Keep skin looking radiant, healthy and well-rested throughout your 30s with these glow-boosting tips and product picks
For many of us, turning 30 is a momentous time as we can no longer get away with being called a ‘young adult’. And there are some things that are inevitable for most of us as we enter our fourth decade (and we don’t mean marriage, a mortgage and kids).
"As you hit your 30s, you may find your skin becomes less elastic and you might also find it’s slightly drier or oiler,’" explains Dr Sonia Khorana, a GP with a special interest in dermatology. "This is because the rate of collagen and elastin production lowers."
With that in mind, you might be looking to make some tweaks to your morning and evening skincare routines to help better protect and hydrate your skin. If that’s you, we’ve got you covered.
From the formulations and ingredients to look out for to the answers to your most Googled questions, here’s our definitive guide to building a 30s skincare routine to keep skin healthy in the months and years to come.
Why is it important to have a skincare routine in your 30s?
As with any age, sticking to a routine will better arm skin to deal with the changes going on beneath the surface and help protect it against external aggressors, such as UV rays and pollution. "It’s important to have a skincare routine in your 30s to help preserve collagen, as well as stimulate collagen and elastin production," says Dr Khorana.
Is it OK to use products targeted at anti-ageing in your 30s?
"Absolutely," says Dr Khorana. However, the ‘aim should be healthy skin’.
"I don’t like using the term 'anti-ageing' as ageing is a natural process and a privilege," she adds. Instead, Dr Khorana recommends ditching the quest for flawless skin as "skin will always have pores and texture, and this is totally normal", and focus on using targeted skincare products that contain effective actives to help skin look well-rested, hydrated and glowing.
Is it too late to start a skincare routine in your 30s?
You’ll be glad to hear that age limits don’t apply when it comes to finding a skincare routine that works for you. "It’s never 'too late' to start investing in your skincare," says Dr Khorana. "Prevention is better than cure, so the earlier you start taking care of your skin, the better."
"In fact, your 30s may be the perfect time to start incorporating active ingredients so you can target specific concerns."
What is the best skincare for your 30s?
Thanks to the wide range of information and products available, there’s never been a more exciting time to shop for skincare. Or a more confusing one. Fortunately, Dr Khorana has some useful pointers to get us going.
As a starting point, aim for: cleanser, serum, moisturiser and sunscreen in the mornings. In the evenings, try: cleanser, serum, moisturiser. From there, consider adding products, such as eye creams and face masks, and mixing up your exfoliators to further tailor your routine to your concerns and needs.
Look for actives in your products that are well-researched to ensure your money is well spent. Dr Khorana recommends the following:
Sunscreen: A must-have for skin health. Although usually at the end of your morning routine, it should be your starting point when it comes to building one due to its wide range of benefits. "It helps preserve collagen and helps prevent skin cancer, signs of premature ageing, pigmentation and dark marks," says Dr Khorana. Also, certain actives such as retinoids and AHAs can make skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays, making sunscreen even more of an essential, if you choose to add these to your skincare regime.
Vitamin C: "In the morning, I’d recommend incorporating vitamin C into your routine," says Dr Khorana. "It helps improve brightness and build collagen."
Retinoids: "Using a retinoid-based serum or cream is a great addition to your evening skincare routine in your 30s as it encourages skin cell renewal, collagen production, exfoliation, helps reduce the appearance of pores and regulates oil," says Dr Khorana. "It’s a superhero ingredient for me."
Dr Khorana’s other useful dos and don’ts for helping skin look its best in your 30s
• Ditch face wipes and use a cleanser. Save wipes for those SOS moments (think festivals and drunken late nights) and invest in a good cleansing routine that removes every last scrap of end-of-day grime and make-up.
• Look for products that are gentle with your skin and respect your skin barrier. When it comes to actives, such as retinoids, start off with lower percentage concentrations and gradually increase strength and frequency over time. Start once a week and try to avoid applying them with other actives.
• Focus on consistency and don’t jump on every skincare trend on social media – do what works for you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the amount of skincare info out there, strip back your routine and focus on the basics.
• Incorporate ingredients based on your skin concerns and treat one concern at a time. This will help reduce the risk of skin irritation.
• Know that expensive does not mean better or more effective. More choice means there’s something for every budget.
The must-have skincare products to use in your 30s
From cleansers to serums and more, here are the staples worth adding to your skincare routine.
The best cleansers to use in your 30s
Try: CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser with Salicylic Acid, £12.50
• Size: 236ml
Containing exfoliating salicylic acid and with a non-comedogenic formula (meaning it’s less likely to clog pores), this is Dr Khorana’s top cleanser pick for oily and congestion-prone skin. It also contains nourishing ceramides to help prevent skin feeling stripped.
Try: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, £14.99
• Size: 473ml
• Doesn’t clog pores
Another top pick of Dr Khorana’s that works a treat for those prone to sensitivity (which can happen to the best of us when we start using active ingredients like retinol for the first time), thanks to a conditioning blend of niacinamide, panthenol and glycerin.
