Turning 30 next week. Is it too late to start taking care of my skin?
March 19, 2010 6:53 AM   Subscribe

Turning 30 next week. Is it too late to start taking care of my skin?

As a kid I was outside all the time with questionable use of sunblock. As a teen I had normal teenage acne and used normal teenage skin stuff like Oxy and Stridex and Noxema, etc. As a college student I was on crazy prescription stuff for cystic acne--I don't even remember what. In my 20s I've been all over the place as far as facial skin care: Avon, Mary Kay, Neutrogena, prescription crap, who knows.

My current skin care is thus: wash my face in the shower in the am with Cetaphil. If I'm leaving the apartment put on some concealer and some powder. At night use I Thayers astringent.

That's it. I don't moisturize because if I do it during the day I feel greasy and gross all day. I don't wear sunscreen because (a) I'm never outside and (b) it's greasy and smelly and even if I let it dry, once I go outside in the summer in Philadelphia after I walk three feet it's dripping down my face.

But I am in envy of the 80 year old women who look 50 and whose answer is cold cream. I have wicked ice pick scars that will never go away, but there must be something I can do about the sebaceous hyperplasias and the lentigenes and the impending wrinkles and "old". I know I need to take care of my face better than I have been, and I'm hoping it's not too late!

What should my 30+ facial beauty regimen be?
posted by misanthropicsarah to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (26 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
Not directly answering your question about a regimen - and I'm sure you've heard this before - but not all moisturizer leaves you feeling slimy. If you feel it would help you take care of your skin, go try some and you may be surprised. I get super dry skin from working at a pool and found that this one was particularly good for not leaving me feeling gross. Plus, as far as sunblock goes, most moisturizers are SPF15 or so.
posted by battlebison at 7:12 AM on March 19, 2010

Paula Begoun, author of "Don't Go to the Cosmetic Counter Without Me" has a website that sells her concoctions but also has a very good education section. You'll have a much better feel for what you need to do for your skin after going through her site.
posted by TorontoSandy at 7:20 AM on March 19, 2010

I turned 30 last year, and it's slightly weird, since I have a hard time remembering I'm out of the 2X's.

I don't know how it works for other people, but if I do NOT moisturize my face, the oil I make is much more than if I DO. So I use Neutrogena OIL FREE Sensitive skin moisturizer. Mine has no SPF b/c that's in my foundation, but you can get it with SPF, and it's never been greasy on my skin. Absorbs right up.

Other than that, my understanding (and I eagerly await others' input) is that you need to moisturize bits you may not think about - like your decolletage and your hands - but also stuff you probably know you should be helping out already, like your eyes, and get adequate rest, drink enough water.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:22 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I didn't start moisturizing until I was 30. I thought all moisturizers made me break out, but it turned out there were other things going on and moisturizers were not the culprit.

I am still occasionally breakout prone, so I use this Neutrogena moisturizer for combination skin twice a day, and my skin is never oily. You just need to try a few different light moisturizers until you find one that works for you. A good moisturizer should not make your skin greasy for the rest of the day.
posted by something something at 7:24 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's never too late to start using moisturizer. I use L'Oreal stuff from the drug store - a day cream and the matching night cream (the consistencies are different - one is good for going under foundation, the other is more likely to stay on your face when your face is on a pillow.) It doesn't smell like anything, and doesn't feel greasy. If you don't use any moisturizer at all (day or night), it's going to become obvious eventually. I just added eye cream to my regimen recently and it made a big difference on the crow's feet area. Never too late.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:27 AM on March 19, 2010

A good, light moisturizer with an SPF will be a good start for you. I will recommend Oil of Olay, which I've been using since I was in college. I, too, tend to have greasy skin and I have lived in some of the most humid places on earth. But I've never had problems with Oil of Olay feeling greasy (unlike that "miracle" stuff they sell you at Clinique in the yellow bottle. Blech). Get the one with SPF, and probably the sensitive skin version.

