When people say you appreciate something when it’s gone, they’re often referring to an event of some kind—like a whirlwind romance or a relaxing vacation. However, we’d argue that the sentiment applies to something much more mundane and universal as well: smooth and radiant skin. If someone told us years ago that we would eventually move on from a first love or that we’d always look back fondly on a summer trip, but we’d never get back those childhood years of flawless faces, then we would have done everything we could to hold on to that.
“It is never too early to start caring for our skin,” Dendy Engelman, MD, a New York City dermatologist, says. “Prevention is key for looking young and most importantly, keeping skin healthy. Facial skin is very susceptible to environmental damage and one of the first spots that we start to see aging.”
If you were like most adolescents, then you probably didn’t do much to protect your skin other than use soap, water, and maybe the occasional cream. Now that you’re older—with the blemishes, fine lines, and dark spots to show for it—it may seem as though you need a time machine to get your skin back to its youthful glow, but Engelman says that any adult’s skin can benefit from just two products, so you may still be able to get away with having the patience of a teenager.
“If you only have five minutes, the most important thing to do is remove the day’s grime and gunk. Stick with a gentle cleanser that will not strip your skin of natural oils and leave you more dehydrated than before,” she says. “And never forget sunscreen! I recommend both chemical and physical ones.”
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a more detailed skincare routine to address skin’s many shifts in adulthood, we asked Engelman to explain how skin changes with age from your 20s to your 60s and to provide tips that’ll benefit your skin. While your adolescent sheen may be gone, you’ll appreciate all of the ways these tips can improve your skin with age.