Are you using the right skincare products and ingredients for your age?

Should you be using hyaluronic acid or retinol? And what does vitamin C do exactly? Your ideal skincare routine for your age, explained. 

With so much information out there about this cream working and that ingredient being the holy grail of skincare, figuring out exactly what your skin needs can be confusing.

However, there are only a few scientifically proven ingredients that will keep your skin looking happy and healthy and a few core products you should incorporate, no matter what age you're at.

In your 20s


Most of what you do for your skin in your twenties is preventative. You don’t need much in terms of products, just a few basics that you use every day is enough to keep your skin in tip-top shape. Those products should be all about keeping your skin plump and hydrated and protected against the sun.


Adult acne can show up in your mid- to late-twenties, even if you never had it during your teens. It occurs when there’s a build-up of sebum, an oil your hair and skin produces, and it can clog pores, causing inflammation and infection. You should be washing your face regularly (as in every morning and night) to clear dead skin to prevent this and if you experience a bout of acne look for specialised acne products. If the problem persists or worsens then it’s best to see a doctor or dermatologist.

Dryness is another common problem in your 20s when your skin is searching for a balance after the erratic hormones of your twenties. Moisturise little and often to give your skin the chance to really absorb and rehydrate.

Ingredients to look out for

The best thing you can do for your skin in your twenties is to start applying an SPF every single day, even in the darkest days of winter. Your skin will thank you for it in the decades to come.

Hyaluronic acid does the opposite of what you might think of when you hear “acid”. It is super-hydrating and acts as a barrier to keep moisturise locked in for longer.


Products you should be using

Even if you do nothing other than wash your face, a daily application of moisturiser and sunscreen is an absolute must, and that should be all year round.

If you don't fancy applying layers of creams from cluttered bathroom counters, you can find products that will combine the two. Olay’s Regenerist Whip moisturiser is light and airy moisturiser with hyaluronic acid so it won’t feel like it’s clogging your skin and it also contains SPF 30 that will protect it from the sun’s harsh rays.

In your 30s and 40s

Changes in your skin at this age are typically external ones, especially if you haven’t taken care of it up until now. Damage caused by the sun’s UV rays and redness, as well as fine lines will start to appear. Your skin begins to lose some of its elasticity.


If you are only coming to sunscreen at this stage, don’t panic! But do buy a high SPF immediately. Sun damage can cause skin to become dry and thin so you will need to build it back up slowly.


Fine lines might start to appear, which is a very normal part of the ageing process. This is due to your body reduced collagen production, a protein that gives our cells shape and strength.

Ingredients look out for

Retinol (or retinoids in it’s most cellular level) is a vitamin A derivative that speeds up our natural production of collagen, stimulating our cells to rejuvenate and refortify. It’s the perfect tool to tackle fine lines. Retinol also encourages the production of new blood cells, so skin looks fresh and even-toned.

Vitamin C is another ingredient you should invest in, and you can typically buy it as a pure oil or serum that can be applied directly to the face. As well as aiding retinol in its work, it’s good at firming skin so it appears supple and smooth. 

Products you should be using

A night cream is a new piece of kit to add to your skincare routine. Most night creams are intensive moisturisers and are designed to be applied just before bed so your skin has lots of time to drink them in – no makeup, city pollution or uncomfortable mask to stop it from getting to work. 

The evening time is also a good time to apply your retinol product. Olay’s Regenerist Retinol24 night cream contains a combination of two effective retinoids well as niacinamide and amino-peptides, which help the retinol get to work quickly.


The paired day creams, Olay Regenerist Whip and Regenerist day cream, also contain these two ingredients, so after your skin has spent the night absorbing the retinol, a fresh application of one of these moisturisers will help it to keep working throughout the day, with visible results after just 14 days. The Whip is light and contains SPF to prevent sun damage, while the day cream is a heavier alternative for colder days when your skin needs maximum hydration.

In your 50s and 60s

This is likely the age when you will start to see huge changes in your skin. Women typically reach menopause in their 50s and the reduction in hormones has numerous effects on the body, including on the skin. 


As well as the decline in collagen production, skin also starts to lose lipids, which help keep your skin looking plump and taut. This can result in sagging skin that appears thin. This can be especially evident in areas where your skin is most fine, such as around the eyes.

The oestrogen that your body produced until menopause worked like a barrier, helping skin to retain moisturise. Now with less oestrogen, skin can become dry very quickly.

Ingredients to look out for


You should continue to use all of the ingredients mentioned before: retinoids, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid as these will all continue to keep your skin looking healthy. You might need to use them all a bit more intensely now and keep an eye for products with high doses to really give your skin a boost. Layering products is also key and giving lots of time for absorption before you step outside or into the shower. 

Products you should be using

A good eye cream should be your first investment. Where your skin is thinnest (around your eyes and on your decolletage) is where we tend to show signs of ageing and skin damage first. A hard-working eye cream will help to lessen the appearance of lines and wrinkles and keep your face looking healthy and balanced.

You might need to up the dosages of some of those collagen-increasing ingredients too. If you’ve been using retinol through your 30s and 40s, now is a good time to check exactly what kind of retinoids it contains and how much. A high-performance retinol cream, like Olay’s Regenerist Retinol24, which contains 0.3% retinoids, should see you through these decades nicely, but anything less than 0.25% and you might need something more intensive.

Read more: We've found the best beauty deal on Black Friday

Read more: IMAGE Sleepover Club: We’re hosting the ultimate girls’ night in with our favourite beauty experts


Read more: 2020's most Googled skincare ingredients, explained by experts

The image newsletter