THE FEAR of getting older stems from myths about aging and the overall negative or outright ageist attitudes towards older people perpetrated by society at large. But getting older isn't all that bad, especially from a physical standpoint.

“Getting older is a blessing we take for granted,” says Paul Jarrod Frank, M.D., a cosmetic dermatologist and the author of The Pro-Aging Playbook. “Anti-aging makes it seem like getting older is a bad thing. Pro-aging is about perspective. Aging can be a good thing, particularly if you know how to do it right.”

Aging is one of the most natural processes in the world; you can't stop it, but you can

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choose how you age, and that includes improving and preventing the physical signs of aging, like wrinkles and discoloration. You hair, skin, and nails are all part of your body's integumentary system, and keeping this system healthy is the best thing you can do to help you look and feel your best for years to come.

Here are the best products, tips, and treatments to help you look the best possible version of yourself at any age without spending a ton of time or money on your skincare routine.

In Your 20's: Stick to the Basics

Step 1: Cleanser

The foundation of your skincare routine is a good face cleanser you can use in the mornings and evenings. In your 20's, you want to use something gentle that ideally cleanses and hydrates at the same time. Many of the acne-fighting cleansers familiar to you from your teenage years can actually over-strip the skin, which is what causes acne in the first place. Look for gel or cream-based cleanser formulations that lightly hydrate and calm the skin as it cleanses.

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Step 2 (in the morning): SPF

Sun damage is the biggest cause of premature skin aging, from wrinkles to pigmentation and even more serious skin conditions.

“Any sort of sun exposure can turn into skin cancer down the line, but it can also turn into sun-spots and degenerate collagen, which is how you get wrinkly skin,” says Dr. Rieder.

Use a broad-spectrum, high-SPF (at least 30) sunscreen every day as your last skin-care step in the morning. It’s never too late to start using it, and it's the best thing you can do to ensure your skin stays healthy and ages less rapidly.

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Read more: Best Moisturizers With SPF

Step 2 (at night): Lightweight Moisturizer

In the evenings, you'll want to switch out your sunscreen for a lightweight moisturizer to help hydrate your skin overnight. Water-based gel moisturizers are an excellent option for men in their 20's and 30's who hate the feeling of thick, heavy creams. Hydration is the cornerstone of healthy skin, which is why using a moisturizer every night is important.

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In your 20's, you don't have to use a ton of products in order to maintain healthy skin. The biggest purpose of starting a skincare routine in your 20's is to get the routine down.

“Anytime you can introduce a habit in your 20s, you have a much better chance of having it stick," says Dr. Frank. "It doesn’t matter what it is; it’s about forming a good habit.”

Read more: Best Moisturizers for Men

In Your 30's: Level Up

At 30, you've hopefully already committed to a very basic skincare routine of a cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF. Now, it's time to take it to the next level.

Step 2: An Antioxidant Serum

After cleansing and before moisturizing, apply an antioxidant serum to help boost hydration and protect your skin from environmental damage. Antioxidants aren't just limited to foods like blueberries and broccoli. They can also be found in skincare, and are just as beneficial to your skin as they are to the rest of your body. Antioxidants work by protecting the skin's surface from oxidative damage produced by free radicals and everyday environmental aggressors like UV and pollution.

“Collagen production takes a nosedive in your 30s, and the effects of the sun start to be apparent,”says Dr. Hartman.

Applying an antioxidant-rich serum or cream in the morning keeps your skin protected from the elements all day long. A product with vitamin C, vitamin E, and/or niacinamide is one of the best at-home treatments you can use to treat age spots, thanks to the potent combination of skincare actives and ingredients that fade hyperpigmentation.

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Step 3: Hydrating Moisturizer

As you age, your skin tends to be more dry. This is largely due to a change in hormones which affect your skin’s oil production, leading to a dry, rough skin texture. “Add in more moisturizing products to fortify your skin with hydration,” says dermatologist and Men’s Health advisor Corey L. Hartman, M.D.

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In the mornings, continue cleansing your face and applying your favorite SPF to prevent sun damage.

Read more: Best Night Creams for Men

In Your 40's: Treat and Prevent Wrinkles

Your 40's is when you really start to notice those fine lines and wrinkles setting in. In addition to cleansing, SPF, you'll want to start using targeted skincare skincare products for aging skin. Continue using SPF in the daytime to prevent wrinkles and discoloration.

Step 2: Retinol

Once you hit your 40's, your skincare routine is all about improving the visible signs of aging, and retinol is one of the best tools to have in your arsenal. Retinol is a vitamin A-based skincare ingredient that promotes cell turnover, which aids in almost every skin issue from acne to pigmentation and even in preventing wrinkles. “Not only does it help start the process of saving collagen and helping control acne breakouts and keep your skin even, but it also sets you up for preventing wrinkles in the future,” says Dr. Hartman.

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Step 3: Heavy-Duty Moisturizer

As your skin ages, it can no longer hold moisture as effectively as it once did. Your skin metabolism slows down, which controls collagen production, cell turnover, and repairs.

Collagen and oil production decreases as you get older, and “this is when a lot of sun damage really starts to settle,” says Dr. Hartman.“Use a moisturizer with ceramides and peptides to help.”

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Step 4: Eye Cream

The last step in your skincare routine should be an eye cream. While an eye cream can't ever fully get rid of wrinkles, it can help hydrate the delicate skin underneath your eyes which improves the look of wrinkles. Use at night after moisturizer and wake up to smooth, hydrated under eyes.

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Read more: Best Grooming Products for Men

Headshot of Garrett Munce
Garrett Munce

Garrett Munce writes about men's style and grooming. He's written for Esquire, New York Magazine, Spotlyte, and Very Good Light and held staff positions at GQ and W. Follow his skincare obsession on Instagram at @garrettmunce.

Headshot of Cristina Montemayor

Cristina Montemayor is a freelance writer and journalist living in Austin, Texas, covering beauty, grooming, style, and culture. Her work has appeared in Very Good Light, BRIDES, Elite Daily, among others.