How Do Hormones Affect the Skin in Your 30s?


Updated July 6, 2014. Intrinsic aging is determined by heredity, your genetic programming that controls the hormones responsible for aging. The skin will certainly behave differently under the influences of these hormones, but how do they affect skin from ages 30-40?

Somewhere in the early thirties (around 31-33) growth hormones slow down. The result is often little lines developing under the eyes and possibly around the mouth which can be (and should be) a wake up call to start getting serious about caring for your skin. Stress hormones often elevate and the skin goes through another change. This is when clients come to us saying “I’m starting to get wrinkles and I’m still breaking out. Help!” As a matter of fact, many women who never broke out in their teens can now start to in their thirties because of elevated stress levels. Frustrating, for sure.

Here are my tips for healthy and beautiful skin in your 30s.

Manage stress to reduce breakouts. We know that the 30s are a stressful period in a woman’s life. Many women are juggling family, a busy household and a busy career outside the home. Stress not only affects acne flare-up, in general it worsens the overall skin condition. It induces the adrenal glands into overproduction of cortisol, a steroid, which in turn makes sebaceous glands produce more oil and make skin extra oily. This the reason why in stressful periods, people experiencing an increase in acne get more inflamed, puss-filled papules than simple whiteheads or blackheads

Keep a balanced skin care routine that focuses on anti-aging, yet won’t add excess oil. Many in their 30s will fall into our skin types #2 or #6, since the skin can still get occasional breakouts, yet requires preventative aging ingredients. Especially if you’re still experiencing oil production and breakouts, you should use moisturizers and serums that are lightweight and be sure to use sulfate-free cleansers that will provide a deep pore cleansing but without leaving the skin feeling tight and dry. See our collection of cleansersserums and moisturizers.

Use a skin lightener to address pregnancy-induced melasma. Due to the increase in hormonal activity while you are pregnant, many young women can develop pigmentation. This is a very frustrating condition as patches of brown spots can appear most often above the lip, on the cheeks or forehead. The cause is hormonal changes (the increase of estrogen) which turns on melanin pigment production. What to do? For anyone who is pregnant, your best defense for preventing pigmentation is to start using a natural skin lightener every day under your sunscreen. A skin lightener like Vitamin C&E Treatment is designed to suppress melanin activity.  But of course, while you’re pregnant, you want to opt for natural skin lightening ingredients such as vitamin C (specifically Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate). There are many types of Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid, Alpha Lipoic Acid and L-Ascorbic Acid are a few examples) but I have found that Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate works best.

Use a skin lightener to fade brown spots due to sun or birth control pills. If you haven’t been pregnant and you still are getting brown spots and discoloration, this is because melanocytes decrease about 10% every decade after the age of 30 which results in irregular pigmentation. Vitamin C&E Treatment is really important to use to fade brown spots. Also, researchers have found that when you use a serum containing BOTH vitamin C and E under sunscreen, it helps to provide four times the protection of sunscreen alone. Birth control pills can also create dark patches on the skin due to the increase in estrogen causing a trigger in pigment cells so talk with your doctor to experiment with different dosages to manage your hormone levels.

Wear sunscreen every day, rain or shine. Research indicates that 78% of all sun damage incurred in lifetime is from incidental exposure. It’s all those times when you don’t think you’re getting sun because you aren’t out there long enough to actually get a tan! (The drive in the car, walking down the street…) Just because you don’t sunbathe doesn’t mean you’re not getting the UV damage. Wear a sunscreen built into your moisturizer, applied to both your face and neck, every day, 365 days a year, rain or shine, inside or out—and your skin will thank you for years to come! I highly recommend Daily Protection SPF 30 for those in their 30s since it’s very lightweight and will not clog the pores.

Use a gentle, antibacterial cleanser to prevent monthly hormonal breakouts. Since the chemistry of your skin changes during your menstrual cycle due to a spike in progesterone, switching up your cleanser (not your entire routine) can help head off a breakout. A perfect acne-fighting cleanser is AHA/BHA Cleansing Gel which utilizes salicylic acid and gentle micro beads to deep clean the pores. It was actually awarded “Best Cleanser for Oily Problem Skin” by Allure Magazine. Since it’s sulfate-free, it won’t dehydrate or irritate the skin. Start about three days before your period hits, as that’s when hormones begin to change, and continue through the week.

Limit dairy in your diet if you’re prone to cystic breakouts. Since most dairy cows are given growth hormones, the consumption of milk, cheese and yogurt become factors that influence endogenous hormones and mimic the hormones that trigger oil production in the skin to ignite the acne process. Hard, painful cystic bumps can appear in the chin and jawline area. Consider eliminating all dairy for two weeks to determine if this is the cause of your cystic breakout activity.

Use Anti Cyst Treatment to prevent monthly cystic breakouts. In addition to changing up your cleanser prior to your period, if your breakouts tend to be more cystic (the stubborn, sore “underground” blemishes that develop deep within the skin), apply Anti Cyst Treatment to the area most prone to getting these three days before your period and continue through the week. Even regular pustular breakouts can be prevented using this too. See my collection of acne spot treatments.

Limit sugary carbohydrate foods in your diet. Another key aspect of preventing hormonal breakouts may have to do with what you put in your mouth. Those sugary carbs so many young women crave during their period may be the very thing causing the breakout to occur. They can cause a prolonged increase in insulin levels and increase acne. So try cutting back on the carbs, especially prior to your period, and you may find you’ll experience less monthly blemishes.

Invest in a good eye cream and use it morning and evening. We have many clients in their early 30s that start to see these changes in their skin and it motivates them to start taking better care of their skin, including using eye cream. It’s so important to treat this area of the face with much needed moisture and line-plumping ingredients. See our collection of anti-aging eye creams.

Wash your skin every night and perform your nightly routine. Touching your face all day long, without intentionally doing so, is making your face one of the dirtiest parts on your body. It’s important to clean the skin to avoid the spread of acne bacteria that can cause increased blemishes. It’s a fact that bacteria thrive in oil. So if you can lessen the amount of oil on the skin, then technically the acne-causing bacteria is destroyed, reducing your chance of blemishes.

Read how hormones affect the skin in your teens, 20s, 40s, 50s and 60s.

Which skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take our Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

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