Change How You Age: Anti-Aging Top 10 For Your 30’s
Two aspects of life that are usually important to us are to be as healthy and attractive, as well and as long as possible.
Tips to Start in Your 30’s To Slow Down Skin Aging
A person’s thirties are a hectic time—busy with responsibilities, excitedly pursuing goals, and often struggling with conflicting desires. In other words, the essence of life. At times it seems that you are so tied down with the responsibilities of work and family and that life is so demanding there is no time left for yourself. Or as I use to say, “I have nothing left for me.”
However, it is also the time that you finally come into your own. Having achieved some of your goals and carved out a life separate from your family of origin, often it is when you fully feel grown-up. Able to make decisions independently and chart your life course.
Two aspects of life that are usually important to us are to be as healthy and attractive, as well and as long as possible. Lifelong healthy skin is skin that is free from pre-cancerous skin changes, skin cancer, growths, discolorations, broken blood vessels, and thinning skin vulnerable to bruises and tears that often accompany aging. Lifelong attractive skin is free of those issues and also maintains elasticity, resists sagging, maintains good moisture regulation, and minimizes wrinkles.
In your thirties, you may start to see irregular pigmentation and broken blood vessels, especially if you are a sun worshiper or have an active outdoor life. Fine lines start to appear around the eyes as crow’s feet and lines between the nose and mouth as “smile” lines. Forehead and frown lines may occur. Lips and cheeks start to lose volume, as does the area under the eyes. Loss of volume under the eyes gives a hollow or tired appearance. All of these combine to give you a tired and worn-out look. You may be tired and worn out, but you don’t have to look it too.
To look as young as you can, as long as you can, increase your chances of having lifelong healthy skin, and reduce your risk of pre-cancerous skin lesions and skin cancer, start now. The thirties are a time for using both anti-aging preventative strategies and to begin with treatments and procedures to reverse and treat skin aging that is starting to occur. See my post, Change How You Age: Anti-Aging Top 10 For Your 20’s, to review the anti-aging tips for your twenties that you should already be doing. Keep doing them. We will review a couple below and add new ones for your thirties.
You can’t stop aging, but you can certainly influence the rate and extent of aging appearance. And most importantly, you should start now.
Top 10 Things to Do in Your 30’s to Slow Down Skin Aging
- Use Sun Screen Every Day and Don’t Tan on Purpose
- Use an OTC or Prescription Retinoid Every Day
- Use Active Skincare to Preserve and Produce Collagen, Modulate Pigment
- Treat Sun Damage and Pigment
- Keep Expression Lines from Becoming Etched with Botox
- Restore Volume and Fill Wrinkles with Fillers
- Control Acne and Treat Acne Scars
- Eat a Low-Glycemic Diet to Reduce Collagen Breakdown
- Control Weight Fluctuations to Reduce Sagging
- Control Stress and Get Some Sleep
Use Sunscreen Every Day and Don’t Tan on Purpose
There is a reason you are nagged about this by me and every other dermatologist on the planet—we see the results when you don’t do it. Ultraviolet energy destroys collagen and elastic fibers causing saggy wrinkled skin, spots, dilated blood vessels, fine lines, and crosshatched wrinkles. Exposure produces damaging free radicals that promote aging and skin cancer. Going to the tanning bed is simply a quicker and more efficient way of ruining your skin. So here we go, one more time—every single day, year-round, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 that contains either: Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Avobenzone, or Mexoryl to your face, neck, and chest. Believe me now, or pay me later.
Use an OTC or Prescription Retinoid Every Day
If you didn’t start using a retinoid daily in your twenties, do it now. Over-the-counter retinol or prescription topical retinoids such as Refissa, Renova, Tazorac, or Differin are the gold standards in topical anti-aging. The science shows they help reduce discoloration, fine lines, and wrinkles and enhance cell function in deeper layers. They also reverse some past sun damage. Retinoids are both preventative and therapeutic. Some people have some redness and peeling at first. Read my blog post How to Use Retin-A Without Your Face Peeling Off for some tips on how to use them successfully and avoid or reduce irritation from retinoids.
When using an over-the-counter retinol product, be sure it contains at least 1% of active retinol. Some budget OTC retinol products contain much less. Try our Line Diminisher + which contains 2% active time-release retinol, as well as Swiss green apple stem cell extract, the anti-aging peptide Matrixyl Synthe' 6, antioxidants green tea, echinacea, cucumber, and aloe vera, and hyaluronic acid.
Use Active Skincare to Preserve and Produce Collagen, Modulate Pigment
Active ingredients in skincare are divided into three groups: preventative, therapeutic, and specialty. Preventive ingredients are those like antioxidants, that must be used over a long period of time and primarily help prevent aging changes. Therapeutic ingredients can repair existing damage, and many also help prevent aging changes going forward. Specialty ingredients are targeted towards a specific problem like acne or abnormal pigmentation.
