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The Three Most Important Steps for Skincare in your 30s

A few simple steps can set you up for bright, beautiful skin for the rest of your life.

There’s a lot that happens to us mentally, physically and spiritually in our 30s—generally we start getting serious about adulthood, we get better at whatever it is we do, and we walk through the world with more confidence and purpose than we did in our 20s. It’s also the time to pay close attention to our skin. Steven Camp, MD, medical director of OrangeTwist Dallas, and a double board-certified plastic and general surgeon, talks about what changes will be coming your way and how to manage them.

Dr. Camp says the three most important things for people in their 30s are using a great cleanser that doesn’t strip your skin of oil; making sure you protect it every day with a good medical-grade sunscreen that not only gives you coverage but hydrates the skin; and using a vitamin C serum to boost your skin’s sheen and even out some early pigment issues.

Question: What is happening to people’s skin when they turn 30 and throughout their 30s as opposed to their 20s?

Dr. Camp: As you move through different decades in life, you start noticing that things don’t bounce back the way you remembered even five, 10 or 15 years ago. In our 30s we see the signs of neglect from our teenage years and 20s, whether it’s excessive sun exposure, lack of appropriate daily cleansing or other protections of our skin. That’s when damage starts to show up.

Anybody who spends a little bit of extra time out in the sun or at the beach trying to get that bronzed tan will notice crinkling lines, a dullness to their skin, and even some changes with brown spots and other sun spots. People start noticing that their skin doesn’t have the brightness it used to—an overall lack of a supple, healthy quality to it.

The 30s is a decade where we become keenly aware of what we are going to do about past damage and how we can take care of our skin on a daily basis.

Q: What are some treatments and products people in their 30s need to start incorporating?

Dr. Camp: I think the biggest thing to understand is that sunscreen is not optional. The reality is that for our sun-exposed areas, we need to be putting sunscreen on daily. It prevents ongoing damage from the day-to-day exposure we get just driving in the car and going to work, stepping outside, picking our kids up from school, that kind of thing. We don’t consider coming and going about our day as prolonged exposure (as opposed to say, spending time at the beach), but it is enough to create damage to our skin and age us.

Opt for medical-grade sunscreens, which provide protection and have a lot of ingredients that help with hydration. You don’t want to have dry, flaky skin, but you also don’t want to clog your pores or have a greasy, thick film on your skin all day.

The other thing I see for people in their 30s is that they need to start using cleansing products that are appropriate for more sensitive areas, such as the face and neck.

If you look at somebody in their early 20s or teenage years, there’s always a nice sheen to their cheeks, and over time that seems to diminish. It’s easy to clean with just regular soap, but when you really take a look, especially at our clients who wear makeup every day, you’ll see clogged pores and damaged skin, which lead to a duller complexion. Using a higher-grade cleanser is a great way to keep the skin doing what it was meant to do without damaging it from an unnecessarily harsh, stripping soap.

Two of my favorites in our practice are the ZO Gentle Skin Cleanser and SkinMedica Daily Facial Cleanser. They have a nice feel and do a great job of keeping the skin clean without overly stripping the oils away.

Q: What about skin that’s already been exposed and damaged?

Dr. Camp: A lot of our clients in their 30s don’t have excessive wrinkling or significant signs of facial aging that we see in our patients who are in their 50s and beyond, but they do need something that will restore that glow. Using a serum or cleanser with vitamin C components in it helps their skin, whereas somebody who’s a more advanced age will need more significant growth factors and other repairs in their skincare products and nighttime regimes.

Q: Anything else you can think of that’s important for people in their 30s?

Dr. Camp: It’s not a bad idea to treat yourself every once in a while. Try the HydraFacial—a 30 to 40-minute treatment that gets a little bit deeper and can infuse other active ingredients into your skin. Even doing that just once a month gives your skin a really great boost.


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