Repeat after us: I will not make these mistakes. I will not make these mistakes...
Stop Treating Your Acne Like You Did in Your 20s
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What you used to do: Subject your skin to a barrage of harsh, drying acne products (hello, salicylic acid scrubs!). It made sense then, because in your 20s, your skin was pretty oily and hard to dry out, says Jessica Wu, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine.
Why that's a bad idea now: The acne you're dealing with in your 30s is likely different than the whiteheads that popped up in your 20s. "It's starting from deeper within the skin, and more due to inflammation than oil," says Wu. Plus, skin tends to become drier and more sensitive with age, so using those products will leave you flaky and irritated.
What to do instead: Swap your acne arsenal for gentler but still effective products with ingredients like sulfur, Wu's top choice for handling 30-something acne. Keep in mind that you may need to change to more moisturizing versions of your other products as well, say Ranella Hirsch, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Boston. For example, "I often give women in their 20s a vitamin C gel, but a gel formula can be too drying by the mid-30s," says Hirsch. "A vitamin C serum will be more hydrating. You're getting the same effects from the active ingredients—you're just changing the vehicle they take to get into your skin."
Stop Leaving the Remains of the Day on Your Face
What you used to do: You did the bare minimum of washing your foundation off before bed, but you left your eye makeup on. (Today's mascara is tomorrow's eyeliner, right?)
Why that's a bad idea now: It's never a great idea to go to bed with makeup on, but since your eyes are one of the first areas of the face to show the signs of age, it's a particularly bad move to let eye makeup sit overnight now, says Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, a clinical associate professor of dermatology at George Washington University and the founder and director of Capital Skin and Laser in Chevy Chase, Maryland. "You don't want to give your eyes any extra reason to be puffy or irritated or red," she says. "Plus, the tiny glands around your eyes and eyelashes can get clogged up, which also leads to irritation."
What to do instead: Scrubbing at your eyes isn't recommended, and many face washes, especially those with active ingredients like glycolic acid, could really sting if they get into your eyes. So use an eye-specific makeup remover that's gentle but strong enough so that you don't need to rub at the area. You should also consider using an eye cream at night to help plump, lighten and brighten the area, says Tanzi.
Stop Letting Your Scale Collect Dust
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What you used to do: Your dress size probably fluctuated over the years and even season to season (winter bod is a very real thing for you).
Why that's a bad idea now: Estrogen levels can start to decline in your mid- to late 30s, which leads to fat redistribution throughout your body, including your face. For most women, that means a loss of volume in the cheeks, says Wu. Add significant weight changes on top of that, and you could be dealing with less-than-youthfully plump cheeks and looser, saggier skin.
What to do instead: At the risk of repeating something your doctor has probably told you a million times, get to a healthy weight and stay there. Going up and down by a couple of pounds won't negatively affect your face, but repeatedly losing and gaining 15 to 20 pounds probably will.
Stop Treating SPF Like It's Optional
What you used to do: You were diligent about applying sunscreen...when you were on sun-filled vacations. Day-to-day, not so much.
Why that's a bad idea now: It's never too late to prevent sun damage, but waiting much longer than your mid-30s to make it a part of your daily routine just adds to the wrinkles, sagging skin and sun spots you'll want to erase later on. And don't get us started on the skin-cancer risk, because we will lecture you if necessary. If you want to protect your skin against all of those problems, making sunscreen part of your morning routine is the number one thing you can do, says Tanzi.
What to do instead: Yes, we're telling you to use sunscreen every day. (We know. You're shocked.) Remember that your hands, neck and chest are probably exposed to the sun just as often as your face is, so give them a good coating too. If you need motivation to apply it every day, there's new research in Dermatologic Surgery suggesting that daily sunscreen application may not just prevent UV-induced skin aging, but it could help improve issues like pigmentation and wrinkles on sun-exposed areas.
<i>Ranella Hirsch, a board-certified dermatologist in Boston<br><br></i><strong>Her skin issue:</strong> Dryness. "I have really sensitive skin, and I'm just getting back into using a retinoid because this is the first time in 10 years I haven't been pregnant, trying to get pregnant or nursing," says Hirsch. (Experts recommend avoiding vitamin A derivatives like retinoid and tretinoins during pregnancy and nursing.) "I'm only using it every third night right now, and I'm peeling like crazy." That means her medicine cabinet is filled with ultra-hydrating products to help counteract that dryness and irritation. "You don't need a ton of stuff, but I probably play around with different products more than other people do." <br><br><strong>Her Routine</strong> <br><br><strong>Morning</strong> <br>1. Hirsch cleanses with a basic cleanser, "usually something you can find at the drugstore" she says. The three in her rotation right now: <a href="http://www.ulta.com/fresh-foaming-cleanser?productId=prod5021861" target="_blank">Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser</a>, <a href="http://www.firstaidbeauty.com/categories/shop-by-product/cleansers-exfoliators-and-masks/facecleanser.html" target="_blank">First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser </a>and <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001GBF0A2/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_1ZEkybFW4RKGP?tag=thehuffingtop-20" target="_blank">Dove Beauty Bar Sensitive Skin</a>. <br><br>2. She applies sunscreen, and, yes, she really does use it every day. "My skin is basically translucent," she says, so she only uses products with SPF 30 or greater. Her three favorite sunscreens: <a href="http://www.shiseido.com/ultimate-sun-protection-lotion-wetforce/0730852119543,en_US,pd.html&cgid=suncare&" target="_blank">Shiseido Ultimate Protection Lotion WetForce for Sensitive Skin and Children</a>, <a href="https://eltamd.com/product/uv-clear-broad-spectrum-spf-46/" target="_blank">EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46</a> (she likes to mix this untinted sunscreen into her BB cream for protection and coverage) and <a href="http://www.ulta.com/anthelios-60-ultra-light-sunscreen-fluid?productId=xlsImpprod3840055" target="_blank">La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid</a>. She also frequently borrows <a href="https://www.babobotanicals.com/product_info.php?cPath=26&products_id=208&osCsid=je10q1jnec3fc20knlse3aplt2" target="_blank">Babo Botanicals Nutri-Soothe SPF 15 Lip Treatment</a> from the diaper bag. <br><br><strong>Night</strong> <br>1. She cleanses again, usually with the same cleanser she used that morning. <br><br>2. Every third night, she applies a prescription retinoid called Refissa ("the gentlest retinoid you can get," she says) to address aging-skin concerns like fine lines and pigmentation. But every night, she puts on a double dose of skin soothers: first, <a href="http://www.skinceuticals.com/hydrating-b5-gel-635494117004.html" target="_blank">Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel</a>, then <a href="http://www.sephora.com/ultra-repair-cream-intense-hydration-P248407" target="_blank">First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream</a>. "When I finish up the Repair Cream, I'm going to swap it for <a href="http://www.sephora.com/elixir-ancien-P159005" target="_blank">Fresh Elixir Ancien</a>," she says, a hydrating face oil that also minimizes wrinkles. <br><br><strong>Extras</strong> <br>"Every now and then, if I'm feeling motivated, I'll use a moisturizing mask or an eye treatment like <a href="http://www.sephora.com/benefiance-wrinkleresist24-pure-retinol-express-soothing-eye-mask-P173619" target="_blank">Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Pure Retinol Express Smoothing Eye Mask</a>," she says. Or she'll apply a bit of <a href="http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/peter-thomas-roth-oilless-oil-purified-squalane-treatment/3655768?origin=category-personalizedsort" target="_blank">Peter Thomas Roth Oilless Oil Purified Squalene Treatment</a>, another, you guessed it, hydrator.<br><i><br></i>