The 2018 Best Skin-Care Routine for Your 30s
In a blur of career climbs, bridesmaid gowns, and Pinterest-worthy baby showers, you’ve somehow arrived here, a full-fledged thirtysomething. And that means what worked for your skin in your 20s is probably no longer cutting it. We talked to New York City dermatologist Whitney Bowe to figure out the best skin-care routine for your 30s. Free time and sleep face extinction during this stretch — especially if those showers were held in your honor — and even your skin is feeling sluggish as its cell turnover rate slows, inviting dullness and discoloration, and “collagen and elastin production drop off, setting the stage for wrinkles,” says Bowe. (Mercifully, the collagen production decline is gradual — like, one percent a year. Still, you want to start addressing it now.) Hormones continue to seesaw, particularly if your body is in baby-making mode, which means breakouts, yes, but also brown spots and splotches. Skin may seem suddenly drier and more sensitive, however, so you’ll need to tread lightly when treating such woes. Here’s the best way to go about it.
Use a Hydrating Toner
You’d been so looking forward to the legendary glow said to accompany baby bumps — so what’s up with the flakes and stinging? “During pregnancy, skin loses moisture more easily and absorbs products more readily, as the hormone progesterone dilates blood vessels, heightening sensitivity,” says Bowe. (This surge in blood flow can also deliver that reputed radiance…on a good day, anyway.)
Even if you don’t do the baby-on-board thing in your 30s, “many women grow into rosacea during this phase and suffer flare-ups from stress, exercise, or eating and drinking certain things,” says New York City dermatologist Doris Day. So think soothing in all you do: Lay off the stripping foamy cleansers, and boost hydration with an essence or hydrating toner, and avoid known irritants, like perfume and preservatives, in your skin-care products.
Chemically Exfoliate Twice a Week
Now is the time to really amp up your exfoliation regimen. Exfoliating used to be all about pimple prevention. Now, “it’s about boosting cell turnover, and you really have to do it twice a week to keep skin fresh and bright,” says Bowe. Dousing a touchy complexion in acid may seem counterintuitive, but mild chemical exfoliation actually normalizes the skin’s moisture barrier so it’s better able to hold water and stave off insults. (And, yes, those same acids can still clear pores to simultaneously thwart zits.) Seek out pads (like these Dermadoctor ones) that balance a cocktail of acids with potent antioxidants (free-radical fighters with brightening powers) and serious soothers, like hyaluronic acid, squalane, and rose water.
Supercharge Your Skin with Vitamin C and Other Brighteners
Asked for the number-one issue plaguing thirtysomethings, dermatologists will answer with a collective and resounding: “Pigment!” Whether in the form of sun spots, a vague dullness, zit-spawned stains, or melasma patches that surface during the hormonal maelstrom of pregnancy, it’s imperative that “you battle the pigment buildup without further irritating your skin,” says Robert Anolik, a dermatologist in New York City.
For some, this may mean eschewing the gold-standard lightener hydroquinone for mellower plant-based options, like arbutin, kojic acid, vitamin C, licorice, soy, and linoelic acid. (Hydroquinone is also off-limits to those pregnant or nursing.) If you see these brighteners in your peel pads and sunscreens, great! But dermatologists still suggest applying them in concentrated serum form, too, like the Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum.
Boost Collagen Production and Fight Lines with Retinoids or Retinol
Your next challenge? Supporting collagen cells in their quest for plump, lineless skin. And nothing does it better than retinoids — as a bonus, these vitamin-A creams control pigment and acne, too — but they can cause short-term flaking and redness. (And they’re an absolute no-no during pregnancy and breastfeeding.) “If your skin is sensitive or rosacea-prone, you may do better with an over-the-counter retinol, which is about one-tenth the strength of a prescription retinoid but still delivers the benefits, just more slowly,” says Joely Kaufman, a dermatologist in Coral Gables, Florida.
Retinols are also a fraction of the price, and if you know you’ll be starting and stopping treatment throughout your 30s, it’s probably not worth shelling out for a pricey prescription only to have it expire during your hiatus. As an always-safe, non-irritating alternative, consider peptides, which “stimulate an immune response to rebuild and improve collagen over time,” says Anolik.
