Dr. Shoná Burkes-Henderson, Senior Scientist, Clinical Research kicks off our Skin Care by the Decades series with an interview featuring skin care facts and tips for twenty-somethings! If you haven’t reached or have joyfully passed your 20s, head over to our article about why you need a skin care routine to learn how you can best care for your skin at any age!

A picture of Dr. Shoná Burkes-Henderson, Senior Scientist, Clinical Research, a black female scientist, smiling in a scientific setting

At what age should I start using skin care products?

You should start using skin care products as early as your teenage years, but consult a board-certified dermatologist if you are concerned about starting too young. Research shows that skin has basic needs regardless of age: cleansing, hydration, UV light protection, and ingredients to support barrier function and combat external stressors. Those are the basics, but as you age, you may want to expand your skin care routine to address other skin concerns.
A picture of a smiling redheaded white woman in her twenties with glowing skin

How could my skin change or age in my 20s?

Visible signs of skin aging such as fine lines and wrinkles can appear early in your 20s. But know that skin aging occurs before you can see it. Ethnicity, environment and lifestyle are the main culprits impacting facial skin aging. As you age, there is a reduction in collagen production. Collagen begins to degrade at a rate of 1% per year which leads to thinning skin and the development of fine lines and wrinkles. There is also a reduction in skin hydration and barrier function making the skin drier.


If you’re concerned about reduced collagen production, add an antioxidant-rich vitamin C serum to your daily skin care routine! We recommend TimeWise® Replenishing Serum C+E! This serum includes three distinct and powerful sources of vitamin C (including ascorbic acid, or pure vitamin C) to help improve skin clarity and support your skin’s natural production of collagen. It’s also a great serum to use if you want to reduce the look of fine lines.
TimeWise Miracle Set

What should my skin care regimen be in my 20s?

It’s important to start a consistent skin care routine that involves cleanser, moisturizer and sun protection. Sun protection and hydration are key!

The ideal regimen in your 20s includes:

Use a gentle cleanser twice daily that will help remove makeup and impurities without irritating your skin.

During the day, use a moisturizer with sunscreen for sun protection. A nongreasy, quick-absorbing cream that hydrates skin is an ideal daily moisturizer for face and neck.

Include a night moisturizer with antioxidant power to fight free radicals and hydrate your skin while you sleep.

Twice daily, use an eye cream that helps moisturize and brighten the eye area and minimize the appearance of the early signs of aging.

Early use of SPF will help prevent sun damage, and this routine will hydrate the epidermal skin layer all day. All of this helps promote visibly smoother skin and reduces multiple skin aging concerns later in life.
If you want to upgrade your regimen with more age-fighting benefits, then add a retinol product to your routine to help combat the first signs of aging. Retinol increases cell turnover and can help improve the overall skin texture and tone of your skin. Apply at night and avoid the eye areas, where you should apply eye cream instead.
A picture of an Asian woman in her twenties with beautiful skin

Is it okay to use age-fighting products in my 20s?

Absolutely! It’s important to know that skin aging occurs before you can see it. The accumulated damage to your skin throughout your life will appear later on. It is much harder to address wrinkles, age spots or other skin concerns after they appear. Fortunately, by acting and focusing on your skin health (whether with basic skin care or anti-aging products) early will help your skin in the future.
A picture of small and medium sized dots of skin care products on a white background

What kinds of ingredients should I look for when I’m shopping for skin care in my 20s?

Studies have shown the effectiveness of several active ingredients used in skin care products:

Sunscreens with broad-spectrum protection can help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmented age spots, skin darkening, and uneven colouration.
Product Suggestions: Mary Kay carries a variety of SPF products for the face.

Retinol reduces the appearance of wrinkles, helps increase skin firmness and elasticity, and improves skin tone evenness and radiance. 
Product Suggestions: the Clinical Solutions® Retinol 0.5 Set both contain forms of this powerhouse ingredient.

Antioxidant-rich vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) supports skin’s natural repair process and natural collagen production, which make the ingredient a vital component of skin health. 
Product Suggestion: TimeWise® Replenishing Serum C+E is a vitamin C serum that contains three forms of vitamin C and vitamin E.
A picture of a smiling white brunette woman with clear skin

How does skin type affect (or not affect) how my skin ages in my 20s?

Dry skin
tends to be thinner and pores are smaller giving the appearance of smoother-looking skin. But fine lines and wrinkles do appear more exaggerated, so having a moisturizer that hydrates skin throughout the day is important.

