This month, Allure magazine made a bold statement on its September issue cover — beneath a glowing and always ravishing Dame Helen Mirren are big black letters demanding “THE END OF ANTI-AGING.” (Insert slow clap) I am so here for this. For a major publication to come right out and say that shaming women for aging is complete BS? That’s huge.
It’s hard to learn and write about skincare without placing the majority of your focus around anti-aging ingredients and products, but an obsession with this type of self-care can lend itself to negative connotations toward a natural process.
I love learning about the science behind skincare, but I’d be remiss to not acknowledge the latent sexism and ageism that the industry puts on us as women for “aging.” No one is telling men that their crow’s feet are an issue. I doubt men ever look in the mirror and fear “volume loss” and rabidly google the differences between Juvederm and Restylane.
That being said, it is entirely possible to enjoy skincare and aim to maintain and improve upon your complexion without playing into the sentiment that getting older is undesirable. From here on out we aim to treat skincare like any other self-love practices, starting with the top five ways to pamper and care for your skin in your 30s.
1. Increase Hydration
Inside and out, ladies. Topical hydration is important, but properly hydrating your internal organs will have an obvious impact on the health of your skin. In addition to taking in the appropriate amount of water each day (3 liters is considered average, but you can always calculate the amount you need to be sure), you should also consider a daily supplement that will promote healthy and hydrated cells. Collagen, Vitamin E, and Resveratrol are excellent places to start.
Dry skin is not the only skin type that requires extra moisture — it is entirely possible to have oily skin that is dehydrated. In your 30s, your skin really starts to require an extra couple steps to retain moisture as collagen and elastin production starts to dip. Incorporating a hyaluronic acid serum or an antioxidant rich oil will be essential in keeping your skin properly hydrated.
2. Make Acids your BFF
There are few things as important as acids in skincare, and they’re also the hardest component to understand. Start simple, go slow, and see through the “purge” phase when the acids you’ve chosen might bring some underlying acne to the surface.
Ascorbic and L-ascorbic acid, otherwise known as Vitamin C, are best for daytime wear as they mostly act as antioxidants rather than exfoliators. A Vitamin-C serum is one of the purchases in your lineup where a splurge is necessary — these are highly concentrated ingredients and you want to ensure that the formulations keep them stable. Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum and Algenist GENIUS Ultimate Anti-Aging Vitamin C Serum are two that are worth the spend.
Glycolic and Lactic Acid are both Alpha-Hydroxy Acids that are ideal for nighttime use as they act as exfoliators and are best utilized while your skin undergoes its nightly regeneration. They also tend to pill and not layer well under makeup. Deciem The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution and Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment are excellent places to start.
3. See a Dermatologist
Your 30s are the turning point for your skin, and if you’ve never sat down for a professional assessment, now is most definitely the time. As your skin’s elastin and collagen production slows, you may begin to experience dryness and inflammation where you hadn’t before. This can be why some women in their 30s experience an increase of acne, sometimes for the first times in their lives.
You’ll need a dermatologist in order to obtain some of the most effective active ingredients available for the treatment of acne and fine lines, such as Tretinoin (Retin-A) and certain types of antibiotics. Even if acne isn’t a main concern, prescription strength retinol is the surest way to maintain a bright and youthful complexion as it promotes the production of collagen and strengthens the skin’s barrier. Also, get a skin cancer screening — you can never be too careful!
4. Cozy Up to an Esthetician
In addition to seeing a dermatologist, finding an esthetician that you vibe with is paramount to keeping your skin healthy in your 30s. A standing monthly appointment with a licensed skincare practitioner keeps you from wasting money on products that don’t help you and allows you to check in with someone who can tell if your regimen is working as it should. It takes skin 27 days to renew itself, so a monthly appointment to check in on how products are being received is most beneficial to keeping your skin in tip top shape.
5. Obsess over SPF
Sun protection is never ever going to be superfluous — in fact, it only becomes more important as we get older. You already know better than to leave the house without your AM application of SPF, but you’d ideally be reapplying every 4 hours for adequate protection — not exactly an easy task when wearing makeup.
Skincare and makeup brands are wisening up to the necessity of over-the-makeup SPF application, and more touch-up suncare products are becoming available. Colorescience Sunforgettable Loose Mineral Sunscreen Brush SPF 50 travels well and keeps your skin protected from UVA/UVB rays for the entire day.
How have you adjusted your skincare regimen in your 30s?
This article was originally published on September 24, 2017 and has been updated for timeliness.