Refresh Your Eyes with an Eye Cream
The need for eye cream is now undeniable, as this thin-skinned area is the first to show lines — crow’s-feet dig in during this decade — and sheer exhaustion. “This is when a lot of young moms start coming in for hyaluronic acid filler injections under the eyes,” says Bowe. Most are genetically prone to bags or hollows, she explains, which can be seriously exacerbated by sleepless nights. Whether or not you submit to the syringe, definitely start applying a twice-daily dose of eye cream. To plump shadowy hollows, go for one containing peptides, hyaluronic acid, and antioxidants. For puffiness, caffeine-containing creams can “tighten underlying vessels to help skin look firmer,” says Anolik.
Use Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide
Let’s review: Thirtysomething skin is beyond prickly and highly susceptible to mottling and lines. You see where we’re going with this? Sunscreen is crucial, and it may be time to upgrade your formula. Not only are physical sunscreens, with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, less apt to irk delicate skin, but “they do a better job of keeping everything out,” says Day — not just UVA and UVB, but all wavelengths of light that can contribute to brown spots and wrinkles. But “being sun-smart in your 30s means more than just sunscreen,” adds Bowe.
Be equally vigilant about antioxidants, which neutralize the free radicals — borne of sunlight, pollution, heat — shown to injure collagen and activate pigment. For those who are especially pigment-prone, Day pushes oral antioxidants, too, both in the form of colorful fruits and veggies and the fern-derived supplement Heliocare, which bolsters skin’s defenses to minimize sun damage.
Indulge Yourself with a Hydrating Mask Once a Week
Masks are faster, gentler, and more effective than ever — some even problem-solve while you sleep, like this Renee Rouleau Pure Radiance Creme Masque. Relieve seasonal bouts of taut, itchy skin with a lipid-rich mask.
We, like practically everyone on this planet, are full-blown Shark Tank addicts. In addition to being an endlessly entertaining reality show, it’s also proved to be an excellent way to scope out new products and innovations. From a soap-loofah hybrid to crazy-colored vegan lipstick, here are six beauty buys that will inevitably make you resentful you didn’t think of them first.
SOAP/LOOFAH HYBRID BAR – Best Anti-Aging Cream 2018
Love yourself a 2-in-1? Prepare to go mad for the SW&G (pronounced Swag) Bar, which is a hybrid between soap and a loofah. Created by celebrity skincare expert Lydia Evans, it was originally designed for men to streamline the cleansing and exfoliating process. But, uh, us ladies want in!
KOREAN BEAUTY STARTER SET – Top Wrinkle Remover Celebrity Use
Natural K-beauty skincare site Glow Recipe founders Sarah Lee and Christine Change schooled the sharks on the Korean beauty regimen and ended up with a whopping $425,000 investment from Robert Herjavec. Since then, we’ve become obsessed with all their offerings, including the revitalizing Whamisa Organic Flowers Olive Leaf Mist and glow-yielding Blithe Tundra Chaga Pressed Serum you’ll find in their Shark Tank K-beauty set.
COCONUT BODY SCRUB – Best Products to Reduce Wrinkle
Back in 2013, 18-year-old Lani Lazzari impressed all the sharks with her incredible business prowess and sweet-smelling skin scrubs, which were gentle enough to improve skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. She ended up landing a $100,000 investment from Mark Cuban and since then, her sales have skyrocketed. Our favorite of her all-natural offerings? The vacation-in-a-jar, coconut-infused body scrub.
CRAZY TASTE-COMBO LIP BALMS – Aging Defying
Invented by two guys, Kisstixx lip balms are creative to say the least: When two flavors come together during a makeout session, they create a chemical reaction you can literally taste. How’s that for spicing up date night? They’re sold in flavor combos like Mango and Lime, Strawberry and Chocolate, and Fire and Ice if you’re really looking to heat things up.
ALASKAN GLACIAL MUD MASK- Best Anti-Aging Products on the Market
This 100% natural, sustainably-harvested skincare brand may not have received an offer from any of the sharks, but their business has still grown steadily. While the entire range will make you feel like you’ve traveled to the deepest, purest depths of the earth for a spa treatment, the facial mask, infused with lavender and peppermint, is the biggest standout.
VEGAN LIPSTICK – Dermatologist-Approved Anti-Aging Skin Products
Lip Bar founders Melissa Butler and Rosco Spears may have been grilled by the sharks, but since their episode aired, their paraben-free, vegan lipstick company has grown a loyal customer base. And let us just say: Their range of colors is the definition of beauty porn.