I've been negligent about my skin for the last 10 years.
March 6, 2012 7:27 AM   Subscribe

What should I be doing for facial skincare as I approach age 30 (gulp)? I have been really lax about taking care of my skin properly since I left my acne-ridden high school years behind and now I am growing concerned that if I don't change up my regimen I am going to look like a haggard old lady well before my time. Help!

I turn 27 in 13 days (argh! where are my 20s going?) and these days when I look at myself in the mirror sans makeup I notice some heretofore unseen unevenness in skin tone, dark circles under eyes getting darker (sigh), slightly more visible pores on my nose and upper cheeks, and the ever-so-slight beginnings of tiny crow's feet. The uneven skin tone and visible pores in particular is starting to look quite unfortunate, and I am now reluctant to leave the house without at least putting on concealer, even on the weekends when I'm schlubbing around running stupid errands and not trying to impress anyone.

It occurs to me that I have been grossly negligent in taking care of my skin during my 20s (and even before that). I had quite a bit of acne in high school but by halfway through freshman year of college it had basically cleared up through a combination of hormonal BC, diet changes (I'm one of the rare few who started eating less junk during college), and vigilant use of drugstore acne facial cleansers and astringents. I have had nary a blemish since. I have terribly oily skin, though, so I have always been reluctant to put any type of moisturizer on my face.

Well, let me clarify: my current makeup regimen includes a tinted moisturizer rather than foundation, since the latter makes my skin feel really heavy and gross. I also do concealer, mascara, occasionally eyeliner/shadow, blush, lipstick, and lately some powder to keep the tinted moisturizer from making things too shiny. But I don't use any additional moisturizer at night when I take my makeup off. Also...I rarely remember to take my makeup off. By which I mean...I never take it off. I go to bed still all mascara'ed and blushed, wake up looking all raccoon eyed, and then scrub it all off during my morning shower, only to put it all back on 15 minutes later after getting dressed.

I also never put on sunscreen. Yes, I know this is bad.

My question is, in light of the probably age-related skin changes I am noticing as well as the fact that I am definitively closer to being 30 than I am to being 20, what should I be doing to take care of my skin before it's too late? Obviously I should start being better about taking the damn makeup off at night before going to sleep, but is there something else I should be doing? Should I be moisturizing, given my oily skin and my daily tinted moisturizing routine? Should I be looking for moisturizers with additional stuff in them to counteract the beginnings of aging skin? What stuff would that be (clearly I have no idea, as I'm referring to it as "stuff")? Should I be using a different type of cleanser? (Right now I use Aveeno skin brightening something-or-other.)

TL;dr: While I'm not old I'm certainly not getting any younger and the skin on my face is starting to show it. How should I change my (non-existent) skin care regimen to appropriately deal with this?

Thanks in advance, folks.
posted by thereemix to Health & Fitness (51 answers total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
You are now of an age where your makeup should be completely taken off at night. Unless you are Courtney Love. Are you Courtney Love?

I can speak to you as a reformed non-face-taker-care-of who is now an exceptionally good face-taker-care-of. You should wash your face each morning and night. I recommend a pure castille soap, not a fake one. I also believe strongly in applying a layer of 100% pure aloe vera gel each night before bed, all over your face, after you wash. (By "pure" I mean, it should not be an aloe vera with alcohol added.)

I also believe that it is likely that you are wearing too much makeup too often. Please enjoy your face while you are young and have great natural skin.

If you want to spend more money, there's more options. But start slow here: start with washing your face before bed and using aloe and maybe a clean, light moisturizer. (ONE THAT IS FOR FACES, NOT FOR BODIES. Sisley makes some very nice products, particularly in the eye moisturizer regime. As does Kiehl's, for a much lower price point. You can go into these places and say to them, "Hey, look at my skin! What kind of moisturizer should I be using?)

