Growing up I was lucky with my skin. In fact, it was a damn miracle that my skin didn’t break out daily considering – confession time – I never cleansed, moisturised or wore SPF until I hit my early 20s. And whilst I have my mum to largely thank for clear skin (honestly genetics play a big part), my resistance to adopt SPF into my daily regime left me with pigmentation surrounding the lower half of my face.
When I finally did dip my toe into the ocean of skin care, my key goal was “get your skin to a point where you can go makeup-free and feel comfortable.”
In my 20s, skin care was all about experimentation with the goal of finding a routine that I could stick with.
After many years of trying different products, almost burning my face off a few times (oops) and finally finding an SPF I actually like I managed to find a decent routine that helped to make me look less like I had a melasma coloured moustache.
In my early 20s, my routine was simple. A gel cleanser, Vitamin C serum, and SPF in the morning. Some makeup wipes, that same gel cleanser, a face scrub, and some moisturiser in the evening. (Spoiler: those have now been firmly swapped out for an oil-based cleanser which not only breaks down makeup faster but is roughly 10,000 times better for the environment.)
In my late 20s, I began noticing new lines… everywhere. I knew I needed to shake things up. And now a few months into my 30s, I can proudly say that my goal of going ‘makeup-free’ and being comfortable and confident with my skin - even when it has bad days - has not only been ticked off but has become my beauty ethos.
It's been a journey to get to this point. Both mentally and financially (RIP to all the products that promised they’d work but never did). So here are some of my top tips for approaching skin care as you head into your 30s.
1. Go slowly with Vitamin A
If there’s one thing you take away from this article, let it be this: integrate Vitamin A into your routine SLOWLY.
If you’re not already using retinoids, they are a great idea to ramp up your routine in your 30s as they can slow the breakdown of collagen (the thing that keeps your skin plump and bouncy) and minimise the appearance of wrinkles. However if you go too quickly you’ll be treated to a whole slew of new skin concerns, namely, inflammation and dryness. Two things you definitely want to avoid.
2. Listen to your skin
Becoming in tune with your skin is SO important. Your 20s are for experimentation and your 30s are for understanding. Yes, having a solid routine is great but when you start introducing more actives (retinoids, AHAs, and the like), you need to allow room for the unknown.
For example, if it’s a retinoid night, but your skin is inflamed and itchy, are you going to slather on an ingredient that is known to cause dryness and make your skin more sensitive? Nope. Give your skin a break. Change your Vitamin A night and give your skin what she needs: Moisture and hydration to soothe, recover and repair. Then when she’s bouncy, get right back on the retinoids. Learn to adapt with your skin and what life throws at you and I promise you, the relationship you have with your skin will change, for the better.
3. Don’t skip your body care
You’ve heard of the phrase ‘your face stops at your boobs,’ right? Well – why stop there? Body care is the most underrated skin category there is. It’s often neglected in your 20s but your body deserves the same amount of nourishment and care as your face, so consider making it a regular part of your routine. Glycerin, squalene and shea butter are a powerhouse trio for deep hydration if you’re looking for a place to start.
Pro tip! If you’ve got actives in your bathroom cupboard that your face can’t handle, recycle them for your body. Run them across your problem areas once a week to help cellular turnover and keep your skin ready for some post-lockdown fun.
4. Don’t underestimate the power of masks
In my 20s, I did what TikTokers do now: I mixed up yoghurt, honey and even lemon juice (yes, LEMON JUICE, which by no means should you ever do if you value your face) into a home-made mask in hopes of relaxing. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t work. And as a result, for a while in my 20s, I ditched masks altogether. Then last year, lockdown 1.0 hit, and my monthly facial turned into a yearly facial. Armed with years of skin care and ingredient knowledge, I began to hunt for masks that would make me forget about the world’s problems and transport me to my happy place.
In my opinion, there are two masks you need in your beauty arsenal: A clay mask and a sheet mask. Here’s why: whether your skin type is technically dry, oily or combo, at some point in time your skin is going to hold excess oil (you thank your hormones for that) and that’s where a trusty clay mask will come in. Clay masks help draw out excess oil to fight off congestion and give your pores a real thorough clear out.
Sheet masks, on other hand, are incredibly useful for a fast hit of glowier, juicier skin. Think: Pre-event, post-flight, or anytime your face needs a quick dose of TLC. Pro tip! To really get the most out of your mask, add any excess liquid to the back of your neck and decolletage.
5. Never skip your SPF.
This isn’t so much a 30s routine tip as it is a lifelong one. Protecting your skin from UV damage is crucial at all ages, and especially as you begin to incorporate more actives into your routine. Use it everyday. No arguments.