In Your 20s
Unless you're an SPF slacker, your skin doesn't need much help — yet. "You're nestled between baby fat and fine lines,” says Debra Jaliman, M.D., a New York City dermatologist. "Typically, acne is the only thing to plague a 20-something. If this is the case, see a dermatologist to avoid scarring." Makeup-wise, go wild: Your creaseless skin can pull off frosts and bright hues with abandon.
Sunscreen: Ward off sun damage now with a minimum of SPF 30, says Jaliman.
MC recommends: Prescribed Solutions Up the Anti SPF 30, $50.
Cleanser: Wash twice a day for at least 30 seconds.
MC recommends: Aveeno Clear Complexion Cleaner, $7.69.
Defense against discoloration: A niacin cream will ease acne-induced blotchiness.
MC recommends: Olay Definity Foaming Moisturizer, $27.99.
Exfoliator: "Exfoliate once a day if you're prone to clogged pores," suggests
MC recommends: Bioré Pore Minimizing Exfoliator, $12.99.
Mineral makeup: "A light dusting of mineral makeup is all you need,” says Kate Somerville, a Los Angeles–based celebrity facialist.
MC recommends: Jane Iredale Mineral Makeup, $31.
Highlighter: Play up your youthful, smooth skin with a dab of shimmer cream on your brow and cheekbones, says Shalini Vadhera, founder of Global Goddess Beauty.
MC recommends: Lola SkinLuminous Cream, $35.
Bright palettes: "Smooth skin is the ideal canvas for brights," says Sonia Kashuk, who perfected Porizkova's make up for this story.
MC recommends: Hard Candy Shadow Palette in Party Mix, $15; Maybelline Shiny-Licious Gloss, $5.99.
In Your 30s
Alas, no eye cream erases newly etched "squints," and teenage sun-worshipping is now evident, too. But even if neither applies to you, getting on an at-home antiaging regimen is a must. Audrey Kunin, M.D., a Kansas City, MO, dermatologist, even suggests that those with more obvious damage consider Botox or Restylane: "Otherwise, you'll face a rude awakening in your 40s." As for makeup, Kashuk believes that a 30-something should be refining her look, not re-creating runway fantasies.
Retinoids: These vitamin A–derived formulas promote cell turnover. Think your skin needs more rejuvenation than the OTC formulas offer? Ask a dermatologist about Retin-A or Avage.
Penta or hexapeptides: These additives kick-start collagen production — which gives skin its natural plumpness.
MC recommends: Sonya Dakar Ultra-Luxe 9oc, $185.
Antioxidants: Since free radicals inflict as much damage as the sun, layer an antioxidant serum under your sunscreen.
MC recommends: Cellex-C High Potency Serum, $90.
Eye cream: Eyes "age" fastest because the skin around them is thin and dry. Indulge them with a rich cream laced with collagen boosters.
MC recommends: Prescriptives Anti-AGE Eye Cream, $48.
Hydrating lipcolor: "Lose the matte mouth," says Vadhera. "Glossy lipcolor is more youthful."
MC recommends: Almay Hydracolor, $8.99.
Understated eyes: "Shadows should be muted," says Kashuk. Off to a party? Opt for liner in cobalt or bronze.
MC recommends: Sisley Glittering Eyeliners, $39; Global Goddess Sizzling Serengeti Shadows, $42.
Bright cheeks: Pink or peach blush brightens dull skin.
MC recommends: Laura Geller Cheek Sweeps, $29.