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I’m the skincare-obsessed one in my close circle of friends who are all above the age of 30. Understandably, I’m the one they come to for skincare advice. They check with me before a skincare or makeup purchase and stay in the loop for upcoming beauty sales. Being a skin maximalist, I always thought that everyone enjoys a 10-step skincare routine as much as I do. Heck, one of the many ways I entertain my friends when we’re hanging out at my place is by giving them a 40-minute facial. Nobody leaves this house without glowing skin! That’s my rule!
But not every one of my friends has a special cabinet in their bathroom dedicated to skincare nor do they have the time or the energy to engage in a half-day-long self-care routine. In fact, most of them want the absolute minimum. And that is more than understandable.
It’s not easy being a 30-something. Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom, or you’re always out and about, or you’re like me and working from home. As much as we all like good skin, we don’t want to deal with a time-consuming skincare routine involving numerous products made with buzzy ingredients.
Plus, people are trying to simplify and streamline their skincare routine, reduce waste, and make skincare more affordable. And things can get incredibly overwhelming because of the fact there’s some new product or some new ingredient coming up almost every day. But no worries.
Being a beauty writer for a good portion of my 30s and having written about several buzzy skincare ingredients and products, I’ve managed to make my friends happy by creating a minimalist skincare routine for them based on their skin type and their concerns. And I believe I can make things easier for you too.
Minimalist Skincare Routine For Your 30s: The Basics
You can maintain healthy skin with a simple yet effective minimalist skincare routine in your 30s. It’s all about the basics: cleanse, moisturize, and protect. Keeping things minimal, and basic makes it easy to follow your routine and be consistent with it.
With that being said, ‘minimal’ is very subjective. So depending on whether you have a prominent skin concern or not, there are always optional products to try if you’re open to increasing the number of products you use.
Personally, an eye cream is an absolute must for me. But it’s no secret that you can use your daily moisturizer under your eyes and you don’t have to buy a separate product just for the under-eye area. So this is all up to you.
But keep in mind that sun protection is one of the most important aspects, especially now that we’re in our thirties and wrinkles are becoming more visible. So in addition to these basics, finish your routine with a sunscreen of your choice and use it daily.
Below, I’ll be including the very basics as well as treatment products for major skin concerns and optional products you can consider. I’ll also be adding the exact products I recommended to my friends just to give you an idea.
Keep reading for a minimalist skincare routine you can easily follow in your 30s.
For Normal Skin
Luck you! If you’re in your 30s and you’re not dealing with a major skin concern like adult acne, sensitive skin, or prominent wrinkles, you’re in luck. It’s all about maintenance for you and maybe a little bit of prevention.
For 30-year-olds with a normal skin type, a very basic facial cleanser is enough to keep the skin clear. The only thing to pay attention to here is that the cleanser should be non-drying. Otherwise, it can cause dry skin symptoms and upset your skin’s moisture barrier. Remember to cleanse your skin twice a day.
Moisturizing is essential no matter your skin type or your age. It’s about that pleasant feeling as much as it’s about keeping the skin hydrated. Even a simple, basic moisturizer increases the water content in the skin, gives the skin a softer feel, and makes it look more fresh and healthy. And since we’re keeping this as minimal as possible, go for a slightly emollient, neither thick nor weightless formula and use it twice a day on freshly cleansed skin.
Optional: Antioxidant Serum
If you’re overall happy with your skin, then cleansing, moisturizing, and protecting is a good strategy. However, now that we’re in our 30s, consider a daily antioxidant serum. Antioxidants help prevent and delay the formation of signs of premature aging. You can use an antioxidant serum to be more preventative, or for when your skin needs extra care.
CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser
- Deeply cleansing
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream With Squalane
- Light texture
- Replenishing base
- Suitable for all skin types
Caudalie Resveratrol-Lift Instant Firming Serum
- Gentle antioxidant serum
- Weightless feel
- Dewy finish
For Dry Skin
If you’re a 30-something with dry skin, your routine should revolve around keeping your skin barrier happy. People with dry skin usually have a compromised skin barrier. As a result of this, the skin continuously loses water without that healthy barrier keeping moisture in. So it’s all about hydration, moisture, and repairing. Overall, you can benefit from hydrating serums, emollient, creamy, and thicker moisturizers. Ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, squalane, and plant oils are your friends.
Your cleanser should be alcohol-free, soap-free, and non-foaming. Ideally, it’s a non-drying gel or cream cleanser that doesn’t further strip your skin. If you don’t know what a stripping cleanser would feel like, here’s how to tell. If you wash your face and your skin starts to feel a little bit tight after about 30 seconds, that means your cleanser is drying your skin. So those are the ones to avoid.