And yes: the secret is to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:37 AM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

The best things you can do for your skin are keep out of the sun (or use a high SPF) and eat properly. There is no duty to buy expensive "serums" and other high-end products of dubious efficacy.
posted by zadcat at 7:38 AM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]

i use the products made by Carley's Clear and Smooth (the scrub and their night/day lotions) because they make my troublesome skin glow, and they are more natural and fresh than stuff i see at drugstores. google them and check it out. if you try something and you don't like it they will refund you, i think.

you really should wear sunscreen, you know that..and you really need to take makeup off every night, leaving all the chemicals on there will clog pores, prevent cell turnover, make your skin look dull and dirty.

if you use a tinted moisturizer, buy one that has spf 15 already in there, so at least you have sunscreen on your face already.

drink lots of water & get good nutrition too, as these things have a serious effect on the way you look and feel, skin included.
posted by zdravo at 7:40 AM on March 6, 2012

Yes, you should take your makeup off every night.

Wash your face with a non-soap cleanser. It should not be too harsh.

Exfoliate with an AHA or BHA exfoliant. I find that exfoliant scrubs with little grains are too harsh, so even though AHA and BHA sound scary, they are much gentler on my skin.

Put a light daily moisturizer on in the morning that contains sunscreen. It should be at least SPF 15. When you're out in strong sunlight, wear a stronger sunscreen/sunblock. Probably at least SPF 30. Reapply often.

The above is pretty much all I do...I could do more, but for me, this is the bare minimum and makes my skin look and feel decent.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:44 AM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

- Take your make-up off before you go to bed! You probably don't need me to tell you this.

- Moisturise. I, like you, have acne-prone skin but I moisturise anyway, it hasn't made my skin any more acne-prone, and zits or not, you really get used to that moist, plump feeling your skin gets when properly moisturised. I was using fancy anti-wrinkle stuff in my mid-20s but realised it was far too expensive a habit to keep up and my skin looks and feels absolutely fine now on basic drugstore moisturising cream that I buy in bulk. Get moisturiser with built-in sunscreen so you don't have to remember to put on an extra thing.

- Keep it simple. I just use a nice creamy cleanser, whatever I can find at the chemist's, and the afore-mentioned simple moisturiser. The less complicated your skincare routine, the more likely you are to stick to it.

- Don't pick or squeeze at your zits if you get any.

- Don't use those scrubs with little grains in them (e.g. apricot scrub etc) daily. They are quite harsh on your skin. Use them maybe once a week.

- I also think that you probably don't need to be wearing a full face of make-up daily. Your skin needs time to breathe, I think, though I don't have any medical knowledge to back this up. But at 27 it seems unlikely you need it.

- Drink plenty of water. I drink 2 litres a day. Get plenty of sleep. Don't smoke.
posted by Ziggy500 at 7:48 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm older than you - 30 in three weeks or so - and I still get IDed in shops occasionally. Which is less impressive now that they have to ID under 25s, but still.

I started getting acne in my early 20s and so I try and keep my skin clean. I use a face wash in the morning - Naked is the brand I use, which you might not get where you are, but basically it's an organic/natural brand if you care about that sort of thing. I also have used Lush's face soap. Don't use body soap/shower gel on your face, it doesn't like it.

It sounds like you don't wear tons of make-up - seriously, I've seen white girls with so much fake tan on that they have a face that's a different ethnicity to the rest of their body, and that can't be good for your skin - and before I had acne I used to sleep in my make-up occasionally. Don't do this. Take it off properly - you can use a cream cleanser, it doesn't need to be fancy as it's only on your face for three seconds, so just use something reasonably priced that isn't laden with gunk and nothing too heavy if you have oily skin. Save your money for things like moisturiser which you'll rub in and leave on.

No cream will take away wrinkles. It will make them look smaller until you wash your face at night (if you're lucky) but it will not remove them, no matter what the tube says. Moisturising, however, is good. Leather is skin and that needs polishing, so I think faces do too.

If you don't like the feel of foundation, have you considered switching to powder? Either a dusting of the translucent stuff to even out your face/blot up oil, or something like mineral foundation?
posted by mippy at 7:50 AM on March 6, 2012

To counterbalance, albeit as a woman with very dry skin... my dermatologist told me that:

* moisturizers are basically bunkum; drinking lots of water is the best way to hydrate
* that if I'm not wearing makeup or sunblock, not to use a facial cleanser at night: simply wash with cold (never hot) water.
* if I am wearing makeup or sunblock, use a gentle cleanser like Cerave that doesn't leave my skin feeling tight or dry afterward. If I *must* put moisturizer on my face afterward, use the Cerave moisturizer, or something like Neutrogena oil-free.
* that the best thing I can do to prevent my skin from aging is to use sunscreen whenever I set foot outside the house during the day,
* and that the second best thing is to drink coffee, which has tons of skin-friendly antioxidants in it (but drink even more water to make up for caffeine's dehydrating effects)

Maybe I like her advice because it appeals to my inner lazy person, but hey, that's what she said!
posted by artemisia at 7:51 AM on March 6, 2012 [16 favorites]

I was you.

