The best skincare routine to use in your 30s

There are things in life that make complete sense. You always spread butter on your toast before the jam, you’d never watch the last episode of a series first and you wouldn’t dream of wearing your sports bra over your top. Where skincare is concerned, it makes sense to use products designed for your age group, right?

Why does your 30s skincare routine matter?

Trouble is, knowing what the best skincare routine to use in your 30s is can be a bit of a minefield. Not only that, but this is the decade where fine lines, dullness and dryness are showing up on your face quicker than invites to weddings and baby showers thanks to slowing skin cell turnover, thanks to the accrued impact of environmental and genetic ageing.

Add in fresh levels of stress – perhaps more seniority at work or fertility struggles – and it’s easy to see how your complexion is starting to change.

But, by making a few simple changes in your skincare regime will make a huge difference. So what are the skincare must-haves for 30+ skin? Note pads at the ready, here’s a deep dive into how to create a beauty routine in your 30s.

What skincare routine does a 30 year old need?

First off, let’s start with how your skin is different now, to in your 20s. During your 30s, your hormone levels start to decrease and the rate of collagen and elastin production lowers. As Lorraine Scrivener, skin expert at Eden Skin Clinic explains, ‘Cell turn-over becomes slower during your thirties and skin doesn’t bounce back as it once did.’

How you looked after your skin previously will play a part in the ageing process and you’re certainly not on your own if you’ve maybe been a little careless with your complexion.

‘Most of us will have some evidence of late nights and UV damage by the time we hit thirty’, says Dr Anita Sturnham, a GP specialising in dermatology and the founder of Nuriss clinics.

If fine lines weren’t enough to deal with, you may also find that your skin is either newly dry or oily. However, all is not lost here – there are plenty of high power products that can combat dehydrated skin and rebalance your complexion.

But there are plenty of treatments and products out there to help restore and repair your skin. You can have great skin at any age, it’s just as you get older, you have to be a little better at looking after it.

Is it OK to use retinol in your 30s?

Using targeted products that contain effective actives is a good idea in your 30s, yes. While some products, such as potent vitamin A derivative, retinol, need to be introduced with caution (it can cause irritation and dryness in some complexions), they are the formulas that will do the best job, when it comes to anti-ageing.

For those with sensitive skin types, look to retinol alternative bakuchiol. Derived from the Indian babchi plant, this natural wonder is said to work on your fine lines, brighten, reduce the appearance of pores and more.

Is it too late to start a skincare routine in your 30s?

It’s never ‘too late’ to start investing in your skincare. Of course, prevention is better than cure – so the earlier you start taking time to nourish and take care of your skin the better. If you’re unsure where to start, make it a priority to remove your make-up every night, make sure you’re wearing SPF every day and add a hydrating serum into your morning and evening routine.

What serums should you use in your 30s?

Brightening, hydrating, anti-ageing – you name it, there’s a serum out there somewhere promising to deliver your every desire. But when it comes to specific serums to use on 30s skin, that will first and foremost depend on your skin type and concern.

For example, if your skin is sensitive and dry, you might want to look to a ceramide-rich serum, like the Elizabeth ArdenAdvanced Ceramide Capsules Daily Youth Restoring Serum, which locks in moisture and protects the all important skin barrier. Or, perhaps your skin’s lost a little of luminosity of late, in which case say hello to Drunk Elephant’s C-firma Fresh Day Serum, which harnesses vitamin C and ferulic acid to protect your skin and bring back its glow. Keep scrolling to see our guide to serums and actives, below.

What should 30 year olds put on their faces?

When it comes to the best skincare routine for 30s skin, let’s start with some expert golden rules, before moving into the products and ingerdients to try.

1. Ditch the wipes

Your twenties might have been filled with the convenience of taking off makeup with a face wipe, but your skin isn’t as resilient in your thirties.

‘Wipes are too abrasive for your skin in your thirties’, explains Scrivener. ‘They might also contain alcohol, to remove makeup quickly, which can disturb your skin’s natural barrier function, leading to sensitivity and dehydration’.

2. Be gentle

According to a study from La Roche Posay, 62% of women say their skin is reactive, irritable and intolerant, so choosing the right products is essential to maintain healthy skin. It’s also easy to become obsessed with actives and acids but remember your skin needs to be cared for too. Don’t go overboard.

3. Don’t be scared to see a dermatologist

Lots of women experience changes in their skin post 30. Things like adult acne, pigmentation, and rosacea, commonly come along as our bodies start to change.

Work and life stresses can play a part, as well as other factors like hormones and diet, and it’s really not just you who may be experiencing something new when it comes to your skin.

A lot of women who develop skin conditions and hope it will get better on its own and go away. But plodding along with something that is making you unhappy, is never a good idea. Conditions like Rosacea don’t just disappear, and unless cared for by a specialist, they can worsen and become more difficult to treat.

So don’t be shy, Dermatologists don’t bite.

4. Micellar waters are not ‘proper’ cleansers

Skincare guru Caroline Hirons believes micellar waters are great if you’re in a spot with no water, think planes, festivals, gyms and the like, but they’re not to be used in place of washing your face.

