Dive back into our Skin Care by the Decades series with Dr. Shoná Burkes-Henderson, Associate Principal Scientist, to learn skin care tips and more for thirty-somethings! Not in your 30s yet? Check out one of these articles for information that you can apply to your daily routine! 

Skin Care by the Decades: Your 20s
Skin Care Routines 101
Safe Skin Care Facts

Dr. Shoná Burkes-Henderson, Associate Principal Scientist, a black female scientist, smiling in a scientific setting

How does my skin change in my 30s?

Ageing is an inevitable, complex process that can be clinically described as having features such as wrinkles, sunspots, uneven skin colour and sagging skin. Signs of ageing begin to appear in your late 20s, and you start to produce 1% less collagen in the skin every year, and the rate of cell renewal begins to decline. In your 30s: 

Wrinkles begin to appear due to decreased collagen and elastin levels and the impact of repetitive facial expressions. For example, you may see fine lines and wrinkles in the eye area (crow’s feet) and smile or forehead lines.
Cell turnover begins to slow in your early 30s, contributing to uneven skin tone and tired, dull-looking skin. 
Even though ageing can definitely feel jarring or scary for some people when those first signs of ageing start to appear, ageing is natural and not a bad thing! What’s truly important is that you take care of your skin so it can be beautiful and healthy at any age.
A blonde white woman with beautiful even skin

What does essential skin care look like in my 30s?

In addition to having a basic skin care routine  (cleansing, moisturising and UV protection), add age-defying products that target fine lines and wrinkles, and uneven skin tone along with other more noticeable signs of ageing to your regimen. Choosing the right age-defying products for your skin can help reduce premature signs of ageing and keep your skin looking healthier and younger. 

• Facial Cleanser: Cleanse day and night to help remove makeup, dirt and impurities that can lead to blocked pores and breakouts.  
Antioxidant Serum: Use an antioxidant-rich serum to protect against free radicals on skin, which can contribute to premature skin ageing including fine lines, pigment changes and textural irregularities.  
• Exfoliation Product: Remove dead skin layers and speed up your skin cell turnover to help give you radiant skin. 
• Moisturising Sunscreen: Choose a moisturising cream that contains SPF to keep skin hydrated and protected from environmental stressors such as UV radiation. Broad spectrum sunscreen protects your skin from UVA rays that contribute to wrinkles and brown spots and UVB rays that contribute to sunburn. Daily use of a sunscreen is a must.

 Retinol: Add a topical Retinol product to your regimen to help improve the overall texture and even-toned skin. Apply it at night, and avoid your eye area.  
• Moisturiser or Hydrating Face Mask: Use a hydrating cream with hyaluronic acid or a moisturising face mask to help skin retain the moisture it needs to promote softer, smoother, more supple-looking skin.  
• Eye Cream: Use an eye cream both day and night to hydrate the skin around the eyes and increase suppleness.

Product Suggestions:
• Try TimeWise Replenishing Serum C+E to add an antioxidant megaboost to your regimen for skin that’s firmer looking, brighter and glowing with good health. 
• Exfoliate twice each week with the TimeWise Repair® Revealing Radiance® Facial Peel, which uses glycolic acid as a chemical exfoliant, or try TimeWise® Microdermabrasion Plus Set, Botanical Effects® Invigorating Scrub or Mary Kay Naturally® Exfoliating Powder for physical exfoliation. 
• Add the Mary Kay Clinical Solutions™ Retinol 0.5 Set for a nightly dose of the powerhouse ingredient retinol. 
• Lock in vital moisture in 10 pampering minutes with the hydrating TimeWise® Moisture Renewing Gel Mask.


If you have normal skin, your skin does not experience dryness or oiliness. Since your skin is more forgiving than other skin types, you can easily try cleansers, moisturizers and masks until you find what works for you. But what about the other skin types?

A smear of the pink, moisturizing TimeWise® Moisture Renewing Gel Mask
 If this is your skin type, your skin may feel tight, and fine lines and wrinkles are more visible. Look for products that emphasise extra hydration like Mary Kay® Intense Moisturizing Cream and the TimeWise® Moisture Renewing Gel Mask!

Four purple, creamy dots of Mary Kay® Oil-Free Hydrating Gel in various sizes
Your skin has an over-production of sebum (oil) and shine but also fewer wrinkles. Use oil-free moisturisers like the Mary Kay® Oil-Free Hydrating Gel, cleansers with salicylic acid, clay masks and products labelled as “non-comedogenic” that don’t clog your pores. Even oily skin needs moisturisation.

