When you hit your 30s, you may think you have decades before your skin starts looking like grandma’s. Wrinkles, bags, spots, and saggy skin surely aren’t in the cards until at least 50. The reality is that by your 30th birthday, you’re already in the midst of aging.
At such a tender age, your skin is already losing collagen. Your elastin isn’t as elastic as it was. You may notice fine lines, dark spots, and vertical wrinkles between your eyebrows. To add injury to insult, you may still be fighting to control the acne you had hoped you would have left behind by now.
Although no one can stop the signs of aging, you can delay them with proper intervention. You just need to step up your game with both a solid offense and a tough defense. Here’s what you should know about the best anti-aging routines and treatments for your 30s.
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Your Skin Is Acting Its Age
It has been said that from the moment we’re born, we begin to die. For most of us, thankfully, there are many years between. But it’s accurate that all our organs and processes turn a corner in our 30s. In fact, what happens at that point is a confusing mixture of hanging on to some conditions and growing into others.
For example, even if you have been battling acne since puberty, the war may continue into your 30s. Your skin is oblivious to the fact that you’re not a kid anymore. (Just so you know, adults can have acne into their 50s and beyond, so you aren’t alone.) Then, because your skin is drying up for all sorts of reasons addressed subsequently, you’re also noticing an increase in the number and depth of wrinkles plus patches of flaky skin. This juxtaposition may be baffling, but it’s natural.
If you want to understand the steps you can take in a healthy anti-aging prevention and treatment regimen, you should understand what’s happening to your body’s largest organ. In case you don’t know which organ that is — it’s your skin.
The speed and efficiency of all organs slow down as you age. But your 30s is perhaps the most tumultuous era of change. The reason most people don’t notice that change earlier is because their organs are still functioning better than what’s needed to just survive. For example, in your 20s, a healthy heart can pump 10 times the blood you need. But after you hit 30, you start to lose about 1% of that reserve every year.
The processes involved with having flawless skin also decline. Skin comprises three main layers. The epidermis is the top layer where wrinkles, furrows, spots, blemishes, and sags are visible. However, what happens out there depends on what’s happening in the dermis (the middle layer) and the hypodermis (the bottom layer).
See What Lies Beneath
The dermis layer accounts for 90% of skin’s thickness. It contains sweat glands and sebaceous glands. Sweat glands help regulate body temperature by producing water and electrolytes and sending them to the epidermis. When sweat glands slow production, your skin becomes drier. Sebaceous glands produce oils that lubricate the epidermis.
This middle layer is also where the collagen and elastin proteins are produced. Collagen keeps skin full and wrinkle-free, while elastin makes skin snap back into place. By age 30, collagen and elastin production decreases.
The dermis also distributes the flow of blood and nutrients to skin cells from the veins and arteries in the bottom layer, the hypodermis.
The breakdown of functions as you age are the intrinsic causes of visible skin changes. But the extrinsic factors are equally to blame. Sun exposure, water intake, diet, pollution, makeup, gravity, and smoking need to be considered in your anti-aging regimen. Fortunately, there is help to improve the appearance and health of the skin you have in the game.
Adapt to Age-Appropriate Skincare Solutions
To adjust to what’s happening to your skin in your 30s, you need to explore some age-appropriate treatments and prevention measures. There may be no magic formula to stop aging in its tracks. But there are some ways you can slow it down.
Cleansing your face in the morning and at night is one of the most important measures for skin health. Sweat, dead skin cells, dirt, pollution, makeup, and oils gather there and wreak havoc. Splashing a little water on the face isn’t enough. You will need a cleanser, but not just any cleanser will do. You need the right one for your skin.
As your skin begins losing elasticity in your 30s, your pores get larger. Research shows that in addition to age, having oily skin or acne makes matters worse. Larger pores provide larger spaces for those aforementioned gatherings.
If you’re still using a bar of soap or the cleanser you used when you were a teenager, you might need to find one that fits your skin now. With so many choices, you have options. Remember, a little trial and error is normal too. You might have to try a few cleansers before you find your favorite.
The difference between a serum and a cream is that serums usually don’t contain any moisturizing ingredients that help keep the water in your skin from evaporating. Most serums are water-based, which is why using them can be advantageous in areas where your skin is naturally oily.
Serums usually target collagen. They are formulated to increase collagen production which, in turn, could help delay the rapid collagen loss that begins in your 30s. Sun exposure and smoking accelerate collagen loss.
Topical vitamin C is an antioxidant that can boost collagen production in your skin. Serums that contain concentrated amounts of vitamin C may help stave off the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles that you’re beginning to notice. Your challenge will be finding the right one for you.
Topical retinoids are one of the most common go-to treatments for improving skin health. These compounds are vitamin A derivatives. The key role of vitamin A, another antioxidant, is to promote cell growth and healthy organ function. So, you can see why retinoid treatments can help your skin.
