I had relatively few skincare problems until I entered my 30s. But when I turned 30… man, I wished for my perfect 20-something skin.
It all started when I got pregnant at 30. Pregnancy does a real number on your skin! I did experience the so-called pregnancy “glow” but I also had a horrible case of pregnancy melasma (brown spots on the skin). The spots appeared early in my pregnancy and got worse throughout. By the time I had Cooper, I had a spot about the size of a dime on my right cheek, two swatches under both my eyes, and a rather unappealing mustache-like blob above my lip. I’m not going to lie… the changes in my skin were harder to deal with than the changes in my body. I could cover my rolls and stretch marks, but no amount of concealer would cover my melasma.
The pictures on the right are both me with makeup. In the top, you can see the dime size spot on my cheek, and in the bottom, the spots under my eyes. I was so self-conscious of my skin! It took me 2 years to get to a point where I’m comfortable sharing a picture without makeup (left pic, taken this summer).
I share all this just to let you know that (for some people) it all starts to go downhill in your 30s. While my 30s have been the most comfortable, freeing, and confident age of my life they have also been the age where I’ve seen the most changes in my skin and body. So let’s chat about some of those changes, shall we?
Melasma is typically caused by using oral contraceptives. It can also appear in pregnancy. The spot on my cheek first appeared when I started birth control in my mid-20s and it darkened and grew larger during pregnancy. You can also experience hyperpigmentation when you use some sort of retinol or acid (salicylic, glycolic, etc) and you go out in the sun without sunscreen.
Tip #1: Use sunscreen! Especially if you’ve already developed spots of hyperpigmentation – sunscreen will keep the spots from darkening.
Tip #2: There are all kind of “lightening” creams & serums on the market. I’ve done some research on hydroquinone and it just isn’t something I’m comfortable using. I found the best results with a combination of products – Arbonne RE9, Peter Thomas Roth Max Complexion Correction Pads, and Philosophy Help Me.
There is nothing to make you feel your age like beginning to see the beginning of crow’s feet, forehead wrinkles, and laugh lines. I hope when I’m 80 that my face is a map of wrinkles, telling the story of how I’ve lived… but for now, I prefer to keep them at bay as long as possible.
I had some strong opinions about retinol use for 20somethings, but I will recant here and say that I think you should introduce a retinol in your 30s. I still don’t think you should reach for the Retin-A unless it is dermatologist recommended, but there are some great over the counter options to try.
My top pick, and the one I personally use, is Philosophy Help Me. I’ve seen a great reduction in the appearance of my melasma as well as my blackheads since using this product. I don’t find it to be overly harsh and I did not experience peeling or dryness. I started off using this every third day and eventually moved to every other day. Be sure to wear sunscreen when using a retinol! A good drugstore option is Alpha Hydrox Retinol ResQ ($16).
I’ve always had pretty oily skin, but in my 30s I found I started to experience dryness in the winter. I didn’t really know how to deal with this as I’ve always been an oil slick, so I compensated by slathering on super heavy night creams. This didn’t work the way I’d planned and I just ended up with greasy skin in the morning and breakouts. Beauty oils have been a lifesaver for me. They add in moisture without breaking me out.
Argan Oil is all the rage right now and the Josie Maran Argan Oil gets rave reviews. I find that simple is best and so I use two drops of jojoba oil mixed with my night cream. I get my jojoba oil from Trader Joe’s – cheap & organic!
You know, I really hate to admit this online but I suffer from a bad case of the female ‘stache. It’s a curse, I tell you. I’ve resigned myself to using a facial shaver every week, but I was absolutely HORRIFIED when I found myself beginning to sprout hairs from my chin. OH NO SIR. I don’t really think there is any way to stop this, but I do encourage you to use a bright light and a magnified facial mirror every few weeks to check yourself. Those things creep up on you, and trust me when I say you don’t want to be in the middle of a family outing when your son pulls on your chin hair.
So, friends, sound off: what skincare problems are you experiencing in your 30s? What are your beauty secrets for this age?
Andrea House is a Southern bell and a self-titled beauty maven that deals with her toddler’s frequent meltdowns by seeking peace in the aisles of Sephora and Ulta. By day she is a social worker, while at night she manages her household while reading story books in her best Elmo voice. Andrea blogs at My Chihuahua Bites, where her blog philosophy is “keepin’ it real.” You can read more from Andrea on her blog, My Chihuahua Bites.