The Basic Decade-By-Decade Guide to Skin Care

Written by Jessica “Nikki” Dietert, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on December 3, 2021 No Comments


Skin care is important at every age, but your needs will change depending on which decade of life you’re in. Learning which skin issues are most common at any age can help simplify your skincare routine and make it more effective. From prevention in your 20’s to treatment in your 60’s, learn what your skin needs at each stage of life.

Skincare in Your 20’s

Skin is often in peak form in your twenties. Teenage acne often begins to calm down while collagen and elastin production remains strong. Skin has structure and a youthful smoothness.

Common Skin Issues in Your 20’s

  • Acne: Many young adults struggle with acne. Hormonal changes, slower skin cell turnover, stress, or sleeping with make-up on are all contributing factors.
  • Changes in Skin Texture: Lifestyle changes in your 20’s can contribute to skin dryness or patches of oily skin.
  • Stretch Marks: Stretch marks can occur anywhere on the body after significant weight gain or loss, including from pregnancy.
  • Collagen Decline: While it’s rare to see wrinkles in your 20’s, this is the decade in which collagen begins to decline.

Skin Care Tips for Your 20’s:

Now is the time to focus on establishing a daily skin care routine that includes preventative practices. Keep skincare simple to avoid disturbing your skin’s natural balance.

  • Use Sunscreen: Sun damage is a major contributor to premature aging, skin wrinkling and discoloration. Daily sun protection will help you maintain skin’s youthfulness.
  • Moisturize Daily: Moisturizing is among the best preventatives. Moisture also slows oil production, which prevents acne breakouts.
  • Wash Twice Daily: Cleanse your skin in the morning and evening to remove debris and makeup.
  • Exfoliate Weekly: Exfoliation promotes skin cell turnover and keeps pores clean. Stick to no more than once weekly to avoid drying or irritating your skin.

Skincare in Your 30’s

Most people first notice the signs of aging in their thirties. Damage from sun exposure can begin to show. Women may still experience hormonal acne, or melasma related to pregnancy.

Common Skin Issues in Your 30’s

  • Decreased Collagen & Elastin: Production of collagen begins declining in your 20’s, but you may not notice fine lines until your 30’s.
  • Hyperpigmentation: Hormonal changes during pregnancy or years of exposure to the sun contribute to discoloration and sun spots.
  • Slower Skin Cell Turnover: While cell turnover began slowly in your 20’s, its effects are more significant in your 30’s. This can cause dullness or dry skin.
  • Volume loss: We begin to lose volume in the fat pads in our face that contribute to early signs of aging. This accelerates in coming decades.

Skin Care Tips for Your 30’s:

Maintain the routine established in your 20’s. In addition, it’s time to introduce anti-aging treatments.

  • Antioxidants: Look for products that contain Vitamin C or E to mitigate the effects of exposure to sun and environmental pollutants.
  • Retinol/Retinoids: Introduce over-the-counter retinols or a prescription retinoid to prevent fine lines and wrinkles and improve skin texture.
  • Hyaluronic Acid: Treating with HA hydrates skin and helps boost elasticity.
  • Injectables: Strategic neuromodulators like Botox can be started to treat or prevent early wrinkle development. A small amount of tissue filler can replace early volume loss.

Skincare in Your 40’s

Signs of aging become more prominent in your forties, primarily thanks to hormonal changes and accumulation of sun exposure.

Common Skin Issues in Your 40’s:

  • Decreased Oil Production: Acne may be less of an issue than ever, but dryness becomes more of a problem.
  • Reduced Estrogen Production: Loss of estrogen contributes to dryness as well as thinner, more brittle skin.
  • Slowed Lymphatic Drainage: The lymph system naturally drains toxins from the body, but requires movement to operate. A decline in activity with age slows this system down, leading to inflammation. 

Skin Care Tips for Your 40’s:

While anti-aging remains important, it’s time to focus on the skin issues specific to you.

  • Anti-Aging: Add an anti-aging serum, such as Vitamin C, peptides or growth factors to your daily routine. This is best discussed with your dermatologist.
  • Lifestyle: In your 40’s, your body can no longer recover from lost sleep, poor eating, or dehydration like it used to. Positive (and negative) choices will be reflected in your skin.
  • Annual Appointments: See a trusted dermatologist for annual visits. Not only for skin cancer checks, but to dial in a skin care regimen that’s more unique to you.
  • Injectables: Neuromodulators like Botox can treat continued wrinkle development.  Tissue filler can replace continued volume loss.
  • Laser treatments: Fractionated laser treatments or microneedling can boost collagen production. Treatments like photofacials can treat developing sunspots and redness.

Skincare in Your 50’s: 

In your fifties, collagen and elastin production has sharply declined and the signs of aging are no longer avoidable. Menopause means some changes to your skin are here to stay.

Common Skin Issues in Your 50’s:

  • Wrinkles: Fine lines and wrinkles are unavoidable in your 50’s as collagen and elastin decline.
  • Sagging: Skin sagging becomes more noticeable, especially under the eyes or around the mouth and jawline. This is due to a combination of shriking fat pads and bone resorption.
  • Inflammation: Aging makes the body more susceptible to inflammation, which is often reflected as puffiness under the eyes.

Skin Care Tips for Your 50’s:

Keep up with your preventative routines, but also, look toward treatment options for areas of concern that are already here.

  • Peptides: Adding peptides to your skin care routine boosts collagen production and can smooth fine lines.
  • Injectables: Botox and tissue fillers help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and add volume where necessary as this typically accelerates during the fifth decade of life.
  • Mini-Facelift: A mini facelift can unwind the clock on aging by lifting the lower portion of the face to correct any sagging.

Skincare in Your 60’s and Beyond

As you age, skin becomes increasingly thinner and more prone to damage. Wrinkles become deeper, discoloration more prominent, and skin tags or other benign growths may appear. Changes to circulation make it harder for toxins to be eliminated, and more difficult for nutrients and oxygen to get delivered.

Maintain your skin care routine and especially the Vitamin C serum. Consider a skin thickening agent, such as products containing copper peptides.

At this age, maintaining a healthy lifestyle becomes more important than ever. Staying hydrated, eating healthy foods, and staying active will keep you feeling good, and looking good too.

Jessica “Nikki” Dietert, MD

Jessica “Nikki” Dietert, MD is a board-certified dermatologist ad fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon at Westlake Dermatology. She then earned her medical degree at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas before completing a residency at The University of Texas at Houston/M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where she served as chief resident in her final year. She then finished training with a fellowship in Mohs micrographic surgery at Washington University in St. Louis.

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