Moisturizer is the most important product in a minimalist skincare routine for people in their 30s with dry skin. It has a major role in repairing the skin barrier and keeping moisture in. Texture-wise, go for anything that feels a bit thick. This usually means it contains lots of emollients that create a thin barrier on the skin which prevents water loss. Use your moisturizer daily and nightly.
This is our supporting product. A hydrating serum such as hyaluronic acid serum is a very lightweight product that goes on to your skin when it is freshly cleaned. Because if you have dry skin, it means that your skin is more prone to showing dehydration lines and fine lines, making you look older than you actually are. A hydrating serum brings that skin back to life and plumps it up. Use your serum once or twice a day and follow with your moisturizer.
La Roche Posay Toleriane Hydrating Cleanser
- Cream cleanser
- Hydrating formula
- Contains ceramides
Belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb
- Emollient cream
- Long-lasting moisture
- Soothes the skin
Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum
- Deeply hydrating
- Weightless feel
- Works instantly
If you don’t want to increase the number of products you use daily, and a serum sounds like a whole thing, consider an overnight face mask to use every now and then. An overnight face mask can give your skin the headstart it needs and is really helpful during colder months. Additionally, if you have dry skin and you’re prone to acne, consider a lactic acid toner or lactic acid serum to use twice a week. This is to minimize blemishes and flaky skin.
For Oily/Acne-Prone Skin
If you’re dealing with acne in your 30s, first of all, I get it. Sometimes, it’s not even about oily skin either. Stress or period acne can be frustrating, making it difficult to manage reactive skin! But no worries. Your skincare routine should revolve around balancing the complexion and calming it. That means products that are non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic, meaning that they don’t worsen acne.
Even though there are cleansers specifically to treat acne, I don’t recommend going for those when you’re following a minimalist skincare routine for your 30s. Using those types of cleansers as your daily, or twice-a-day cleanser can cause dryness and irritation along the way. Try a non-stripping, soap-free gel cleanser to keep your complexion clear. Avoid creamy, milky cleansers that tend to leave residue on the skin, which might aggravate acne.
Non-acnegenic moisturizers, oil-free moisturizers, and gel moisturizers that won’t clog pores are your friends. These types of moisturizers will simply hydrate your skin without leaving a heavy feeling on the skin or worsening acne or excess oil.
Salicylic Acid Toner
This is for dealing with acne and possible blackheads and enlarged pores. Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant that removes dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. It’s exceptionally helpful in decongesting clogged pores. It’s also anti-inflammatory, so it effectively calms and fades acne. Go for an alcohol-free salicylic acid toner and use it once a day in your morning or evening routine. Apply it after you clean your skin and when your skin is dry. Once your toner fully absorbs, follow with your moisturizer. If you’re only dealing with occasional breakouts, you can use your salicylic acid toner as a spot treatment and just apply it on problem areas. An additional benefit of salicylic aid is that it also brightens skin and makes it glow.
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser
- Reduces excess oil
- Gives thorough cleanse
Clinique Moisture Surge 100H Auto-Replenishing Hydrator
- Gel texture
- Fast absorbing
Farmacy Deep Sweep Pore Cleaning 2% BHA Toner
- Works on congestion
If you don’t like face toners and you feel like a salicylic acid toner does not fit into your routine, consider a salicylic acid serum to use only when you need to. A good salicylic acid serum really works overnight to calm acne and inflammation on the skin. You can keep one in your beauty arsenal and just use it in your evening routine when your skin is breaking out.
For Sensitive Skin
Maybe you’ve had sensitive skin all along, or maybe your skin suddenly became more sensitive in your 30s or you’re dealing with reactive, rosacea skin. It happens. If you’re going to be following a minimalist skincare routine, it all comes down to calming the skin and preventing further irritation. All products should be formulated without irritants. Look for anti-inflammatory ingredients like green tea, oatmeal, licorice, and aloe.
Go as gentle as you can with your cleanser if you have sensitive skin. Unless you wear a lot of makeup, go for slightly creamy cleansers that tend to be calming and replenishing as opposed to deeply cleaning and foaming. If you wear makeup, consider using micellar to remove makeup before going in with your creamy cleanser.
First things first, natural, organic, clean; these concepts do not mean the product is going to be suitable for your skin. Instead of these, go for hypoallergenic moisturizers or moisturizers that are clearly made for people with sensitive skin. Make sure your moisturizer packs soothing botanicals and replenishing ingredients.
Sensitive skin, even if you’re not doing anything to make it more sensitive, is difficult to manage. It’s easily irritated, and just reactive and can be affected by anything such as the weather, temperature, you touching your face, the wind, pollution, and more. And a soothing, calming face serum can be incredibly helpful in this case, especially if you have facial redness. You can use one daily or only when your skin is reactive. Again, look for calming and ani inflammatory ingredients like Centella Asiatica, oatmeal, and green tea.
