by Jaclyn LaBadia
Once you hit the age of 30, the skincare routine you religiously followed in your 20s just won’t cut it anymore. Most of the skin damage you’ve dealt with up until now is extrinsic, meaning it's caused by external factors like lifestyle and the environment. But after 30, intrinsic aging starts to take effect, and you’ll start to notice some very obvious changes in your skin. Intrinsic aging is an inevitable physiological process that results in thin, dry skin, fine wrinkles, and the skin’s inability to repair damage on its own. But we’ve got you covered. We’re breaking down everything you need to know about skincare in your 30s, including the best anti-aging skincare products to use and habits to adopt.
Common Skincare Issues in Your 30s
Let’s start by taking a look at some of the most common skincare concerns you’ll deal with this decade.
Your skin cell turnover slows down significantly by the time you hit your 30s. New cells are only visible every 28-35 days, compared to every 14 days or so when you were younger. This means dead cells accumulate on the surface of your skin, interfering with light reflection. The result is a loss of radiance and what we see as dull skin.
Dry or dehydrated skin
Another side effect of this slowing turnover is that the top layer of your skin has a more difficult time staying hydrated. It takes longer for this top layer to slough off, and the naturally occurring skin-plumping sugar known as hyaluronic acid starts to decrease.
Loss of fullness in your face
As skin cell turnover slows down, proteins like collagen and elastin breakdown faster, and less are made. Changing hormones also contribute to this, specifically a loss of estrogen, causing you to lose volume and bone mass in your skull, cheekbones, and jawline. This is the culprit behind things like fine lines and crows feet.
If you thought you were done with breakouts in your 30s, we have some bad news for you. Adult female hormonal acne kicks into high gear during this decade, due to your changing hormonal levels. And unfortunately, adult acne isn’t as easily dealt with as the pimples in your youth. What is hormonal acne? Check out our previous post for more.
In addition to your skin being more susceptible to dryness, it's also less tolerant of external factors like extreme temperatures and harsh soaps. So the cleansers you may have used in your 20s without blinking an eye can cause skin irritation in your 30s. It’s important to note that if your skin irritation is severe you should see a dermatologist.
Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that most commonly shows up in your 30s. Rosacea shows up on the face as flushing, blushing, and redness. It can be triggered or worsened by a number of factors, including hormonal changes, weather changes, stress, spicy foods, and hot beverages like caffeine.
With decades of sun exposure under your belt, you’ll more than likely notice dark spots popping up on your face once you hit 30. These spots are caused by years of low-grade exposure to the sun, which stimulate pigment-producing cells to go into overdrive. You’ll also start to notice scars from things like acne fade at a slower rate.
12 Skincare Habits to Adopt in Your 30s
Adopt these twelve skincare habits as soon as you hit 30 to correct any skin damage you racked up in your 20s and prevent the future signs of aging.
1. Use Makeup to Your Skin's Advantage
Because UV damage is the number one cause of premature aging and most people don't actually wear enough sunscreen to get true protection, wearing foundation serves as an extra barrier between your skin and the sun. For even more protection, choose a foundation with SPF built into the formula.
2. Trade the Makeup Wipes for a Proper Cleanser
Your 20s may have been filled with the convenience of taking off your makeup with just a makeup wipe, but your skin isn’t as resilient in your 30s. Makeup wipes can dehydrate your skin and they don't actually cleanse your skin. Instead, choose a gentle cleansing cream or cleansing lotion. Thoroughly cleaning away the day's makeup, dirt, and bacteria from your skin will give you the best results from the serums and moisturizers you apply after.
3. Don't Neglect Your Neck
As you age, it becomes especially important to use moisturizing active ingredients on your neck and décolletage. These are more delicate areas that show signs of aging first. the neck deserves its own step in your skincare routine. This means applying one application of an anti-aging face moisturizer or night cream to your face and then another full application to the front and sides of your neck.
4. Chemically Exfoliate Twice a Week
Since your skin cells aren’t turning over as often, as they used to in your 30s, this is the time to amp up your exfoliation routine. Exfoliating boosts cell turnover, to reveal newer, brighter skin cells. A mild chemical exfoliation twice a week normalizes the skin’s moisture barrier so it's better able to hold water. For more of the amazing benefits associated with exfoliating, see our previous post on how to exfoliate.
5. Focus on Soothing Your Skin
Many women suffer rosacea flare-ups or breakouts from stress, exercise, or poor eating habits in their 30s. This is the decade for soothing skincare. Stay away from stripping foam cleansers, and avoid any irritants on the dirty dozen in your skin-care products. Boost your overall hydration with an illuminating essence or hydrating toner.
6. Eye Cream is a Must in Your Routine
A daily eye lift cream on your eye area is now non-negotiable. The skin around your eyes has virtually no oil glands and is the first area of your face to show aging. Add a twice-daily dose of eye cream to the orbital bone around the eyes, or just at the top of the cheekbone. Getting too close to your lash line can cause irritation and puffiness.
7. Brighten Your Complexion with Vitamin C
Whether in the form of sunspots, acne scars, melasma patches, or an uneven skin tone, pigmentation issues can be a huge skincare concern among thirtysomethings. Battle the pigment buildup responsible for these conditions with a brightening vitamin C booster.
8. Boost Collagen Production and Fight Lines with Retinol
Your 30s is the time to start using anti-aging ingredients like retinol. This vitamin A derivative supports collagen cells and even helps with acne. But it can cause short-term flaking and redness and is an absolute no-no during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Start using a natural retinol serum or another retinoid three or four nights a week until you can build up to daily use.
9. Establish a Separate AM and PM Skincare Routine
Once you hit your 30s it's important to understand that your skin’s needs from day to night are different. During the day, your skin is exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays and the environmental stressors that age you; at night, your skin goes into repair mode to recover from the day. So your morning skincare routine is about protection and should involve an antioxidant serum like Vitamin C and an anti-aging sunscreen. And your nighttime routine should focus on rejuvenation, with your retinol, and chemical exfoliants.
10. Protect Your Skin from the Sun
Not only does wearing sunscreen lower your melanoma risk by 50 percent, but it helps prevent premature skin aging, including wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots. But being sun-smart in your 30s means more than just wearing sunscreen. It’s important to be equally vigilant about antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals from UV exposure.
11. Get in Eight Hours of Sleep
They don’t call it “beauty sleep” for nothing. Nighttime is when the skin repairs itself, and the longer you sleep, the more time it has to do that. A lack of sleep causes the stress hormone cortisol to be released. This encourages inflammation in the skin, causing flare-ups in conditions like acne, psoriasis, and eczema. The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep per night for most adults.
12. Drink More Water
Your skin is an organ made up of cells. Skin cells, like any other cell in the body, are made up of water. Without water, organs don’t function efficiently. If your skin is not getting enough water, the lack of hydration will present itself by turning your skin dry, tight, and flaky. Dry skin has less resilience and is more prone to wrinkling Here’s a trick to figure out if you’re drinking enough water. Take your weight and divide it by two. That’s the number of ounces of water you should drink per day for your skin to function properly. Drinking water alone won't give you younger-looking skin, but it will give you a healthy, hydrated canvas to work with.
Your 30s are the decade to kick your skincare routine into anti-aging high gear. It’s time to combat things like dry skin, wrinkles, collagen-loss, and hyperpigmentation. But with just a few tweaks to your regimen and added skin-loving ingredients, you’ll be rocking a healthy, glowing complexion through your 30s no matter what your skin type!