As for a more in-depth regimen, you could always start by scheduling a facial at a good spa. Not only will it be good for your skin, but it'll also give you the chance to talk to a professional about what your skin needs. I'd pick a spa that's not affiliated with a brand (i.e., don't go to an Aveda spa) or you'll just get recommendations to buy their products. Ask around or check out Yelp for recommendations. A good aesthetician can evaluate your skin and give you recommendations on what kinds of products to use and how to use them and should not try to coerce you into products or services you are not comfortable with.

Of course, your current regimen sounds a lot like what my grandmother did for years, and her skin was beautiful, so you may not need any dramatic changes, other than (perhaps) adding a light moisturizer with an SPF.
posted by devinemissk at 7:30 AM on March 19, 2010

You should definitely stop using Thayers astringent. The second ingredient is SD alcohol, which is drying, irritating, and can generate free-radical damage.

battlebison is correct, there are lots of moisturisers and sunscreens that won't make you feel greasy and you probably want to get a two-in-one product, but it may take some experimentation to find one that you're comfortable with (and how much of it you really need -- I've found that it's often less than you think). I prefer Neutrogena's "Oil-Free Moisture" line, but it might be a bit too creamy for you.

You might also try a toner (not astringent, although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably). A moisturising toner can be a lifesaver during hot months; it adds enough moisture to keep your skin happy, without the weight of lotion. Plus, it helps remove every last bit of makeup on your skin (which is especially nice if your skin can't handle a lot of scrubbing).

I like Paula Begoun's simple steps for beautiful skin; it's pretty thorough, so you don't necessarily have to do every step, but it's a good starting point. Based on that, my routine is: in the morning, wash my face and use lotion, liquid foundation with sunscreen, and powder; in the evening, wash my face and use toner and 2% BHA lotion (I'm also prone to cycstic acne and regular chemical exfoliation seriously helps).
posted by transporter accident amy at 7:34 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I know that you don't like the greasy feeling that moisturizers often have, but there are a lot of great non-greasy or oil-free moisturizers, with SPF in it. When it comes to moisturizer, you don't need to slop a ton on - put a pea sized ball on your fingertip, dab it on a few spots on your face, and then smooth all around. If you need a little more then add as needed, but even a little goes a long way. This thread, though the asker is a guy, brings up a lot of wonderful suggestions. I used to use this oil-free, SPF-17 for a few years. It's great, but it's pricey at $22/bottle. I now use this moisturizer from Trader Joe's (SPF 15, non-greasy) because I feel like it's very similar to the Mario Badescu one, but much cheaper. They're both light and don't leave me feeling melty.

As for powder make-up, try and look for something that has SPF in it. I use Bare Escentuals foundation for a general, light, all-over powder. It's $25 for a large container, but they last me nearly a year. I have sensitive skin, and I feel like their products don't irritate me at all.

I feel like I need to use an astringent at night as well, and don't moisturize at night. My pores have to be clean and dry before I go to sleep or I'll immediately break out from clogged pores. But in the morning, it's definitely a good idea. It took me a long time to figure out a routine that my skin liked - but I've settled on washing my face with water and sometimes burt's bees cleanser in the morning, letting my skin dry out after a shower, put on moisturizer, wait a few minutes then put on powder. At night, I wash my face with a hot washcloth, with burt's beas cleansers, and then Desert Essence cleansing pads 1-2 times a week, that I get at Trader Joe's (but I've seen them at some drugstores and Whole Foods).

I turned 30 a few weeks ago, so I understand some of your concern! But it's just another day, and yours to enjoy it fully celebration. Happy birthday!!!
posted by raztaj at 7:36 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm still not convinced that lotions and potions have any benefit that can't be significantly improved on by healthy living (sleep, nutrition, hydration, exercise and getting not too much but at least a little sun -- oh, and keeping all that nasty makeup off your skin).
posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 7:45 AM on March 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

A daily sunscreen. Neutrogena makes some nice ones for the face that aren't greasy. If you absolutely cannot find a sunscreen, when you go outside, wear a hat. Those 80 year olds who look 50 don't have sun damage.
No one believes my Mom is 62 (tomorrow!) because she has never spent time outside without a hat and/or sunscreen. Keeping the sun away, sufficient hydration & rest should do the trick!
posted by pointystick at 7:50 AM on March 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you were out in the sun a lot as a kid, and (especially) if you are of Northern European ethnicity, you need to start getting annual exams for skin cancer. Basil cell carcinoma is little more than an inconvenience, these days (if caught early), but it can leave an unsightly divot in your complexion, and the longer it's there, the bigger the divot.

