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The Best Skin Care Routine for Your 30s, According to an Expert

It’s easy to follow and affordable.
August 30, 2023


Turning 30 is a major life milestone, and it can come with a lot of changes. In addition to no longer being able to party quite as hard as you did a few years ago, you may notice that your skin’s needs change during this decade of your life. 

In your thirties, you may shift from having oily skin
to dry skin, and you may even begin to see visible signs of aging, including dark spots, crow’s feet and other types of wrinkles. That’s why putting together a skin care routine specifically for your thirties is key. That’s also why we tapped Dr. Michelle Henry, NYC board-certified dermatologist and L’Oréal Paris consultant, to walk us through the basics of a daily skin care routine for 30-year-olds (including affordable product picks), as well as a couple of simple skin care swaps for your pre-beauty sleep routine.
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The Best Skin Care Ingredients to Use in Your 30s

While your skin care routine doesn’t need to become more complicated as you get older, there are specific ingredients that you’ll want to incorporate in order to help it look healthy and more youthful. Dr. Henry shared a few that can help fight wrinkles, dryness and other concerns that come with maturing skin.


“When you're in your thirties you're just starting to see those fine lines and wrinkles. That's a really great time to start incorporating some products with retinoids [into your routine], whether prescription or non-prescription, like retinol,” she says. “I really love retinoids for the thirties.”

Studies have shown that retinol (and other forms of vitamin A) can help fight wrinkles and photoaging of the skin. Dr. Henry says that additionally, you may be using a retinoid in your twenties to help with acne, so if you’re using it already as you enter your thirties it’s especially effective for fine lines as they’re just beginning to form. She also says that it can be helpful in improving the look of dark spots. (She also recommends azelaic acid for this purpose.) 

Editor’s tip: If you need an effective retinol product for a beginner consider the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Pressed Night Moisturizer with Retinol + Niacinamide. It’s formulated with retinol to help fight wrinkles and help even skin texture; it’s also made with a complex of soothing ingredients to help counteract the potential drying effects of retinol, plus niacinamide, which is known to help brighten skin’s appearance. 

If your skin is acclimated to retinol and you want something more potent that can tackle those deeper wrinkles, pick up the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Night Serum, 0.3% Pure Retinol.


Hyaluronic Acid

Dr. Henry also explains that the older we get, the dryer our skin gets, “so while most people aren't battling age related dryness in their thirties, it is a good time to think about hydration and your skin barrier — adding formulas with ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid is going to be really good.” 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, hyaluronic acid (HA) has many benefits, including hydration retention, and helping to reduce the look of wrinkles and lines. While it’s produced naturally in the body, hyaluronic acid decreases as we age, so topical application of the carbohydrate can be helpful in improving your skin’s appearance.

We love the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum
because it’s made with both high and low molecular weight HA to quickly penetrate deeply into the surface layers of the skin while also retaining moisture. The result is skin that looks plumper and more youthful, and an improvement in the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
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Editor’s tip: You can find both topical HA and ceramides in L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Micro Hyaluronic Acid + Ceramides Line-Plumping Water Cream. The lightweight, water-based moisturizer hydrates skin while replumping several types of fine lines and helping to strengthen the skin’s barrier function. It’s fast-absorbing and doesn’t leave behind a greasy or sticky feeling.


Though you don’t have to wait until you enter your third decade of life to start using niacinamide, it’s especially helpful if you’re still dealing with dark spots from breakouts you had in your teens and twenties. A study from the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found that the B3 vitamin is effective in correcting skin discoloration, helping to improve the look of redness, blotchiness and dark spots (among other things). Using a topical niacinamide treatment over time can show a significant improvement in the skin.

We love L’Oréal Paris Bright Reveal 12% [Niacinamide + Amino Sulfonic + Ferulic Acid] Dark Spot Serum as part of a routine to visibly fade dark spots, including sun spots, age spots, and post-acne marks.

No matter what topical skin care you're using, don’t forget sunscreen, Dr. Henry stresses, which, when used with other sun protection measures, can help reduce early signs of aging. The American Academy of Dermatology
agrees. Dr. Henry also says it’s one of the most robust products you can have in an anti-aging regimen. The L’Oréal Paris Bright Reveal Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Daily UV Lotion offers UV protection without a greasy or heavy feel, it’s suitable for all skin types and it won’t leave visible residue on darker skin tones.
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A Simple 5-Step Skin Care Routine for Your 30s

Your thirties skin care routine doesn’t need to be any more expensive than it needs to be complex. Here are five basic steps you can base your routine around, each can include effective products from the drugstore.

Step 1. Cleanse Your Skin

One thing that shouldn’t change as you enter a new decade is how often you cleanse your skin. You should always wash your face in the morning and at night, no matter your age. That being said, you may want to consider moving to a nourishing cleanser. Try the L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Skin Care Nourishing Cream Cleanser, which has replenishing oils so you can cleanse your face without stripping it or leaving it feeling dry and tight.

Step 2. Apply a Toner for Exfoliation

Toner is one of those popular skin care products that everyone knows about, yet, it still gets overlooked as a necessity in one’s skin care routine. If you weren’t using a toner before, now is the perfect time to add exfoliating toner to your regimen. Some can help to further exfoliate the skin, allowing the products that come after it to really get in there and work their magic. Need a rec? We love the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 5% Glycolic Acid Peeling Toner, which helps to reduce the appearance of dark spots over time and preps the skin for serum.

