These are the best skin care products to use in yours 20s, according to a dermatologist

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·5 min read

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We asked a dermatologist to weigh in on the best products to use in your 20s.
We asked a dermatologist to weigh in on the best products to use in your 20s.

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If you've taken the time to learn a new language or master an instrument during the lockdown, then, honestly, props to you. Because for many of us (myself included), while we made pledges to hone some sort of skill during quarantine, that skill turned out to be ordering in food and watching TV. However, in addition to stalking the "Bridgerton" cast on Instagram, there is one topic I've recently become fixated on: anti-aging skincare.

As a 20-something who, in part, has made a career writing about beauty, I'm always semi-prepared for lightning to strike me down every time I leave my apartment without a liberal application of sunscreen. And while no amount of SPF can completely do away with future fine lines and wrinkles, there are definite advantages to starting your anti-aging, or rather, proactive skincare routine, in your 20s. 

With that being said, I am (as indicated by the aforementioned career remark) not a dermatologist; even the thought of it would send my high school biology teacher into a tailspin. Rather, to get a science-backed opinion on anti-aging skincare, I spoke to Dr. Benjamin Barankin, a Toronto dermatologist and Medical Director of the Toronto Dermatology Centre

Sunscreen

According to Barankin, sunscreen and sun protection are everything and more when it comes to anti-aging practices all 20-somethings should adopt. 

"Ultraviolet radiation damages the skin both in the short term (shows up as a tan or sunburn, or makes cold sores come out) and in the long-term (skin cancers, pre-cancers, discoloured and blotchy skin, and burst blood vessels)," he says.

Come rain or shine, Barankin recommends applying an SPF 30 or higher every morning and reapplying it every 3 to 4 hours or after working out or coming in contact with water.

Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF 40

Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF 40 (Photo via Sephora)
Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF 40 (Photo via Sephora)

The award-winning Glowscreen combines hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 to boost moisture in the skin and leave it feeling soft and hydrated.

SHOP IT: Sephora, $48

The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants

The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants (Photo via The Ordinary)
The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants (Photo via The Ordinary)

This cost-effective mineral sunscreen is formulated to neutralize free radicals and minimize the intensity of UV radiation penetrating the skin.

SHOP IT: The Ordinary, $10

Ombrelle Face Sunscreen SPF 60

Ombrelle Face Sunscreen SPF 60 (Photo via Amazon Canada)
Ombrelle Face Sunscreen SPF 60 (Photo via Amazon Canada)

Formulated with vitamin E, this hypoallergenic and fragrance-free sunscreen has a lightweight texture that won't clog pores.

SHOP IT: Amazon Canada, $16

While sunscreen has become a non-negotiable step in many wrinkle-avoidant skincare routines, Barankin stresses sun protection doesn't stop at a layer of SPF. 

"Sun protection includes more than sunscreen…it also means avoid tanning salons like the plague, minimizing mid-day sun [exposure], [and wearing] hats and sunglasses," he explains.

Retinoids

"Retinoids are the gold standard in anti-aging," Barakin says. "They help treat and prevent acne, improve acne scarring and fine lines, even out the skin tone, and give the skin more of a glow."

"You have to start them low and slow and be careful that they don't dry or irritate [your skin] too much," he adds. Topical retinoids should be applied as part of your nighttime skincare routine, and their use should vary depending on the time of year. Barankin suggests using them less often in the winter or in combination with a good moisturizer.

Paula's Choice 1% Retinol Treatment

Paula's Choice 1% Retinol Treatment (Photo via Paula's Choice)
Paula's Choice 1% Retinol Treatment (Photo via Paula's Choice)

Featuring a controlled-release delivery system, this 1% retinol treatment diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while hydrating the skin.

SHOP IT: Paula's Choice, $58

The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% in Squalane

The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% in Squalane (Photo via The Ordinary)
The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% in Squalane (Photo via The Ordinary)

Targeting fine lines and wrinkles, uneven texture, and loss of firmness, this lightweight serum can reduce skin photodamage. 

SHOP IT: The Ordinary, $5

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Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM Night Serum

Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM Night Serum (Photo via Sephora)
Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM Night Serum (Photo via Sephora)

This potent retinol night serum combines vitamins C and E to aid in collagen production and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

SHOP IT: Sephora, $86

Vitamin C

"According to the dermatologist, vitamin C is also useful for improving skin tone, collagen production and fine lines. "

However, he cautions that it's not as powerful as retinol and retinoids.

"Unfortunately, [topical vitamin C can sometimes] cause a bit of acne," he adds. "You need to find a stable form of the product and not just the highest concentration." 

Paula's Choice C15 Super Booster

Paula's Choice C15 Super Booster (Photo via Paula's Choice)
Paula's Choice C15 Super Booster (Photo via Paula's Choice)

Formulated with 15% pure vitamin C, the highly concentrated C15 Super Booster diminishes visible signs of aging and brightens dull-looking skin. 

SHOP IT: Paula's Choice, $49

Glossier Super Glow Vitamin C + Magnesium Serum

Glossier Super Glow Vitamin C + Magnesium Serum (Photo via Glossier)
Glossier Super Glow Vitamin C + Magnesium Serum (Photo via Glossier)

A potent blend of vitamin C and magnesium, the Super Glow serum improves the appearance of dark spots and enhances hydration.

SHOP IT: Glossier, $35

OLEHENRIKSEN Truth Serum

OLEHENRIKSEN Truth Serum (Photo via Sephora)
OLEHENRIKSEN Truth Serum (Photo via Sephora)

Formulated with collagen and vitamin C, this brightening and anti-aging serum targets skin dullness and elasticity. 

SHOP IT: Sephora, $66

AHAs and BHAs

In addition to retinoids and vitamin C, "peptides and growth factors are important" parts of an anti-aging skincare routine. He recommends exfoliating once or twice a week and periodically including AHAs/BHAs, i.e. glycolic acid, to maintain a youthful, glowing complexion.

Glossier Solution Exfoliating Skin Perfector

Glossier Solution Exfoliating Skin Perfector (Photo via Glossier)
Glossier Solution Exfoliating Skin Perfector (Photo via Glossier)

The Glossier Solution uses a 10% blend of AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs to soften and smooth skin, resulting in a clearer and brighter complexion. 

SHOP IT: Glossier, $29

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum (Photo via Sephora)
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum (Photo via Sephora)

A powerful and effective night serum that combines AHAs and BHAs to lift away dead skin cells and improve skin tone and texture. 

SHOP IT: Sephora, from $118

GOOPGLOW 5% Glycolic Acid Overnight Glow Peel Light

GOOPGLOW 5% Glycolic Acid Overnight Glow Peel Light (Photo via Sephora)
GOOPGLOW 5% Glycolic Acid Overnight Glow Peel Light (Photo via Sephora)

A gentle overnight acid peel that combines glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, and a trio of naturally occurring AHAs to target fine lines, wrinkles, and pores while you sleep.  

SHOP IT: Sephora, starting from $62

Dermatologist recommendations

Over and above at-home treatments, Barankin says, "starting photo-rejuvenation treatments (IPL/BBL) once per year in your early 30s (in fall or winter) is also an excellent starting point."

Seeking out "medical-grade chemical peels in your mid-20s onwards can help treat acne, acne scarring, improve [skin] texture, tone and glow as well" can also help your skin stay fresh and youthful.

For people in their mid-to-late-30s, Barankin says medical-grade micro-needling "is also a great [way] to amplify your collagen."

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