I found that adding things one at a time was much better than switching everything all at once.

Switch to a tinted moisturizer with an SPF. That's a no brainer. For the second time today, I recommend Laura Mercier.

I use Laura Mercier's cleansing oil. (Seriously, a bottle lasts forever, so it isn't as expensive as it seems). Morning and night. Moisturizer, morning and night. And tinted moisturizer with an spf.

This routine has made such a gigantic difference in the softness of my skin I can't even tell you. I'm now a believer.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:51 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah, and if you wear make-up, make sure your brushes are clean. Wash them once a week. Don't use the sponge that comes with a compact etc. until it falls to bits. Brushes are like your hair - things build up on them and need to be washed off.
posted by mippy at 7:51 AM on March 6, 2012

The best things you can do for your skin are keep out of the sun (or use a high SPF) and eat properly.

Also, do not smoke tobacco.
posted by thelonius at 7:52 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

ALSO - I promise I'll stop posting now - you do not need 'toner' which some brands will tell you you do. What I do: use one side of a cotton pad to take eye makeup off with eyemakeup remover (a good idea if you wear mascara), squeeze some cream cleanser on the other and wipe my face, then take a second cotton pad and rub it over dry to get the last bits of cleanser off, then soak it and wipe again.
posted by mippy at 7:53 AM on March 6, 2012

Wash your face every night with a cleanser you like.
Moisturize your face every night with a moisturiser you like
Wear a sun screen every day on your face, neck and any exposed skin between your neck and cleavage. The number of people I see with lovely young faces and old necks and crepey cleavage now a days is creepy. If I could figure out how to keep sunscreen on the back of my hands I'd suggest watching that area too.

Drink a lot of water, get enough sleep, don't smoke, eat lots of veggies.

Try a lot of products until you find one you like and then use them. A lot of the differences between lotions and potions are advertising bunkum and all skin types and lifestyles are different so find what works for you and what you'll use. Though picking parents with good skin is probably the best way to age well and a great trick if you can manage it
posted by wwax at 8:01 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Drink more water (more!) or other beverages
  • Keep your unsunblocked parts out of the sun - buy a big floppy beach hat (or better, collect them and make them your signature thing) and apply sunscreen to your face (and hands*** and arms and shoulders and decolletage***)
  • Do not smoke! Just...don't
  • Do not develop a drug addiction of any kind
  • Drink another glass of water
  • Stop wearing foundations or concealers. It's a great way to find out who really cares about you and who is the jerk who would demand that a woman wear makeup.
  • Ok, if you're going to wear makeup (I did cave and buy undereye concealer a few months ago) make sure your brushes are clean. Cream brushes need to be cleaned every day. Powder brushes once a week.
  • Make the mascara for special occasions if you can, it does a terrible number on eyelashes, especially if you don't take it off. While moisturizing may or may not help, get one with sunscreen in it and you will feel much better. ***Some people report that a womans age is more easily revealed by her hands and her neck than by her face. You know why? Because we're all worried about our faces and not sunscreening hands and necks. Other things you can do to protect your hands (you're not smoking, right?) - Keep them out of vats of chemicals. Use gloves when you wash dishes.

posted by bilabial at 8:03 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

The idea that diet has any effect on your skin is sort of BS. I haven't done a literature review of late but AFAIK iodine can provoke acne if you eat it, which could happen if you consumed absolutely loads of shellfish and red wine. There seems to have once been a bit of evidence that a low GI diet might help, too, but I don't know how that panned out. Obviously the better your diet, the better your general health, but if you expect that to do anything quantifiable in terms of making your skin look better, you'll wait forever. In your case it was far more likely the birth control that improved your skin, not your diet.

I harp on about this because I've heard anecdotes from acne sufferers about developing eating disorders in a futile effort to treat a disease that has no proven cause and effect through diet. I've also been the one to be stuck trying to treat a skin disease and received shaming about my diet instead of actual help.

