Most women want their skin to look youthful and healthy, but anti-aging advice is not one-size-fits-all. The beauty products, habits, and lifestyle choices you should cultivate at 20 are very different from the ones you should have under your belt at 50. Plus, your skincare goals naturally evolve as you age—at least they should.
"One anti-aging myth I feel is extremely important to debunk is that all skin must look like it's less than 25 years old in order to be beautiful—so not true," says skincare guru Holly McWhorter, co-founder of Plant Apothecary. It isn't reasonable to expect your skin to look 25 forever, but it is possible to keep it looking glowy and beautiful well into yours 60s.
How? You might think a cohesive guide to anti-aging for every decade would be too massive to fit into one Byrdie story—but you'd be wrong. We had a panel of trusted estheticians spill their best anti-aging advice for women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, and we gathered them all here. Keep scrolling to see their 15 best tips for keeping your skin glowy forever.
In your 20s…
"In your 20s, your skin is renewing itself about every 30 days, which means it has the ability to bounce back quicker from damage, and at this point, your best move is to protect and nourish. Take on free radical damage by eating fresh fruits and veggies, and topically via antioxidant-rich ingredients like honey, green tea, even grape-seed oil. Grape-seed oil is doubly effective because it's also anti-inflammatory and blemish fighting—because unfortunately, skin can experience a second bout of hormonal acne in one's 20s." — Shrankhla Holecek, Ayurvedic skincare expert and founder of Uma Oils
"This is a tip for all ages, but it's especially useful in the 20s … before too much sun damage has already occurred: Incorporate some kind of sunscreen into your routine, but make sure it's nontoxic—as all of your skincare products should be. … Go for a product containing a mineral, physical sun block. The most accessible of these is zinc oxide, and in order to avoid the purplish-white sheen that it can leave on skin's surface, look for the ingredients to say that it's micronized. But be sure that it's also 'non-nano,' meaning it doesn't contain any nanoparticles, which are so small that they can be absorbed through your skin into your bloodstream.
Nano-sized zinc oxide has been connected to numerous serious health issues, so avoid it if at all possible." — Holly McWhorter, co-founder of Plant Apothecary
"Ensure you wash off your makeup each evening. If you are having a 'lazy' night, keep Sisley-Paris Eau Efficace, a three-in-one cleanser, toner, and makeup remover, by your bed with a cotton pad!" — Danielle Gamble, national aesthetician at Sisley-Paris
"In the long run, exercising is going to make a bigger difference than what you slather on your skin. Physical activity helps to increase blood flow in the skin, which helps with cell turnover and overall skin health. It also helps with managing and reducing stress, which causes ongoing damage to skin cells. Sweating is also a great way to clear damaging toxins from the skin. Just make sure to use a gentle, natural cleanser when you're done to avoid breakouts!" — Tara Pelletier, co-founder of Meow Meow Tweet
In your 30s…
"At this age, it's all about prevention, and there is no better (non-sunscreen) product to do this than an over-the-counter retinol serum. The purest form of vitamin A, retinol is a cell-communicating ingredient that stimulates collagen, activates cellular metabolism to encourage faster cell turnover, fades brown spots and discoloration, and improves skin firmness. … Simply put, it's an anti-aging powerhouse for those in their 30s since, more than likely, they don't have a lot of damage (as opposed to someone who is currently in their 50s).
A prescription retinoid shouldn't be necessary since it's more about prevention and less about damage repair. (Which is good news because there are fewer side effects with a nonprescription retinol!)" — Renée Rouleau, celebrity esthetician
"Cellular turnover starts to slow down to about once every 45 days in your 30s, which means that exfoliating more (gently) becomes important to resurface new skin. I like a combination of daily exfoliators like nut powders and oats, and occasional exfoliation with fruit acids (papaya, grapefruit, tomato extracts are great—try lemon mixed with honey for more intense action) and yogurt two to three times a week." — Holecek
"Skincare lines for acne-prone skin typically fight bacteria and dry out breakouts. While elements of this can be helpful, it can backfire quickly. Not all breakouts are equal, and the frequency of them varies for everyone. For example, a 17-year-old girl whose skin is extremely oily and covered in severe acne … requires a routine in which every product is relatively strong. But for most people, using all acne products can make the situation worse since acne products, by nature, tend to be very drying.