Topical tretinoin is a powerhouse prescription-strength retinoid. Not only can it treat mild to moderate acne, but those dark spots, caused by hyperpigmentation or melasma as well. But that’s not all. Tretinoin is also known for its ability to combat the visible signs of aging caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays, including fine lines and wrinkles. If you suffer from the acne-and-aging paradox in your 30s, this could work wonders.
Although topical tretinoin requires a prescription, another topical retinoid, adapalene, is now available over the counter. Adapalene’s age-fighting properties have not been as well-studied as tretinoin, although its acne-fighting ability has been. Your healthcare provider can help you determine which treatment is right for you.
While it is difficult to conduct dietary studies, some research over the past several years suggests that a diet rich in antioxidants may have a protective effect against the skin aging process. These antioxidants include vitamins A, C and E, selenium, zinc, polyphenols, and carotenoids. Vitamins A, C and E can be taken as vitamin supplements and found in “orange” foods, including carrots, oranges and grapefruit.
Beta-carotene, found in leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, cantaloupe, and winter squash, converts to vitamin A in the body. Then, there are the polyphenols, contained in nuts, berries, cocoa, olives, soybeans, coffee, and tea.
Diet is essential in your 30s, and swapping processed foods for those containing these antioxidants should become an integral part of your eating habits for your skin and overall health. The more of these antioxidant-rich foods you can incorporate into your diet, the better off your skin will be.
Before you began noticing wrinkles, sun damage, and dry skin in your 30s, skincare might not have been a priority. And if it was, your main concern was likely acne. If either was the case, you may not have used moisturizers as part of your daily routine, if at all. However, it’s time to start.
Although it seems counterintuitive to use moisturizers if you’re prone to breakouts, it’s not. Over-productive sebaceous glands can give you oily skin and pimples, but dry skin can also contribute to acne. When your skin is dry, those glands ramp up production to help. If it does, your propensity for acne will show.
In either case, you want to avoid clogging your pores, so you will need to find the right moisturizer. Look for terms like “non-comedogenic,” which means the product won’t clog pores. Then embrace the trial and error period. As you get older and your skin continues to age, you will likely need to change the formula you’re using from time to time.
The skin around your eyes is the thinnest and most sensitive your body has. It has little subcutaneous fat and collagen, and few sebaceous glands. Since those are the elements that keep your skin taut, it’s no wonder the first areas you may notice fine lines and wrinkles will be around your eyes.
Then, there are those dark circles or puffiness around the eyes. Although those can be attributed to genetics, lack of sleep, or allergies, it also happens as part of aging. The right eye cream may be the answer.
You have a number of choices in eye creams. Some moisturize or build collagen to reduce the size of those crow’s feet. Others are designed to lighten dark circles and tighten loose skin. If you haven’t started using one yet, it’s time to begin exploring your options.
You know that too much sun without protection isn’t good for you. Sun damage is the number one way to hasten the aging of your skin, not to mention vastly increasing your risk of skin cancer. If your parents always slathered you with sunscreen when you were young and you’ve continued the habit, you’ll fare better than others. If you do nothing else in your 30s, use sunscreen.
The damage UV rays do to your skin is referred to as “photoaging.” Exposure damages the collagen and elastin in your skin, which can give your skin a “worn leather” appearance. The right mineral or chemical sunscreen now will help reduce the signs of photoaging on your skin.
Even if you use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher when you’re spending time in the sun, it’s not enough. You should be applying SPF of at least 30 daily if you go outside at all. Many makeup foundation formulas and moisturizers include sunscreen for everyday use, so don’t leave home without it.
Of course, there are many anti-aging procedures a dermatologist can perform to make the effects of aging less noticeable. From Botox to lasers to plastic surgery, most trouble spots can be filled, cleared, stretched, or stitched.
If you’re in your 30s, you probably don’t need anything too drastic or invasive. Chemical peels can tackle dark spots, scars, wrinkles, some acne, and sun damage, and can brighten skin. Botox injections temporarily paralyze the muscles whose repeated contractions cause “expression line” wrinkles over time, such as frown lines on your forehead and smile lines (“crow’s feet”) at the outer corner of your eyes.
Although these procedures can be effective, they don’t permanently stop the changes of aging. Moreover, they can be expensive and run the risk of infection, inflammation, skin damage, and other complications. You might try the aforementioned skincare prevention and treatment measures first to see if they make a difference.
Start Taking Care of Your Skin Sooner Rather Than Later
Aging gracefully usually needs a little help. Fortunately, there are ways you can initiate the process in your 30s and keep it updated with every decade.
The important step is getting started right away, before age, gravity, and other factors take control of your skin’s health. There are science-based anti-aging skincare regimens for every age, every skin type, and every circumstance. Find yours, and look younger than your years in your 30s and beyond.