For as long as I can remember, Sephora has been my happy place. But I haven't always known what to do in there, to be honest. In my 20s, I was far more concerned with makeup than anything else and usually just bought basic skincare necessities at the drugstore. Obviously, in your 20s, time is on your side, and you don't need to worry much about anti-aging and the like, but it's the decade of prevention when it comes to your skin, and I wish I'd done a little more to not squander that time.
Luckily, I was really good about doing the most important thing you can for your skin in your 20s: I wore sunscreen on my face, neck, and chest every day. (This one is my longtime favorite.) It's so crucial. But I've realized, now that I'm in my mid-30s, that there are other steps I wish I'd worked into my skincare routine so that I wasn't playing catch-up and doing damage control so much now that I'm much more well-informed when it comes to skincare.
Although a 20-something doesn't have many wrinkles to treat, I wish I'd started using a gentle retinol in my late 20s. I figure that if it's a small amount of retinol and it's loaded with moisturizers, it couldn't hurt to start that cell turnover early on, as preliminary signs of aging start to show up in your 20s (more on that here). Shop two that I love in my 30s below.
Vitamin C Serum
Antioxidants are so important for the skin at any age, so a vitamin C serum would have been a great product to start using in conjunction with my sunscreen in my 20s. And who doesn't want brighter, more glowing skin?
I've always contended with dry skin and wish I'd realized that there was a way to get moisture to sink into my skin without applying a heavy-duty cream that clogged my pores. Shop affordable hyaluronic acids I would've loved in my 20s below.
High-Quality Face Cleanser
Given that you literally wash face cleanser down the drain, I never really cared to invest in quality ones that were well suited for my sensitive skin. I'm sure my skin would've been better off had I done a little more research and acknowledged that anything that touches your skin is affecting it, regardless of whether or not you're rinsing it off immediately.
While I used physical exfoliants on a weekly basis, I wish I'd tried some chemical exfoliants, which would've been less harsh on my skin and likely given it more of a glow. Two of my current favorites are below.
Multiple Eye Creams
In my 20s, I typically would only own one eye cream at a time, for all seasons and all skin concerns, and the one that I had was pretty basic, just providing light hydration. I now realize that it would've been useful to invest in several eye creams—one with sun protection during the day, something richer for winter, and one that provided antioxidants.
Sagging neck skin was pretty much the furthest thing from my mind in my 20s, but it's one of the telltale signs of aging, and extra moisture in that area certainly couldn't have hurt from an earlier age to offset future aging in that all-important area.
When I see photos of myself in my 20s in which my hair wasn't looking its best, I do wonder if it had to do with the shampoos I used, which were filled with oil-stripping sulfates. These days, there are so many amazing sulfate-free options on the market I don't see any reason to ever use ones with damaging sulfates again.
Anti-Aging Hand Cream
I've always washed my hands a lot, and I don't wear SPF on them on a daily basis, so I definitely have some damage control to deal with in my 30s. Do yourself a favor and treat them as well as you would your face.
SPF Lip Balm
Like my hands, I also neglected to use SPF on my lips on a daily basis in my 20s. Since the skin on your lip is thin and therefore especially prone to damage and wrinkles, get into the habit of putting one on under your lip color now.
Unscented Body Lotion
In my 20s, I was always plagued with tiny bumps on my legs and arms, but when I finally stopped using body lotions with harsh ingredients and switched to fragrance-free, skin-soothing formulas, the bumps majorly dissipated.
This article was originally published at an earlier date and has been updated.
Allyson is a senior editor for Who What Wear. She joined the company in 2014 as co-founder Katherine Power's executive assistant and over the years has written hundreds of stories for Who What Wear. Prior to her career in fashion, Allyson worked in the entertainment industry at companies such as Sony Pictures Television. Allyson is now based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She holds a BFA in theater. Her path to fashion may not have been linear, but based on the number of fashion magazines she collected as a child and young adult, it was meant to be.