Wear sunscreen (at least SPF 30) every day—and don’t skip the eye area. “The single most important thing you can do for your skin is to defend it against UV rays,” says New York dermatologist Amy Wechsler. “The SPF in your makeup isn’t enough.”
Never sunbathe or use a tanning bed. If you want to look tan, a spray tan or self-tanner is the only answer.
Use a retinoid at night. Prescription-only retinoic-acid treatments (like Retin-A, Tazorac or Renova) fight wrinkles, unclog pores, clear acne, smooth skin, even out skin tone and fend off some skin cancers. (If your skin is too sensitive for prescription retinoids, the next strongest thing is over-the-counter retinol.)
Don’t pick at your skin. Permanent scars are totally not worth it.
Wechsler notes that 54 percent of 35-year-old women have adult acne. Brandt agrees: “The biggest complaint is pimples and wrinkles at the same time.”
Retinoids treat both acne and wrinkles, as can salicylic acid. If these don’t work for the acne, dermatologists have more powerful solutions, from bacteria-zapping laser treatments, oral antibiotics, birth control pills and prescription androgen blockers to (for persistent cystic acne) Accutane.
Manage stress. “Chronic anxiety speeds up aging—I wrote a whole book about it,” says Wechsler, who holds degrees in both psychiatry and dermatology. “It can cause wrinkles, pimples, dryness, redness and irritation.”
Fillers are also sometimes useful in the 30s. “Some women start to see nasolabial folds and a bit of sagging in their mid-30s,” says Brandt. “Some subtle Restylane in the cheek can lift that right up—people are always amazed at the result.”
This is when your past sun damage comes back to haunt you—in the form of wrinkling, redness, uneven skin tone and brown spots. You might see some volume loss in your face, too.
Add a peptide cream to your routine. Peptides generally don’t cause irritation, so they’re easy to incorporate morning or evening, and they treat practically every sign of aging.
Lasers (like Clear and Brilliant, Fraxel and IPL) can supercharge your at-home efforts, brightening skin and obliterating lines, broken capillaries and hyperpigmentation.
As oil production drops off, your skin’s protective barrier starts to weaken, making it less able to hold moisture, so build hydration into every step of your routine.
Switch to a creamy cleanser, and use face oils, hydrating serums and lotions or balms that sink right in. Together, they’ll strengthen the lipid barrier so your skin feels smoother and calmer.