It’s Never Too Late to Start Taking Care of Your Skin

I don’t editorialize here a lot, right? So I’m going to take advantage of whatever goodwill I’ve built up, and do a little bit of editorializing now.

In addition to all the awesome and positive comments I get on this blog, which I always read unless they’re spam that gets whisked into the spam folder, I get a good number of emails from readers. One recurring theme is that of the over-30 reader who’s intrigued by skincare but worried that “it’s too late” for her to start.

Yo, I didn’t start taking care of my skin until I was 33, almost 34! And before then, I’d spent my adult life racking up a pretty impressive list of skin sins (and accumulating the damage that comes with them). These are just some of the things I’ve done in my time:

  • Worked 10-hour+ days outside in the SoCal sun, without sunscreen
  • Spent hours a week walking around outdoors, without sunscreen
  • Thought that a pea-sized dab of SPF 15 moisturizer counted as adequate sun protection
  • Went out in the sun very frequently without protection while pregnant, resulting in a nice hearty case of melasma
  • Smoked. For…uh…13 years altogether, not counting the break I took while sharing body with baby? Something like that
  • Used tanning beds enthusiastically several times a week

The damage was totally starting to show by the time I started looking into skincare, and I won’t lie, I definitely also had moments where I was sure there wasn’t really much I could do anymore. But as it turns out, even someone who’s been nothing but abusive to her skin for all her life can turn things around and make it better. At 35, I’m happier with my complexion and more confident in my appearance than I was at 25, and even more so compared to when I was 15. There is hope, so don’t let your age get you down.

Put it this way, voluntarily taking pictures of myself and my skin isn’t really something I would have felt comfortable doing at 25, even if the pictures were going to stay off the Internet.

I’m not the only late-blooming skincare enthusiast to see good results, either. Over on Reddit’s Asian Beauty community, this weekend turned into an impromptu celebration of the over-40 face, with multiple over-40 members posting their gloriously radiant and beautiful faces and discussing their routines. A little digging reveals that many of these beauties didn’t start taking serious care of their skin until they were already in their thirties, too.

The reason it’s never too late to get into skincare isn’t because there’s some magical ingredient, product, or combo of ingredients or products that will turn back time and enable anyone to achieve some totally flawless, poreless, “perfect” PhotoShopped ideal of 21-year-old skin. Because that’s not possible, and perfection isn’t the point.

That is, I think, the most important thing to realize. I have a feeling that a lot of people who aren’t interested in skincare see skincare enthusiasts as crazy people chasing perfection. In reality, it isn’t about that at all, and most of us realize it. It isn’t about finding a time machine in a bottle. Instead, it’s about making the most of the skin that you have, making it the best that it can be. No, you can’t erase all visible signs of aging, nor can you stop them. We’re dealing with processes here that have no “off” switch (at least not yet). But you can:

  • Prevent the vast majority of future damage through the use of antioxidants and sunscreen
  • Minimize the appearance of past damage using actives like vitamin C, AHAs, and retinoids
  • Improve skin cell function with proven cell-communicating ingredients like niacinamide
  • And help your skin look its smoothest and firmest on a day-to-day basis by repairing and protecting your acid mantle and supplementing your skin’s natural moisture levels, which dwindle with age, with a deeply hydrating daily skincare routine that regularly adds and binds water within your skin.

On top of that, you can reap all those benefits at a variety of budgets. I’m not sure how many of you have noticed, but I very rarely review anything that’s particularly expensive. I can’t really think of any “prestige” brand or product that I’ve reviewed, let alone reviewed positively. (Actually, I just had a pretty bad run-in with a very famous product from a very prestigious brand, so there’s that.) I’ve observed that many of the luxury and prestige brands load their products up with a bunch of fancy-sounding ingredients that have little to no proven benefit to skin. Meanwhile, there are many products at midrange or lower that deliver proven actives without price-inflating extras. Yeah, COSRX’s AHA doesn’t contain magical spring water sourced from the faery glaciers of upper Iceland (note: not a thing. I don’t think), but it does contain an AHA at the correct concentration and pH to produce a visible effect on skin. That’s what matters.

