With that said, there are certain beauty habits that all women should have by age 30--and I promise this isn't an annoying list of "rules" about not being able to grow your hair past your shoulders or wear mini skirts. This is about working smarter and not harder when it comes to keeping up our appearances. These 10 habits will save you time and keep you looking and feeling your best well into your 40s, 50s, and beyond.
Visit a dermatologist on a regular basis.
This isn't just about vanity. Sunburns happened when you were little and sunspots may have developed on your skin throughout the years--if this is the case, a doctor should thoroughly examine your skin. Some people mistakenly think of dermatologists as glorified plastic surgeons because they have the ability to perform skin miracles, but they are medical professionals who can detect serious skin conditions and treat the ones you've been battling at home all of these years. "I see so many women in their '30s still trying to self-treat conditions like acne," says Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe. "While benzyl peroxide and salicylic acid are great products, adult hormonal acne needs more attention."
Remove your makeup every night.
It's no longer cool to use the excuse that you got home too late from partying and fell into bed before you could rid your face of makeup. Leaving it on your skin is a sure-fire way to invite pimples to your next party. " Sleeping in your makeup can result in unnecessary exposure to the free radicals in the environment, which the makeup holds on to," says beauty expert David Pirrotta, founder of David Pirrotta Brand Management Inc. "Free radicals cause the breakdown of healthy collagen, which results in fine lines on the skin." If you're feeling pooped, keep Neutrogena Make-Up Remover Cleanser Towelettes on your nightstand for a quick clean or spend an extra few minutes pampering your skin with Grown Alchemist Eye-makeup Remover: Azulene & Protec-3, which removes all traces of eye makeup (even waterproof mascara!) in a flash.
Use eye cream--every day.
The skin around our eyes is extremely delicate and thin, which means the first signs of aging can usually be spotted around our peepers. Although most experts say the earlier you begin using an eye cream twice daily, the better, it's never too late to get your glycolic acid and peptides on. In general, ingredients you'll want to be on the lookout for in your eye cream include the aforementioned glycolic acid and peptides, as well as hyaluronic acid and caffeine, which helps lighten dark circles. Boots No7 Beautiful Skin Vitality Eye Roll-on contains caffeine and collagen-boosting vitamin C. One luxury eye cream that is all the rage among beauty mavens? Neocutis Lumiere Bio-Restorative Eye Cream with PSP, which many fans claim instantly diminishes circles and fine lines.
Don't wash your hair every day.
"When you wash your hair frequently, you are washing away sebum, the product of those tiny glands in your skin, which moisturizes and creates a water resistant barrier on your skin and scalp, and that results in your body is producing even more sebum to make up for what was washed away," Pirrotta says. With so many amazing dry shampoos on the market, there really is no reason to lather up each morning. Simply spritz a bit of Batiste Hint of Color Dry Shampoo or Days At Sea Dry Shampoo, which contains organic powders like arrowroot, kaolin clay, and baking soda, and be on your merry, gorgeous way.
Apply sunscreen--rain or shine.
If you aren't protecting your skin every day with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, it won't matter a fig if you have contouring and highlighting down to an exact science. The four basic rules for beautiful skin are: cleanse, tone, moisturize, protect with SPF--even if you're indoors--heck, even it's December and you live in Minnesota. When possible, apply sunscreen one hour before you go outside and be sure to re-apply every two hours--sooner if you're in water.
Supergoop! SPF 50 Antioxidant-Infused Sunscreen Mist with Vitamin C ($19)
Eat foods rich in antioxidants--and drink plenty of water.
Beauty starts with the foods and liquids we consume. In addition to drinking eight 8-ounces of water daily, it's crucial that we alter our diets as we grow older to include foods rich in antioxidants. "When eaten or applied topically, antioxidants do the job of reducing environmental damage whether it is from the sun, pollution, or just the very air we breathe," Pirrotta says. "Antioxidants inhibit free-radical damage and research is abundantly clear that doing so has remarkable benefits for all skin types." Antioxidant-rich foods include walnuts, blackberries, strawberries, and even coffee.
Choose creams wisely.
There are so many moisturizers and serums on the market that you can't be blamed for feeling like you're playing Roulette every time you make a purchase. Your twenties are the time for experimentation, but by your thirties, few women have the time or money to waste on products that smell lovely but are ineffective. Dr. David Bank at The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery recommends that women be on the lookout for four key ingredients: Vitamin A, which helps reduce sun damage, Vitamin C to speed cell turnover, glycolic acid to reduce wrinkles and hyperpigmentation caused by acne scarring and sun damage, and products with retinol, an antioxidant that helps prevent wrinkles and boosts collagen production.
Nature's Bounty Optimal Solutions Retinol Cream Vitamin A ($8.47)
Put down the tweezer.
If you have a great eye, steady hand, and a license in esthetics, you are the obvious exception to this rule. For the rest of us--we're far better off leaving our precious eyebrows in the hands of a trained expert because, the older we get, the more we rely on a thicker, more sculpted eyebrow to help us maintain a youthful appearance. "With every year and decade that passes, our brows tend to thin naturally," said Licensed Esthetician and Brow Artist Pamela Jeschonek. "Over-tweezing in your teens and twenties can mean much thinner brows in your thirties. Nothing is more aging to your face than a thin, sparse brow. So the more you have, the younger you will look in your thirties and beyond."
Give your hair a break from heat.
I love a great blow-out as much as the next girl, but I've found that my hair cooperates a lot more when I give it an occasional vacation from blow dryers, flat irons, and curling wands and embrace its natural texture (at least for a few days or for as long as I can stand it). If the thought of going to a big event without the full dry/curl treatment gives you anxiety, make sure you're minimizing heat damage by using the right products. Matrix boasts an entire line of heat protection products that include shampoo, conditioner, smoothing lotion, and the uber popular Style Link Prep Heat Buffer Thermal Styling Spray.
Floss and visit a periodontist if necessary.
So you made it through most of your life with a minimal number of cavities--a reason to celebrate, for sure, but as we age, we shouldn't take advantage of good dental health and get lax about our habits. Flossing at least once a day removes plaque from areas that are beyond the reaches of an ordinary toothbrush. In addition to keeping regular dental appointments, it might be necessary for some of us to visit a periodontist, as well--particularly if we show signs of gum disease or if our parents or grandparents suffered periodontal disease.
Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Clinical Protection Floss Picks ($3.49)