12 of the biggest skin-care mistakes you're making in your 20s

Sarah Schmalbruch/INSIDERPrioritising skin-care in your 20s can help your skin be healthier down the line.

With all of the things happening in your 20s, taking care of your skin might not be at the top of your to-do list.

But the choices you make in your 20s can impact your skin down the road, Papri Sarkar, a dermatologist in Massachusetts, told INSIDER.

“Starting in your mid to late 20s, you start to lose collagen in your skin,” she said. “This can lead to less plumpness or fullness of the skin over time. [Your 20s] is a great time to start making global changes that will help your body and skin stay healthy.”

INSIDER spoke to Sarkar and Michael Kassardjian, a California-based dermatologist, to find out the best ways to keep your skin feeling healthy and looking good for the years to come.

Here are the common skin-care mistakes you should avoid making in your 20s.


Skipping sunscreen isn’t the best idea.

Jordi C/ShutterstockWearing sunscreen has a lot of benefits.

Both Sarkar and Kassardjian agree that wearing sunscreen is one of the best things you can do while in your 20s.

“It’s the premier anti-ageing serum. It helps to prevent discoloration, loss of collagen, less elasticity of the skin and, of course, skin cancer,” said Sarkar. “Instead of trying to treat those things later with lasers, creams, peels, stick to sunscreen for the win.”

Kassardjian agreed, adding that you should really be wearing it every single day.


Not washing your face at night can lead to breakouts.

Tinatin/ShutterstockEven if you don’t wear makeup, you should wash your face before bed.

You might have gotten away with going to bed without washing your face when you were a teenager, but that doesn’t fly when you’re in your 20s.

“At night, make sure you are washing off your makeup,” Kassardjian said. “Cosmetics can trap bacteria, leading to breakouts, as well as trapping free radicals that can lead to premature ageing and discoloration.”

Sarkar agrees, saying even those who don’t wear makeup should be sure to wash their face. Not doing so can lead to breakouts and acne scarring.


You may regret not moisturizing your skin sooner.

cushyspa.com/FlickrIt can help to balance your skin’s oils.

Just because your skin looks great in your 20s doesn’t mean you should skip moisturizer. According to Sarkar, using a moisturizer can help to balance your skin’s oils and help your skin maintain its barrier function.


Over-exfoliating can cause skin damage.

InnerVisionPro/ShutterstockIt’s not one size fits all.

There is such a thing as doing too much for your skin in your 20s. Exfoliation, or removal the dead skin cells, can improve your skin’s tone, texture, and appearance over time. But going overboard with it can actually damage your skin barrier, Sarkar said.

“Initially, exfoliating can help to slough off the dead skin cells that can make your complexion look dull, but over-exfoliating can lead to redness, irritation, a rash, and breakouts,” added Sakar.

She told INSIDER that exfoliation isn’t one-size-fits-all, so you should slowly try new products and be careful to avoid over-exfoliating.

Read More: 7 things you think are good for your skin but actually aren’t


Using too many products can cause more harm than good.

Anna Webber/Getty ImagesUsing too many products can irritate your skin.

Kassardjian said he often finds that some people in their 20s go overboard with skin-care. But, using too many products can lead to skin irritation or cause certain products to lose effectiveness since they’re not meant to be used in combination with other products.

“Start with the basics: Make sure you have a good daily protective sunscreen, an antioxidant serum, and a good retinoid,” he told INSIDER. “Combine this with a good oil-based or foaming cleanser and a moisturizer as needed.”


Picking or popping pimples can lead to scars.

ShutterstockIt can drive more bacteria into your skin.

Yet another reason to keep your hands off of that breakout- popping your pimples in your 20s can leave lasting marks on your skin.

“When popping pimples, people tend to drive more bacteria into their skin, leading to more inflammation and an increased risk of hyperpigmentation and scarring,” Kassardjian said. “This damage that you do during this period can end up leaving lasting effects on your skin.”

Read More: 9 scary things that can happen when you pop your own pimples


Using tanning beds can be dangerous.

Donald Miralle/GettyIt can increase your risk of getting skin cancer.

If you want healthy skin, Kassardijan advises staying away from tanning beds.

“People who use tanning beds have a significantly higher risk of developing skin cancers and the UV rays will contribute significantly to premature ageing,” he added.


Staring down at your phone too often can prematurely age parts of your skin.

Mindmo/ShutterstockYou might be creating additional folds in your neck.

Kassardjian told INSIDER that looking down at your phone too often can actually impact your skin down the road. Doing that positions your neck in a way that causes more folds in the front of your neck.

“Areas of the lower face, jawline, and neck are experiencing higher rates of premature ageing at a young age due to ‘tech neck,'” he said.

He advised limiting the time you spend looking down at your phone and trying to keep your head up and phone elevated to help prevent some fine lines and sagging that can be caused by frequently staring down at your phone.


Smoking can negatively impact your skin.

Kassardjian said “just to name a few things,” smoking tobacco can cause the early break down of collagen in your skin, plus an early onset of fine lines and wrinkles. It can also increase your risk of developing skin cancer.


Eating a lot of unhealthy foods can potentially lead to sagging skin and wrinkles.

Sarkar and Kassardjian agreed that eating fast food and processed foods is a big skin mistake that people in their 20s make.

“These types of foods can cause a spike in insulin, leading to the enzymatic breakdown of collagen and elastin,” Kassardjian told INSIDER. “This results in premature ageing, wrinkles, and sagging skin.”

He added that you should try to limit your salt intake, which can contribute to puffiness, dark circles under your eyes, and general dehydration of your skin.


Over-washing your skin isn’t the best idea.

TORWAISTUDIO/ShutterstockThere’s no need to over-wash your skin.

Washing your face is a good thing, but doing so too often or too harshly can cause skin problems, said Sarkar.

“My patients in their 20s often think their skin needs to be squeaky clean to prevent acne,” she said. “Drying out your skin with harsh soaps can lead to oilier skin and more breakouts in the long run. Instead, I recommend gentle cleansers and well-chosen active ingredients to bring out their brightest complexion.”


Not visiting a dermatologist for annual check-ups could make it more difficult for you to monitor your health.

ShutterstockAnnual visits to the dermatologist can help you to monitor your skin’s health.

Kassardijan advises scheduling an annual skin exam, as they can be helpful when it comes to evaluating your skin’s health and your overall health.

He added that prevention is key- a dermatologist will be able to check all of the hard-to-see spots on your body and make sure your skin is healthy.

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