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30 Reasons Your Skin is Getting Worse in Your 30s

Yes, it's inevitable. But it's also reversible.

While there are some undeniable perks to getting older—you're wiser, richer, more content, and maybe a parent—there are certainly some downfalls, too. Chiefly: your skin goes through a precipitous decline. What once was a flawless, youthful complexion is now home to an armada of fine lines, weird blemishes, and—prepare yourself for a flash from the past—zits. (Oh, you thought you left those behind in your teens? Well…)

Thankfully, although this decline is inevitable, know that it is reversible. You can still get an ethereal, angelic complexion again. Herein, we've cobbled together the 30 most common reasons your skin gets worse as your age—and, more importantly, what to do about it. And for more sage skincare advice, don't miss the 30 Best Ways to Have Your Best Skin.

Your Hormones Are Changing

bad beauty products Worse skin

You might feel like you're thriving in your 30s, but your estrogen levels unfortunately are not. According to dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, it's this decade when levels first begin to dip and your cell turnover slows down, making your skin less tight and elastic, causing dryness and leading to some acne flare-ups. That's right: you never fully grow out of those pimply teenage years. And if you're looking for ways to restore a glowing complexion, learn the 40 Easy Ways to Guarantee Healthy Skin.

You're Eating More Sugar

eating late health myths Worse skin

As sad as it sounds, Sugar Face is a thing — and all those sweet, late-night snacks you've been sneaking while the kids are asleep could wreak havoc on your complexion. Experts say the simple act of giving up sugar can make you look years younger, mostly because you're steering clear of its toxic effects on the skin. One of the most noticeable? Sugar's ability to disrupt collagen, making your face look less plump and lifted.

You're Still Wearing the Same Makeup as You Were in Your 20s

eyeliner makeup woman Worse skin

You should rethink your makeup choices often, and once you hit your 30s, your beauty collection might be in need of a makeover. With all the changes going down with your skin, your old products probably won't keep looking as good: your dryer skin could be getting even more flaky thanks to a once-trustworthy foundation, settling into fine lines. And all those chemicals? They probably won't play well with your newfound sensitives. Start going for items that are more natural and moisturizing to keep your skin looking youth and fresh. For more on what beauty products to avoid, check out 20 Beauty Products You Should Never Use.

You're Not Exfoliating Regularly

Woman Exfoliating Skin Anti-Aging Worse skin

Exfoliating is one of those things you know you should do, but probably don't — kind of like flossing. But not getting rid of all that built-up dead skin can make your skin look pretty horrible, especially as you age. According to experts, exfoliating gets rid of the debris and excess oil that would otherwise clog your pores and make your skin look older. When you take the time to scrub off those dead, dull cells, you'll instantly look younger and more vibrant.

You're Not Drinking Enough Water

energy worse skin

When you're not taking in enough fluids, it's going to show up on your skin: as your body's largest organ, it needs to be replenished and revitalized constantly. Slacking on your water intake will only make your complexion look dry, tight, and flaky, says the UW Health, which can make you more prone to wrinkles.

Your Melanocytes Are Decreasing

w2oman with freckles worse skin

According to celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau, your melanocytes — the cells that produce melanin in the skin, which is responsible for your skin color — decrease by 10 percent every decade after 30. It might not seem like a big deal, but that's exactly why those weird dark spots pop up out of nowhere: "For women who've never experienced pigmentation problems, you will start seeing freckles or large brown patches on the cheeks or around the mouth," she wrote.

Sun Protection Isn't a Top Priority

Woman Applying Sunscreen Anti-Aging worse skin

You might have baked in the sun throughout your 20s, but now that you've hit your 30s, it's not uncommon for all that sun damage to start making an appearance. According to the Cleveland Clinic, UV rays age your skin more quickly, making fine lines and wrinkles pop up much easier. But you can prevent further damage: Just start wearing a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher and wear protective hats and layers when you're in the sunshine.

Your Thyroid Isn't Working as Well

over 40 myth worse skin

Over time, your thyroid function starts to slow down, and that can explain some of the skin issues you're having in your 30s. Everything becomes dry and scaly — and even your hair and nails take a hit, become more thin and brittle, says Harvard Medical School. Luckily, there are some ways you can combat the issue: your doc can give you a synthetic thyroid hormone in pill-form that can have you looking and feeling more like yourself again. To boost the function of this essential gland, learn the 20 Ways to Have A Healthier Thyroid.

You've Yet to Upgrade Your Skincare Routine

best skin worse skincare

As time goes on, the type of skin you have changes. Your once-oily skin can quickly turn into sandpaper, and that's exactly why Rouleau recommends upgrading your skincare routine. "Especially if you're still experiencing oil production and breakouts, you should use moisturizers and serums that are lightweight along with a gentle, sulfate-free cleanser that will provide a deep pore cleansing without leaving the skin feeling tight and dry," she wrote.