A smear of the gray, creamy Clear Proof® Deep-Cleansing Charcoal Mask
Your skin is defined by an oily T-zone and dry/normal skin on the rest of your face. Some products are designed specifically for combination skin, but many products are flexible enough for your use. Choose the products that moisturise your skin without making your T-zone feel too heavy, or try multimasking with Clear Proof® Deep-Cleansing Charcoal Mask and the TimeWise® Moisture Renewing Gel Mask!

A man dispensing MKMen® Shave Foam into his hand

Do men in their 30s have different skin care concerns from women in their 30s? Do you have different advice for women and men in their 30s? 

Skin ageing is generally the same regardless of gender. With ageing, the slowing down in collagen production generates a loss of hydration and skin thinning which can lead to the appearance of wrinkles. So if you already have a basic regimen (cleanser, SPF protection, and moisturisation), focus on products that target fine lines, wrinkles and uneven skin tone. 

However, men generally don’t focus on skin care as much as women do. Male grooming habits and behavioural differences also contribute to different skin needs compared with women. For example, daily or weekly shaving with razors can contribute to increased irritation and dryness. Men are also less likely to protect themselves against sun damage and nourish their skin compared to women, so they need to make sure they’re focusing on that.

Product Suggestions: 
• MKMen® Skin Care includes the basic products men need to care for their skin - face wash, moisturiser with SPF and eye cream.


Mary Kay Global Beauty Ambassador Luis Casco recently gave us a few tips about men’s skin care — including shaving! He suggests shaving after a warm shower so your pores can be more open. Then wet your face with warm water before applying shave foam. Follow by gently shaving in the direction your hair grows to prevent irritation and get a smoother shave.

Several dots of the white Calm + Restore Facial Milk from the Clinical Solutions® Retinol 0.5 Set

What kinds of ingredients should I look for when I’m shopping for skin care in my 30s?

I suggest using anti-ageing products that contain these key ingredients.

Also known as vitamin A, this ingredient supports the natural production of collagen and elastin to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. It improves skin texture and reduces the look of dark spots by accelerating skin cell turnover.

Product Suggestion: Mary Kay Clinical Solutions™ Retinol 0.5 Set is powered by pure, potent, high-concentration retinol, which is the gold-standard ingredient dermatologists recommend for adults of every age.

Always wear a broad spectrum sunscreen, even when its cloudy, for daily protection. It’s an important step in any and all routines because it can protect the skin from harmful UV rays, and helps prevent the early signs of skin ageing.  

Product Suggestion: Mary Kay makes many moisturisers with sun protection, and the TimeWise® Age Minimize 3D® Day Cream SPF 30 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen is great for early to moderate signs of ageing. 

Vitamin C supports the natural production of collagen and elastin and is a strong antioxidant to protect against free radicals on skin, which can contribute to premature skin ageing. 

Product Suggestion: Add TimeWise Replenishing Serum C+E to get three distinct forms of vitamin C, plus vitamin E. 

Hyaluronic acid helps provide moisture to the skin and helps the plump skin. 

Product Suggestions: The Volu-Firm® Complex in TimeWise Repair® Volu-Firm® collection features a skin-volume-supporting peptide that helps maintain natural hyaluronic acid.1
A smiling black woman with glowing even skin

Is it possible for me to have youthful, firm, wrinkle-free skin in my 30s? 

Healthy skin is attributed to lifestyle, environmental factors and genetics. As I mentioned before, there is a reduction in collagen production as you age, which leads to thinning skin and the development of fine lines and wrinkles. However, sun damage is largely responsible for the appearance of wrinkles and the loss of firmness. Avoid overexposure to the sun where possible. Having a good anti-ageing regimen including sunscreen products  can help protect against and prevent the signs of ageing, maintain healthy skin long-term and give skin a more radiant appearance.
Clear Proof® Acne System in while, green and black tubes on a bathroom counter with the teal, transparent Indulge® Soothing Eye Gel

I still have acne in my 30s. How can I get rid of it?

Acne is caused when the pores of your skin are plugged with sebum (oil), dead skin cells, or bacteria, so I suggest effective cleansing with salicylic acid. This key ingredient promotes the easy removal of dead skin cells and helps unclog pores of dirt and sebum to resolve and prevent lesions. If you get mild breakouts, use a spot treatment containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. For serious acne, consult your board-certified dermatologist for recommended treatment.

Product Suggestion:
Mary Kay’s Clear Proof® Acne System for Acne-Prone Skin uses 2% salicylic acid, a highly effective ingredient, to help clear up existing blemishes and help prevent future breakouts.
An Asian woman with beautiful skin

How does my race/ethnicity affect how my skin ages?

