10 Things Every 20-Something Should Know About Anti-Aging Products

by Lydia Mansel

Our early 20s are full of changes. We graduate. We move to new cities. We meet new friends. We date new people.

We replace bodycon skirts with pencil skirts. It can be a tough time, but overall, they're relatively good changes.

But there's been one not-so-good change: our skin.

As we age, it doesn't bounce back like it used to. If we have too much to drink, our faces take a solid day to look healthy again.

You thought you'd skip through life never having to deal with acne? Well, now you get a zit at least once every week.

Waking up at 7 am every day brings dark circles even the best concealer can't hide.

And, though they might not be noticeable to anyone except ourselves, we're definitely starting to sprout wrinkles.

Still quite terrified of the aging process in general, we have a million questions running through our heads. (Which is probably going to cause more creases...)

Were we supposed to start using anti-aging products five years ago? What does a 25-year-old truly need when it comes to anti-aging products? Will I actually stop looking this way soon?

Thankfully, Dr. Jessica Weiser from the New York Dermatology Group was quick to answer our concerns.

1. Don't buy products based on price.

Dr. Weiser says, “The active ingredients determine the efficacy of these products,” so don't go wasting one month's rent on the latest miracle cream. Instead, decide what your skin needs and check the back of the product instead of its pricetag.

2. There are specific ingredients 20-somethings should look for in anti-aging creams, lotions and serums.

Just like haircare or the best wardrobe for your body, the anti-aging routine differs for everyone.

If you're looking to brighten your skin by removing the general gunk from the surface, Weiser suggests simply exfoliating twice a week.

If you're looking for something to reverse the damage already done to your skin, look for antioxidant-based products and ones made with hyaluronic acid.

Retinol can also be incorporated into your skin care routine at any age, as long as it's used in a very small amount.

3. If you want to splurge on something, look for a “good quality antioxidant-rich serum.”

Weiser suggests Skinceuticals CE ferulic serum because it provides protection against free radicals in the environment, keeping your skin “healthy and radiant.” And isn't that all we really want? (Yes.)

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Serum/Amazon

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Serum, $145, Amazon

4. Starting the anti-aging process early isn't bad, just be careful of what you're using.

If you want to avoid wrinkles for as long as possible, feel free to start using anti-aging products the minute you get home from work today. Just be informed about what you're putting on your skin.

For instance, the previously-mentioned retinol can cause “excessive irritation, redness and dryness” if it's used too much, but a “collagen-stimulating retinol" will help stimulate collagen production,” advises Weiser.

Try: Elements of Beauty 2.5% Retinol Serum, $11, Amazon

5. Yes, sunscreen is crucial.

Yep, we'll say it again: Stay out of the sun. When asked for the one thing she wanted 20-somethings to know about anti-aging products, Weiser answered with “sunscreen.”

Wear sunscreen every single day, multiple times a day.

Tanning and smoking are two of the biggest contributors to fine lines and wrinkles.

No anti-aging miracle cream will replace UV protection, and you might love your tan now, but you'll regret it in a couple years.

Try: Alba Botanica Aloe Vera Sunscreen, $7, Amazon

6. More isn't always better for your skin.

Don't buy every item you see because each promises a different kind of flawless skin. Instead, choose one or two that work best for you; they're likely just as efficient -- maybe even more so than countless creams and serums.

This rule will keep you from overdoing it and drying out your skin in the process.

7. Anti-aging serums and anti-aging creams are not the same things.

We know, we know: It's confusing to remember which anti-aging product does what. Here's a helpful hint: If you're looking for nourishment and hydration, go with a cream.

Serums, on the other hand, are “highly concentrated delivery products packed with active ingredients in small molecules so they are able to penetrate into the skin,” according to Weiser.

8. You'll probably need to change your routine as you get older.

Maybe you're worried about wrinkles now, but in 15 years, sunspots might be your biggest enemy. Again, it's a very individualized process, so Weiser warns your skin and the product regimen should “change to reflect new symptoms of aging.”

9. Botox will not solve all of your problems.

Planning on tanning and casually smoking your way through your 20s because you have Botox and filler injections to rely on? You might want to rethink your grand plan.

Sure, this procedure will certainly get rid of some wrinkles, but in the long run, it's best to use a well-rounded skincare treatment to keep your skin healthy.

10. Some anti-aging products are good to use in the morning, others aren't.

A lightweight lotion with SPF should be your go-to choice in the morning if you have oily skin.

If your face tends to be dry or sensitive, it'll benefit from “a more active protective barrier to the skin” applied at night, says Weiser.

If the product increases your sensitivity to the sun, or it's negatively affected by UV rays, use it at bedtime.

Some serums and creams are good to use two times a day, but you can still see results (and save some money) with once a day application.

Try: Neutrogena Age Shield Face Oil-Free Lotion Sunscreen, $10, Amazon