So if you’re worried that it’s too late for you to start improving your skin, just know that it isn’t! You can make your skin the best it can be no matter how old you are.

And if you’re in your twenties or younger, uh, you should be wearing sunscreen every day. And don’t smoke. And don’t use tanning beds. Just don’t do it.

I never thought I’d be so enamored of my own skin at the age of 35.

What do you think about starting a skincare routine in one’s thirties or beyond?


18 thoughts on “It’s Never Too Late to Start Taking Care of Your Skin

  1. Ahhh that SoCal sun is a killer, but I do enjoy being outside and warming myself by the pool. (My SO thinks I’m half lizard.)

    I started my AB routine this year (at 30!) not because I was worried about signs of ageing, but because I knew I wasn’t taking care of my skin the way I should. I want it to stay as awesome as it can be for as long as I can manage it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love this post! At age 41, four months of proper care and feeding of my face took me from wanting to stab the mirror in the groin every day to….well…to posting a pic of myself on reddit for over-40 weekend! The ability of skin to improve if given a chance has really amazed me. My Mom is almost 65, and using Missha Cho Bo Yang Toner every day took probably ten years off her face and lifted skin that was sagging from a lifetime of smoking. Just that much change in her care is healing painful broken skin and making her feel better about herself than she has in years. It is never too late to take better care of yourself, to feel better, to look better. It is also never too early!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. At 34, I’ve been through phases where I take excellent care of my skin (loving my East-meets-West/Asian-French combo skin routine right now), & phases where I would wash my face with a make up remover wipe at night (most of the time), slap on whatever moisturizer was around, & call it good. I am happier now than I’ve ever been with my skin, & I just got back into the AB (with a Euro twist) about 6 months ago 🙂 There is no suvh thing as “too late”! Also no such thing as yoo much sunscreen – pile it on, sisters & brothers!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m 48 and didn’t start using the “Korean 10-step” method until 47. Within just a couple of months I saw a huge improvement in my skin! I think the biggest changes came about with the AHA and BH products, though I know the double-cleansing, ampoules, essences, and sunscreen are also playing a part. I’ll be trying the COSRX products when my Paula’s Choice runs out. I also believe it’s never too late to look better.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. All of what you say is so true. I didn’t start until this year and I’m 43 now. I’ve done some heinous things to my skin, like using really drying toners, face washes, acne treatments, etc to try to combat my oily acne prone skin problems, which did not help at all. I’ve scrubbed at my face, rubbed at my eyes to remove makeup, scratched/rubbed at my undereyes when they were super dry and itchy from reaction to something I had done, you make it. Luckily I have genetics on my side that helped me stay looking younger than my age (phew! I’m REALLY lucky with that), but now that I’ve started to take care of my skin, it’s never looked better, and in such a short timeframe.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi, as a skincare enthusiast myself, my friends also love asking my advice to their skin’s problem but i’m still in beginner level so there are so many things i need to learn about skin care. One of my little sister’s friend asked me about since when we need to use skincare. I told her that we need to use skincare since teenager or around 13, what they need are: facial cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. What do you think? Am i giving a good advice to her?

    Me myself only start to use skincare a year ago, at 22 yo, and never use skincare at teenager period, but i think it’s good to take care your skin since teenager period.
    Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you gave your little sister and her friend great advice!
      Good for you!
      I think my daughter started when she was about 13 (20 years ago).
      I tried to do the same for my boys at about the same age. Unfortunately, there were just too many external influences (as in every other boy they knew and their fathers) working against me.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. hi im 35 never used anything on my face everything would irritate me and i wore very little if any make up, in the past couple of years ive been putting on more make up and looking more into skin care routines especially korean. i really need help with my routine every time i start something my face flips out, the 365 days a year humid weather in florida makes me feel super oily in my t zone while my u zone gets scaly on occassions, i read your post about going slow when you start trying products out but not sure what that would mean for me since i dont use anything at all. thanks in advance!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This almost made me cry… Everywhere I read that people with perfect looking skin started with skin care routines since they were born (especially the Korean Italy towel scrub downs, and pore-concerned moms obsessively pampering their daughters with sleeping masks)… I’m 21 and I already feel so old and “too late” to achieve my best skin and prevent it from looking like my parents’. Reading your post now, helps me relax a little. There’s still time. And there’s still time to solve my acne problems, too. Patience and persistence is key. Thank you for being so universally supportive of your readers. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely there’s time! 21 seems so young to me to start, so from my perspective you’re doing just great. But I definitely understand the envy over the girls whose mothers taught them skincare from birth!


