What Every Woman in Her 30s Should Know About Aging Skin

It doesn't take much to look your best, no matter your number. Here's a concise (yet comprehensive) skin-care syllabus.

Photo by Paul Westlake

Your focus now should be on preventing fine lines and discoloration due to sun damage, as well as treating adult acne, a condition that affects 50 percent of 30-somethings, says Jessica Wu, a Los Angeles dermatologist. (Interestingly, of that 50 percent, only half battled acne as teens.) Even if you don't suffer from adult acne, you will benefit from deep-cleaning products, since your skin is probably oilier than your mother's was at this age. "Normal used to be the most common skin type among women in their 30s, but now it's combination skin," says Schultz. This uptick in sebum production may be the result of the same factors causing the spike in adult acne—namely stress, hormonal imbalances, and the increasing assaults of pollution.

Your Simple Skin-Care Strategy


Gentle Cleanser
Wu says to opt for something mild over medicated at this age to avoid disrupting the skin's barrier (a.k.a. its shield against external irritants). Try Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber De-Tox Foaming Cleanser ($23, amazon.com).

Antioxidant Serum
Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, help fight off the free radicals that accelerate wrinkling. They can also reduce inflammation, diminishing breakout-related redness, says
Fredric Brandt, a dermatologist with practices in New York City and Miami. Try Skinceuticals Phloretin CF with vitamin C ($162, dermstore.com).

In addition to preventing fine lines and wrinkles, using an SPF of at least 30 daily will keep pimple scars from darkening, a common problem for those with deeper skin tones, says Wu. Try La Roche–Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra-Light Fluid Sunscreen ($30, ulta.com).


Gentle Cleanser
Most dermatologists say you can use the same cleanser morning and night. And when you're just too tired, wipe your face with a cleansing cloth to keep pores in the clear. Try Burt's Bees Cucumber & Sage Facial Cleansing Towelettes ($6, drugstore.com).

Exfoliating Treatment
A retinoid product—or, if you can't take the sting, one with glycolic acid—is the best way to address acne while staving off lines. Try StriVectin Advanced Retinol Intensive Night Moisturizer ($112, strivectin.com) or Olay Regenerist Night Resurfacing Elixir with glycolic acid ($31, amazon.com).