Do we really need to tell you how critical sunscreen is now for preventing wrinkles later? Didn't think so. But keep in mind that you can enhance the protective powers of your SPF-and minimize free-radical damage that will later contribute to tiny creases-by using it along with an antioxidant serum. In the morning, first apply serum, then sunscreen. At night, says N.Y.C. dermatologist Neal Schultz, let the serum soak in before slathering any moisturizer on top.
TRY: Skin Medica Vitamin C amp E Complex, $95; skinmedica.com for locations.
Keep doing what you were doing in your 20s-for your skin-care regimen, that is. But in your early 30s, you'll want to add an over-the-counter retinol to promote collagen production, says Dr. Tina Alster, director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery. At first, put the product on every other night, on top of your antioxidant serum. If this doesn't irritate your skin, work up to nightly use.
Got a dermatologist you like? "Prescription-strength products are definitely recommended at this stage," says Dr. Alster. Your doctor can guide your transition from an over-the-counter retinol to a stronger, prescription-strength retinoid. Dermatologists also suggest using ingredients such as growth factor and peptides in your 40s, if not earlier.
TRY: Olay Regenerist Wrinkle Revolution Complex with biopeptides, $25; drugstore.com.
As you hit this decade, you may need to downshift your at-home efforts to accommodate the increasing sensitivity of older skin. If prescription Retin-A becomes too irritating, go back to a retinol such as StriVectin, which is made especially for more sensitive skin. You might also want to tweak your moisturizer; look for ones that are oil-based or contain hydrating hyaluronic acid.
TRY: StriVectin-SD for Sensitive Skin, $79; macys.com.