Not that you were asking about that specifically, but if you were thinking of incorporating diet into your treatment regime, don't.

In terms of anti-aging, only sunscreen will prevent aging, and only prescription topical retinoids will do anything at all to improve damage from aging. You should also wear a hat with at least a 2-inch brim at all times.

After you apply moisturizer, you need to wait at least 10 minutes before sunscreen or the sunscreen will slip. You may need to wait at least 30 minutes for the sunscreen to bind to your skin, unless it's a 100% physical block.

If you have hyperpigmentation, hydroquinone will help, even the 2% stuff you can get over the counter in North America. Black Opal brand is good. As with all topical skin treatments you need to leave it on for at least 30 minutes to bind to your skin or it won't work. This is a piece of information that often goes unsaid, but can make the difference between a treatment that works and a treatment that does nothing.

Last thing at night, fill your basin with lukewarm water. Splash your face with water and schmear Cetaphil cleansing lotion all over, including your eyelids. Rinse it off with 20 splashes followed by 5 extra ones for the eyelids. Pat, don't rub, dry with a towel. Refill the basin and repeat. Then refill the basin for one final rinse.

Next, splash your face with water and apply a 2% salicylic acid wash. Leave it on for 2 minutes while you brush your teeth. Then rinse it off with lukewarm water as above.

Next, apply Cetaphil Daily Advance Ultra Hydrating Lotion and let it sink in for 15 minutes. Take your topical retinoid and apply it carefully.

The next morning use the 2% salicylic acid wash again, followed by the hydrating lotion, followed by your facial sunscreen.

Regularly wash all sponges, brushes, utensils, mirrors and surfaces.
posted by tel3path at 8:07 AM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

You might consider using a men's moisturizer if your skin is oily. Men tend to have oilier skin and so products made for men are often oil-free and actually reduce the oiliness of your skin.

The moisturizer I use is made by (MALIN+GOETZ) and there is an SPF15 version for daytime and a non-SPF version for bedtime.
posted by doomtop at 8:09 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am also 27, and until about two weeks ago, I had a similar "skin care" routine to you - I would sleep in my makeup, remove it in the morning, then reapply. For basically the same reasons - I want to take better care of my skin as it ages - I have started a new skincare routine.

I did a lot of research. Some of it is irrelevant to you because I have normal-to-dry skin, so I'm not going to recommend specific products. But, here's the basics of what I learned.

- sunscreen = essential
- removing makeup = essential (okay, I lied; I will recommend one specific product - pure jojoba oil is awesome for removing eye makeup. it's cheap and removes it easily with no tugging or pulling).
- moisturizing = probably a good idea, even if you have oily skin - it might actually make you less oily.
- cleansing = super controversial. some people recommend just water; some people recommend the oil cleansing method; some people recommend traditional cleansers. read about your different options.

What I'm doing is:
- wash in the morning with a very gentle exfoliant
- moisturize (with spf)

- remove makeup in the evening
-wash with very gentle cleanser
-moisturize with retinol cream

If I'm super lazy in the evening, I use makeup wipes to remove my makeup; then I at least get it off and go to bed with a clean face, even if I don't do the whole skincare routine.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:12 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Wash 2x a day, best moisturizer with sunscreen you can afford in the a.m., exfoliate once a week, and: Retin-A, Retin-A, Retin-A every night (or every other night if you have sensitive skin), like it was your job!
posted by thinkpiece at 8:15 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

The idea that diet has any effect on your skin is sort of BS.

I don't know if "diet" is including fluids, but I would definitely attribute the health of my skin to drinking plenty of water. Above any moisturizer, cleanser, etc. etc. I believe staying thoroughly hydrated will have the greatest impact. I drink around 20-30 cups of water daily.
posted by doomtop at 8:18 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

The OP didn't ask for comments on the amount of makeup she wears. Women wear makeup for a variety of reasons, including because it's fun for them. Can we discuss skincare and not whether the OP / women should wear makeup?
posted by insectosaurus at 8:19 AM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]

Don't believe hype from expensive brands. They do not do anything more for your skin than drugstore products will. All you need is some spf in a form that is comfortable enough that you will wear it every day, so experiment and find what works for you. I like Olay sensitive skin products because they are truly unscented unlike many other so-labeled products.