Melanoma, on the other hand, is something you want to catch as early as possible. It will make aesthetic considerations seem less significant.

A dermatologist, if you see one, will also be full of advice about skin care.
posted by Danf at 7:51 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Happy birthday! Definitely not too late. In addition to the moisturizer with SPF good advice above (there are lots of nongreasy, nonsmelly options, particularly if you get one meant for your face, rather than body), I'd like to throw in something people don't think about -- using a lip balm with SPF. I know you say you're not outside much, but it adds up.

A really heavy-duty astringent with alcohol can make you more, not less, oily.

If you want to reverse the sun damage, you may need heavier artillery than the preventative eat well, sleep well, hydrate, SPF steps. I'd go to the dermatologist and see what they recommend. Obagi is what they suggested for me and it got rid of most sun damage and lentigenes. Sebaceous hyperplastia may require something different, and it's worth asking a professional.
posted by *s at 8:03 AM on March 19, 2010

The thing about asking for skincare recommendations is you are going to get a metric ton of well meaning but conflicting advice. The two biggest downsides of this are a) you can end up trying a lot of products that irritate the shit out of your skin and make things much, much worse, and b) it can get expensive very quickly. Even most of the face care you get at the CVS is more than pocket change nowadays.
So this is where you head down to the Sephora and ask for samples of stuff. They cheerfully hand out samples of stuff like candy there - just pick up the tester of something and ask for a sample, explaining how you have reactive skin and you'd rather not buy a full size of something potentially irritating. They will put some in a container that will easily last you a week (and is a great travel container to boot). If you don't know what kind of samples to ask for, ask for recommendations - basically sum up your whole question to the sales staff there. Specify that you are not looking for $75 moisturizer, because that place starts out pricey.
posted by 8dot3 at 8:13 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh and also? If you want a sidekick for your Sephora trip, I'm always down for a field trip there. Let me know!
posted by 8dot3 at 8:16 AM on March 19, 2010

I have acne too, and am 31, and visit a totally amazing acne doctor in my city, who I found after years of visiting dermatologists who I could never get an appointment with, and who barely looked at by skin and then shoved me out of their office with medications that didn't work.

My amazing acne doctor tells me never to use moisturizer. Instead he says to use Dove soap (liquid or bar) - not Cetaphil, because it's drying - and then a topical prescription acne cream at night with an antibiotic in it - I use clindomycin. This, in combo with a prescription dandruff shampoo every few days has helped my skin in the moisture and acne department immeasurably. During the day - use sunblock and only use makeup that's noncomedogenic.

Although I suppose everyone's different, I've been doing this whole routine for several years now and people regularly tell me I look at least 5 years younger than I am. Which makes me feel kinda awesome, even though being 31 is not terrible.
posted by jennyhead at 8:17 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm over 30 and sometimes get compliments on my skin from random strangers, so I guess I'm doing something right. What works well for one person may not for another, but this is my experience. I always wash in the morning with a decent drugstore cleanser, Neutrogena or L'Oreal. Then I use Neutrogena Alcohol-Free Toner - the alcohol-free part means it won't overdry your skin and make you produce more oil, and using a toner helps close your pores before you put makeup on.

Then comes moisturizer. Everyone is right that you should reconsider it. If your skin isn't hydrated, it will try to make up for it by producing oil. In my case the Neutrogena moisturizers make me feel greasy, and I feel like moisturizer is the one thing I shouldn't cheap out on. I tried lots of different ones end ended up loving one from Murad, but you may need to just shop around to find something that doesn't feel greasy to you. As mentioned above, try to get some samples rather than paying for stuff you might hate. And I can't stress enough that you should get one with SPF. I won't buy anything with less than SPF 30, and I think that is a big reason my skin isn't aging as fast as it could be.

