There's a lot of change that happens as you enter a new decade in life. Perhaps your sense of style becomes a bit more minimal, while your taste in music could get a tad more complex. And, of course, your skin begins to alter as you age, which means your beauty routine needs to be adjusted accordingly. This is especially true once you reach your 30s. In fact, the skin care products to use in your 30s aren’t quite the same as the staples applied in your teen years or even the ones used in your 20s.
“In your 30s, it's really important to focus on skin health, not just quick fixes that put a bandaid on skin issues,” Dr. Christina Weng, a Harvard-trained board-certified dermatologist and founder of Mymiel Skincare, tells TZR. “This means protecting your skin from further damage from the sun and other environmental factors, while also incorporating anti-aging and rejuvenating products to target existing damage.” Additionally, she says as your skin changes, you’ll want to switch up your skin care routine and products to fit your new concerns. For instance, the dermatologist explains, “if your skin is becoming drier with time, you may find that products that may have been too heavy in your 20s are now a better fit.”
Ready for the full product breakdown? Below, find exactly what formulas you should be using during your 30s, according to the experts.
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Skin Care Products For Your 30s: Exfoliate Regularly
“You should be exfoliating in your 30s because it helps keep the skin acting young,” Dr. Marina Peredo, a board-certified dermatologist in New York, tells TZR. “Using an exfoliator with an acid such as glycolic or lactic can help diminish pigmented cells, keep the skin smooth and clear, and even the skin tone.” She suggests using SkinCeuticals’ Micro-Exfoliating Scrub. “This exfoliator polishes away dead skin cells while promoting hydration to smooth and soften the skin.”
Cleanser-wise, Dr. Weng says if you’re looking for a little extra resurfacing, you might want to try chemical-based ones (which often include AHAs, BHA, and PHAs) within the product, or using a cleansing brush or cloth. For scrubs she says that, “if you want to try a physical exfoliant, make sure to avoid products with ingredients such as walnut shells which contain sharp edges. These can cause micro-tears in the skin and make skin more irritated and inflamed.” When it comes to chemical exfoliators, the dermatologist recently tried Detox Mode Renewing Foam Cleanser, which she says, “has a beautiful blend of calming botanical extracts that work double duty to provide gentle brightening and exfoliation.”
To that point, New York-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Rita Linkner thinks that everyone in this age group should stock their shower with an exfoliating cleanser that they utilize once to twice a week. Her pick: Rodan & Fields’ Reverse Deep Exfoliating Cleanser. The dermatologist says this product contains both physical and chemical ingredients to help keep the skin polished. “The combination of lactic and glycolic acid here provides a dual-action brightening power that really helps to set this product aside from the pack.”
Skin Care Products For Your 30s: Lather On SPF
Applying SPF is crucial regardless of your age, however in your 30s, it’s especially important when signs of premature aging might be popping up. “The sun can age your skin fast, so it is important to be protected whenever you are out in the sun,” Dr. Peredo says. “In addition, you want to prevent skin conditions such as melanoma down the line so it is imperative to liberally use SPF.”
For a formula that will brighten the skin with a universal tint, Dr. Peredo recommends Alastin’s HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36. “It’s lightweight, provides broad-spectrum protection, and is oil-free and fragrance-free.” And if you’re looking for a drugstore option, she likes Neutrogena’s UltraSheer SPF 100 Broad Spectrum sunscreen. Don’t be afraid to try a few products to find the sunscreen that feels the most comfortable on your skin and still looks good under makeup — because, at the end of the day, the best sunscreen is the one you’re willing to wear on the regular.
If you’re looking for sunscreen to wear with makeup, TZR's executive editor Angela Melero, 35, says that Supergoop!’s (Re)setting 100% Mineral Powder SPF 35 is amazing. “And, since it's important to apply throughout the day, I find a powder SPF to be essential so I can dust it on on-the-go to keep my face protected and my makeup intact,” she says.
Skin Care Products For Your 30s: Embrace Vitamin C Serum
According to Dr. Linkner, once you enter your 30s, it’s time to up your anti-aging routine. “The best piece of advice I like to give when upgrading the routine is to integrate the right antioxidants into your routine,” she explains. “This means a focus on using a vitamin C product in your morning.”
If you’re not sure where to start, Dr. Weng has a few recommendations — and helpful pieces of advice. “Vitamin C products come in a variety of formulations, and serums are especially popular as they are light and layer well under makeup and sunscreen,” she explains. “Vitamin C is notoriously difficult to stabilize, so look for products containing ferulic acid which helps stabilize vitamin C in addition to its own antioxidant effects.” For this, she recommends Mymiel's Golden Hour Brightening Elixir. “It's formulated with a potent cocktail of vitamin C, vitamin E, ferulic acid, and niacinamide to repair and protect against environmental damage while fading hyperpigmentation.”
Dr. Weng says Drunk Elephant also has a great vitamin C serum, C-Firma, which in addition to vitamin C and ferulic acid, she notes also features pumpkin and pomegranate extract to provide light enzymatic resurfacing.
Skin Care Products For Your 30s: Apply A Retinoid
Dr. Weng says in your 30s, fine lines and crepey texture might become more prominent as a natural result of time and environmental exposures. “This is a great time to start incorporating anti-aging products such as retinoids, derived from vitamin A, into your skin care regimen if you haven't already,” she explains. “Retinoid products range from over-the-counter skin care to prescription formulations, [and] they help promote skin turnover and collagen production, ultimately supporting smoother and plumper skin.”
Whatever retinoid product you choose, Dr. Weng notes that it’s important to start slowly and work your way up as retinoids can cause irritation and dryness when you first begin using it. “I always recommend starting off with an application every three nights, and if you're doing okay, increase to every two nights after two weeks, and then increase to nightly after that if still OK.”
If you’re looking for a retinoid cream-based formula, consider Mymiel’s Honey Moon Night Repair Creme. According to Dr. Weng, the product is “formulated with retinol as well as kojic acid to help fade hyperpigmentation, combined with honey and botanical extracts to soothe any irritation.” And for those who prefer an oil formulation, the dermatologist says Sunday Riley's Luna Retinol Sleeping Night Oil is a great non-greasy option, not to mention the added blue tansy can help calm redness while you sleep.
Additionally, Melero says she points everyone to Mara Beauty’s Evening Primrose + Green Tea Algae Retinol Oil because it's truly magical. “At 35, retinol is a nightly ritual, and this formula addresses lines and texture issues without drying out my skin (which is a common reaction to some retinol formulas).”
Skin Care Products For Your 30s: Choose A Heavier Moisturizer
One common concern Dr. Weng has heard from her patients in their 30s is that their skin tends to get drier during this period in their lives. “While you may have gotten away with not using a moisturizer in your teens, it's important to incorporate that into your routine as your skin changes,” the dermatologist notes. “For oily skin, gel moisturizers and lotions are nice since they are light and dry quickly, but for drier skin, you need cream-based products or even ointments, which are thicker.” For those with dry, sensitive skin, she suggests trying Vanicream. “It's a very minimalistic moisturizer that is thicker without feeling greasy.”