Skin Through Your Ages IV: The Thirties

Skin in the Fourth Decade


Did you know that you’re never in the same skin twice in any given month? Whether it’s the weather, “that time” of the month, a nasty cold that is challenging your immune system, or the stress you’re under at work, your skin takes a beating and truly reflects what’s going on inside and outside your body. And these constant challenges can cause a myriad of changes like wrinkles, sagging, and dryness, which are never attractive qualities, if you’re trying to look the best you can be. In fact, cell turnover in the skin occurs on the average every 30 days, plus or minus, depending on your age. So literally, you are never in your same skin twice, at least every 30 days. But this rapid turnover of cells is also an opportunity to renew and rejuvenate your skin every month, like having a do-over, which is an incredibly golden opportunity. How often are we able to truly improve the health of an organ in our body every month, especially because it is so very accessible and open to improvement? You can literally change the quality and health of your skin every day of every month, with help of course. So let’s look at how skin changes over time. Let’s look at each decade in the life of your skin.

This installment is the fourth in my series “Skin Through Your Ages,” where we will focus on the third decade of life of your skin. 

The fourth decade or the thirties are tricky and quite variable because of all the different life experiences that can influence the state of the skin. The skin can still have its glow factor, but whether due to environmental factors or genetics, the insidious arrival of wrinkles, skin laxity, dyspigmentation, and loss of volume are not only unwelcome, but often also a shock to the female psyche. Suddenly, one’s youthful glow and resilient skin don’t quite bounce back like they used to.

In your thirties, the cumulative effects of sun damage, life experiences, and the simple, but inevitable passage of time take their toll and begin to show on the face. neck, and chest in the form of new wrinkles, textural changes, pigmentary unevenness, and some early sagging and bagging. This is when the skin starts to lose some of its elastin, collagen and native hyaluronic acid, so that it starts to look less supple and less hydrated. If unhealthy lifestyle habits like smoking, sun-worshipping, tanning booths, or as elemental as the basic lack of sleep have continued until this time, then the skin will absolutely start to show the wear and tear. In fact, these “environmental factors” have firmly established themselves and already have had a lasting and persistent effect on skin health. For example, the effects of sun damage and smoking start to accelerate in a cumulative fashion, causing the skin to have a leathery texture, larger pores, and an uneven, sallow pigmentation.

Your thirties demonstrate a cell turnover that is slowing down to about 30-40 days, allowing damage to be more persistent and less responsive to self-repair. The skin simply cannot bounce back like it used to.  The skin also gets drier because it makes less of its own natural oils and is more prone to the damaging effects from the environment, especially the sun. Life events, like marriage, pregnancy, the birth control pill, life stress, work stress, and family stress are happening quickly in succession, all converging to be reflected on the skin. Although these life events are entirely transformative, exhilarating, rewarding, and invigorating, this is a peak time when women start to “feel” and see their age in their skin. This is a time when many women will start to seek care from a dermatologist to help them to restore skin health and to help reverse some of the effects of the aging process. I often see patients in their thirties arrive at our doorstep for their first cosmetic visit, wanting to refresh and boost the quality and health of their skin. They do not necessarily want any drastic changes, but do desire some minimally-invasive treatments that would be just enough to have others notice how young they look without anyone knowing that they actually had anything done.

The thirties are also a time when lifestyle choices that could impact the skin should be judiciously and consciously made, like choosing to wear sunscreen, washing the face twice daily, drinking less alcohol, getting more sleep, and actually moisturizing and caring for the skin. Sounds a bit unexciting, doesn’t it? However mundane or tedious they sound, these healthful habits can be entirely transformative and the effects quite enduring. So what’s the good news, you may ask? It is that starting an anti-aging skin regimen during the thirties is ideal, because it truly can be impactful and the results will be long lasting. Combined with in-office treatments as simple as Botox injections, the rejuvenative improvement will be effective because of the underlying, intact, still-solid native bone and muscular structure of the face being able to provide the strong support. The potential for improvement of the skin of a woman in her thirties is tremendous, but also gratifying, because the results can be more immediate, enduring, and amazingly striking, but still look natural.

An anti-aging regimen, much like the twenties, involves using a gentle, non-stripping cleanser, a hydrating eye cream, a hydrating face day cream with antioxidants, sunscreen, a serum that exfoliates and rejuvenates, a serum with peptides and/or growth factors, a moisturizing night cream, and definitely a retinoid. The thirties are a time that may require accelerated attention if there exists a significant degree of sun damage, but the effective, long-lasting results can be quickly achieved and maintained. Because youth is still on your side in your thirties, this is a time when minimally-invasive, in-office treatments and excellent skincare can have permanent, appreciable, and long-lasting results. Below, I outline a simple skincare regimen that anyone can follow, no matter your age, but especially effective to start in your thirties. I also give drug-store items versus cosmeceutical-grade versions for comparison and options. For links to product information, refer to the bottom of the page.


Next month’s installment for “Skin Through Your Ages” will be about the fifth decade of life, the middle-age years, when wrinkles, sagging, and bagging have moved in to stay. But do not lose heart or faith in your skin, because I am here to help. So until then, happy healthy skin!

–Dr. H


Restorsea Reviving Cleanser                                                  

Skinbetter Smoothing Daily Treatment Eye Cream          

Restorsea Rejuvenating Day Cream                                      

DefenAge 8-in-1 BioSerum                                                     

Replenix Restorative Nighttime Bio-Therapy                       

SkinBetter AlphaRet Intensive Overnight Cream         


CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser 

Aveeno Absolutely Ageless Eye Cream  

CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Serum

Aveeno Absolutely Ageless Restorative Night Cream

RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Filler

Read  more about your skin in each decade:

Skin Through Your Ages I: Childhood 

Skin Through Your Ages II: The Teens

Skin Through Your Ages III: The Twenties

Skin Through Your Ages IV: The Thirties