You're in a Battle Against Gravity

using retinol can get rid of wrinkles worse skin

Your perky years are sadly ending, skin included — and there's really nothing you can do about the naturally-occurring phenomena. According to the Cleveland Clinic, gravity will start making changes in your skin, causing things to droop as your complexion loses elasticity. Don't worry, though: you're still young and it will be quite a while still until gravity takes its full effect.

You've Yet to Discover Retinol

moisturizer woman towel bathroom worse skin

As you get older, retinol will truly become your BFF — and if you're feeling crappy about your skin, it might just be because you haven't met the product yet: "Women in their thirties should start using a retinol cream nightly to help stimulate collagen production, which will combat the skin aging process that can cause fine lines and slight sagging to occur. Retinols can be found in many over-the-counter products," said dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD.

You're Getting Lazy with Taking Off Your Makeup

Woman using makeup wipe worse skin

Well, here's some bad news for any 30-something still sleeping in makeup: it not only clogs your pores and causes breakouts, but it can also lead to early wrinkles and fine lines: "During the day you accumulate a lot of oxidative stress. When you sleep in your makeup you are not giving your skin a chance to recover from those insults, which can lead to premature aging," said dermatologist Erin Gilbert, MD.

You're Losing Hyaluronic Acid

Woman Applying Serum to Skin Anti-Aging worse skin

Starting in your late 20s, your skin begins losing hyaluronic acid, which keeps your skin moisturized — and a subsequent decline in estrogen doesn't help since it factors into production: "Your skin becomes leathery and starts to crack like an old raincoat. The purpose of skin is to act like a barrier. As your face gets drier, it also gets more sensitive," said dermatologist Stuart Kaplan, MD. To help solve the issue, stock up on creams that are specifically made to renew hyaluronic acid.

Your Acne Is Evolving

bad acne grooming worse skin

Maybe you got a pimple here and there in your 20s, but in your 30s? The evolved acne that comes in the new era is totally normal… and, yes, also totally stinks. "The late 20s is when women start to see hormonal acne — deep, cystic bumps in the chin and jawline area," says dermatologist Lauren Ploch, MD.

Your Wine Obsession Has Grown

Never Overpaying for Wine worse skin

If being in your 30s means sipping on a glass of wine as often as possible, you're not alone. That's not good news for your skin, though: Not only does alcohol of all kinds — antioxidant-packed red wine or not — totally dry out your skin, making it look much duller, but experts say it can also make you look swollen, bloaty, and even exacerbate certain skin conditions. "76 percent of people that drink red wine have a flair of their rosacea versus 56 percent of those drinking white wine," said Debra Jaliman, MD.

You're Still Tanning

woman tanning worse skin

At this point, in 2018, given all the discoveries made by the medical community and advancements made in the skincare one, there's zero reason to tan. The habit has been proven time and time again to cause skin cancer. And on top of that, it can also totally ruin your skin, making you age quicker and look much older than you already are, says the Cleveland Clinic. Instead of treating yourself like a piece of toast, lather on a fake tan from a bottle to get a healthy glow instead.

Your Sleep Schedule Is Out of Whack

sleep after 40 worse skin

You know you need a good night's sleep to function properly during the day, but did you know the quality you're getting can also affect how your skin looks? "If you're consistently sleep deprived, not enough collagen is produced to replace what inflammation will naturally break down. Also, during the deepest stage of rest, growth hormones peak and stimulate cell and tissue repair," she wrote. Yep, the whole "beauty sleep" thing is more truthful than you thought. If you need help catching some Zs, bone up on the 70 Best Tips for Your Best Sleep Ever.

 You're Sleeping in a Weird Position

woman sleeping on bed worse skin

When you're younger, you can sleep in any position you want with any sort of negative outcome — you don't even get sore. Now that you're in your 30s, even the way your head is lying on the pillow can mess with your skin. According to the Cleveland Clinic, sleep creases — which are commonly found on the side of your forehead, near the temples, or on your cheeks — become more visible as you age. To avoid walking around with lines on your face, it might be time to try sleeping on your back.

You're Taking Too Hot of Showers

energy before noon worse skin

There's nothing like the comfort of standing in a hot shower. But even though it's making all your stress melt away, it's making your skin incredibly angry with you. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should always bathe in warm water — never anything hot — because that heat removes the oil from your skin, making it dry and cracked and causing you to age more quickly. In other words, never turn the shower dial past the three-quarter mark.