I've never tried Retin-A myself, but have heard it recommended by dermatologists often.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:20 AM on March 6, 2012

Sunscreen. Don't smoke. Get enough sleep. Again, sunscreen. If you like to be outside and enjoy the sun, also a hat and even more sunscreen.
posted by pointystick at 8:27 AM on March 6, 2012

•Stop wearing foundations or concealers. It's a great way to find out who really cares about you and who is the jerk who would demand that a woman wear makeup.

Nope, nope and no. I wear make-up to work, on days when I don't see my partner, and when I don't particularly want to impress anyone. I do it because I like it, but also because I have pretty bad skin - not thanks to the make-up but to picking at spots (nb don't do this). It's great to be happy with your natural self - I'm glad I'm no longer the insecure teenager that worried people would vomit if I left the house without eyeliner on - but I personally feel more confident if I can cover some of this up, as well as enjoying making my eyelids peculiar colours. What you do need to do is find foundation/concealer that suits your skin, and take it off properly.
posted by mippy at 8:34 AM on March 6, 2012 [9 favorites]

I'm in my mid-40s and I'm get a lot of compliments on my beautiful, youthful skin. My dirty little secret? I gave up all products when I was in my early 20s. I don't use soap on my face, ever. I wash it with cold water, and I splash my face with water every time I use the bathroom. Most of my friends think I'm a freak for not using toner/moisturizer/equalizer/anti-wrinkle cream/whatever/fill-in-the-blank/etc but for me the proof is in the mirror every day.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:39 AM on March 6, 2012 [9 favorites]

Once you start moisturizing before bed, you'll never want to go back. It feels so good.

I do not wash my face except to remove makeup, and I do that without soap or cleanser whenever possible (I only use a tinted moisturizer, not full-on foundation, so I can usually get that off with a wet washcloth; I also use eye makeup remover). I don't know whether I have good skin because I don't use a lot of products or whether I get away with not using much because I already have good skin or if they're completely unrelated, but I am generally considered to be youthful-looking (in my early/mid thirties).
posted by mskyle at 8:52 AM on March 6, 2012

I'm almost 31.

I seldom use moisturizers and rarely wear make up.

I wear protective sunscreen whenever I'm outside for a lengthy period of time (more than 30 minutes for me), and I drink nearly 10 cups of water/day.

I've also had two kids and can't complain about my few stretchmarks that much.

I still get IDed for buying alcohol, and I get complimented on my skin quite a bit.

I say give up all products, wash your face with a gentle soap and water, and drink plenty of water.

And for crying out loud, EVERYONE, EVERYONE, EVERYONE, WEAR SUNSCREEN! I don't care about skin color or tone. EVERYONE SHOULD WEAR SUNSCREEN!

There is not one single good excuse not to.
posted by zizzle at 8:59 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Retinols. Sunscreen. Wash your face 2X a day. Glycolic acid. Water consumption. Moisturize.
posted by oflinkey at 9:04 AM on March 6, 2012

zizzle - my mum is 65 and only uses soap and water (Imperial Leather), never make-up or moisturiser. She has great skin. Growing up in a rainy region and not smoking may have helped a lot too. Maybe product over-use isn't great for skin - I was told once that using a scrub every day can be irritating rather than good for your face. It's why I get a bit suspicious when I read that we are apparently supposed to be using this, that and the other on our faces.
posted by mippy at 9:15 AM on March 6, 2012

artemisia's dermatologist and my dermatologist would probably come to blows if they met, because seriously everything artemisia's dermatologist told her is the opposite of what my dermatologist told me. Medicine! It's not an exact science!

Okay, so here's the Gospel According to Sidhedevil's Dermatologist:

- moisturizers work to keep moisture in the skin; they don't add moisture to the skin. Before you apply a moisturizer, dampen your face, preferably with a washcloth soaked in lukewarm water.

- exfoliating with glycolic acids is much better than mechanical exfoliation with a scrub

- coffee is crap for your skin (I really want to see artemisia's dermatologist and mine slug it out here); if you switch to tea or even better green tea, you'll see the difference in your skin within weeks (to be honest I have not done this because I hate tea)

- remove eye makeup thoroughly every night and apply an eye cream

- wash your face with a soft washcloth and lukewarm water every night and every morning; don't wash your face in the shower, as that water is likely to be too hot

- make sure any foundations you wear are non-comedogenic, even if you don't normally have issues with blackheads or blocked pores

- sleep on the smoothest pillowcase you can find, ideally silk but the highest thread count cotton you can afford

- keep your sodium intake below 2000 mg daily

- sunscreen always sunscreen. Never leave the house without sunscreen. Make sure your sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB. My dermatologist says SPF 45 is the lowest anyone over 30 should have on their face.

