Your 30s should be a decade of more confidence than ever. You’ve lived a little, you know what you want, and you finally have the wherewithal to go out there and get it… shoot, you’ve probably already gotten some of it! Unfortunately, your skin still remembers some of the mistakes you made along the way (read: not hydrating properly, pulling all-nighters, heading to the beach without sunscreen) – not to mention you’ve now crossed the threshold and what lies beyond is the unavoidable aging process, poised to rear its graying, wrinkling head.
Good news! You can still turn this cutaneous ship around. Yes, your dermal needs are changing. Neglect will no longer cut it. You are going to have to step up your skincare game if you want to keep turning heads and presenting as the picture of health for years to come. But luckily, it’s totally doable. Here are six easy skin tips to keep your aging skin glowing well beyond your 30s.
1. Don’t get blindsided by birth control
So far the biggest skin issue of my 30s has been managing a form of hyperpigmentation called melasma. I recently had an appointment with Dr. Ray Jalian, a dermatologist at Dr. Rebecca Fitzgerald’s Los Angeles office specializing in sun-damaged skin. As we discussed treatment options (skincare, chemical peels, the Clear + Brilliant laser), I lamented how I wish I would’ve known that the getting back on the pill could trigger melasma.
Dr. Jalian nodded and said many of his melasma patients say exactly the same thing. Make sure you’re well-informed about this potential side effect before you begin taking new contraceptives. If you have a vain aversion to brown spots (hi, that’s me), you’ll want to stick to a non-hormonal method or talk to your doctor about going on a progestin-only mini pill.
2. Retinol is your new best friend
You don’t have to go from zero to Rx retinoids overnight. You can get started with a nightly retinol cream or serum though. Evening skincare is especially important because skin absorbs more nutrients when the body is at rest. Retinol does it all, according to New York dermatologist Dr. Kavita Mariwalla for Women’s Health, “It increases cell cycle turnover, it also helps promote collagen and in doing that, it decreases pore size. It’s also a scavenger of sun damage.” And bonus: retinol can help with adult acne. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship…
3. Skip retinol if you’re preggo or nursing
Thirtysomething women are now busier making babies than their twentysomething counterparts, but prescription-strength retinoids are a potential threat to developing fetuses, so pregnancy or breastfeeding means nixing the retinol treatment. Opt for safer skincare ingredients instead – like soy, vitamin A, kojic acid, and/or glycolic acid.
Fun fact about my nemesis melasma: it’s colloquially known as “the mask of pregnancy” since changing hormones send pigment levels into overdrive in upwards of 70 percent of women. If you’re with child, minimize your risk by limiting sun exposure and slathering on sunscreen.
4. Develop a new relationship with the sun
Many of us in our 30s have decades of summer blunders under our belts. But if you find yourself newly obsessed with maintaining a youthful visage, you need to carpe diem on the sunsmarts stat. Yes, basking in sunshine feels so good it’s literally addictive. However, if you’re looking to avoid skin cancer and wrinkling up like an old prune, you’re going to have to be an adult and play it safe in the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s UV rays are strongest.
Obviously wearing sunglasses helps curtail fine lines around the eyes – get religious about wearing them, even in the winter. Turning 30 also earns you an ADMIT ONE to the wide-brimmed hat society, so you’ll want to add that to your going outdoors repertoire, as well. Trust that any short-term embarrassment will be greatly eclipsed by the long-term gains in your skin game, besides there are actually some stylish head toppers out there!
Last but certainly not least, is your new SPF manifesto. Wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is imperative at this age. Upgrade to the physical variety with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which is milder on sensitive skin, plus it does a better job of keeping out pesky wavelengths of light that contribute to brown spots and wrinkles.
5. Sweat your way to youthful skin
Exercise does the body good in myriad ways, from lung function to mental health, and now you can add healthy skin to its list of benefits too. Studies have indicated that exercise is more effective at keeping skin taut and gray hairs away than topical salves. The reaction of researchers was particularly cute. In a New York Times article, Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics and exercise science said:
“I don’t want to over-hype the results, but, really, it was pretty remarkable to see.”
Dr. Tarnopolsky said that under a microscope, the volunteers’ skin “looked like that of a much younger person, and all that they had done differently was exercise.” If you need a nudge in the workout department, the possibility of younger-looking skin is motivation enough to lace up those sneakers!
6. Feed your face
Perhaps the best way to fight against collagen loss is from the inside. Hate to break it to you, but you’re not in college anymore and a diet consisting primarily of soda, booze, and french fries is not the kind of nutrition a mature woman needs. To stay fresh-faced, drink lots of water and aim to get plenty of antioxidants – which neutralize harmful free radicals brought on by sunlight, pollution, and heat – via platefuls of fruits and veggies.
OK, now share your secrets… what are easy skin tips you can’t live without?