    2. There is no need whatsoever to cry. Indeed, quite the opposite, you should be celebrating the fact that you are aware of the importance of good skincare at your relatively young age, and that you are taking steps now to achieve the best skin you possibly can.

      Good for you!

      I did not begin a regular skincare routine until I was in my late twenties, and even then, it was quite minimal to start. Despite this, today, at age 63, I can state unequivocally that my skin is orders of magnitude better than either of my parents, my two younger siblings, all of my other relatives, indeed, most people I know (men and women) who are my age.

      And, if I can do it, so can you!

      I also feel required to add that I have been to Korea on business probably half a dozen times during the past 10 years – all, unfortunately, before I knew that Korean Beauty was a “thing”. While I have met people there with truly impressive complexions – especially among young, well-educated, and reasonably affluent professionals – it is certainly not the case that everyone in Korea has great skin, nor that everyone in Korea has an extensive beauty ritual that dates from their youngest years. Just like here in the USA, there is a range, with small numbers of people at either extreme, and the vast majority somewhere in the middle.

      That said, IMHO, I have found that amongst the people I typically deal with – primarily high-level technical and management people – there does seem to be more awareness of, and interest in, how one presents oneself to the world than I see currently here in the USA. This is not only true in Korea, but in many other Asian countries as well. Again, this is a generalization based on my own personal observation and limited sample size, and is not something I would be prepared to defend based on rigorous study or statistical evidence.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this post! I’m 43 and just started putting some significant effort into skin care a couple of years ago. I have definitely seen improvement but I’m ready to up my game. My skincare history is tragic. I was a lifeguard when I was young, an avid beach goer and/or outdoorsy person, a smoker for 15 years, a shall we say enthusiastic partier until my 30s, and an indifferent to hostile sunscreen use for most of my life… yikes. Thankfully I have spectacular genes (I swear my grandmother didn’t have wrinkles until she was in her 60s) so things aren’t as bad as they could be, but the damage is definitely there. I’m in the process of educating myself about Asian skincare and your website is an amazing resource.

    The biggest challenge I can see so far will be finding a way to manage the application timing of various products. I have a two-and-a-half-year-old and sometimes barely find time to brush my teeth, much less let the pH of my skin do whatever it’s supposed to do before moving on to the next step in a routine. But honestly figuring that out is part of the fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m not sure if you’re still checking comments on this post, but I have a question about repairing old damage. While my face has many other problems, sun damage is actually most visible on my arms and the back of my neck. You mentioned AHA, vitamin C, and retinoids. Are those products that can be used on the neck and arms? Do they just minimize appearance of freckles/etc, or actually repair damage from severe burns?


    1. All those things sure can help, and it’s my understanding that they can indeed repair past photodamage, though it’s not clear to me to what extent that can be done beneath the visible surface. I’m actually close to reviewing a Paula’s Choice AHA body lotion and a PC retinol body lotion that I’ve been using to and evaluating based on minimizing the appearance of sun damage!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Fiddy,
    I to and fro between your posts quite regularly. I’m getting frustrated now because I can’t find the one that mentions a product I would like to buy. It has a sunscreen factor to it and it is pink and sparkly. Sounds like the pick-me-up I need right now. Pink sparkles! Can you direct me to the product or the post that I’m talking about?
    Thanks Fiddy.


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