- even with the sunscreen, wear sun-protective hats and clothing

- no tanning, ever.

Now, here's a bit of advice from my mum: When I was a little girl, I asked my mum why she always wore sunglasses when she went outside. She said that it was to avoid getting wrinkles around her eyes. Which she didn't have any of.

So from the time I was a teen, I have always worn sunglasses whenever I went outside. I am 47 now and have surprisingly few crows' feet for a woman my age. This might be a coincidence (I have generally pretty resilient skin) but I pass it on to you for what it's worth.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:20 AM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

Wear sunscreen AND supplement with vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential to your health in a million ways from cancer to depression.
posted by the jam at 9:24 AM on March 6, 2012

Retin-a (go to a derm for this), antioxidant moisturizer, PHYSICAL BLOCKER sunscreen, wash face SEVERAL times a day and reapply moisturizer/sunscreen, sleep on silk pillowcase, get lots of sleep (and especially between 11-1...this is when the most regeneration occurs), glycolic acid/aha toners, drink green tea, eat lots of fruit and veg, don't eat anything with sugar in it (highly damaging to skin), eat lots of soy, get on birth control, exercise 2-5 times a week.

Voila! SO easy, right? ;)
posted by 200burritos at 9:41 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm in my early 40s, and get compliments on my skin fairly frequently. The number one thing I did was plan ahead to be born to a woman who has great skin. After that, an absolute devotion to taking my makeup off at night, and using a moisturizer with sunscreen every single day, are the two factors that have probably helped to the greatest degree. Specifically for minimizing the lines around my eyes, I have also worn sunglasses in daylight no matter what since my teens or 20s, and started using a light eye cream at night in my early 30s. (And none of these products have to be particularly expensive; I used Neutrogena for decades.)

One tip that you may want to follow that I didn't in my 20s and into my 30s until it was a little late: don't forget lotion with sunscreen on your hands and arms, too. All the freckles I managed to avoid on my face went instead to my left arm and hand (i.e., the one that gets the sun through the car window!) because I didn't use sunscreen anywhere but my face for years. And if you tend to wear low-cut tops, don't forget the moisturizer/sunscreen on your neck and upper chest, too.
posted by scody at 9:43 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm turning 29 in a few days, happy early birthday! I look pretty young for my age, still getting carded every where I go, but I really only started taking thinking about my skin a few years ago. I'm not nearly as diligent as some of the ladies above, nor I guess as simple as others. Everyone's skin/needs are different, and it may take some trial and error to find what work's best for your skin.

But, generally speaking, I have combination skin: I wash my face and apply moisturizer about once a day; I wash with old-school Noxema, and moisturize my damp face with Giovanni Dtox in the fall/winter (no sunscreen) and Neutrogena in the spring/summer (spf 15). When I take off my makeup, I use cleasing toilettes, or baby wipes, and I follow that with a normal washing. I don't scrub my face - I either use my hands or a fresh face towel. I use a scrub once a week, a mask twice a month. I used to have breakouts from medication/touching my face, which left spots so, I used a cream by Aveeno under my moisturizer to help them fade. I use the face mask as a spot-treatment when I get new blemishes.
posted by sm1tten at 9:43 AM on March 6, 2012

Additionally, you will absolutely want to check the literature for the most recent skincare discoveries. pubmed.com is good for this. Here is what I got when I typed in "niacinamide skin".
posted by 200burritos at 9:44 AM on March 6, 2012

I turn 40 in a few days, and I was looking dismally at my face in the mirror the other day, and reflecting that if I could back in time and have a chat with my younger self, I would tell my younger self not to sunbathe, and also to wear sunblock every day. IMO that makes the biggest difference. Seriously, your 40 year old self will thank you!
posted by Joh at 10:04 AM on March 6, 2012