Use them to remove make-up? Sure. Just be sure to follow with your normal cleanser or face wash. Trust us, your skin will thank you.

5. Spend your money on the middle of your routine

Another tip from Hirons, ‘invest in the middle of your routine, where you can’. Basically, you want to splash the cash on the serums and actives, rather than the cleansers and moisturisers. This is because serums tend to be more expensive because they’re trickier to formulate and require pricier ingredients.

What is a good skincare routine for 30 year old?

Everyone’s skin is different, so what suits one complexion may not suit another but as a general practice, the following affordable routine is a great one to follow…

The best skincare routine for 30s skin


Light cleanse

As you sleep, your skin goes through a renewal process, by eliminating toxins and debris and because you’re not removing make-up or SPF you only need a light-textured cleanser.


It’s often left off most people’s lists but toners shouldn’t be so quickly discarded, as some have the ability to help tighten pores, eliminate toxins and rebalance your skin. It really depends on the cleanser that you’re using before and how you wash your skin. Look for clarifying toners or waters that rebalance your PH.

‘Antioxidant based toners harmonise your PH to 5.5, the level it needs to be to optimise skin health’, says Dr Sturnham. ‘Your toner also works to ‘prep’ your skin for your essential serum step, making it penetrate into the deeper layers and work more effectively.’

Elemis Soothing Apricot Toner 200ml




Moisturisers are great giving you hydration and protecting the skin’s barrier, but if you want to deliver active ingredients deep within your dermal layers and cause a real action, then you’ll need a serum.

They can be pricey, but if you buy from a cosmeceutical brand then you know that the cost is covering clinical trials and that it has been balanced correctly for your skin. Plus, you can totally scrimp a bit on your face creams to balance out the cost.

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Lots of actives sit under the umbrella term serum. Here’s a quick guide to some of the ones you might want to add to your locker, depending on your skin’s needs:

L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C): An antioxidant that brightens and helps neutralise free radical damage.

Retinol (Vitamin A): Anti Ageing, this also helps reduce the appearance of enlarged pores and pigmentation. (Use this at nigh-time, not in the morning.)

PHA / BHA / AHA: Exfoliating acids that help with skin texture and rebalancing

Salicylic Acid: Kills bacteria and dissolves the debris that can cause spots to form.

Ferulic Acid (Contains Vitamin C + E): an antioxidant that helps to build collagen and even skin tone.

Vitamin C



What about Hyaluronic Acid?

Hyaluronic acid serums will plump the skin and tackle dehydration on the top layers of the skin. This means that they don’t have to be as clever as their other serum-y counterparts and you can get away with paying a little less. ‘Add in a hyaluronic acid to strengthen the epidermal barriers and support collagen production’, advises Dr Sturnham.

Pestle & Mortar Pure Hyaluronic Serum 30ml

Pestle & Mortar



Apply your creams in a system of the lightest fluid first. So serum, moisturiser and then SPF. That way, the most liquid formula will penetrate first, and the other layers will sit on top to nourish and protect. If you’re SPF is fairly hydrating you can always skip the moisturiser.

Vitamin B, C and E Moisturizer




SPF is essential at any age and imperative if you want to delay the ageing process. You should be using one daily and how much you need will obviously depend on your skin type and your UV exposure.

Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30

Paula’s Choice



Cleansing & Exfoliating

Hopefully, you’ve already been pairing your cleanser with a weekly chemical exfoliator to remove dead skin cells. If not, then now is the time to include one. Dependant on the brand, you should be using one about 1-3 times a week, but never daily.

Lactic Acid 10% + HA

The Ordinary


On other days, use a cleanser alone, choosing one that suits your skin’s needs. It’s important not to overload your skin. If you are using lots of actives like Retinol, Vitamin C and acids then it’s a good idea to have a few days where you use gentler products. Listen to your skin, and give it what it needs.


An anti-ageing retinol is best used at night as it can increase your skin’s sensitivity to UV rays. You can get formulations in varying strengths, and the best one for you will depend on how sensitive your skin is.

Try starting with something around the 0.3% mark. That way you can build up slowly, reducing the risk of irritation.

A 1% is the strong end of the market. Note: you should avoid retinol when pregnant, but can use bakuchiol, a plant-based alternative, instead. You can also try this option if your skin is super sensitive and peels easily, as retinol might be too aggravating.

Medik8 Crystal Retinal 3 Serum 30ml



Night Cream

The purpose of a night cream is to support your skin through its regeneration process and make it more efficient. WH Beauty Editor Perdita Nouril swears by Filorga Time Filller.

Time-Filler 50ml



Eye cream

The skin around the eyes is the most sensitive part of of your face, and will be one of the first areas to show signs of ageing. However, a lot of the time what is inside your eye creams will be exactly the same as the lotions you use on your face, meaning you can get away with not buying both.

*Usually the main difference is that they contain less aggravating chemicals that are not suitable for the eye area.*

What you can’t get away with is slapdash application. Spend a little more time gently massaging your creams in. This process will strengthen the muscles in your face and encourage collagen to be produced. Just like your body, your face will become firmer the more you work it out.

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