serum drip

A Guide To Starting An Anti-Aging Skincare Routine In Your 20s

It all started with my late grandma. At a tender age of six, I learnt to pucker up my lips to whistle (not to kiss) and I did it quite well. I was very proud of my new skill. Wanting to show-off, I made my grandma listen to me whistling.
I got scolded instead.
“Eh, you better stop it. Do you want to have wrinkles around your mouth when you are older? If not, then you must never whistle!”
I suppose that is a legit old wives tale. That was probably the last time I whistled too.
In my upper secondary school years, my mom would always urge me to put on sunscreen before I leave the house. To say urge is putting it lightly. However, as a teen who was just a little rebellious, I would strut out without UV protection on my face – and yes, I now see the effects of my disobedience.
When I was in my early twenties, my mom came into my room and told me, “Rachel, you have to start looking at anti-aging products ok? That is how you won’t look old so fast.”
Did I listen?
Now, with a few immortalised pigmentation on my face, I want to educate you peeps about how to start an anti-aging skincare routine while you are still in your 20s. If you are in your thirties, just start already, okay?
woman doing skincare
First, we will look at what makes the skin look old.
  • Pigmentation – dark spots, sun spots, uneven skin tone
  • Fine lines
  • Wrinkles (not so fine ones)
  • Dehydration
  • Sagging
  • Dullness
Then we’ll look at some skincare ingredients that will help freeze (or fix) the skin you have now.

DISCLAIMER: I am not an aesthetician or dermatologist, but knowing what I am putting on my face is very helpful. I don’t use all the products stated here at one go, but I follow closely to a routine.




You know the saying ‘prevention is better than cure.’ Don’t like dark spots and fine lines? Prevent it from happening at an early age. Here’s how:


Never go to war without a shield, never head out during Movement Control Order without a mask, and certainly do not end your daytime skincare routine without sunscreen. It doesn’t matter if it is cloudy or sunny, UV rays are still there.

There are two types of sunscreen, mineral and chemical sunscreen. Mineral sunscreen sits on top of your skin and reflects UV rays like a mirror. Chemical sunscreen gets absorbed into the skin, does some chemical magic, and releases them.
When shopping for sunscreen, look for Zinc Oxide in the ingredient list. It is a mineral sunscreen that takes effect immediately and protects against UVA (long wave ultraviolet A) and UVB (short wave ultraviolet B). 

SPF is how long the sunscreen is effective for. Many people advise getting an SPF of 30 or more, I am gonna tell you to just get SPF 50 (or more) because Malaysia is a tropical country and the sun is out for longer. SPF 50 will protect you for about 8 hours.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is not only great for boosting your immune system, but it is also great for your skin. It prevents the first signs of aging by blocking free radicals, making your skin brighter.

I usually use it in the morning in the form of a serum, but there are vitamin C moisturisers as well. It is important to note that vitamin C may not be suitable for sensitive or oily skin. However, there are other milder derivatives you can try.
You could opt to get it in its most original form, L-ascorbic Acid, at a concentration of around 10% to 20%. It may sting a little, but the good kinda sting.
If you are new to the game, you can try less-potent-but-still-effective derivatives like Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate or Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate.

Remember to look at the ingredients before purchasing because the packaging may scream vitamin C, but the derivative they use may not be effective. So, don’t waste your money on that, okay?

skincare corner
Source: Pinterest


Hyaluronic Acid

Aged skin is dehydrated, and dehydrated skin accelerates the creation of fine lines. I mean, you’d want hydrated plump skin like a grape, not a raisin. To maintain grape-like plumpness, you need to allow water into the deeper layers of your skin.


To do that, I suggest the all-powerful chick-magnet for water molecules – Hyaluronic Acid. It can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. When we add it to our beauty regime, we are essentially preventing grape-like skin from turning into a raisin. Use it morning and night, but remember to seal that hydration with a layer of moisturiser.


To treat your skin like a fortified city, you need to have walls to protect the moisture levels. Ceramides are fatty building blocks that lock the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. They are naturally occurring on the skin, but tend to slowly diminish in your 20s. Yes, your skin starts its aging process in your 20s!


I would suggest getting a ceramide moisturiser that will be perfect for locking the hydration in after you are done smothering the active ingredients (serums and essences) on your face. When checking the ingredients list, be sure to look out for derivatives like ceramide AP, EOP, NG, NP, or NS. If you spot the words phytosphingosine and sphingosine, these are ingredients that tell your skin to produce ceramides.

serum drip
Source: Today


Chemical Exfoliants

When I found out about chemical exfoliants, I almost immediately got rid of my physical ones. Not all physical exfoliants are bad, but I just felt like some of those rough bits and pieces made my skin feel like a fish sent for descaling. I am now using my physical exfoliants to exfoliate my back.

Chemical exfoliants are AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) and BHAs (beta-hydroxy acids). They both target different areas of the skin. AHAs love water and work on the surface of the skin. BHAs love oil and work beneath the skin. The rule of thumb is if you have dry skin, use AHAs and if you have oily skin, use BHAs.
Examples of AHAs are glycolic acid (from sugar cane) and lactic acid (from milk). The most common BHA is salicylic acid. They all work to unglue cells at the epidermis so that the radiant skin below can show. If your skin looks dull, it is probably because of the build-up of dead skin cells. With time, it also helps clear pigmentation and sunspots.
If you are opting for a serum, only use one type of exfoliator, I don’t recommend using both together.

Note of caution: You MUST slather on sunscreen if you are using an exfoliant. You don’t want to kill the youthful layer under the sun – again.


If you are in your mid to late twenties, using retinoids would be good for the skin. Though we have not found the fountain of youth, retinoids may be our closest bet.

All retinoids are derived from vitamin A. The most common ones we hear in the market are Retinol (available over the counter) and Retin-A (by prescription only). It was first sold to treat acne, but *jeng jeng jeng* studies found that these compounds encourage cellular turnover and thicken the epidermis. When this happens, it automatically reduces wrinkles, evens skin tone, and fades pigmentation.
When I first heard about it, I was a little skeptical – I mean, so powerful meh? Although Retinol takes a longer time to work miracles compared to Retin-A, you will still see visible results the day after – my mom and I were shocked at how glowy our faces were the next day.
If you are starting out, I would suggest easing into it with a 0.3% Retinol serum. You can slowly up the dosage with time. Also, use it only at night before you go to bed. In the morning, please remember to put on sunscreen.

Retinoids tend to be a little drying, so apply humectants (eg. Hyaluronic Acid) before you use the product, and seal it with moisturiser after. Don’t pair it with exfoliants as it can be too stripping for the skin.

woman washing her face
Source: Seoul Mamas

These are just some core ingredients to use if you are looking to start an anti-aging skincare routine in your 20s. Try out samples and travel-size products if you are unsure of how your skin will react to it.

There are other practices to follow if you are want to maintain your youth:
  • Drink more water
  • Care for your scalp – The scalp is part of the head, if the skin on the scalp loses its elasticity, the skin on the face will sag as well.
  • Put on eye cream – Crow’s feet? Thank you, next.
  • Eat healthyDouble cleanse – always double cleanse your face at night, makeup or no makeup.

I may sound a little paranoid about aging, but since I am not planning to invest in face lifters, plumpers, and the like in the future, this is the journey I must take. Start young to stay young, am I right?

A concoction of oxymoronic attributes, Rachel Yeoh is a lazy overachiever. She writes for a living, sings when the sun goes down and runs a homemade granola company with whatever is left of her time. Always planning for something to do while procrastinating on her bed - she is quick to be on her feet at any chance to travel.

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