Let’s just relax for a second, okay? We’re so zoomed in on that magnifying mirror that we can’t even think straight! Let’s just take a step back because we really don’t want to worsen those frown lines. See? We slipped right back into it. Obsessing over wrinkles, always being on the lookout for something different in the skin so you can be one step ahead of your biology… Sound familiar? Well, I’ve got some news for you and there might be a piece of good news hidden in there somewhere. You might have just started to notice the first signs of aging in your 30s. But things are already in motion. It already started in your 20s. Your skin has been doing a great job at hiding it until now. So you might as well take a breath and focus on things you can do.
We all know what aged skin looks like. We know the ending of the story. But focusing on the actual story, and being on the lookout for signs of aging in your 30s can help you be more proactive and preventative about your skin’s health.
You can delay the formation of certain wrinkles, soften the appearance of existing ones, and try treatments for each age-related skin concern you’ve experienced or will experience. And that’s what we’re going to focus on.
We’ll be diving into the first signs of aging you’re likely to experience in your 30s, what they look like, and what you can do about them. But first, let’s take a quick roll call, shall we?
The one that can barely afford a weekly night out but somehow already has a budget for the next injectable appointment?
The 30-something single trying to live her best life and giving unsolicited skincare advice to total strangers?
The one that keeps getting distracted by people’s wrinkles and imagines how many units of Botox could iron them out?
The one that got sucked into her friend’s pyramid scheme downline hoping to get some free multivitamins to keep the juices flowing?
The one watching out for Sephora sales and occasionally brings coffee to the store manager to get free samples not from the counter but from the back?
And finally, the one that made it with a nice job, a nice apartment, and a good salary, but couldn’t care less about a skincare routine let alone an anti-aging one?
Looks like we’re all here, except for the last one!
Keep reading to learn more about the first signs of aging in your 30s.
As we age, our body metabolism slows down, and our skin is affected by that too. Even your skin turnover rate slows down. In your early and mid-30s, dry skin can become an issue.
Even if you normally have oily or combination skin, you’ll see that your skin tends to lose more water and requires several moisturizer applications during the day.
It’s because we produce less oil and the oil glands are not as active, leading to dry skin. And that dry skin makes wrinkles more visible, making you assume things are worse than they are (1).
This means that you need to be more aware of what your skin needs. Maybe it’s time to lose that light moisturizer and get a heavier cream. Maybe you need to up your hydration game and add in a hyaluronic acid serum before applying your face cream.
You might be too focused on heavy actives. But your skin needs water and oil to function properly. So use a proper moisturizer. But also try to avoid overdoing exfoliation or using very drying cleansers.
Dynamic wrinkles turn to static wrinkles
There are different types of wrinkles. One of them is called expression wrinkles, the ones you see when you make a face. All people have them.
Young people have them only when they’re making faces. Those are called dynamic wrinkles. But as we age, we have them even if we don’t make any facial gestures. And those are called static wrinkles.
Your 30s, especially in your mid to late 30s, are when you witness those dynamic wrinkles settling in. It’s just a natural process. They can appear as horizontal lines on the forehead, fine lines on the outer corners of the eyes, fine lines on the inner corners of the eyes, and wrinkles between the brows.
These expression wrinkles, though not completely avoidable, can be managed by following a proper skincare routine. Using water-based serums to plump up the skin from the inside, applying creams to soften their appearance, and utilizing antioxidants.
These can improve your skin texture significantly. However, they will not disappear. And the best way to get rid of them is by getting Botox injections.
Botox is made to reduce these specific types of wrinkles. Even if it’s for 4 months or so, Botox can give you smooth skin. It actually saves you time. As you’re not using those facial muscles anymore, they tend to be not as harsh when Botox wears off.
A change in skin laxity
Starting from your mid-30s, you might see that your skin is not as firm. It’s not as bouncy. It’s because the skin loses elasticity as we age. And it’s more difficult for it to snap back to its original shape after you move your face.
This also causes the skin to have a leather-like texture. I’m 36 and I feel like I’m wearing someone else’s skin and I didn’t even get the right size. It doesn’t fit. I stretch my skin or pull my cheeks and my skin feels like a large jersey on a female K-pop singer’s body.
And a loss of skin elasticity also makes the pores appear larger. Before going in for in-office treatments though, there may be some things you can do at home. Collagen and elastin are two of the most important proteins that make up healthy skin.
And at home skincare treatments like retinol, chemical exfoliants, and antioxidant serums can stimulate new collagen production (2). But know that you need to do your homework about retinoids and other active ingredients and be patient.
You can learn more about retinol here and how to incorporate it into your skincare routine. And here are anti-aging ingredients perfect for your 30s that can help improve your skin texture. As far as professional treatments go, you can consider laser treatments and light chemical peels too.
