How Do Hormones Affect the Skin in Your 30s?

Updated 12/1/17. 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 me saying “I’m starting to get wrinkles and I’m still breaking out. Help!” As a matter of fact, many young women who never broke out in their teens can now start to in their thirties because of elevated stress levels. Frustrating, for sure.

So now onto the good news. There are definitely actions you can take to improve all of this and prevent the visible signs of aging, I promise! It just will take some effort but now is a great time to start.

Here are my expert tips for getting healthy, smoother-looking in your 30s.

Manage stress to reduce breakouts. We know that the 30s are a stressful period in a young woman’s life. Many of you are trying to get pregnant or already have children and/or managing a busy career outside the home. Stress not only ignites breakout activity but in general it worsens the overall skin condition by creating inflammation. How this occurs is that it induces the adrenal glands into overproduction of cortisol, a steroid, which in turn makes sebaceous glands produce more oil—which can lead to clogged pores and bumps or blemishes. This is the reason why in stressful periods, some may experience an increase in acne getting more inflamed, puss-filled papules than simple small whiteheads, cysts or blackheads. Regardless, finding ways to alleviate stress is always a good thing for all areas of life.

Keep a balanced skin care routine that focuses on healthy aging, yet won’t add excess oil. Many in their 30s will fall into skin types #2, #4 or #6, since the skin can still get occasional breakouts, yet requires preventative aging products. Especially if you’re still experiencing oil production and breakouts, you should use moisturizers and serums that are lightweight along with gentle, sulfate-free cleansers that will provide a deep pore cleansing but without leaving the skin feeling tight and dry. Oh and speaking of dry, there’s a big difference between dry and dehydrated skin and you really need to know what that is.

Don’t focus on what your skin did in the past. Treat it for the here and now. So many people that I consult with about their skin will share all sorts of information about what their skin used to be like. While this historical information is important information for me to know so I can truly understand their skin, I find that so many people have a hard time accepting that their skin has changed and it has different needs now. (Example: breakouts are much fewer and far between then in previous years!) It’s really important that you make adjustments to your routine and not get stuck using the things that worked for your skin in your 20s or even teen years. Your skin truly has different needs now. Look at these nine skin types or simply take this Skin Type Quiz. It will help you learn what your skin really requires now for it to look and feel its best. Also, be careful of recommendations. Your friend may tell you about some fabulous product that he or she loves or you’ll read in a magazine about a product that a celebrity uses, but that doesn’t mean it will work for your skin.

Use a natural skin brightener to address pregnancy-induced brown spots and melasma. Due to the increase in hormonal activity while you are pregnant, many 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.  Unlike some natural brighteners, 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 the best.

Up your skin care game by using more advanced active ingredients. Read the Beginner’s Guide To Using Retinol Or Prescription Retinoids and the Beginner’s Guide To Exfoliation to learn how to get started.

Consider going on, going off or adjusting your birth control pills. Without a doubt, birth control pills will affect your hormones and for some, this can improve the skin and for others, it can create problems. Read all about how birth control pills affect your skin.

Wear sunscreen every single day, rain or shine. Research indicates that 78% of all sun damage incurred in a 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. Driving in the car and walking down the street on a cloudy day are still very damaging to your skin. Just because you don’t purposely seek out a tan doesn’t mean you’re not getting the sun’s harmful rays. 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. It’s the easiest and most effective way to slow down how quickly your skin will visibly age. I highly recommend Daily Protection SPF 30 for those in their 30s since it’s very lightweight and will not clog the pores.

Use gentle products with salicylic acid manage breakouts. Since most people in their 30s aren’t dealing with daily breakouts, but rather just occasional ones, you don’t want to be using products that are overly drying and you don’t want every product in your routine to be exclusively for acne when your skin has other needs, too. The best way to do this is to just use a few effective, acne-focused products and the best ingredient to look for is salicylic acid.

Salicylic acid is a keratolytic beta hydroxy acid (BHA) famous for its ability to smooth the skin without causing irritation, reduce blemish-causing bacteria and oil to prevent blemishes, all while penetrating the pores to help clear out impurities. This is also great to use for for preventing blackheads after you get them manually cleaned out with a deep pore cleansing facial or if you decide to remove them yourself.

A perfect acne-fighting cleanser is AHA/BHA Blemish Control Cleanser which utilizes salicylic acid and gentle jojoba 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. Then, depending on your skin type, use an exfoliant like Pore + Wrinkle Perfecting Serum which has 1% salicylic acid or BHA Clarifying Serum which has 2%.

Get adult hormonal breakouts under control. It is still very common to get breakouts in your 30s and it’s all hormonally induced—especially if they are hard, cystic bumps that develop deep within the skin and linger for weeks. Here is how to prevent adult hormonal breakouts.

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 three weeks to determine if this is the cause of your cystic breakout activity.

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 monthly cycle, and you may find you’ll experience fewer blemishes.

Invest in a good eye cream and use it morning and evening. For most, the first signs of lines and wrinkles will appear around the eye area and really starts to kick in around ages 30-32. These visible changes in their skin will generally motivate most people 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 firming ingredients.

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.

Want to learn more? Here are 34 helpful tips.

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 the Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

Need expert advice from a licensed esthetician? Schedule a virtual consultation to get customized advice in person, over the phone or online via Skype or FaceTime.

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Content found on, including: text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.