Coming Of Age: The Best Skincare Routine For Your 30s

You’re 30! It’s time for retinol. The AEDITON spoke with top dermatologists and a cosmetic chemist to find out why it’s time to add the cult-favorite ingredient to your skincare regimen.
Written by Jeannine Morris Lombardi
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Coming Of Age: The Best Skincare Routine For Your 30sDean Drobot/Shutterstock

When should I start getting Botox®? Is it time to incorporate retinol into my skincare routine? What is a “mommy makeover”? How about a “daddy do-over”? Do I really need to, as the saying goes, sacrifice my ass for my face? Should I swap my hyaluronic acid fillers for something a bit more permanent?

When it comes to beauty and aesthetics, there is no such thing as one -size -fits-all. But there are some tried and true principles that will keep you looking and feeling your best. In this series, Coming of Age, The AEDITION answers your most pressing questions about the best treatments, procedures, and practices — from surgery and skincare to health and wellness and everything in between — to consider at any age.

Welcome to 30. You’re still holding onto a youthful complexion, but right about now seems to be the time many start (mildly) freaking out about getting older. Sure, gray hairs will pop up here and there, and it will definitely take longer to recover from a night of partying. But, hopefully, you have come to understand your skin and found a few products that work for you. After all, the way you took care of your complexion in your twenties will have a direct effect on the way the skin starts to change in your thirties.

While the first half of the decade may very well mirror the one before it, the latter half starts to reveal more visible signs of aging. “Around 26 years old, you start to produce less collagen, and the destruction from UV and environmental exposures that happened in your twenties begin to show up,” says Julie Russak, MD, a board certified dermatologist and founder of Russak Dermatology Clinic in NYC. “The damage may not be noticeable on your skin’s surface yet, but it’s important to be aware of what’s happening underneath.” As you enter your mid- to late- thirties, it’ll start revealing itself.

If you’re just starting to get serious about skincare now, don’t fret! We spoke with top NYC dermatologists and a cosmetic chemist to find out exactly what your routine should look like throughout this unique decade.

The Best Skincare Routine for Your 30s

As far as skincare goes, nothing should be taken away from your current regimen, but you will want to add a step to your evening routine. Here’s what the ideal skincare routine for your thirties should look like:

Morning Routine:

  • Cleanser
  • Vitamin C Serum
  • Eye Cream
  • Moisturizer
  • Sunscreen

Nighttime Routine:

  • Cleanser
  • Eye Cream
  • Retinol
  • Moisturizer

As a reminder, many of the products can be used twice a day — with the exception of sunscreen and retinol, of course. Also, it’s important to remember that, when it comes to skincare, your “face” extends below the chin. The delicate neck and décolletage are often among the first parts of the body to show signs of aging, and they can be difficult to treat. Get ahead of the damage by applying your facial serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen to those areas every day (consistency is key!).

Another area that needs some love? Your hands. If you have any leftover serum or moisturizer, rub it into the back of the hands and consider investing in a hand cream with sunscreen (like Supergoop Handscreen SPF 40) to prevent sun damage.

The Best Skincare Ingredients for Your 30s

According to Dendy Engelman, MD, a NYC-based board certified dermatologist, the scary truth is that, by the time you hit 30, your ceramide levels have dropped by 46 percent and collagen will drop by one percent each year. Enter vitamin A derivatives like retinoids and retinol.

“Retinol is a powerhouse ingredient, because it’s clinically proven to stimulate collagen and target wrinkles,” explains Shuting Hu, PhD, a cosmetic scientist and founder of Acaderma. It has been a go-to recommendation from dermatologists and skincare experts for years because it addresses an array of skin concerns — from acne and dullness to fine lines and wrinkles.

When introducing retinol to your regimen, it’s important to understand that a little goes a long way. You can ask your dermatologist for a prescription or opt for an over-the-counter formulation like RoC Deep Wrinkle Night Cream or SkinCeuticals Retinol .05 Refining Night Cream. At night after cleansing, apply a pea-sized amount of the product to your entire face and follow it up with moisturizer.

Begin using it every other night until your skin gets acclimated. You may experience a bit of redness and peeling, but, in time, you’ll likely build up a tolerance. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding retinol is off limits. And, if you have very sensitive skin, you may never be able to tolerate it. Fortunately, there are gentle retinol alternatives — like bakuchiol, rosehip oil, and arophira — that mimic the effects.

If You’re in the Market for a Professional Treatment…

While a good skincare routine can go a long way, it can’t fix everything. If crow’s feet or frown lines are starting to crop up, a temporary wrinkle reducer, like Botox®, Dysport®, Jeuveau®, and Xeomin®, can be used as a preventative measure (in fact, it topped our list of the best aesthetic procedures to consider in your thirties). “When an expression line stays around beyond the length of the expression, that’s when you know it’s time,” Dr. Engelman says. Because neurotoxin injections work by temporarily freezing the underlying muscles, the earlier you begin, the less wrinkles you’ll have to worry about in the future.

If uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation are starting to be a bother, intense pulsed light (IPL) is a light therapy similar to a laser, though it works with many different wavelengths. “This is a treatment my patients in their thirties typically do a series of, if needed,” Dr. Engelman explains. Pigment cells absorb the light, while heat destroys brown spots, discoloration, and rosacea.

You Are What You Eat

If you aren’t taking care of your body, the best products and procedures in the world can’t help you. What you eat becomes increasingly more important as you age. Dr. Russak recommends an inside out approach to beauty and recommends an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich diet. Foods like blueberries, strawberries, kale, goji berries, and even dark chocolate help protect cells from free radical damage, which will only boost the effects of your topical regimen.

All products featured are independently selected by our editors, however, AEDIT may receive a commission on items purchased through our links.

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JEANNINE MORRIS LOMBARDIis a contributing writer for AEDIT.

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