I don't wear sunscreen and I work outdoors and, at 37, people compliment my skin all the time. Sunscreen is nasty, toxic stuff for the most part and the non toxic stuff is more expensive and heavier. Unless you can commit to the non toxic stuff get a collection of cute hats and skip the SPF.
posted by fshgrl at 10:27 AM on March 6, 2012

Oh dude, this is awesome - I stepped away for a meeting and came back to my desk to so many helpful replies. Thanks guys! I feel so loved. :)

To clarify: the tinted moisturizer I use does have SPF 15, so I guess I wasn't 100% accurate in reporting that I never wear sunscreen. I'm thinking based on the advice above that I should augment this with a higher SPF during the summer when there's more sun about. Also, thanks for the suggestions to moisturize/sunscreen the neck and cleavage area (especially the latter - never thought of that but being fairly boob-tastic I do wear low-necked (not falling out but not turtleneck) tops and dresses a lot to avoid the battering ram look and it just never occurred to me that I might have scary sun-aged cleavage as a result).

I am not a sunbather or tanner, thankfully. I am of the South Asian persuasion, and so from a young age had well-meaning but ridiculous aunties telling me to never go out in the sun so as to protect my fair-by-South Asian-standards skin from getting dark. I always chalked this up to unacknowledged leftover British imperial racism, but I'm also not really a warm weather or beachy type of gal, so I wasn't going to roam about in the sun for hours anyway. But I will get better about sunscreen.

Also, for those who mentioned sunglasses - yes, I wear them constantly during the daylight hours as well, and have done so ever since high school. I suppose this is why my crow's feet are teeny-tiny (my roommate says he doesn't notice them at all, so this just might be me being extra critical). Good to know that I'm doing something to prevent them from getting more noticeable.

My mom had fabulous skin - I think this (and the BC pills) are what has kept me lucky enough so far to not have to deal with pimples/breakouts.

Message received: I will take the freaking makeup off at night.

For those suggesting products with retinol (or Retin-A, should I hit up the dermatologist) - what exactly does it do? If I were to go for a drugstore product, do you have any suggestions?

Thanks again, all, and keep the advice coming if you have it - this is super, super helpful and I feel so much less clueless about things now.
posted by thereemix at 10:29 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Almost 35 *sigh*, horrible acne in high school as well, still dealing with oily skin.

But, seriously, moisturize! :) I've found luck with Aveeno and Benefit for moisturizers. For cleansing, I have a Clarisonic that I use at night, but when I don't, there's a Neutrogena cleanser that gets rid of all makeup. In the morning, I use an Olay cleanser that doesn't aggravate my skin.

I've also had 3 rounds of skin cancer, all since I turned 32. One has left a sizable scar on my forehead, and one on my nose. I am never outside, but was all the time when I was a kid. Please start wearing sunscreen! Neutrogena has a morning moisturizer that has SPF 30 in it that is light and doesn't smell weird or anything.
posted by getawaysticks at 10:55 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I feel like I am always trotting out my personal preference for Cetaphil/retinoids/sunscreen, so I won't do it again here (but I get carded everywhere at 30).

What I wanted to say was re: sunscreen. I agree--a physical block is better than a chemical block, and it's worth looking at the sunscreen toxicity ratings from the Environmental Working Group if you're concerned about the long-term effects of what you're slathering on your skin every single day for years. It's at ewg.org. I was concerned, so I checked, and I'm glad I did. WEAR SUNSCREEN!

*I am not a doctor.
posted by anonnymoose at 11:37 AM on March 6, 2012

I am also soon turning 27, I also had acne in high school, and I also have oily skin! But my skin is lookin' good now, and my mother works for Shiseido so I've had to listen to endless amounts of skincare information.

As others have said, make sure to drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep. And take off your makeup, but you know that by now!
Make sure to moisturize (oil-free) and don't use too harsh of astringents. Just use a gentle cleanser like Cetaphil and make-up remover. If you deprive your skin of its natural oils and dry it out too much, your skin will start to work in overdrive trying to produce even MORE oil. Also remember that moisturizer doesn't really ADD moisture so much as trap it - so apply moisturizer after you've taken a shower or washed your face and dried yourself off ever so slightly.

Also, and I don't really do this often but it HAS helped in the past, if you go get a facial every once in a while they are pretty excellent with evening out skin tone.
posted by thebots at 12:05 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Stop wearing foundations or concealers. It's a great way to find out who really cares about you and who is the jerk who would demand that a woman wear makeup.