Try: Garnier Micellar Water Facial Cleanser, £1.99
• Size: 100ml
Whether you spent the day barefaced or in complete glamour mode, a first cleanse can be an effective way to remove whatever dirt or make-up remains on your skin come night. Garnier makes micellar waters for a whole host of skin types, including sensitive. Plus, its reusable make-up remover eco pads, £8.99, are a great sustainable alternative to cotton pads.
The best day serums to use in your 30s
Try: Olay Vitamin C + AHA24 Day Gel Serum, £38.00
• Size: 40ml
For a morning pep talk for tired skin, Dr Khorana recommends this brightening serum. Containing goodies, such as vitamin C, AHA and niacinamide, it helps improve tone and texture for a more radiant appearance.
Try: VICHY Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum, £33
If dehydration is a key concern of yours, a hyaluronic acid serum could be the perfect addition to your routine. Instantly plumping, it’s particularly great when applied onto damp skin, followed by a moisturiser to help seal it in.
Try: La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C 10 Serum, £38
• Size: 30ml
If dull skin is getting you down, vitamin C is the way to go. Aside from offering something of a lightbulb moment to your complexion, it helps with concerns such as dark spots and aids collagen synthesis. This serum offers a triple threat, ingredients-wise, as it also contains hydrating hyaluronic acid and clarifying salicylic acid.
Try: The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Eye Serum
• Size 15ml
Do you find that you need more than just a coffee to help wake up those tired eyes in the morning? This eye serum gives you an extra dose of caffeine plus a blend of peptides to help rehydrate the delicate skin around the eye and helps to improve the look of fine lines, dark circles and puffiness. Simply pop a small amount onto your fingers and gently press the product into the area around the eyes – think any area that would be covered by sunglasses.
The best day creams to use in your 30s
Try: Simple Kind to Skin Vital Vitamin Day Cream SPF15, £5
• Size: 50ml
When it comes to your day cream, simplicity is best (leave the targeted side of things to your serum and other more specialised treatments). This pick’s blend of pro-vitamin B5, vitamin E, glycerin and bisabolol fits the bill brilliantly for helping to keep skin hydrated, soothed and smooth.
Try: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Sensitive Moisturiser, £16.50
• Size: 40ml
If you’ve got dry and sensitive skin, this moisturiser is for you. So caring that it’s even suitable for babies, the stripped-back formula contains glycerin and squalane to help hydrate and relieve signs of discomfort, such as tightness and itching.
Try: No7 Protect & Perfect Intense ADVANCED Day Cream, £24.95
• Size: 50ml
If you’re looking for a moisturiser that has a few more skin-smoothing benefits thrown in, try this pick from No7. As well as hyaluronic acid, it contains the brand’s Matrixyl 3000+ complex, rice peptides and re-energising ginseng extract to help combat signs of fatigue.
The best sunscreens to use in your 30s
Try: Garnier Ambre Solaire Super UV Anti-Dark Spots & Anti-Pollution Face Fluid SPF50+, £8
• Size: 40ml
We love this sunscreen’s non-greasy, fluid-like texture that melts into skin without a trace. Particularly great for oily complexions, it contains vitamin E and hyaluronic acid to help nourish while it protects. No wonder it’s a go-to of Dr Khorana’s.
Try: La Roche-Posay Anthelios UVMune 400 Invisible Fluid SPF50, £18
• Size: 50ml
• Water-, sweat- and sand-resistant
This non-sticky facial SPF is fast becoming a summer staple of ours. Hard-wearing without feeling heavy, it’s an invisible shield against UV rays and is suitable for a range of skin types.
The best night serums to use in your 30s
Try: Boots Ingredients Retinol Serum, £7
• Size: 30ml
Retinoids are a superstar ingredient in Dr Khorana’s opinion and this serum proves you don’t need to spend a fortune to add it to your skincare routine. Containing retinol, a type of retinoid, it’s formulated to help skin appear more even and improve elasticity. Start slow and build up gradually to reap the rewards with minimal irritation.
Try: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane, £12.40
• Size: 30ml
As well as helping to smooth skin, this serum’s serving of moisturising squalane seeks to relieve dryness and irritation. A great find for those looking to address dullness or texture.
The best night creams to use in your 30s
Try: Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Max Night Cream, £39.99
• Size: 50ml
If you prefer the texture of a retinol moisturiser over a retinol serum, Dr Khorana recommends this luxe formula. Sitting alongside retinol are a bevy of skin hydrators, including vitamin B3 and glycerin, to leave skin feeling and looking brighter in the morning.
Try: CeraVe PM Facial Moisturising Lotion, £13.50
• Size: 52ml
If you’re looking for a no-frills approach to your night cream, this pick’s a must. As well as conditioning ceramides, it contains calming niacinamide to help you wake up to a smoother and less stressed-out complexion.
Try: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermallergo Night Cream, £20
• Size: 40ml
For times when skin’s feeling a little delicate, reach for this night cream, specially formulated for when sensitivity strikes. Designed to help reduce redness, dryness, itchiness and tightness, it’s the perfect option to sit on top of your more potent serums.