As you say goodbye to your 20s and enter your self-assured 30s, life can feel like a flurry of work commitments, weddings, and baby showers. The last thing you need to be worrying about is your skin or how great it’s gonna look when you see your ex at your best friend’s wedding. To help refine and perfect your beauty regimen, we spoke to two of the world’s leading dermatologists, Dr. Timm Golueke, Founder of the Dr. Golüke Clinic in Munich, and Dr. Jessica Wu M.D, L.A-based dermatologist. But before we outline the ultimate routine, you need to understand your thirty-something skin…
When you reach your 30s your hormone levels, elastin, and collagen levels decrease, so your skin begins to look thinner and can start to sag. Cell turnover also decreases, so your fine lines and wrinkles become more pronounced. You may also find that your skin type begins to change, most commonly it’ll be less oily, but this varies person to person. The main aim of your regime is to keep your skin toned and hydrated while slowing down the signs of aging. However, Dr. Timm Gouelke adds you want to “avoid overusing products and overcomplicating your routine.” Here’s what you daily regime should look like, and the products you need in your beauty cabinet:
Step 1. Cleanse
If you’re a regular on Huda Beauty, you’ll know that every good regime starts with double cleansing, and Dr. Timm Goueleke agrees. Hydration is key, so avoid harsh cleansers (like foams, which can be drying) and look for gentle, more moisturizing ingredients. As always you should begin cleansing with a cleansing oil: look for a cleanser with plant extracts as these will help hydrate your skin and are full of antioxidants, which will help fight free radicals that cause premature again. For your second cleanse (or in the morning), if you have oily skin, stick with a gel cleanser, and if your skin is normal or dry, hydrating formulas like creams or milks are great.
Our go-to cleanser: We love the Tatcha, Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil, $46, a pore-cleansing formula that removes every drop of makeup or dirt while also nourishing the skin with vitamins A and E. We then like to follow with a cleanser that fits our skin type, if you have dry or normal skin, the Caudalie Gentle Cleansing Milk, $33, is great. If you have oily skin, we recommend the Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser, $35, which is made with clay and plant-based extracts to remove impurities and hydrate the skin.
Step 2. Tone
Dr. Timm Goueleke insists that the next step in your routine should be toning. One of the most common skin concerns among women in their 30s is uneven tone, which is usually a result of melasma. Dr. Jessica Wu explains that it’s caused by the combination of “birth-control and sun damage. It can also be a result of hormone changes during or after pregnancy,” which causes dark spots and discoloration in the skin. In the morning look for a hydrating toner with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide and in the evening correct uneven skin tone with AHA formulas. Make sure you use a toner that’s free of irritants, perfumes or preservatives.
Our go-to toner: The Jurlique Activating Water Essence, $55, is perfect for 30-something skin as it allows your skin to retain moisture, so it won’t feel dry or look dull. In the evening we love to use the COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol, $12, which will help rebalance your skin, fading the appearance of any uneven tone.
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Step 3. Exfoliate
In order to boost skin cell renewal, you need to exfoliate using a chemical exfoliator at least twice a week. As your dermis loses support and your skin becomes less supple, it can often become dull as the outer layer is not being renewed regularly. By introducing a chemical exfoliator that contains AHAs and BHAs, you’ll prevent the buildup of dead skin, improving tone and texture while minimizing the appearance of pores. We like to exfoliate in the evening after double cleansing (no more than two or three times a week, and less if you have dry or sensitive skin), as it gives our skin time to recover and replenish overnight.
Our go-to exfoliators: We love the Dr. Dennis Gross Smooth & Flawless: Peel + Moisturize, $48, as it helps remove any dead skin that’s blocking your pores or making it appear dull, without irritating your skin. The Glossier Solution, $24, is another great option: it contains three chemical exfoliants, AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs. It’s designed to be used daily on oily or acne-prone skin, however, if this isn’t a skin concern of you could consider using this just three or four times a week.
Step 4. Antioxidant serum
When you reach your 30s, it’s time to invest more in skincare if you can, and a serum is a perfect product to spend that money on as they deliver a higher concentration of active ingredients making them more effective. Serums typically have a lightweight formula with a smaller molecular structure so they can penetrate further, helping repair the skin at a deeper level. Both Dr. Jessica Wu and Timm Goueleke recommend serums containing antioxidants “vitamin C and E, which will brighten and improve skin tone, leaving it with a radiant glow.”
Our fave serums: The Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, $67, is a cult classic for a reason: it’s packed with skin illuminating antioxidants, essential nutrients, and fruit enzymes that’ll leave your skin looking radiant AF. We’re also obsessed with the WHB2 Power Duo Face Serum, $145, a two-phase serum that boasts probiotics, bioactives, niacinamide, and tripeptides that have been proven to improve skin – it’s expensive but SO worth it!