For people with oily skin, acne breakouts can continue to occur in their 20s. So, oil control products, mattifiers and oil-free options are important to those individuals.

Wrinkle formation is attributed to the breakdown and loss of dermal matrix components (collagen and elastin fibers) which are responsible for providing support and structure to the skin. In your 20s there is a decline in antioxidant response making skin more susceptible to free radicals that attack and damage skin cells and collagen. These factors affect all skin types.


Mary Kay offers the TimeWise® Miracle Set® for normal-to-dry skin and combination-to-oily skin. You can even choose a TimeWise 3D® Foundation formula for oily skin or dry skin.
A picture of two exfoliating scrubs and an at-home chemical peel with glycolic acid

Why do I need to exfoliate in my 20s? Is it possible to over-exfoliate my skin?

Studies show that an uneven buildup of dead skin cells can leave skin looking dull and rough, and lead to clogged pores which can cause blemishes and acne.  It is important to exfoliate in your 20s to clean pores, protect against breakouts, and clear dead cells from the skin surface. Retinol offers great exfoliant benefits by increasing cell turnover to help minimize the appearance of pores and promote smooth-looking skin.

Yes, it’s possible to over-exfoliate your skin causing skin to dry out and potentially lead to irritation and contributing to more breakouts. Using both physical and chemical exfoliants in combination can also increase the risk of skin irritation.

Product Suggestion: The TimeWise® Microdermabrasion Plus Set is a great option if you want a physical exfoliant. If you prefer a chemical exfoliator, try TimeWise Repair® Revealing Radiance® Facial Peel.
A picture of a smiling white woman in her twenties with curly hair and closed eyes

Is it true that the eyes are one of the first areas to show signs of aging? What causes those changes, and how can I address them?

Skin is thinner and more delicate around the eyes making it more susceptible to visible signs of aging. Combined with repetitive muscle contractions from facial expressions, crow’s feet in the eye area may start to appear. In addition, compromised vascularity may contribute to the appearance of dark circles and puffiness. Try an eye cream that targets dark circles, undereye bags and puffy eyes to reduce the appearance of deep lines and wrinkles or an undereye product that delivers a burst of hydration to tired eyes.

A picture of shimmering, pink Mary Kay® Hydrogel Eye Patches
Depuff & Hydrate

Place the shimmery, pink Mary Kay® Hydrogel Eye Patches under your eyes for 20 minutes of hydrating, depuffing bliss.

A picture of a small pink tube and a smear of TimeWise® Age Minimize 3D® Eye Cream
Fight Fine Lines

  TimeWise® Eye Cream helps improve multiple visible signs of aging and fatigue, including the appearance of dark circles, undereye puffiness, fine lines and wrinkles.

A picture and smear of translucent, teal Indulge® Soothing Eye Gel in a translucent, frosted pot
Cool & Soothe

Revive a tired-looking appearance with Indulge® Soothing Eye Gel. This cooling, soothing gel contains botanical extracts. It even increases skin moisturization by 130%.

A picture of the three piece Clear Proof® Acne System in white bottles and tubes and Indulge® Soothing Eye Gel in a frosted, translucent pot on a white bathroom counter

I still have acne in my 20s, but I thought it was just for teenagers! Why do I still have breakouts, and how can I address them?

The hormonal changes during teen years cause increased sebum production and can lead to skin becoming oily and acne prone. This usually disappears as the teenager matures although, for some, acne can continue into their 20s and beyond. This is known as persistent acne or new-onset adult acne after adolescence. It’s important to include an anti-acne product that contains salicylic acid in your skin care routine because acne that persists for longer periods may be more likely to lead to scarring.

Product Suggestion: The Clear Proof® Acne System is a comprehensive skin care approach for acne-prone skin that uses 2% salicylic acid, a highly effective ingredient, to help clear up existing blemishes and help prevent future breakouts.

Skin Care For Twenty-Somethings

Whether you’re just looking for the basics or want to add a few anti-agers to your routine, connect with a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant today so she can help you love your skin for your 20s and for life! Here are some of the top skin care products we suggest for women in their 20s!

Dr. Shoná Burkes-Henderson, Senior Scientist, Clinical Research, enjoys spending time with family and friends, and reading. Her go-to foundation is TimeWise® Matte 3D Foundation in Bronze C160!