I'll Be 30 Next Year and Want the Best Skin of My Life—5 Swaps I'm Making

Beauty editor Kaitlyn McLintock

(Image credit: @kaitlyn_mclintock)

As a beauty editor, I spend a lot of time analyzing my skin. Part of it comes with the job. I'm tasked with testing hundreds of products per year, and to do that effectively, I need to monitor my skin for visible changes. The other part is personal. Whether it's a pressure I place on myself or a preoccupation with caring for my skin in the best way possible, I'm constantly cognizant. I try to reapply SPF every two hours at the beach. I try to prevent clogged pores via regular exfoliation. I try to hydrate my skin with a good serum-moisturizer combo.

Despite my diligence, I'm human, and I want to live my life. If that means going on a camping trip with limited access to a sink for face-washing, so be it. If that means leaving my retinol out of my carry-on to make way for other travel essentials, that's okay! I'm passionate, but I'm not precious about it. That's why seeing signs of aging in the mirror doesn't bother me all that much. I'm 29—turning 30 in exactly one year—and signs of aging are to be expected. Actually, they're a privilege.

Still, I'm a beauty editor, and if there are things I can do to slow down signs of aging and make my skin look and feel its healthiest, then I'm going to do them. That's why I recently reconfigured my skincare routine to suit the changing needs of my skin. My goal is to get my routine down pat before turning the big 3-0. It's my way of celebrating where I'm at and looking forward to a new decade.

Beauty editor Kaitlyn McLintock wearing a sheet mask

(Image credit: @kaitlyn_mclintock)

First, the Changes Taking Place in 30-Year-Old Skin

Brendan Camp, MD, FAAD, is a double board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology. He filled me in on the changes that take place in the skin when we reach 30. "Collagen and elastin, which are structural proteins in the dermis that provide firmness and rigidity to the skin, are produced less as we enter our 30s. Their degradation is also accelerated by damaging UV rays." That's why 29-year-old me has less plumpness and elasticity in her skin than 21-year-old me. Not to mention sun damage despite years of wearing sunscreen.

Kristin Gunn, celebrity aesthetician and owner of Halcyon Skincare and Beaux Medspa, agrees. "Hormones play a key role in anti-aging and skin health," she says. "When estrogen starts to decline we see a more dry, sometimes dull complexion. Estrogen is a key building block in the recipe for collagen, so less of that means noticeably less collagen production. You may feel less plump and less hydrated." Pair that with less cell turnover, and Gunn says you could see drier, duller skin. "You may also see the beginning of fine lines in the skin, as well as sun damage popping up from your carefree days at the beach in your earlier years!"

As if that's not enough, Gunn says our bodies begin to reabsorb bone when there's less estrogen present. This has aesthetic effects on the face and neck. "We see this around the mouth and eyes typically first—sometimes giving a sunken appearance or the beginning of jowls."

Beauty products on shelves

(Image credit: @eggcanvas)

Aside from collagen and elastin decline, Camp says people in their 30s can experience increased oil production—even acne. This might be surprising, considering that oil production usually decreases with age, but Camp says it's due to hormonal changes.

Personally, I'm experiencing the former, but not the latter. I can tell my skin is less elastic than it used to be, and I've noticed some slight sagging in my under-eye area and by my jowls. I've also noticed that my combination skin is getting drier. While I've always struggled with dullness and dehydration, it's getting harder to maintain moisture. Luckily, the experts say I don't need a complex routine to rehab my skin. "A simple skincare routine from which to work off includes the use of a cleanser, vitamin C serum, moisturizer, and SPF in the morning, and then a cleanser, retinol or retinoid, and moisturizer in the evening," Camp says.

And don't think it's too late to start treating your skin well. "It's never too late to begin," Gunn says. "Some people make the mistake of thinking they can't start a routine now. You can! Prevention is always better than the cure, but we can fix anything! Be committed to the basics such as washing your face every night. Wear your SPF every day. Use a hydrating serum and moisturizer. You must at the very least do this!"