Dermalogica UltraCalming Cleanser
- Creamy formula
- Contains a soothing blend
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream
- Emollient cream
- Packs 0.5% oatmeal
- Calms redness
Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Serum
- Calms with Centella Asiatica
- Reduces redness
- Light texture
For Anti Aging
I’m all for fighting against signs of aging as much as I can. And concerning anti-aging, the basics don’t change. You cleanse, moisturize, and protect. Sun protection alone is the best anti-ager. However, if you want to actively do something about wrinkles without increasing the number of products you use, be a bit more selective with your products and make sure they’re rich in antioxidants and restorative ingredients.
Now that we’re being anti-aging, we can look for more potent cleansers that not only do not strip the skin but also add something to it. Exfoliating cleansers can help boost collagen. But if you’re new, they require a bit of getting used to. Instead, opt for a proper gel cleanser that removes dirt and grime and infuses the skin with hydrating, and replenishing ingredients.
A daily moisturizer suitable for your skin type is going to keep the skin hydrated and minimize dullness. It doesn’t have to be an anti-wrinkle cream. But it needs to be a bit richer than a regular moisturizer. The reason I’m mentioning this is that in our 30s, especially mid and late 30s, we lose skin elasticity and the skin becomes overall dull and puffy. And moisturizers that are formulated with reparative antioxidants, and rich botanicals, and that have a feel-good aspect give you that instant gratification with fresh-looking skin. Even though that plumpness and lifted appearance are temporary, it’s still something, especially when you’re following a minimalist skincare routine and hoping to do more with less.
Retinol isn’t for everyone, but it’s the holy grail if you want to boost collagen, repair sun damage, brighten skin, and just achieve overall healthier and smoother skin. It’s one of those ingredients that makes you more mindful of the other products you use. Because it shouldn’t be used together with other heavy active ingredients and it can be drying and irritating. When people hear that, they feel like it’s going to be too much to handle. But if you do this properly, you can have retinol working in the background without affecting your day-to-day skincare routine. As long as you slowly incorporate it into your routine, chose a gentle formula, and use it no more than twice a week, you shouldn’t experience those unpleasant side effects.
Youth To The People Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser
- Lightly foams
- Rich in antioxidants
- Removes all makeup
Estee Lauder Revitalizing Supreme+ Moisturizer Youth Power Creme
- Super replenishing
- Has wrinkle-smoothing peptides
- Has antioxidant-rich botanicals
Kiehl’s Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Serum
- Beginner-friendly concentration
- Slow-release retinol
- Creamy, non-irritating texture
If you’re dealing with hyperpigmentation in your 30s, whether it’s in the form of dark spots, acne marks, or uneven skin tone, you need to be a bit more resourceful. Because just like wrinkles, and fine lines, hyperpigmentation is stubborn and requires a bit more effort on your part.
Again, look for a daily cleanser that does more. Even though there’s nothing wrong with going for a good drugstore face wash, it doesn’t hurt to have your daily cleanser contain antioxidants to help brighten your skin. Combined with the other products in your routine, it’s going to give you cumulative benefits.
A daily antioxidant moisturizer packed with ingredients known to be effective for hyperpigmentation can help fade skin discolorations. Moisturizers made with vitamin C, vitamin E, resveratrol, coenzyme Q10 as well as botanicals like green tea and licorice extract can do wonders for sun-damaged skin in your 30s.
Vitamin C Serum
Vitamin C is proven to be a tyrosine inhibitor. Tyrosine is an enzyme that stimulates melanin production, which eventually pigments the skin. So by incorporating a daily vitamin C serum into your routine, you can improve your skin tone without having to resort to more irritating active ingredients or more products.
Youth To The People Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser
- Contains vitamin C
- Has anti-inflammatory botanicals
La Roche Posay 10% Pure Vitamin C Serum
- Suitable for most skin types
- Hydrating base
- Promotes brighter skin
Ole Henriksen C-Rush Vitamin C Gel Moisturizer
- Has radiant finish
- Has gentle vitamin C derivative
- Replenishing gel texture
Again, hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone, no matter how common they are, can be difficult to manage. And a more potent anti-aging ingredient like retinol can work to fade unwanted discolorations, and help brighten dull skin. You can consider adding a retinol cream or serum into your evening routine and using it once or twice a week.
As long as you pick your products mindfully and select your ingredients purposefully, you can do more for your skin with fewer products. A minimalist skincare routine, though it’s not for everyone, really makes it easier for most people in their 30s to follow a skincare routine consistently. And consistency is more important than quantity when it comes to taking care of your skin. Again, don’t forget to wear sunscreen daily.
Read Next: Anti-Aging Tips For Your 30s