Beauty & Skincare

5 Skincare Products That *Actually* Make a Difference in Your 30s


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Source: Karolina Grabowska | Pexels
Source: Karolina Grabowska | Pexels

I first became interested in skincare in my teens (which is, ironically, when my skin looked the best it ever has). Looking back, it’s an interest I honestly couldn’t tell you the origin behind—I grew up in a family of boys whose idea of skincare started and ended with a bar of soap. Perhaps it was because of that that I decided to go in the opposite direction, researching face oils and creams that could help keep my skin hydrated and dewy. 

Fast forward 15 years and I can firmly say that, at the time, what was keeping my skin hydrated and dewy was my youth. However, my interest in skincare continued, and has led me to a fairly reliable and successful routine throughout my 20s and into my early 30s. But, while I may have (hilariously) used anti-aging products and preventative skincare in my 20s, it’s only now in my 30s that I’ve realized I actually need it

Finding a routine at this age can be exhausting and overwhelming, with countless products and supposed miracle balms thrown at you from every direction. So I spoke with an expert on the subject to learn exactly what skincare products can actually make a difference from those of us in our 30s. 

Alexis Pfropper is a licensed esthetician and owner of ästhetik, a Florida spa. She shared the top five products she recommends incorporating into your routine as a 30-something.

Meet the expert
Alexis Pfropper
Licensed Esthetician and Owner of ästhetik Spa


Alexis recommends two different kinds of cleansers: a water-based cleanser for starting your day, and a cleansing oil for taking off your makeup at the end of the day. At night, you should follow up your cleansing oil with a water-based cleanser to get rid of any remaining traces of makeup or dirt. 

Cleansing oil can be incredibly beneficial to your skin, removing more makeup than a typical removing wipe, and leaving your skin more hydrated. I swear by the DHC Cleansing Oil, which has helped remove even the most stubborn of waterproof mascara effortlessly.

Ulta | DHC
Deep Cleansing Oil Facial Cleanser
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Ulta | Indie Lee
Brightening Cleanser
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Ulta | Burt’s Bees
Facial Cleansing Oil
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Amazon | La Roche-Posay
Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Face Cleanser
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Dermstore | One Love Organics
Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil
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Sephora | Skinfix
Barrier+ Foaming Oil Hydrating Cleanser
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Vitamin C or Hyaluronic Acid Serum

For daytime, Alexis recommended having a vitamin C or hyaluronic acid serum, along with an oil-based serum. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects skin from free radicals caused by UV exposure, while hyaluronic acid is a hydrating ingredient. 

Both of these are popular ingredients you’ll find in a variety of serums at different price points. I’ve personally had a lot of success using the True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster, which is a powder of pure vitamin C that can be mixed into your favorite serum (and it lasts forever).

True Botanicals
Vitamin C Booster
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Ulta | Kinship
Vitamin C and Peptide Brightening Serum
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Sephora | MARA
Sea Vitamin C Sérum
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Credo Beauty | Marie Veronique
Vitamins C+E+Ferulic Serum
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Sephora | Drunk Elephant
B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum
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Super Bounce Serum
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The big ingredient you’ve likely heard of is retinol, a form of vitamin A that is heralded as a must-have ingredient for anti-aging. However, because of its powerful effects, many with sensitive skin may have tried it and immediately discarded it for causing a reaction to their skin. Alexis recommends starting slow with the ingredient.

“The key with retinol is to start slow and let your skin adjust to it,” Alexis says. “Retinol is not an exfoliant, however, so your body may need help removing dead skin cells. I recommend gentle exfoliation and, especially if your skin is sensitive, to not use retinol after exfoliating. Instead, use repairing ingredients on the skin that night.”

For those with particularly sensitive skin, an ingredient that has become a popular retinol alternative is Bakuchiol. 

“Bakuchiol extract is naturally derived from the seeds of the babchi plant and is considered a gentle, sensitive skin friendly, plant-based retinol alternative,” says Alexis. “It is a fantastic option for those looking for the benefits of retinol but have skin that is too sensitive for it. There are not as many case studies on bakuchiol as there are on retinol, but plant-based retinols can be a nice alternative for sensitive skin.”

Sephora | Shani Darden Skin Care
Retinol Reform Treatment Serum
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Sephora | Summer Fridays
Midnight Ritual Retinol Renewal Serum
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Ulta | The Ordinary
Retinol 0.5% in Squalane
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Amazon | CeraVe
Resurfacing Retinol Serum
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Sephora | Paula’s Choice
CLINICAL 1% Retinol Treatment
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Credo Beauty | Herbivore Botanicals
Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Serum
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Natural Retinol Bakuchiol 2% Elixir
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Sephora | The INKEY List
Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Moisturizer
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Face and Eye Cream

After many years of simply using my face oil and moisturizer underneath my eyes, this year I caved and bought an eye cream. Alexis explains why the product becomes specifically important in your 30s, sharing, “I love for my clients to use eye treatments ([such as] eye gels or creams) sooner rather than later, as the skin around the eye is delicate and difficult to treat. You will see results and benefits from treating mature skin, but it is much more beneficial to slow down [and] prevent those signs of aging altogether. Starting an eye treatment young can assist in that.”

In fact, Alexis shares why products that slow signs of aging are particularly important in your 30s. “The key to fighting the signs of aging is to start before you see the signs,” she explains. “So, even if you aren’t having trouble with the skin around your eye area, start now to slow that process down.”

Along with an eye cream, finding a hydrating moisturizer to “lock in” all your serums and treatments at night and during the day will help to seal in the benefits and keep your skin moisturized and glowing.

Amazon | Burt’s Bees
Renewal Firming Eye Cream
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Amazon | Kinship
Brightwave Vitamin C Eye Cream
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Amazon | Shani Darden Skincare
Intensive Eye Renewal Cream
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Credo Beauty | True Botanicals
Resurrection Radiance Eye Cream
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Amazon | CeraVe
Moisturizing Cream
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Amazon | Augustinus Bader
The Rich Cream
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Finally, we need to talk about the product that is most important at any age: SPF. Sunscreen is incredibly important for both skin protection, and also preventing any sun damage. 

“The biggest concerns for people in their 30s include sun damage and the slowing of our cellular turnover rate,” Alexis shares. “The slower our body makes cells, the higher the chance we have of starting to see the signs of aging. The sun does far more damage than many tend to realize.”

There are two different types of sunscreen: mineral and chemical. Mineral sunscreen sits on top of the skin and acts as a physical barrier, while a physical sunscreen works by deflecting UV rays away from the skin. I know for myself, there has been no product that has made a more visible difference than when I began wearing sunscreen on my face everyday. My personal favorite is the Agent Nateur holi (sun), which has SPF 50 and provides protection through non-nano zinc oxide. 

Saks Fifth Avenue | Agent Nateur
Holi(sun) Tinted Skin Drops
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Amazon | EltaMD
Clear Face Sunscreen SPF 46
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Sephora | innisfree
Daily UV Defense Invisible Broad Spectrum SPF 36
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Sephora | Kosas
DreamBeam Mineral Sunscreen
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Amazon | La Roche-Posay
Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 60
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Sephora | Saie
Sunvisor Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 35
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