When you’re in your twenties, caring for your skin is as much about what not to do as it is about proper regimens. Generally, you don’t have the cares and responsibilities that come later in life—there’s nothing like having a child or a job you love that teaches you how to focus on the essential things in life. But think of your skin as your baby, as I like to say, and you’ll get a touch of the perspective you need to make the best long-term decisions.
That’s not to say young women don’t feel pressure. What to wear, who to befriend, what career path to take (just getting any paying job is hard enough), who to date, where to live, how to make your parents happy (or not)—the stakes are high in your twenties, and stress happens. You’re on your own for the first time and constantly bombarded with skewed messages from the media about looks and behavior. There’s no escaping it. But consciously recognizing and identifying these pressures will help prioritize your needs and choices.
The Three Golden Rules Of Good Skin Care: Healthy Habits, Prevention And The Right Regimen
I like to talk about three things for young women that are necessary to keep the skin you’re in looking fresh and youthful: Good habits, prevention, and a simple skincare routine, all informed by the right thinking.
1. BUILD GOOD HABITS
That Starts With Avoiding Public Skin Enemy #1
Don’t pick: think of the word blemish. When we look in the mirror, what do we see? Often, when we begin our routines, it begins with scrutiny in the mirror. We look for flaws, instead of seeing the positive, overall picture. And when we see flaws, we are subliminally channeling all the self-criticism and flawed social values and snarky remarks from friends and bringing them to the surface… of our skin. The blemishes on our skin stand in for the perceived blemishes on our character, and we try to root them out, pick them clean. It’s not just the dirt and ineffective methods that do harm in picking, but the risk of turning picking into an uncontrollable obsession, for all the reasons stated above.
Related Read: On Why Extraction Is Ok, And How It’s Done (Expertly)
Good Vibes = Good Habits
Fact: the zits and red marks on your face are way more obvious to you than they are to the casual observer. Frankly, they’re just not that interested in examining your skin with such scrutiny. So, take a breath, lighten up, and have confidence that the horrible red pimple you think everyone is staring at is actually going unnoticed. One more thing: Have you ever realized that putting on make-up feels far more fun that cleansing and moisturizing? That’s because of the way we think about our routine. Skin care can be all about finding the negative and treating it, while make-up is about stepping back and enjoying the overall effect and face you create. But if you flip the switch, and eliminate those negative feelings in front of the mirror when you’re cleansing and treating your face, your mind and skin will benefit immeasurably. Don’t obsess!
More Bad Habits for Your Skin
All right, we all know what’s bad for us, but I’ll lay it out here—keeping in mind that no one’s perfect, and we all make mistakes. Plus, you can make up for your mistakes with a some extra care and careful attention (in the next section I’ll talk about solutions and treatments).
- Don’t Overmedicate Your Skin. With acne still a concern for many women in their twenties (and yes, it can follow you into your fifties; hormones, zits and taxes are just part of life), most skincare products used by young women involve cleansing and break-out treatments. Going overboard with some of the widely marketed and distributed products in trying to stamp out your acne can result in dry skin, which can turn into clogged pores, premature aging and more stubborn acne. Jillian Wright Skincare is natural and non-medicated, and avoids the use of harsh chemicals. Breakout Blocker, for instance, is an everyday serum that will help keep your skin soft and smooth.
- Don’t Smoke. That occasional cigarette while standing outside the club might be wonderful at 2 a.m., but do this too many times, and you’ll be risking early crow’s feet, sallow skin tones, and fine wrinkle lines around your lips.
Related Read: Is The Erbium Laser Best For Treating Lip Lines?
- Don’t Fall Asleep With Your Makeup On. I know you’re tired; I know you might have had a teensy weensy bit too much to drink. But seriously, try to get your face to a sink before passing out.
- Don’t Have An Erratic Diet. If you’re prone to skipping meals or going hungry just remember that the more you tax your body, the more you tax your skin.