Step 5. Retinol
Using retinol should be mandatory in your 30s. Retinol is a form of vitamin A that strengthens the deeper layer of your skin, increasing collagen and boosting skin cell renewal, which is essential in your 30s as this has naturally begun to decline. Although retinol containing creams are alright in your 20s, now is the time to ask your dermatologist for a stronger prescription retinol to use at night. Also make sure you apply it to your neck and décolletage, as these areas show early signs of aging. Retinol should only be used at night, and depending on the retinol (check the instructions) it should usually be applied on toned skin, before your moisturizer.
Our fave retinol: We’re currently obsessed with The Inkey List’s Retinol, $13, which has 1% retinol and is effective yet not too strong if you’re new to retinol! If you already use retinol regularly, now is the time to ask your derm for a prescription. Remember, if you’re just starting with retinol, you should introduce it into your routine slowly. Try two or three times a week for the first couple of weeks, and gradually increase it to most nights. We also don’t recommend using a retinol on the same day as using other potent ingredients, like AHA peels or any salicylic acid treatments, as this could overwhelm your skin.
Step 6. Eye cream
It’s time to pay attention to your under eyes on a daily basis – not just when you’ve been up all night partying. The skin around your eyes is super delicate as it’s much thinner than anywhere else on your body, which means it loses moisture more rapidly. Therefore, it’s essential to use a rich, hydrating formula to add moisture. Dr. Timm Golueke recommends brightening ingredients like “vitamin C, green tea, and chamomile as these are great for puffiness and reducing dark circles.” Take care when applying your cream – pat the product into your skin using your fourth finger – if you rub it in, you’ll tug at the skin that could promote skin sagging. Remember to apply it morning and night after your serum and before your moisturizer.
Our favorite eye creams: The Kiehl’s, Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado, $48, is so rich and creamy, we’re obsessed! The Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Moisturising Eye Cream, $34, is also great and contains brightening antioxidant vitamin C.
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Step 7. Moisturize
Keeping skin is hydrated is key for any age, but when you reach your thirties, it’s extra important. Moisturizers contain ingredients to lock in moisture and skin-replenishing ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid to hydrate. Natural botanicals (plant-based ingredients from flowers, seeds, leaves, and roots) will also help, so keep an eye out for tea extracts or natural oils such as grape seed oil or green tea extract. Check out Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Cream, $75, a silky water-gel moisturizer packed with some seriously potent anti-aging ingredients.
Step 8. SPF
Another daily step you can’t afford to skip is SPF. Especially, considering that the most common skin issues of women in their 30s is pigmentation, dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles, which are made considerably worse by sun exposure. Dr. Jessica Wu insists that you “should use SPF every day” with 5-star UVA rating each day– during the summer months, you should use SPF 50 to protect against the sun’s dangerous UVA and UVB rays.
Our fave suncream: The Thank You Farmer Sun Project Water Sun Cream, $23, offers amazing protection and yet the formula isn’t heavy so it’ll absorb easily into the skin. Similarly, the Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream, $48, offers SPF 30 and is infused with minerals, which will help soothe and moisturize the skin, plus it’s color correcting to cancel out any redness.
Treatments You May Want To Consider:
A monthly peel: To help boost skin renewal, a monthly salicylic acid or lactic acid peel is a great idea. It’ll brighten your skin, and it can also help clear any hormonal breakouts.
Botox: If you’ve always wondered about Botox (find out more here), this is a good time to discuss your options with an expert. Botox can be very subtle and help prevent further fine lines deepening. If you’ve ever been tempted by fillers, be sure to check out New York’s leading dermatologist, Dr. Doris Day’s guide on how to use fillers and injectables for the most natural look here.
Laser: If you have acne-prone skin, the Isolaz laser is an effective treatment as it cleanses deep into the pores and improves the overall texture of the skin. Similarly, if you have uneven skin tone, dark spots, or hyperpigmentation, you could consider the Fraxel 1927 Laser as it can help reduce any sun damage, which can also help lower the risk of skin cancer.
Also, don’t forget to take care of yourself…
Healthy lifestyles choices are key during your 30s. As much as we hate to admit it, if you skip a night’s sleep or don’t drink enough water, it’s really going to show! It’s not just sleep and hydration that count, eating healthily, a little regular exercise, and just generally looking out for number one is key. When you sleep, your skin repairs and replenishes and most importantly renews, so if you don’t get enough sleep, your cutting this time down. Check out our five favorite beauty-boosting foods and five things you can do every day to make you feel happier and healthier.
Let us know if there are any other skin concerns, you would like help or guidance on in the comments below.