Each type of ingredient has an important place in an anti-aging skincare program, and you need to understand what results you can expect from each type. Preventative ingredients should be used over a long time to reduce aging in the years ahead. Do not expect them to dramatically reverse existing aging changes. Therapeutic ingredients can actually reverse some aging changes that have already occurred and some help slow down changes going forward. However, as with most things in life, that potential comes at a price. Therapeutic ingredients can be more irritating to the skin, especially dry or sensitive skin. Specialty ingredients main purpose is to treat specific issues, not as the main component of an anti-aging program.
Types of Skin Care Ingredients
- Preventative ingredients—many antioxidants, vitamins, some peptides, plant stem cells
- Therapeutic ingredients—retinol, alpha-hydroxy acids, vitamin C, some peptides, growth factors
- Specialty ingredients—salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, thyme, and tea tree oil for acne; or arbutin, soy, licorice, and bearberry for hyperpigmentation
Professional clinical skincare programs are integrated so that when you combine all of the products together, you have some of everything you need—antioxidants, peptides, retinol, alpha-hydroxy acid, vitamins, growth factors for a general anti-aging skincare regime, and then add specialty ingredients for specific problems. That is why for many people it is best to stick with one line, rather than picking and choosing individual products from multiple skincare lines. If you do pick and choose, be sure you have an appropriate mix of preventative, therapeutic, and specialty ingredients. The most expensive lines are not necessarily the best, but understand that some of the budget brands don’t use active ingredients in high enough concentrations or in the most effective forms to be effective. They are often included at low concentrations for marketing value.
Treat Sun Damage and Pigment
By your thirties, the sun damage you got as a child and teenager starts to show up as brown irregular sunspots, at times accompanied by redness and broken blood vessels. Birth control pills or pregnancy combined with sun exposure can precipitate a condition called melasma, or “mask of pregnancy,” which causes splotches of brown pigment.
One of the hallmarks of youth is a clear complexion, without distracting spots and discoloration. Interestingly, studies have shown that the perception of youth is more influenced by having clear, glowing skin, than the absence of wrinkles. When you have dull skin with brown splotches all over your face, you don’t feel as if you have good skin.
- Treat sun damage and pigment with skincare and prescriptions
The first step to getting rid of the brown splotches, pigment, and dullness is a topical skincare program with a retinoid (Refissa, Renova, Tazorac or Differin or OTC retinol), alpha-hydroxy or multi-fruit acids, pigment modulators such as the botanicals arbutin, soy, licorice, bearberry; the vitamins C (magnesium ascorbyl phosphate or tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate) and/or B3 (niacinamide). And sunscreen.
Some people, especially those with melasma, will need additional treatment with hydroquinone (HQ). Over-the-counter hydroquinone creams are minimally effective. Prescription HQ creams are stronger and are usually more effective for melasma.
- Treat sun damage and pigment with chemical peels or SilkPeel
Deep exfoliation with glycolic acid chemical peels or SilkPeel helps to remove the dull, damaged surface layer, reducing some pigment abnormalities, increasing collagen production, smoothing fine lines, and restoring a youthful glow. Treatments are done in the dermatologist’s office with minimal or no downtime. A treatment series of 6-8 peels are usually performed, followed by intermittent sessions to maintain results.
- Treat sun damage and pigment with IPL photorejuvenation
Sun damage can begin to show up as early as the late 20’s and early 30’s. If the abnormal pigment is deep enough in the skin that peels can’t safely remove it, or if it is accompanied by persistent redness or broken blood vessels, then IPL photorejuvenation is the preferred treatment. A series of 1-3 treatments of intense pulsed light is performed. Dark spots become darker for 5 days then peel off. Redness or broken blood vessels get redder for a couple of days and then resolve.
- Treat collagen loss, pores, fine wrinkling with Clear + Brilliant Laser
An advance in "prejuvenation," which is treating early aging skin changes is Clear + Brilliant Laser Resurfacing. Collagen and elastic fiber loss begin in your 20's causing a gradual loss of firmness, fine wrinkling, enlarging pore size. Beginning early to address these changes makes you look better now, and reduces the need for more invasive treatment later. Clear + Brilliant Laser helps fight the early signs of aging, reducing fine lines and pore size and increasing the production of collagen over time. A series of 6 treatments, once a month is performed. You may be red and a little sensitive until bedtime on treatment day, but by the next morning, your skin only feels a little rough to touch for 5 days but looks normal. You can apply makeup as per your regular routine and go about your day without visible signs of the treatment. Truly a no-downtime procedure.
Keep Expression Lines from Becoming Etched with Botox
The thirties are the time that expression lines between the eyebrows (“frown lines” or “the elevens”), crow’s feet, horizontal forehead lines, and “smile lines” between the nose and mouth often start to become more prominent. These expression lines progress from being present with active expression, to becoming permanently present even when the face is at rest, which is what cosmetic dermatologists call “etched.”
The best treatment for frown lines, crow’s feet, and forehead lines is Botox, a medication that is injected with a tiny needle to relax the muscles that cause the lines. Results last an average of 4 months, though longer for some patients, and then treatment is repeated. If Botox injections are started before the lines are etched, it can prevent the etching from developing. If lines are already etched, if Botox is repeated to keep the muscles rested, then these permanent lines can actually improve. And not get worse over time, which they will without Botox.