I also started using eye cream more recently and like it, but that can be expensive.

As far as brands go, my friend the aesthetician says go Neutrogena if you're going drugstore, but I don't mind L'Oreal or Oil of Olay. She forbids me from putting anything from Avon or Mary Kay on my face, and isn't a fan of Aveda skincare products after working for them. She also agrees that moisturizer is the one thing to spend money on, and probably the most important part of the routine.

Oh, and happy birthday!
posted by thejanna at 8:17 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am 29 and have really oily skin. I recently became concerned with preventing wrinkles and other age-related stuff (impending 30th birthday probably has something to do with it), but found that almost all anti-aging moisturizers were pretty greasy and disgusting. So, maybe we're in similar boats.

I did find one line that does NOT give me slime face, Olay Definity. In the daytime, I use the Definity Color Recapture tinted moisturizer, which is not greasy at all, has SPF, and has light coverage. I use the Definity night cream as well, which is a wee bit greasy, but I wash it off first thing in the morning so it doesn't bother me, too much (it doesn't seem to cause any breaking out or exacerbate my skin's oiliness in any way).

I also plan to get the Definity eye cream because I am paranoid of the beginnings of crows' feet.

Also, I do wear makeup most days that also has a little extra SPF and also helps to manage oiliness. In the mornings, I put on Bare Minerals foundation & Mineral Veil, and during the day if I get shiny, I use Neutrogena's Translucent Oil-Control Powder.
posted by tastybrains at 8:21 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

And don't wash your face with anything except water. Skin is an organ designed to take care of itself. All you have to do is give it the resources and the freedom to do so. Loading it up with goo on the outside isn't going to help. The only external nutrient that skin needs is bit of sun (but not too much). (I'm not a scientist nor a doctor.)
posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 8:25 AM on March 19, 2010

But I am in envy of the 80 year old women who look 50 and whose answer is cold cream.

A lot of it is genetic, and btw you do look young for your age. But sorry, yeah, a little moisturizer is key.

I'm going to go totally against the grain here and recommend a non-SPF moisturizer. (I don't have brand recommendations, really. I've got some old-school Oil of Olay in my desk right now, but you might not like the scent.) A basic very light moisturizer without SPF will actually be absorbed by your skin.

The moisturizers that people tell me are nongreasy and nonsmelly feel greasy and smelly to me, especially once I am outside and even slightly warm, let alone sweating. After much experimentation, I realized that it's the sunscreen that's bothering me. Non-SPF doesn't give me that slimy feeling. For whatever reason, I am ridiculously sensitive to the smell of sunscreen, too, and swear I can taste the stuff all day. It's a necessary evil when I'm going to be outside, but when I can avoid it, I do.

As for the rest of your concerns, can you use alpha-hydroxy or other chemical exfoliation, or no? Ask your dermatologist if that would help or hurt. The AquaGlycolic toner works well for me, but there are lots of brands.
posted by desuetude at 8:30 AM on March 19, 2010

First, as someone else suggested, get a facial. If you go to a good place they will tell you about your skin and what kind of products you should be using (not necessarily force you to buy products, but give you general suggestions).

I'd second the people who said moisturizer isn't necessarily greasy - you might not be using the right kind. I also like to apply it right after a shower so more is absorbed into my skin. Also, nobody has mentioned non-chemical exfoliation. I love "Modern Friction" from Origins, which is gentle enough for my sensitive skin. I use it twice a week in the shower and it makes my skin look great. However, I still do recommend a facial first, because maybe if you have a history of certain kinds of acne you do not want to aggravate it by exfoliating?
posted by beyond_pink at 9:13 AM on March 19, 2010

The big two: don't smoke, protect against the sun. Everything else is very secondary in the long term.
posted by the jam at 10:26 AM on March 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Seconding 8dot3's recommendation of asking for samples at Sephora. Moisturizers--heck, most cosmetics and skin care--have changed formulas drastically even just in the last five years. Guaranteed you'll find moisturizers that won't make your skin feel greasy.

