What You Need to Know About Your Skin

What you need to know—and do.

Your Skin in Your 20s

How you age:

Most guys coast toward 30 enjoying a clear, supple, and line-free face no matter how badly they treat it. “In your twenties, you’re pretty lucky,” says Debra Jaliman, a New York City dermatologist. “You can do a lot of damage that might not show up for another 10 years.” Not so, however, for the fair-skinned and for sun worshippers, who are apt to see age spots and fine lines before they see 30. “There are two kinds of aging: One is caused by genetics, the other by sun exposure,” says Bradford Katchen, another New York City dermatologist. “In your twenties, most of the visible signs of aging can be prevented by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day.” The damage from ultraviolet rays first appears as brown, freckle-like age spots. Fine lines start to appear between ages 25 and 30, as the production of skin-plumping collagen and elastin—the proteins that help skin snap back into shape after stretching—slows down.

The Basics:

If you want to skimp, do it here. “Cleansers are in contact with the skin for only 30 seconds twice a day, so they’re limited in terms of how much they can do for you,” says David E. Bank, a dermatologist in Mount Kisco, New York. For oily skin, any drugstore-brand antibacterial soap (like Dial) will do. A fancier option is a gel with glycolic acid (which helps shed the top layer of skin). If you have dry skin, opt for a mild cleanser, like Cetaphil, that’s labeled “non-soap”—regular soaps contain moisture-sapping ingredients.

Using sunblock is the best way to prevent your skin from aging prematurely. These days, most drugstore brands have added sunscreen to their moisturizers, so it doesn’t require an extra step to apply it. For dry skin, try thicker, more concentrated moisturizing creams or ointments—the sort that come in a jar (like your wife’s Crème de la Mer). If you have oily skin, skip lotion and just use a toner and a light spray-on sunscreen. “It’s a little bit of a myth hat everyone has to wear lotion,” Bank says.

Photo: Peter Stanglmayr
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