The Best Skin Care Routine for Your 30s

There’s nothing easy or exceptionally welcoming about closing the door on your twenties and entering the pearly gates of your 30… but don’t let the dawn of a new decade worry you! After all, age is but a number, ladies. You probably still feel as young as your college self, but the one thorn in your side is an ever-changing complexion.

Whether or not skin care has been your priority in the past, anti-aging collagen treatments and correcting creams suddenly seem to call out your name whenever you're stocking up at the drugstore. While there is no need to panic about fine lines or sunken eyes, there’s nothing wrong with taking some preventative measures to combat the signs of aging. If you’re not sure what’s going on with your changing complexion, here we’ll explore everything from how your skin is changing to what the best skin care routine for your 30s should look like! Just click on a link to get see your way to younger skin.

How is my skin changing?

Ch-ch-ch-changes can be scary, especially when they’re happening in areas you’d least expect them. By the time you hit your 30s, you may start to notice that your skin is looking a little duller than usual. No, you’re not going crazy—there’s science behind it! From your childhood to your late 20s, your skin cell turnover (the rate at which skin cells shed and regrow) cycled as fast as every 14 days. In your 30s, your cycle turnover slows down, exposing new, fresh skin cells every 28-35 days. In layman’s terms, your skin simply takes longer to renew dead tissue, leaving your skin looking a little lackluster.

Best skin care regimen for 30 year old's new skin cells


Since your skin is harboring dead cells longer, you may notice it start to feel drier than usual. According to Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, M.D., board-certified dermatologist, “It takes longer for the top layer of the skin to slough off, giving a more dull and dry quality.” Levin further noted that the “production of hydrating factors in the skin such as hyaluronic acid slows down and break down increases.”

Have you begun noticing that your face now looks a little different in photos? You can’t quite put your finger on it, but somehow your skin appears less plump? Again, you’re not going crazy, and there is science behind it. Those pesky hormones that once did your skin good in your 20s decrease dramatically in your 30s. The drop in estrogen and hyaluronic acid production can lead to losing volume in your cheekbones and along your jawline. Proteins such as collagen and elastin also break down faster with age and are slower to reproduce. This reduction in speed is what causes wrinkles, crow’s feet, under eye bags, and laugh lines to form more rapidly.

With the overall slowdown of your skin’s usual chemical processes comes a slew of other skin-aging frustrations, such as:

  • Flushed red skin

Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that affects over 16 million Americans. Commonly appearing as women age into their 30s, rosacea manifests itself as a constant facial flush that can also appear on the ears, chest, and back. Depending on the severity of the rosacea, it can also thicken and mar your skin with raised bumps. Women with rosacea should seek an anti-aging skin care routine that caters to their sensitive skin.

Girl showing best skin care routine for 30s
  • Random dark spots

Hyperpigmentation comes with the decades of UV exposure you’ve enjoyed over the span of your lifetime. These random dark spots are caused by low-grade sun exposure that send your melanocyte cells into overdrive. With your skin cell turnover suddenly much slower, you’ll find it takes a lot longer for these dark spots to fade without a little extra help.

  • Cystic acne

We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but your days of dealing with acne may not be over. Back in your formative teenage years, your hormones were all over the place, working to transform you from a child into a young woman. Now into your 30s, your hormones are once again all out of whack and can result in cystic acne. Since your skin isn't as resilient as it used to be, it’s far more difficult to figure out a skin care regimen for your 30s than your acne-prone teenage years.

What are the essentials for my anti-aging skincare routine?

Wondering how to prevent aging skin? The first step to dialing back the clock is making sure you have a complete toolbox equipped with the essential products. At a minimum, your skincare routine should include these five necessities:

  • Mild cleanser

Dermatologists recommend opting for milder cleansers over medicated cleansers that could cause more damage than restoration. Keep in mind that skin becomes more sensitive with age, so being gentle to your skin has a long-lasting payoff.

  • Antioxidant serum

Packed with concentrated active ingredients like vitamin C, algae, and hyaluronic acid, antioxidant serums work to fight off free radicals that cause visible wrinkling. Antioxidants also harness the power of pollution protection—keeping your pores safe from anything nasty in the air.

  • Exfoliant

One of the most vital pieces to your anti-aging skin care routine is proper exfoliation. Exfoliants work to speed your skin cell turnover cycle back up by sloughing off dead skin and stimulating collagen and elastin production for a revitalized glow.

Collagen and elastin decreases in 30 year old skin
  • Moisturizer

Hydration is key in rejuvenating your skin to its former glory! Keeping a tube of moisturizer on your person at all times of the day ensures that the moment you feel any dryness can be fixed with a dollop of skin cream. Look for moisturizers with vitamin c, hydroxy acids, tea extracts, and retinol for the best anti-aging action.

  • Sunscreen

Fight the development of dark spots by having a protective layer of sunscreen on whenever you expect sun exposure. Whether it’s sunny or cloudy, make sure you’re always wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. This is especially important for women with rosacea.

  • Bonus: Toner

Though your skincare routine could be complete without this bonus item, a toner is a wonderful addition that really ties your regimen together. Though it is dependant on your skin type, toners are capable of soothing and tightening your complexion while balancing out any out any excess oil production. If you have sensitive skin, toner could have the reverse effect and might cause more harm than good. Be sure to have a good idea of your skin type and its unique needs before dousing on the toner.

What is the best skincare routine for my 30s?

Maintaining the most effective skin care regimen starts with commitment. To put a pause on your biological clock. reverse the effects of aging, and keep your skin looking bright, full, and youthful, you’ll need to make time for a twice-a-day cleansing routine to properly eliminate toxins and rebalance your skin. This step-by-step regimen takes all of our anti-aging tips and puts them into a simple, 15-minute morning and night routine!

Morning Routine

Step #1: Wash your face

Remember to always be gentle. Work your daily cleanser into your skin with your fingertips using circular motions. Rinse off with warm water and a soft, clean cotton towel.

Step #2: Exfoliate your skin

Take a quarter-sized dose of your favorite exfoliant and gently apply to your face with the same circular motion. Be careful to avoid applying too much near your eye area, as most exfoliants contain ingredients that could cause irritation. Massage the exfoliant into your skin for 30 seconds to a minute before rinsing off with warm water. Pat your skin dry with a clean towel. If your skin is tolerant of toner, apply it with a cotton pad before continuing to the next step.

Step #3: Apply serum

A little goes a long way with a bottle of serum. Apply a thin, light layer of anti-aging antioxidant serum to every inch of your face.

Step #4: Rehydrate with moisturizer

Even though exfoliants feel great and leave your skin healthy and clean, they will leave your skin dry if you forget to follow up with a layer of moisturizer.

Step #5: Protect with sunscreen

Creams should always be applied from the lightest fluids to the heaviest, so sunscreen should be the last product applied behind serums and moisturizers. Apply a generous amount of broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect your face from harmful sun exposure. You can also look into serums with SPF, eye concealer with SPF, and foundation with SPF for added protection! Makeup with protective ingredients may provide enough UV protection to keep your skin safe from dark spots, but remember to reapply your SPF every two hours as needed.

Night Routine

Your nighttime skin care routine remains pretty simple in your 30s. These three steps will prep you and your skin for a good night’s rest so you can wake up to a youthful complexion:

Step #1: Wash your face

Step #2: Exfoliate your skin

Step #3: Rehydrate with moisturizer

Bottom Line

Maintaining a regular skin care routine in your 30s takes a little bit of research and a lot of commitment, but there’s nothing better than feeling radiant in your own skin!