Although this is beneficial for healing individual breakouts, these products will over-dry other non-broken-out areas. This results in dead skin cell buildup which is never good for anti-aging." — Rouleau
"Since the eye area is the first area to age due to wear and tear from smiling, squinting, and rubbing your eyes, keeping it hydrated and nourished is essential for preventing premature lines and wrinkles. In your 30s, you definitely don't need something heavy and greasy since the oils can seep into the eyes and cause unnecessary puffiness and irritation—but instead, I recommend to use a lightweight creamy/gel consistency eye cream. And once [you] are in [your] late 30s, start using a more moisturizing and more active eye cream with peptides." — Rouleau
In your 40s…
"The skin on the neck is an extension of the face, so using products on this area is very important. After all, who wants to have smooth skin on their face and a dry, crepey neck? … The neck should be treated separately to ensure it has the attention it needs. This means applying one application of moisturizer (with sunscreen during the day) to the face, and then a second full application to the front and sides of the neck. This will ensure that the neck gets a proper coating of moisturizer and sunscreen protection to keep it looking soft, smooth, and damage-free.
… I recommend also using an over-the-counter retinol product on the neck because it's formulated for sensitive skin yet has the ability to dramatically smooth the texture of the skin with continued use." — Rouleau
"I recommend oils at any age to prevent and repair the signs of aging, but they start to become critically important in the 40s … when the skin's lipid barrier starts to thin, making it not only drier but also more prone to damage. Oils are often superior to creams for the face (pomegranate, grape-seed, and jojoba mixed in with essential oils are some of our favorites)." — Holecek
"If you stay up past your usual bedtime, chances are you'll be yawning more, right? The act of yawning encourages your eyes to water, which creates swelling and puffiness. This excess fluid around the eyes weakens the elasticity of the surrounding tissue (which is already starting to get weak in your 40s), causing an acceleration of wrinkles. … So before you stay up past your bedtime to watch that last show, consider the side effects. This is just one more reason to get a good night's rest. It's called 'beauty sleep' for a reason." — Rouleau
In your 50s…
"Use a repairing night cream every single evening. It is just as important to repair the skin at night as it is to protect it during the day." — Gamble
"By the time a woman is in her 50s, she has surely seen changes in her face, particularly in the eye area. The eyebrows are also affected as they lose their shape and definition, partly due to the natural aging process and partly from over-tweezing when you were younger. You then need to use an eyebrow pencil to re-create a stronger and more defined eyebrow shape. When doing this, women will generally follow along their natural shape, but this is where the problem lies. Accentuating a drooping, flat brow only accentuates a woman's age.
So the trick is this: Take your eyebrow pencil and create a higher arch. You've now just given yourself an instant eye-lift, taking years off your looks in the process!" — Rouleau
In your 60s…
"A lot of women in their 60s will skip washing their face in the morning because their skin is drier and they don't want to dry it out, but … this is wrong. While you sleep at night, your skin is in repair mode and will secrete toxins and sebum which can prevent your daytime products from working most effectively. When you wash your skin in the morning, you're removing those, as well as your nighttime products, so your daytime products (particularly SPF moisturizer) can better penetrate. … Washing your face in the morning is a key step in ensuring healthy, calm, and youthful-looking skin.
"But don't over-exfoliate. … In the quest to look younger and have smoother skin for those in their 60s, people are doing too many aggressive exfoliating treatments that are actually injuring their skin. … Too much exfoliation can cause a damaged moisture barrier, and in the 60s, keeping moisture within the skin is so important to keep it looking bouncy and dewy. … Every type of skin responds differently to exfoliation, but exfoliation with facial scrubs, acids, or at-home peels shouldn't be performed every day." — Rouleau
"Skin cells, like all cells that make up the tissues and organs of the body, depend on good circulation to get the required oxygen, water, hormones, nutrients, minerals, and other trace elements that are vital for the life of the cells. … Tired, sluggish skin occurs when the microcapillaries are not providing enough nutrition to the skin. The treatment for under-circulated skin is to try stimulating circulation through gentle massage, using stimulating ingredients such as ginseng, peppermint, and rosemary, and to encourage the mitochondria of the cell to harness its energy with ingredients like CoQ10." — Rouleau
Want more anti-aging advice? Next up: Women over 80 share their best beauty tips.