I love makeup. It's the closest thing to playtime I get every single morning. You can' t have it.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:30 PM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]

And, sorry, I will stop after this: I'm 56 and I was in a doctor's office yesterday and they never called my name because the admin lady was looking for me based on DATE OF BIRTH, and yes, she never connected my DOB with me sitting there, in my Retin-A'd skin. She and her sidekick made me show them my drivers license and then I was high-fived. True story, made my ... uh, month.

OP, you can get Retin-A without a prescription here, I've been doing it for years, nary an issue.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:35 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Stop wearing foundations or concealers. It's a great way to find out who really cares about you and who is the jerk who would demand that a woman wear makeup.

I really kicked a hornet's nest with this one.

It's the advice from my dermatologist (Oh, how I miss having a dermatologist when I needed one), to only put water and sunscreen on my face. He gave me permission to wash with soap if I had dirt on it.

But people seemed to have stopped reading there. I wear undereye concealer now! (But I hate it. I'm very glad that some of you report that you love it, enjoy it, and feel empowered by it. Me? I feel like a failure every time I use it. Both at blending it in and at being well rested enough to not have dark circles under my eyes.)
posted by bilabial at 2:17 PM on March 6, 2012

bilabial - if it makes you feel better, I get these because I'm very pale. On the plus side, it makes me look like I have more interesting evenings than I actually do.
posted by mippy at 2:32 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thinkpiece, I just checked your link and they ask for a prescription. How have you managed to get around it?
posted by Jubey at 2:36 PM on March 6, 2012

No, I've never had that request. It's been 4 months, let me check and I will memail you.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:11 PM on March 6, 2012

Stop wearing foundations or concealers. It's a great way to find out who really cares about you and who is the jerk who would demand that a woman wear makeup.

The mineral makeup I wear keeps me from getting sunburned without wearing "sunscreen" (which I hate on my face, since I don't use chemical sunscreens and the physical ones are often greasy). Dermatologists vary widely in their knowledge and opinions. Not all foundations are bad for skin, and some protect it.

(also the derm. mentioned above that said people only need to drink water and not moisturize has apprently never heard of occlusives, which are ingredients that keep moisture from leaving one's skin. People who strip sebum from skin by cleansing, people who are on diuretic medication, and those in dry environments need to moisturize with something. )
posted by oneirodynia at 8:49 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry all, I posted a link above for Retin-A and what used to (end of last year) be no prescription is now requiring prescription. I guess the party's over on that particular site. You can memail me for an alternative.
posted by thinkpiece at 2:42 AM on March 7, 2012

I just turned 50 and have been using Mary Kay products and following their skin care routine since I've been 19. I have no wrinkles on my face and people often comment I look ten years younger than I am. Whether it's from Mary Kay or genetics, I don't know.
posted by sybarite09 at 6:16 AM on March 7, 2012

For anyone looking for an excellent non-greasy, good sunscreen, Mustela is excellent.

A little dab goes a long way. We use this on the kids, mostly, but if we run out or forget mine at home, I use it. And it is the opposite of greasy and also not super chemically.
posted by zizzle at 7:17 AM on March 7, 2012

In addition to all of the other great tips, face mask on a regular basis. Make your own face masks out of natural products, even. To prevent wrinkles around the eye area, wear good sunglasses to protect your eyes and the skin around that area. UV rays *can* harm the eyes themselves, too.

The Clarisonic is also quite wonderful--it's pricey but it has evened out my skin tone.

Finally, I wanted to recommend this great moisturizer/sunblock that I found on the Environmental Working Group's website that reviews beauty products for : Devita International.

I'm frequently mistaken for 25 and younger on my looks alone, to the point where I deliberately make references so that people won't think I'm a young'un. However, I'm also East Asian (Chinese), and we are supposed to look young until we turn into Yoda, so YMMV.
posted by so much modern time at 12:22 PM on March 7, 2012

I'm surprised no one's mentioned Paula's Choice. Some people dislike her presentation, but her research and advice seems solid, except for her stance on Vitamin D (if you're religiously avoiding the sun and applying sunblock every day, you're probably deficient.) She also offers ratings on products she doesn't sell.
posted by ziggly at 1:51 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

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