Restore Volume and Fill Wrinkles with Fillers
One of the frustrating problems with aging is that we tend to lose fat and volume in our faces and gain it everywhere else. Women start this process earlier than men. And that is unfair. Those who work out a lot to stay healthy, especially those who perform a strenuous aerobic exercise such as runners, lose the most. And that is really not fair.
You start to see hollowing under the eyes, flattening of the cheeks, and loss of volume in the lips. All of this contributes to an aging, tired and haggard appearance. In addition, smile and lipstick lines start to become more prominent and permanent. The answer is to use dermal and subcutaneous fillers to plump up lips, restore volume to deflated cheeks, and fill the hollowing under the eyes and lines around the mouth.
There are two kinds of fillers used to treat these problems—localized and generalized. Localized fillers, such as Juvederm, Restylane, and Belotero are used to restore volume to a specific area, such as plump up lips or cheeks, fill in hollows under the eyes or treat a specific wrinkle. Generalized fillers, such as Sculptra are used to restore volume to a larger area, such as the entire temple, cheek, and lower face. The majority of the time, in the thirties, local fillers are used because the overall volume loss that occurs with aging has not yet occurred. The exceptions are those who have lost a substantial amount of weight or who do extensive aerobic exercise and have lost significant facial fat. Those patients do best with overall volume replacement with Sculptra.
The localized fillers Juvederm, Restylane, and Belotero usually last a year, Juvederm Voluma lasts around two years. Sculptra lasts around three years. However, all of the fillers stimulate your body to make its own replacement collagen, so some of the results are usually permanent.
Control Acne and Treat Acne Scars
In females especially, acne can continue into the thirties, and I hate to break it to you, well beyond. Often the pimples and blemishes leave behind brown spots that last many months. And the breakouts just keep coming. It is another thing that keeps your skin from looking clear and spot-free.
Sometimes the tissue damage that accompanies these painful, under the skin nodules and cysts of adult acne leave true scarring behind. Other times, incessant picking at these frustrating acne spots itself causes scarring. As the skin starts to lose elasticity in the thirties, acne scarring starts to look more prominent as the scars are not stretched flat. Acne scars become more sunken in, and more obvious.
Acne in the thirties can and should be treated by your dermatologist. Start with the post Acne: Why You Get It and What You Can Do to Get Rid of It and read the acne blog post series for the whole story. Mild to moderate acne scarring can be improved with Clear + Brilliant Laser, a true no-downtime treatment that improves acne scarring as well as fine lines, pigment and improves collagen production. More severe acne scarring is best treated with fractional laser resurfacing, like Fraxel Laser.
Eat a Low-Glycemic Diet to Reduce Collagen Breakdown
There is scientific evidence that overindulging in simple carbohydrates like sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, honey, white rice, white bread, and fruit-juice concentrate can prematurely age skin—as early as the mid-30s. Ingested sugar bonds with protein molecules, including those found in collagen and elastin, through a process called glycation. This forms harmful molecules called advanced glycation end products (very cleverly called AGEs). And AGEs weaken collagen and elastin, which in turn leads to sagging and wrinkles, and harmful effects throughout the body. A low-glycemic diet is high in foods that don’t break down easily to simple carbohydrates. Hopefully, you can do better here than me, because I have a long way to go on this. A very long way.
Control Weight Fluctuations to Reduce Sagging Later
Weight fluctuations are common in the 30’s, with pregnancy-related weight gain, food choices dictated by children and men who think they are still 18, hectic lifestyle, stress-related eating, and little time for exercise. But repeatedly gaining and losing weight can take its toll on the skin’s elasticity, leaving behind stretch marks, loose skin, and jowls. Aim to keep your weight in the normal range, with a body mass index between 18 and 25.
Control Stress and Get Some Sleep
It is during sleep that many of your body’s natural tissue repair mechanisms are more active including those that repair your skin. It is during sleep that your body produces human growth hormone, which helps skin stay supple and elastic. Sleep deprivation puts your body into stress mode causing it to release cortisol and other stress hormones. This leads to both decreased levels of some beneficial hormones, an increase in hormones that break down skin cells, and less time to repair the damage. Without enough deep, undisturbed sleep, the skin doesn’t properly repair daily damage. It also makes you gain weight and may shorten your life span.
Intense or chronic stress causes your body to produce more of the stress hormone cortisol, which can damage collagen and elastin and reduce your skin’s ability to repair itself.
Reducing stress and putting a priority on a good night’s sleep is easy to say, hard to do. Try.
The Wonderful Time of Coming Into Your Own
Crazy, busy, happy, stressful, fulfilling—and wonderful. The 30’s truly are the time of coming into your own, discovering your own path through life, and often helping others find theirs. Don’t let the time constraints, stress and responsibilities keep you from taking care of yourself, making the most of what you’ve got, so you can look great now and continue to do so as time passes. Chart your course wisely now, it will pay off later. You will be glad you did.
Author: Elaine Cook M.D.