needed?
This may come as a surprise, but the core products you need in your early 20s are your good ol’ cleansers, moisturiser and sunscreen. At this age, your skin’s natural reparative and rejuvenation function is at its peak, and does not need as much support from our skincare. But as the saying goes “things you take for granted, get taken” — premature ageing is still a concern, especially when we are blasted by the UV rays of the sun every day. If our three-part guide to sunscreen has not given you a clue how important this step of your routine is, then let me make it clear now. It’s. Undeniably. Extremely. Super. Important!
A quick summary of sun rays: they are made up of different wavelengths. The one responsible for premature ageing is known as UVA. These UVA rays are around year-round regardless of weather conditions. Do not for a second think you are safe indoors — they are able to bypass any glass or windows to reach your skin. That’s why putting on sunscreen every day, regardless whether you are lounging in your PJs or out and about, is crucial.
Your sunscreen should be something you are comfortable with applying every day. Find a formula that is non-sticky, non-irritating to your skin and contains broad-spectrum protection.
With a velvety slip and a pore-blurring effect, this sunscreen is perfect for everyday use. Its transparent finish works well under makeup, or even when you are going au naturale. This is a fuss-free option that is easy to slap on throughout the day without feeling heavy or sticky.
Just as putting on sunscreen is important, removing it is just as essential. Even if you did not put on any makeup that day, cleansing is still a must! It helps remove all the environmental pollution, natural skin oils and bacteria accumulated throughout the day. This refreshes your skin, allowing any serums or moisturisers that you pack on after to be absorbed more efficiently.
Since this is a daily use product, find a cleanser that is gentle and does not ruin the pH balance of your skin. Having cleansers that are too alkaline in nature can ruin your skin barrier, creating symptoms of premature ageing (such as dry spots). Your skin should feel refreshed, and not parched, after washing off your cleanser.
It is doubly beneficial if the formula contains hydrating or soothing benefits so that your skin does not become inflamed or damaged after prolonged use.
Great for sensitive skin types, this cleanser is packed with ceramide goodness, limiting moisture loss from the skin. The gentleness of this product also protects the skin barrier while still being effective in removing debris and pollutant buildup.
While our skin is doing great at repairing and rejuvenating itself in this age range, they do so best in an environment that is well-hydrated. Even if you battle with oily skin, moisturisers are key in helping your skin balance out excessive oil production. While not necessary, it is also great if they have other active ingredients that target skin concerns (such as improving elasticity or soothing) on top of hydrating your skin.
Boasting anti-aging benefits such as reduce wrinkles and boost elasticity for firm and bouncy skin, I was initially hesitant about this cream. I was afraid its thick and yellow consistency would break me out, but I’m glad I gave it a shot! The moisturiser was fast-absorbing, and melted into my skin easily. It also had a slip to it, making my skin feel supple and soft upon application. The next morning, I found no irritation or bumps and my skin felt well-hydrated (which isn’t always the case if the moisturiser isn’t hydrating enough!).
Late 20s = Maintenance
At this stage, your skin’s natural rejuvenation starts to slow and requires some additional support to maintain its youthful buoyancy. It is best to start incorporating anti-ageing steps into your routine:
Serums, Essences and Ampoules
Serums, essences and ampoules are great for amping up your skincare routine with additional benefits. They usually contain a higher concentration of ingredients that target specific concerns, be it hyperpigmentation, dark spots or ageing. Some of the key anti-ageing ingredients to look out for are:
Compared to our early 20s, our skin requires more hydration. Humectants are great as they draw moisture from your skincare products and the air to boost moisture levels in your skin. This helps your skin layer to retain its supple, youthful exuberance. Common skincare ingredients that fall under this category are hyaluronic acid, glycerol and lactic acid.
Containing ceramides, glycerol and niacinamide, this water essence packs multi-benefits in one solid bottle. Slightly more viscous than your typical toner, my skin felt instantly refreshed after patting on this essence. It did leave a slightly tacky finish but I was not bothered by it since I would layer on more products after.
These are the powerhouse compounds that can fight against free radicals and defend skin cells against environmental stressors. This helps to slow the deterioration of the skin barrier, allowing it to remain firm and less susceptible to wrinkles.
This antioxidant-rich gel-type serum protects your skin from pollutants that age your skin while nourishing the skin with hydration from its ceramides. It also claims to reduce pore size, which is also an effect of ageing on the skin. Unfortunately, I cannot attest to the pore-reducing quality just yet, but I can confirm that this serum is extremely hydrating. It was also non-sticky and lightweight with a fresh fragrance that is not overwhelming.
Also known as Vitamin B3, this substance is effective in tightening pores and helping your skin barrier repair itself. Niacinamide is also known as an age combatant as it boosts collagen production in your skin. Collagen is what gives your skin that “bounce”. Sadly, our skin produces less of it as we age.
Given the concentration of vitamin B3 goodness, this serum blesses us with an effectiveness that comes at a good price point. As expected of The Ordinary, the ingredient list is short and succinct, so you know you are getting benefits true to the vitamin. This product is especially effective for those with oily skin — coupled with the antibacterial properties of zinc, the formula helps to balance oil production.
One of the skincare world’s biggest debates is whether eye cream is an essential wrinkle-preventing potion or simply moisturiser in a smaller bottle. While the jury is still out on this topic, I personally believe that eye cream is a must-have for our delicate eye area.
This area is more fragile and thus more prone to signs of ageing, such as wrinkles and fatigue. Eye creams, unlike moisturisers, are specially formulated to enhance the moisture in this area. They are thus more potent and feature active ingredients that target concerns in that area (for instance, vitamin C which helps with pigmentation).
Like a tall glass of water for your eyes, this mask is a gel-like consistency that leaves your eyes refreshed and ready for the day. Made with ingredients like caffeine and Vitamin P, this cream takes care of your puffy and fatigue eyes to reveal a revitalised appearance in the morning. I love putting this on both day and night due to its lightness, and find myself having a plumper under eye area in just a few days of use. For extra coolness and depuffing effect in the morning, pop this into your refrigerator at night.
Before I round off this article, I would like to leave an extra tip that you should be doing at any age: your neck should be part of your skincare routine! It is a thin layer of skin, that without appropriate care, can be a telltale of your maturing age. Always pat your moisturisers and serums onto your neck.
Wishing you well on your anti-ageing journey, and remember! Don’t be too troubled when one or two wrinkles still peek through despite your good skincare habits — ageing is normal, and even the best of products can only shave off a few years from our appearance.