Your Stress Levels Are Out of Control

mindfulness stressed out woman at desk yelling work worse skin

One more reason to get your stress levels down? Your skin. Not only does stress have detrimental effects on your well-being, but according to the Mayo Clinic, it can also trigger more breakouts and other skin issues that make your complexion less than flattering. Instead of taking on too much in your day-to-day, take the time to relax and calm your nerves before all that tension leads to wrinkles.

You're Still Smoking

worse skin

By this point, you know smoking is a big no-no for your lungs. Unfortunately, it's also horrible for your skin. All those cigarettes lead to wrinkles as well as paler, more dull-looking skin. Plus, the longer you do it, the more damage it causes: "Many of the more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke also damage collagen and elastin, which are fibers that give your skin its strength and elasticity. As a result, skin begins to sag and wrinkle prematurely because of smoking," wrote J. Taylor Hays, MD. And let's not even go into the wrinkles you get from pursing your lips while inhaling.

You Have a Horrible Diet

Woman Eating Fried Oreos Summer Fair worse skin

Your diet plays a bigger role in the appearance of your skin than you might think. To turn a dull, dry complexion into something much more glowy, simply start eating more wholesome goodies. According to the Mayo Clinic, fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins have been shown to lead to younger-looking skin while eating unhealthy fats and processed or refined carbs will send you down the opposite path.

Your Circulation Is Slowing Down

wrinkles worse skin

It's not just your facial skin that's starting to change in your 30s. As you reach this decade, your blood and lymph circulation slows down, resulting in more fat storage around your body, which you'll most likely notice in the form of cellulite on your butt, thighs, and hips. Just like most things (hello, wrinkles), everyone has it — you're not alone.

You're Always Yo-Yo Dieting

fad diets are weight loss secret that don't work worse skin

It's tempting to try and shed some pounds here and there, but if your weight is constantly fluctuating, you're not doing your face any favors. According to cosmetic doctor Jean-Louis Sebagh, who works with Cindy Crawford, it's best to find a number that works and stay with it so you're not constantly messing with your skin's elasticity: "After you have children, find a weight that's easy to maintain and keep to it. The worst thing you can do to your face at this age is to yo-yo diet," he said.

You Went Off Birth Control

Birth Control worse skin

If you plan on having kids in your 30s, there's a good chance you've ditched the pill. The only problem with that? After years of taking those hormones every day, going off can wreak havoc on your skin until your body gets used to its natural state again. But even when everything balances out, you'll still probably get more acne than when you were on it. "When you're on the birth control pill, your ovaries aren't making significant testosterone. Testosterone can be skin-unfriendly, which is why guys get more zits than girls, generally," said Mary Jane Minkin, MD.

You're Spending Too Much Time in Front of a Screen

Wifi television worse skin

These days, people are glued to their computers, TVs, and phones. Watching all those cute puppy videos might make you happy, but once you see wrinkles pop up from constant use, you'll probably have some regrets. High Energy Visible Light — which you may know as blue light — is emitted from the devices, and according to a 2015 study published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, there's a chance that exposure could make you age more quickly, bringing about wrinkles and fine lines before you might expect to see them.

You're Not Taking Care of Your Teeth

Woman Flossing Teeth worse skin

Yep, you read that right — your teeth have an important role in how your skin looks. According to plastic surgeon Phil Haeck, MD, worn-down teeth — whether that's through grinding due to stress, biting your nails, or not brushing them properly — can make your skin looser. Combined with fine lines that are already naturally forming due to age, it's not uncommon for a neglected smile to create wrinkles and sagginess around your mouth.

You're Not Wearing Sunglasses

Boy with Pink Sunglasses Parenting worse skin

The skin around your eyes is incredibly delicate — and if you're constantly squinting from the sun, that could explain why you're already seeing fine lines pop up in the area. To minimize eye wrinkles down the line, dermatologist Vivian Bucay says your best bet is to buy some shades with mirrored lenses, which "block more UV rays than regular tinted lenses."

You're Eating Too Much Dairy

Cheese-Making Class Best Birthday Gifts for Your Husband worse skin

Your love of cheese is finally catching up to you. According to the Cleveland Clinic, eating too much dairy can really mess with your skin due to all the hormones they contain. When you already have a bunch of hormonal things going on in your body, adding more in from those products might make even more pimples pop up.

Your Face Is Losing Fat

old man face sagging

In your youthful years, the natural fat in your face gives you structure. As you age, though, that plumpness starts to disappear. According to Harvard Medical School, that fat "loses volume, clumps up, and shifts downward," resulting in loose and saggy skin. While aging is inevitable, taking great care of your skin can really help slow down the process. And if you're looking for great ways to take care of your skin, check out these 10 Top-Selling Korean Beauty Products That Are Worth The Hype.

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Tehrene Firman
Tehrene Firman is a freelance health and wellness writer. Read more
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