Changes in the neck area
You shouldn’t expect major skin sagging in the neck area in your early or mid-30s. That becomes more of an issue in your 40s. However, you can still experience some kind of a loss of firmness in that area. Your jawline starts to lose contour and definition.
Well, not everyone is born with a snatched jawline. And weight can play an important role in how that skin looks in the neck area. But still, this is different.
You don’t have a saggy neck but you can see that your jawline is a little bulgy as if your cheeks are putting weight on your jawline and your jaw can’t resist anymore.
This is partially due to gravity and partially due to the natural aging process. Unfortunately, it’s really difficult to tighten the skin with products at home. You can smooth out skin, plump it up, make it glow, but tightening is a little more difficult as it basically requires skin to shrink.
However, there are professional treatments, that are not even that invasive, that can help with that. Ulteraphy utilizes ultrasound to stimulate skin renewal (3). You may require more than one treatment but you can even see results after the first treatment.
You can also try radiofrequency where they use heat to nudge the deeper layers of the skin to wake up and get to work. There’s also neck sculpting with liposuction.
But you don’t need to consider surgical options just yet. You’re still young and your skin deserves credit. You can also consider Botox for neck wrinkles.
Rosacea, though not an age-related concern, usually occurs after you hit your 30s (4). Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition and there’s no proper cause or treatment in place.
And it looks like sensitive, red skin. And if you look close enough, you might see some broken capillaries on the cheeks, little red veins.
So if you’re suddenly dealing with red, irritated skin that reacts to hot showers, the sun, or spicy foods, you might be dealing with rosacea. And it’s time you take a closer look at what you eat, drink, or use for skincare.
The best way to manage rosacea is by seeing a dermatologist. They’ll draw you a roadmap and inform you about this skin condition.
Though rosacea has nothing to do with wrinkles, it can contribute to how your skin ages. It makes the skin prone to inflammation, acne, and sun damage.
Hyperpigmentation is among the most common signs of aging in your 30s. Dark spots become stubborn in your 30s. They don’t disappear in the winter.
And they can appear anywhere on your face, giving you an uneven skin tone. Dark spots are usually the result of years of unprotected sun exposure.
Dark spots occur when your skin tries to protect itself from the damaging effects of UV rays. They’re like battle scars of your skin, demonstrating how it desperately tried to fight sun damage.
You can fade them away and prevent them from increasing in number. So how do you do that? You start using sunscreen day and night, in and out, sun and snow.
Protect your skin from the sun by wearing sunscreen. And improve it by using anti-pigmentation ingredients like vitamin C. Retinol and chemical exfoliants can also fade their appearance as they increase skin turnover and reveal better skin.
If you didn’t have dark circles before and you suddenly have them now, it might be because of volume loss in the skin. The fat that gives you plump skin starts to shrink in size and tends to move down. As a result, you get hollows under the eyes, giving you dark circles.
Additionally, as our skin tends to thin as we age, the blood vessel under the eyes are more visible, causing dark shadows under the eyes (5).
Age-related dark circles become more prominent in your late 30s. Skincare ingredients that can help with dark circles in your 30s are vitamin K, kojic acid, arbutin, vitamin C, retinoids, and caffeine.
But the best way to get rid of them is by getting filler injections under the eyes to plump up the skin and cover up discolorations.
You might freak out that you’re experiencing these signs of aging in your 30s. But it just means that you’re aging naturally. Obviously, there are factors that have an effect on how your skin changes, and how it ages.
Your genetics, your lifestyle, even your geographical location can cause premature aging. But this is roughly how normal skin ages.
Even if you’re not willing to go in for injectables or treatments, using sunscreen daily and properly moisturizing the skin is still way better than doing nothing.
Read Next: The Best Anti-Aging Tips For Your 30s
- Hashizume H. (2004). Skin aging and dry skin. The Journal of dermatology, 31(8), 603–609. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1346-8138.2004.tb00565.x
- Clatici, V. G., Racoceanu, D., Dalle, C., Voicu, C., Tomas-Aragones, L., Marron, S. E., Wollina, U., & Fica, S. (2017). Perceived Age and Life Style. The Specific Contributions of Seven Factors Involved in Health and Beauty. Maedica, 12(3), 191–201.
- Wisco, L. (2018, June 16). Ultherapy: Nonsurgical Alternative to Facelift. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/ultherapy
- Mikkelsen, C. S., Holmgren, H. R., Kjellman, P., Heidenheim, M., Kappinnen, A., Bjerring, P., & Huldt-Nystrøm, T. (2016). Rosacea: a Clinical Review. Dermatology reports, 8(1), 6387. https://doi.org/10.4081/dr.2016.6387
- Vrcek, I., Ozgur, O., & Nakra, T. (2016). Infraorbital Dark Circles: A Review of the Pathogenesis, Evaluation and Treatment. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, 9(2), 65–72. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-2077.184046