You really, really should use sunscreen; as jam says above, smoking and sun are the one-two punch when it comes to skin. You say you're "never outside," but you actually are. Even if it's just the walk from the mall to the car, or whatever, that counts. You can get moisturizers with sunscreen - I use Murad's Hydrating Oil-Free SPF 15; I found by testing a bunch of samples I got at Sephora. :) (something else to know about modern sunscreen and moisturizers and whatever: if they have a scent, that scent fades almost immediately after application. You no longer smell like a coconut hours later. *g*)

And it's never too late to start caring for your skin. I'm 40, and I didn't start moisturizing, or using eye cream, until two years ago. It's made a huge difference.
posted by tzikeh at 11:21 AM on March 19, 2010

Its never too late to start! I get told I look years younger and I know its because I moisturize day and night, as well as use sunscreen daily as well as my secret tool, the Clarisonic Cleaner.

It sounds like you're using some harsh cleaners, which while you may assume are combating oil, are actually producing more. You may want to experiment with the opposite of what you're using and see what happens. I'm such a huge proponent of all things kiehls. Good luck!
posted by Unred at 4:40 PM on March 19, 2010

Seconding using Dove soap rather than harsher stuff.

This, from Unred, is also good advice: It sounds like you're using some harsh cleaners, which while you may assume are combating oil, are actually producing more. You may want to experiment with the opposite of what you're using and see what happens. At the least, you should stop using the astringent at night.

The non-greasy moisturizer I've tried and liked, which is the one that really does not seem greasy to me, is Aveeno. They also make a nice one with Sunscreen.
posted by gudrun at 12:10 AM on March 20, 2010

I'm 30 and for the past couple of months have used jojoba oil (not technically an oil) as a moisturizer. I add a tiny bit of castor oil to that because apparently it has a greater molecular weight and can help the jojoba absorb more deeply into the skin. My skin tends to be very greasy, but as others have hinted keeping your skin moisturized will help decrease sebum production (part of sebum's function is to keep the skin hydrated and not brittle).

I don't use soap to wash my face because I think it's too drying, and I used Cetaphil and Purpose at different times but now I use Clean For a Day (made by Kiss My Face) since I'm trying to avoid parabens and other such harmful chemicals. I use that in the shower, and the oil mixture before bed (and if I'm going to be home all day...if you put it on your face and your hair makes contact with it, your hair will look greasy and gross). I simply pour a tiny bit of castor oil into my palm (any more will make your skin really dry, oddly enough), some jojoba oil, rub my palms together, and rub it all over my face. Not pretty, but I like the results quite well so far.

You can search for "oil cleansing method" (OCM) and you'll find lots of info about people using different kinds of oils to clean their faces with specific regimens, but I haven't gotten that fancy with it.

I buy jojoba oil (moderately expensive) from acne.org (you may also find it at a food co-op or natural foods store), and castor oil can be had for around $2 in the laxatives section (no, really!) of any drugstore. If jojoba costs too much, I think you can use any number of oils available at the grocery store (like extra virgin olive oil)...tons of info about that if you search for it. I've noticed that the huge skincare lines (eg St Ive's) have recently begun to incorporate olive oil into their products, so maybe they're trying to get on the OCM bandwagon.

I don't wear makeup, if that makes any difference, and I also try to drink a lot of water because it makes my skin happy. (I also don't use a sunscreen most of the time, but am now motivated to be better about that...)

I know the oil thing sounds like the opposite of what makes any sense and I was reallly hesitant to try it myself what with my body's stellar oil-producing abilities, but my skin is much less greasy now.
posted by splendid animal at 11:58 PM on April 9, 2010

Lots of good tips (including numerous references to using oils) here.
posted by splendid animal at 12:07 AM on April 10, 2010

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