Step 3. Use a Targeted Serum

The right serum can really help you target skin care concerns that are specific to your skin or skin type. They’re concentrated with potent ingredients such as hyaluronic acid (to hydrate), vitamin C (for much-needed antioxidants), retinol (to reduce the appearance of  wrinkles), and glycolic acid (to improve the look of pores and skin texture). If you’re looking for a great serum that works double shifts (morning and night), try the L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Skin Care Cell Renewal Anti-Aging Midnight Serum, formulated with a patented antioxidant and vitamin E to reinforce the skin’s barrier.

If you still suffer from acne in your thirties and notice that it often results in dark spots, Dr. Henry suggests that you always have a vitamin C product on hand.  “So the minute you start to get [a breakout], you already have something on board that's combating it. Just make brightening a part of your skin care regimen,” she says.

Our recommendation is the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 12% Pure Vitamin C + E + Salicylic Acid Serum. This brightening serum uses the purest form of vitamin C to instantly increase radiance. With continued use, it can refine and even skin tone and reduce the appearance of pores and fine lines.

Step 4. Apply an Eye Treatment

Because the skin around your eyes is so delicate, it’s often the first area to show signs of aging, such as dark circles and crow’s feet. Reach for an eye cream or serum that can help minimize signs of aging around the eyes with continued use over time, like the L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Skin Care Age Perfect Cell Renewal Anti-Aging Eye Cream Treatment or the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives with 1.5% Hyaluronic Acid + 1% Caffeine Eye Serum. Use the rollerball on the latter to massage the serum into your skin in circular motions. Gently pat any excess with your fingers, then move on to your last essential step.

Step 5. Moisturize and Add Sun Protection (In One Step)

As a busy thirtysomething, chances are you may not have as much time to spend on your skin care routine as you’d like — even if you’re mainly working from home. But that doesn’t give you a free pass to skip out on sun protection in your thirties — even if you’re mainly working from home. 

Don’t try to manually mix your face moisturizer with your L’Oréal Paris sunscreen since you can’t be sure that you’re getting even coverage or that you’re not diluting the SPF formula when you do that. Instead, reach for a moisturizer already formulated with SPF, like the L’Oréal Paris Triple Power Day Lotion SPF 30, which combines moisturizing and sunscreen application into one step. This moisturizer formulated with broad-spectrum sunscreen is hydrating and helps skin look healthier and brighter, thanks to vitamin C, HA and Pro-Retinol. Remember that when you are out in the sun, you will need to reapply every two hours.

4 Steps to Add to Your Nighttime Skin Care Routine 

Nighttime provides quite the opportunity to care for your skin since it gets to rest and repair itself overnight. Below, find four additional steps you may want to add to your night regimen to create the best skin care routine for your thirties.

Step 1. Double Cleanse to Remove Makeup At Night 

Cleansing is especially important at night, as you don’t want to sleep in your makeup. When you do that, the makeup can mix with dirt and oils that have built up on the surface of your skin all day, leading to clogged pores, which can lead to breakouts. To effectively remove all your makeup, try double cleansing. You can use something like micellar water or a makeup remover wipe, like the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Radiant Smoothing Wet Cleansing Towelettes then follow up with your rinse-off facial cleanser.

Step 2. Add an Exfoliator to Your Nightly Routine

Before going to bed, take a second to wipe your face with an exfoliating peel pad post-cleansing. They can physically resurface dead skin cells to reveal brighter-looking skin. Wipe the peel pad over clean skin, then follow up with moisturizer.

Step 3. Try a Multi-Purpose Overnight Moisturizer 

Another skin care step you can take pre-slumber is applying the L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Skin Care Cell Renewal Midnight Cream, Antioxidants. You don’t need to use a moisturizer with SPF at night, so switch out your daytime moisturizer for one that targets specific skin care concerns while you sleep. This anti-aging night cream is made with a patented antioxidant and vitamin E to repair skin at night when it’s most receptive to recovery. Immediately, skin looks softer and feels hydrated and over time, the skin appears firmer, smoother and more radiant.

Step 4. Add a Wrinkle Cream to the Mix

Finally, if you’re noticing wrinkles have already made a home on your visage, you can reach for a wrinkle cream that’s made to target this pesky skin concern. The L’Oréal Paris Wrinkle Expert line includes a wrinkle-fighting cream for thirty-somethings: the Wrinkle Expert 35+ Moisturizer, which is made with collagen to help strengthen skin, resulting in a smoother, plumper-looking visage. It’s also helpful in improving the look of early signs of aging, including fine lines, plumpness, and skin dryness. The formula is suitable for all skin types, even sensitive skin.

Dr. Henry notes that if you have sensitive skin, you want to be careful with anything that might compromise your skin barrier. If you’re ever unsure about adding an ingredient to your routine, consult with your dermatologist first. 

Next: 11 Best Anti-Wrinkle Creams for Smoother Skin

Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn, Senior Art Director: Melissa San Vicente-Landestoy, Associate Creative Producer: Becca Solovay, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Wardrobe Stylist: Adriana Perez-Bell, Digital Tech: Paul Yem, Model: Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick

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