Ageing is influenced by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors and less based on ethnic origin. Environment and lifestyle are some of the key factors that impact facial skin ageing. The visual signs of skin ageing, such as wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and lack of skin elasticity, can occur in all ethnicities. However, some research studies indicate that the following signs of ageing were more commonly observed in these people groups: (in alphabetical order)

 Black/African American: Uneven skin tone and sagging of the jawline.
 East Asian: Uneven skin tone and crow’s feet.
 Latinx: Uneven skin tone and sagging of the jawline.
 White/Caucasian: Lines and wrinkles, and loss of skin elasticity.

Product Suggestions: 
For uneven skin tone, use the TimeWise Repair® Revealing Radiance® Facial Peel twice a week for skin that looks rejuvenated and revitalised with a more even tone. In addition to vitamins C and E, TimeWise Replenishing Serum C+E also contains navy bean extract, which is shown to help reduce the appearance of discolouration on the skin’s surface and improve the look of more even-toned skin overall.2

For sagging of the jawline, apply TimeWise Repair® Volu-Firm® Advanced Lifting Serum after using your daily cleanser. In an independent clinical study, sagging skin along the cheeks and jawline is visibly lifted for 100% of the panelists.3

For crow’s feet, smooth on TimeWise Repair ® Volu-Firm® Eye Renewal Cream using the metal applicator twice a day after your moisturiser. This hydrating cream contains ingredients shown to support skin’s natural collagen and elastin to help maintain skin’s natural framework.4

For deep lines and wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity, try using some or all of the products from the TimeWise Repair® Volu-Firm® collection. It’s clinically shown to help reduce the look of deep lines and wrinkles and improve skin elasticity.5
A blonde woman with beautiful even skin gently touching her face

How does skin change in my 40s and 50s?

Your 40s could be a bit of a turning point for your skin. You may notice more signs of ageing in the form of: 

 Increase in fine lines and the development of deep wrinkles. 
 Loss in volume and skin elasticity resulting in sagging skin, flattening of the cheeks and a noticeable change in jawline contours. 
 Increase in skin dryness and roughness.
 Increase in hyperpigmentation (age spots), uneven skin tone and less radiant skin. 

What causes these changes? 

These signs of ageing in your 40s and 50s may happen for a variety of reasons — some of which are completely natural parts of the ageing process! 

 The skin’s natural exfoliation process slows down, contributing to uneven skin tone and tired, dull-looking skin.  
 A gradual reduction in skin nutrients could lead to less-radiant skin.

• As skin further matures, we lose more hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is important for skin hydration. Hence, the skin will be more prone to dryness. 
• Additionally, the skin’s natural ability to maintain barrier function is diminished, which could lead to dry, rough skin.  
• As you age, there is a reduction in collagen production. Signs of ageing become more pronounced. This reduction can lead to deep wrinkles and expression lines and lines on the forehead and along the nasolabial folds.  

Product Suggestions:
Keep focusing on serums or other products with retinol as well as products that provide SPF protection and exfoliation benefits, but also consider updating your routine with the skin care products we suggest below to address these more advanced signs of ageing. 

Serum With Antioxidants, Vitamin C, or Peptides: Antioxidants and vitamin C help protect against free radicals on the skin, which can contribute to premature skin ageing including fine lines, pigment changes and textural irregularities. Vitamin C and some peptides can help support skin’s natural collagen and elastin production. We suggest TimeWise® Miracle Set 3D, TimeWise Replenishing Serum C+E and TimeWise Repair® Volu-Firm® Advanced Lifting Serum.

Eye Products: Use an eye product that focuses on specific ageing issues like lines, wrinkles and firmness. Because the skin starts to appear drier and crepey, it is crucial to keep the skin around the eye as hydrated as possible. We suggest TimeWise Repair® Volu-Firm® Eye Renewal Cream.

Exfoliators:6 The slower turnover of skin as you age may require adding an exfoliant to help remove a top layer of dead skin cells. Use an exfoliant once or twice a week, whether in the form of microdermabrasion or a peel, to help improve skin texture and give you radiant skin. A few exfoliating products to consider are TimeWise® Microdermabrasion Plus Set, TimeWise Repair® Revealing Radiance® Facial Peel and Mary Kay Naturally® Exfoliating Powder.

Skin Care For Your 30s, 40s and 50s

If you need a little help figuring out your anti-ageing routine or just need to re-order your favourite serum, contact or connect with a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant! As your personal skin care advocate, she can help you love your skin and try the latest makeup looks with one-on-one consultations and small gatherings — virtually or in person!