- Get Sleep, Minimize Stress. Given all the pressures you feel, you’re under enough stress. Going without sleep will make the stress feel that much worse—and stress is terrible for your skin and overall health! I know you can party till 4 or 5 a.m. and show up to work tanked up on coffee (but read how it affects your skin). For every stint of stress, try to compensate with some pampering—a massage, a facial, a day in bed.
2. IT’S ALL ABOUT PREVENTION
- Hydrate. I can’t emphasize enough how important drinking plenty of water is to your skin. Happily, most women are already doing this. It’s a wonderful, positive modern trend. You can also keep your skin hydrated with superficial treatments by using the right cleansers and moisturizers.
- Wear SPF 50. Sun damage has put the roof over my head. I’ve made a living off treating women in their thirties and forties who weren’t careful about going in the sun in their twenties. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel for them—I can help preserve and enhance the best skin for their age (skin age, that is), but I can’t help undo the deterioration and long-term damage from sun exposure (and hey, sexy, make sure you protect your cleavage as well as your face).
Related Read: Do Tinted Moisturizers With SPF Offer Enough Protection?
- Healthy Diet & Exercise. It turns out your mom has been right for all these years! Weight loss, weight gain, dehydration, alcohol, coffee, and sugar intake are all things to be aware of. Avoiding the wrong binges and doing things in moderation will help maintain your natural collagen and elastin.
- Be Conscious Of The Effects Of Your Birth Control. Bloating, breakouts, and hormonal swings can be evened out by some birth control pills, but depending on the user, some dosages can exacerbate them. Be attentive to the potential effects, and keep track.
- Enjoy Yourself! Celebrate Your Achievements! I am honored to treat and befriend some of the most high-powered, smart women in America thanks to my Madison Avenue spa. These accomplished executives, lawyers, professors, writers, actresses and models know—like all great women through the ages—that beauty is not superficial. It starts deep inside you, with how you feel about yourself. Sometimes that requires blotting out all those negative messages. It’s impossible not to internalize all the bad stuff. When we’re hurting, some of us get headaches; some get depressed; some get stomachaches; some get acne. Realizing your self-worth and beauty in your youth will help you make viable decisions that will greatly affect how you age. Taking care of your skin is just one small, positive building block of a healthy long life.
3. FOLLOW THE RIGHT REGIMEN
Do it every day, and don’t skip. Don’t run out. Stick with the plan. With skin, slow, steady and regular wins the race. You will see results over time, particularly with the right products.
- For Overmedicated Skin. First, identify the signs of overmedicated skin. If your skin is red and blotchy, use a cleanser that helps minimize redness and inflammation like the Gentle Peptide Cleanser. If your skin is dry and scaly, the medicated products are drying out your skin’s surface. Dial back and use products that will nourish your skin. Then use an exfoliator like the Double Surface Exfoliator twice a week. If you’re prone to breakouts but using lots of products, your acid mantle is confused. It’s oily underneath and dry on the surface. The surface is telling the oil glands to produce more oil. The key is to balance and not overdry the skin with ingredients that will not disrupt the sebaceous glands.
- For Skin That’s Always In The Sun. Always use an SPF. Our Favorite is the Elta MD UV Clear, SPF 46.
- For Acne-Prone Skin. Use the Congested Skin Cleanser five days a week, but supplement with the Gentle Peptide Cleanser if your skin doesn’t feel like it’s active. Follow this with the Breakout Blocker, then finish with the Mattefying Moisture Lotion (oil-free) or the Gel (if your skin is super oily).
- After Falling Asleep With Your Makeup On. Wash your face immediately. I would suggest a shower because makeup is probably embedded around the jawline, hairline, underneath the chin and ears. Use a scrub. You have tons of dead skins cells that have built up overnight that you have to get rid of to reveal fresh healthy skin. Follow with your serum, moisturizer and SPF.
Jillian Wright, medical aesthetician practicing at Jillian Wright Clinical Skin Spa