Living like there’s no tomorrow might be a good philosophy sometimes, but when it comes to your beauty routine? Not so much. By your mid-20s, you should have amassed quite an arsenal of beauty habits to help the next few decades go by more smoothly (or, at least the next few years). Besides, the more effort you put in now, the less you’re likely to be in a total panic by the time you hit your 40s.
Take a look at this checklist of beauty habits you need to have (and need to break) by your 20s. You’re welcome, from the future you.
1. Remove your makeup before bed. We’ve all had nights out when the last thing we can think about is taking off our mascara, but trust me, it’s absolutely necessary. Forgetting to remove your makeup will not only stain your pillowcase, but it may lead to breakouts, fine lines and in the case of mascara and eyeshadow, even serious irritation. To be blunt: sleeping in your makeup after a wild night out is recipe for a skin disaster–period. If you don’t have time to properly cleanse your face, keep makeup wipes by your bed. I’m a big fan of the Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes.
2. Apply sunscreen–rain or shine. Your future self will be grateful for this. Apply SPF on your face, neck and hands (as well as any other parts of your body that might be exposed) to help prevent premature signs of aging. Applying your daily dose of SPF 30 takes no more than an extra few seconds, and it’s also way less expensive than having to dabble in luxurious anti-aging creams and treatments ten or twenty years down the road.
3. Fake bake–the right way. Unless you’re craving a side of cancer with your Snooki-like tan, you’d better get your booty out of the tanning bed and to a spray tanner (or to your local Sephora to pick up tanning oils, lotions, and creams that give you a much more natural glow).
4. Clean your makeup brushes. Clean brushes (and Beauty Blenders, if you’re that sort of gal) don’t distribute the oil, old makeup, dirt and bacteria that uncleaned tools do. Always either shampoo or spot clean your sponges and brushes to keep them from potentially causing breakouts.
5. Quit smoking–for good. Besides the obvious health risks associated with smoking, the effects a pack a day has on your skin are not pretty. The skin around our mouth puckers with each cigarette, which can cause deep wrinkles down the road. Your teeth also get stained from the nicotine, plus smokers’ hair thins and grays quicker than that of a non-smoker. Do yourself (and your skin) a favor and drop that cig.
6. Say hello to retinol. You can never start fighting the aging battle too early. Introduce a light retinol into your routine to help combat premature wrinkles and fine lines. My favorite is REN Skincare Bio Retinoid Anti-Ageing Concentrate, which is gentle enough even on the most sensitive skin.
7. Don’t OD on exfoliating. Your cells reproduce easily enough in your 20s, so why attack them with a scrub and a cleansing brush? Use a light scrub to start, and once your cells aren’t regenerating as quickly in your thirties and forties, go in with the big guns.
What beauty habits are you preaching by your 20s? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out how to ask for your celeb’s hair color at a salon and the 7 Korean beauty products your makeup bag is missing.