In the run-up to my 30th birthday last December, I had a lot on my to-do list. It included relearning German, swearing less and understanding my body more. The list was diverse, to say the least, but the last one was probably the task that I focussed on the most. I had a fertility MOT to understand my cycle and reproductive system more, and this in turn informed my skincare habits because the more I was in tune with my cycle, the better I could work out what part of the month my skin felt drier or oilier or even where I was likelier to break out. By just making notes on my cycle, I realised things weren’t really down to luck at all but my cycle and lifestyle combined. The road towards 30 also highlighted that my tired-looking eyes weren’t just down to a bad or stressful week; they were my eyes now. But it also highlighted the features that I appreciated and wanted to preserve and the fact that I catch the sun really easily without burning (safely).
When I was younger, the movies and shows I watched in the noughties made turning 30 seem like this scary pivot into old age, but for me, hitting this decade has just meant learning more about myself and my body, including my skincare needs and the changes to add in for this next stage of life. Here are the steps that are now non-negotiable for my 30s and the products I have in constant rotation.
I honestly never used to bother with eye cream, but when people say that the eyes are the window to the soul, they are not kidding. I was noticing as work and life got a little more stressful with less sleep and more responsibilities, my eyes were bearing the brunt of it. I now add in a light eye cream for daytime and an active eye cream for nighttime to help minimise the look of dark circles.
This is an addition that most skincare experts recommended to me as I hit my late 20s because of the way it can aid with collagen production, which depletes more the older you get. If you have pretty easy-going skin, a low-level retinol can slip into your routine quite seamlessly in the evening, I started with a 0.3% retinol and gradually worked my way up to being able to tolerate up to 5% now. It can irritate even the most tolerant skin, so I always recommend starting once a week and then stepping up usage. It’s key to remember your SPF when using retinol, as it sensitises your skin.
Putting more work into crafting a perfect routine for my 30-year-old skin means nothing if I skip SPF. This is especially pertinent when using retinols, but even if not, applying SPF on your face, neck and chest will reduce the chance of premature ageing and pigmentation damage. I slather on at least an SPF 30 every single day without fail, even if it’s a WFH day.
A go-to for my holiday bag or when it’s a super-sunny day in London, this is lightweight and blends in well. I also love the mist version for reapplying sun cream when I have makeup on.
I’ve never been one to fall asleep in makeup, but I have been known to wake up and realise that not all my makeup had been washed off, leading to clogged pores and cluster breakouts. Double cleansing in the evening really reduces the chances of this, so I indulge a little more time in creating a clean slate for my actives to work. I’ll use a balm or oil cleanser to start and a milky or gel cleanser as my second cleanse.
I used to really go crazy with actives like glycolic, lactic, azelaic… a manner of acids, really, until I realised I was over-exfoliating my skin for no reason. I used to think I had to slough away at my skin layer to brighten and get rid of hyperpigmentation. But since becoming a vitamin C devotee, I have brighter, plumper-looking skin without the excessive irritation I experienced with acid misuse disrupting my skin barrier.
Just like your neck, your hands have quite thin skin and therefore can often appear more crêpey as you age. If this is something you want to keep at bay, keep a hand cream near at all times like I do. It’s pretty helpful now because with increased handwashing, my hands constantly feel dry, so it alleviates cracked, parched skin and keeps things soft and supple.
I started leaning into supplements to aid and work in conjunction with my skincare routine and lifestyle choices. The different supplements I take top up my collagen and biotin (for my hair and nails). I also take a pre and probiotic for gut health and microbiome diversity on the skin, which keeps it balanced and looking healthy.
My love for a FaceGym facial has long been documented, but I really do make at least semi-regular face treatments part of my routine now, whether it’s a sculpting treatment pre-event, dermaplaning for a seasonal shift or some light microdermabrasion to treat congested, uneven skin. I’ll get a treatment every two or so months, and my skin looks and feels a lot better than it did even in my early 20s thanks to the regular professional attention.