How to Care for Your Skin in Your 30s

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

All my life, I just had to worry about the odd pimple here and there. Annoying, sure – but not a big deal.

Then, I turn 30 and everything goes south.

Fine lines and crow’s feet pop up out of nowhere. The natural glow is gone. Everything feels a little rougher and like’s not working properly, you know what I mean?

It’s like you go to the bed looking like a teen and wake up aged 20 years. It all happened so slowly, you didn’t even notice.

Now everything’s catching up with you and you need to up your skincare game before it’s too late.

It’s time. Time to bring out the big anti-aging guns and tweak your skincare routine to the new needs of your skin.

Don’t know how? Here’s how to care for your skin in 30s:

  • 1. Use A Gentle Cleanser That Won’t Strip Skin
  • 2. Add Niacinamide To Treat… Everything
  • 3. Prevent Wrinkles With Antioxidants
  • 4. Bust Wrinkles With Retinol
  • 5. Exfoliate With Acids To Get Your Glow Back
  • 6. Don’t Forget Sunscreen To Keep Wrinkles Away

1. Use A Gentle Cleanser That Won’t Strip Skin

Did you know your skin tends to get drier as you get older?

Any cleanser that leaves it tight, dry and squeaky clean is out of the question now. Instead, opt for low ph, moisturising formulas that remove all traces of makeup and dirt without stripping your skin bare of the natural oils it needs to stay healthy.

Best Picks:

2. Add Niacinamide To Treat… Everything

Think of niacinamide as the jolly of your skincare routine.

It doesn’t matter what skin woe or problem you have, niacinamide can fix it. Here’s what studies prove it can do:

  • It hydrates skin: it’s more effective than petrolatum at preventing water loss
  • It soothes skin: it alleviates the symptoms of rosacea and irritations
  • It lightens skin: it reduces dark spots, blotchiness (redness) and sallowness (yellowing)
  • It helps treat wrinkles: preliminary research shows it can boost the production of skin-firming collagen
  • It treats acne: its effects are similar to those of 1% clindamycin gel

Told you, it did everything! No matter what your skin type is, it’s a must for everyone:

  • Dry skin: it helps keep it soft and hydrated
  • Oily skin: it helps shrink large pores and heal pimples faster
  • Sensitive skin: it helps soothe redness and irritations
  • Mature, sun-damaged skin: it helps lighten dark spots and keep wrinkles at bay

Best Picks:

3. Prevent Wrinkles With Antioxidants

You know what they say, prevention is better than cure.

Antioxidants are key in preventing wrinkles. They patrol your skin looking for free radicals to neutralise before they have the chance to wreak their havoc, destroy your collagen and give you wrinkles.

I’m a fan of CEF: vitamin C + vitamin E + ferulic acid. Studies show that, when used together, these 3 antioxidants supercharge each other and destroy even more free radicals.

But that doesn’t mean you should stick to that. As a rule, I make sure all my skincare products have a few antioxidants. Green tea. Coenzyme Q10. Quercetin.

The more antioxidants you use, the more wrinkles you prevent.

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4. Bust Wrinkles With Retinol

Truth bomb: vitamin A is the ONLY thing proven to really reduce wrinkles.

The most common form of retinol you’ll find in skincare products is retinol. It works in three ways:

  1. Boost the production of collagen, the protein that keeps skin firm
  2. Destroys free radicals before they give you wrinkles
  3. Speeds up cellular turnover, the skin’s natural exfoliating process

The catch? Retinol can seriously dry out and irritate your skin.

If you’ve never used it before, you can’t go out, but a 1% retinol serum and use it daily. It’ll destroy your skin and dry it out like crazy (and that makes wrinkles look worse).

Instead, start with the smallest concentration you can find. Use it twice a week. Build up concentration and frequency from there. You’ll get all the benefits without the side effects.

Best Picks:

  • La Roche Posay Redermic Anti-Aging Dermatological Treatment ($56.99): 0.1% retinol. Available at Dermstore and Feel Unique
  • Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum With Retinol ($34.00): 0.03% retinol. Available at Dermstore and Paula’s Choice.
  • The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion (£8.00): 1% microencapsulated retinol. Available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique.

5. Exfoliate With Acids To Get Your Glow Back

Did you know that when you’re young, your skin’s always exfoliating on its own?

But as you get older, it starts to slack on the job. That’s when you come in. You need an exfoliating acid to speed things up and give you that glow back.

Exfoliating acids dissolve the glue that hold skin cells together. Once that top layer of dead cells is off, your skin looks softer, smoother and brighter.

You have 3 options here, depending on your skin type:

  • Dry skin: use glycolic acid to hydrate skin and fade away dark spots
  • Oily skin: opt for salicylic acid (BHA) to unclog your pores and get rid of acne and blackheads
  • Sensitive skin: go with lactic acid, the gentlest exfoliating acid (it’s hydrating too!)

But… there’s a catch. Exfoliating acids are like retinol. A little gives you glowing, younger-looking skin. A lot dries it out. Use them only 2 or 3 times a week.

Best Picks:

6. Don’t Forget Sunscreen To Keep Wrinkles Away

Everything I’ve told you so far is useless IF you skip sunscreen.

Here’s the deal: UV rays are to blame for up to 90% of premature wrinkles and dark spots.

You can use all the best anti-aging products in the world, but if you skip sunscreen, they won’t be able to deal with the damage fast enough.

UV rays can penetrate through clouds and windows and be reflected on snow. Wear your sunscreen. Every. Single. Day.

Best Picks:

  • Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 ($34.00): available at Sephora
  • EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47 ($25.00): available at Dermstore and Walmart
  • Niod Survival 30 (£25.00): available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, and Feel Unique
  • Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection SPF 50 Sunscreen + WetForce For Sensitive Skin & Children ($42.00): available at Nordstrom and Ulta

Do you have any more tips on how to take care of your skin in your ’30s? Let me know in the comments below.

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