Ah, the thirties. Often hailed as one of the best decades ever, it’s full of many life changes, excitement, and sadly, the initial impact of aging. Though being a 30-something does come with a new sense of self and confidence, it’s often a busy period, as many are raising children, excelling in their careers — or both. While you may be short on time, you still need to prioritize your skincare routine year-round, but particularly in the summer, when sun damage can wreak havoc on your skin. After all, it needs a little more TLC than it did at 21.
As you approach your 30s, skin cell turnover, as well as production of collagen and elastin, begin to slow down, says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Zain Husain, MD, FAAD. Why is this meaningful? He explains skin cell turnover is the process your body undergoes to replace shedding dead skin cells with newer, younger cells. So, this slower regeneration of cells leads to buildup at the skin surface, which can cause acne, milia, hyperpigmentation, or uneven skin texture. Plus, in your late 30s, you start to lose subcutaneous fat in your face, which can emphasize dark circles and allow those pesky fine lines and wrinkles to show. This is because your face starts to become thinner, making these signs of aging more apparent.
To ensure you’re taking the best care of your skin this summer, practice these derm-recommended habits:
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater.
While we may appreciate how our skin looks sunkissed, any type of sun exposure isn’t good news. This is true at any age, no matter the season, but particularly in your 30s, Dr. Husain says. After all, aging will start to be noticeable as we inch toward our 40s, and potentially even sooner if we don’t use a daily broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. “Tanning in the sun or in tanning beds can accelerate the appearance of early aging signs. The sun’s harmful UV rays can cause damage to the skin, even on rainy and cloudy days,” he continues. “This damage can lead to skin cancers, fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.”
When you’re slathering it on in the morning, don’t forget any spots — from your ears and lips to hands and feet. If you are actively under the hot sunshine, make sure to reapply as suggested on the sunscreen label.
Since cellular turnover slows down in your 30s, you need to incorporate practices that nudge it to move faster. One of the most effective ways to do this is through a regular exfoliation process. And while you can do this year-round, it’s slightly more important in the summer since your pores are often clogged with sweat, sunscreen, and other bacteria from being outside. Dermatologist Dr. Kristin M. Baird, MD says it’s best to stick to a gentle mask and chemical exfoliants. However, if you have sensitive skin, double-check the ingredients to ensure they aren’t harsh or irritating. Should you experience discomfort, Dr. Baird suggests also doing a moisturizing facial mask once a week too.
Don’t skip your moisturizer.
True or false, even if your skin feels oily or the weather is hot and humid, moisturizers are still essential. According to Dr. Husain, this is absolutely true since moisturizers keep the stratum corneum hydrated, which is the outermost layer of your skin, preventing irritation and dryness by keeping water locked in.
“The amount of hyaluronic acid your body produces decreases with age, which can make your skin drier than normal. The hyaluronic acid binds water to collagen in the skin,” he continues. “Additionally, with age comes the loss of collagen and elastin, which leads to a loss of elasticity of the skin, causing your face to look less full. By helping your skin retain water, it keeps your skin plump and hydrated.”
Use products with retinol.
In addition to moisturizer, another biggie for your 30s is retinol, Dr. Baird says. This is essential vitamin A, and it helps to decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, brown spots, and uneven skin tone. During the summer, you’ll only want to use this product once a week since it can cause dryness, flaking and irritation. Also, retinol does make your skin more sensitive to sun exposure, sometimes creating pigmentation issues. That’s why a little goes a long way, she says, so begin with a dime-sized amount for your entire face. Once the temperatures have cooled, you can chat with your dermatologist about upping the frequency if your skin responds positively.
Use your day and night creams religiously.
This summer is a smart time to get into a morning and evening cream routine if you haven’t already. Not only does this get us into the practice of washing our face before and after a day in the sun, but it gives it the nutrients it needs. This will vary by product, but many include vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin C, and antioxidants that boost vitality and radiance. With day and night creams, we want to use products that stimulate the synthesis of the substances we start losing after the 30s, like collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid, recommends Virginia Lara, the director of spa and salon at Encore Boston Harbor.
“Also, we want to make sure that they are able to activate or deactivate specific receptors during the rejuvenation process as well as improve the communication in between skin cells,” she continues. “If you are not doing it already, do not forget to start using eye creams and eye gels, too.”
Reconsider your lifestyle choices.
As you become a 30-something, it’s time to reconsider your lifestyle decisions since they now will have a direct impact on our skin, warns dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Chwalek. “Poor diets, lack of sleep and too much sun can result in accelerated aging,” she says. This is true for all people, but it could be even more impactful for women since hormones will also impact our skin. Whether you’re trying to get pregnant, currently pregnant, or taking fertility treatments, all of these can lead to breakouts, Dr. Chwalek warns.
Bottom line? Everything changes when we walk into our 30’s, externally: our life, stress levels, the place where we live, contamination, eating habits, work, and internally our skin may start showing signs of pigmentation due to sun exposure earlier in life, Lara says. So now is the time to make your skin a priority to set yourself up for a glowing complexion for life.
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