Swap #1: One-Step Cleansing for Double Cleansing

More Oil Cleansers I Love

Swap #2: Hydrating Serums for Retinol Serums 3 Nights Per Week

More Retinol Serums I Love

Swap #3: Clay Face Masks for Exfoliating Face Masks

Swap #4: Gel Moisturizers for Cream Moisturizers

More Moisturizers I Love

Swap #5: No Eye Cream for Eye Cream

Professional Treatments to Consider

Beauty editor Kaitlyn McLintock pictured in a dermatologist's office

(Image credit: @kaitlyn_mclintock)

Skincare products are essential, but don't think they'll work overnight. Take it from Gunn, who says, "Consistency is key when developing a skin routine. No skincare product or prescription will work overnight; it will need to be used regularly and typically for at least three months before deciding if it is effective or not."

If you're impatient like I am or you're looking for more dramatic results, you can always turn to professional treatments. The experts recommend a variety of them based on specific skin goals and concerns. Here's a list.

  • Neurotoxin Injections (Botox, Dysport, Daxxify, Xeomin, etc.): "Neurotoxin treatments help reduce the appearance of dynamic lines, which are wrinkles that form when facial muscles are contracted," Camp says. "Neurotoxin treatments may help prevent etched lines from becoming deeper and more noticeable, a form of treatment some people call 'prejuvenation.'" Gunn says this is often referred to as "baby Botox" by industry experts. "This is a term for 'preventative' Botox. Small amounts of Botox when you are younger can help prevent wrinkles when you’re older!"
  • Intense Pulsed Light (IPL): Camp recommends looking into IPL treatments if, like me, you struggle with "changes related to sun exposure," like "broken blood vessels and sun spots." Also called a "photo facial," these treatments are noninvasive and use light to improve skin tone and texture.
  • Moxi Laser: "This laser has little to no downtime," Gunn says. "It helps erase sun damage, promotes collagen formation, and helps to perfect texture and tone. This is a laser that is booked out for weeks and very popular!"
  • Microneedling: Camp says microneedling treatments "create small injuries in the skin to stimulate collagen production to tighten skin and reduce the appearance of uneven skin contours, which may develop as a result of acne scarring." Gunn highly recommends it. "This is one of my favorite treatments for the 30s crowd. It's only a couple of days of downtime, and your skin texture and tone will be beautiful and bright. It helps with uneven texture, acne scarring, and crepiness. You will also build collagen for weeks afterward!"
  • DiamondGlow Facials: "This is by far my favorite facial out there," Gunn says. "It exfoliates all of the dead skin and impurities and then infuses your skin with rich serums to repair and hydrate. You leave looking dewy and bright!"

I've only ever gotten the occasional facial. However, about three weeks ago, I decided to get Botox for the first time in my brow crease (well, Dysport, if we're being technical). My brow crease had formed a permanent wrinkle, and my go-to skincare products just weren't cutting it. Even though it's just been a few weeks, I'm extremely happy with the result. My brow crease has virtually disappeared, as has the accompanying wrinkle.

Lately, I've been considering getting IPL and microneedling treatments at some point in the future, but I haven't sprung for them yet. For now, I'll stick to a consistent skincare routine based on the above tenets. Look out, 30! Here I come.

Kaitlyn McLintock
Associate Beauty Editor

Kaitlyn McLintock is an Associate Beauty Editor at Who What Wear. Although she covers a wide range of topics across a variety of categories, she specializes in celebrity interviews and skincare and wellness content. Having lived in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, she recently relocated back to her home state of Michigan where she works remotely. Prior to Who What Wear, she freelanced for a variety of industry-leading digital publications, including InStyle, The Zoe Report, Bustle, Hello Giggles, and Coveteur. Before that, she held a long-term internship and subsequent contributor position at Byrdie. When she's not writing, researching, or testing the latest and greatest beauty products, she's working her way through an ever-growing book collection, swimming in the Great Lakes, or spending time with family.