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A Mom’s Guide on How Skin Changes During Your 30s and 40s

We all know it: Moms typically prioritize taking care of their families over their own self-care. And as we enter our 30s and 40s, the days when we’re so busy taking proper care of everyone else and not getting a chance to drink enough water or have a skincare routine eventually start catching up with us. Slap on natural body changes you already go through, you might be starting to notice wrinkles, age spots, and fine lines earlier than you expected. 

Need some tips on the skin concerns you’re noticing? We’ve got all that and more. From how your skin changes during your 30s and 40s to tips for aging skin–it’s time to take a break from your mom duties (only for a minute) and talk about skincare. Let’s get into it.

Why Does Your Skin Change As You Get Older?

With the extra push from vitamin C, collagen is the building block of our skin. One of collagens’ main jobs is to replace dead skin cells and provide strength and elasticity to our beautiful outer shell. When you hit your mid-twenties, collagen production starts to decline. The result? Wrinkles, dullness, and less-bountiful skin.

On top of that big collagen drop? “Genetics, hormones, nutrition choices, sun exposure, our tendency for stress, and how well we sleep all affect how our skin ages. And let’s not forget about gravity,” says Dr. Brooke Jeffy, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of btwn skincare.

How Hormones Affect Skin 

Estrogen is an important hormone for women. It plays a key role in puberty, fertility, emotional changes, and pregnancy. Plus, estrogen also affects your skin health. It helps with collagen production, elasticity, and moisture of your skin–thank you estrogen for the bouncy glowing skin. 

But you guessed it. As we age, hormonal changes have a significant impact on our skin. After 30, women begin to experience a decrease in estrogen production. Low estrogen leads to dryness, thinning skin & barrier function, and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Dr. Geeta Yadav, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of FACET Dermatology, adds another spin to this. “Especially if you’ve discontinued birth control in this time frame, [you will notice] drier and more sensitive skin than you’ve experienced in the past, and possibly even acne,” says Yadav.

Common Skin Issues After 30

Because collagen starts to decline in your mid-20s, moms usually start to notice signs of aging in their 30s. After things like years of breastfeeding, sleepless nights and always being on the go chasing around toddlers–it’s normal to start noticing things you’ve never seen before in the mirror when you slow down a bit. 

Here are some common skin issues you might notice after 30, noted by Doctors Yadav and Jeffy:

  • Fine lines
  • Wrinkles
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Mild-laxity (loss of volume & firmness)
  • Angiomas
  • Broken blood vessels 
  • Duller skin

Common Skin Issues After 40

Quickly fast forward to 40 and your skin changes even more. “This is when skin laxity becomes even more noticeable, with some patients experiencing jowling or deeper folds around the nose and mouth,” says Yadav. At 40, many women will enter into perimenopause–a transitional period before menopause–which also contributes to increased skin issues.

Dermatologists Yadav and Jeffy list the following skin issues after 40:

  • Jowling
  • Worsening dry skin
  • Increased acne
  • Rosacea
  • Eczema
  • Melasma
  • Darker sun spots
  • Increased dullness

3 Skin Care Tips for Aging Skin

With all the inevitable skin changes in your 30s and 40s, you might be wondering if there’s anything you can do to support this aging skin. You’re noticing more wrinkles, fine lines, and dull skin–there’s got to be something you can do, right? Luckily we’ve got all the skin care tips from the experts right here.

1. Above all, use sunscreen

The best way to take care of your skin? Wearing quality sunscreen. “Even if you were lax about SPF usage in your teens and twenties, there’s no reason to continue with a bad habit,” says Yadav. Sun damage will accelerate skin aging and even worse, put you at risk for skin cancer. First and foremost, sunscreen is the most important step to support your new skincare routine.

2. Incorporate a retinoid into your skincare routine

Whether it’s an over-the-counter retinol from a drugstore, a cream from your favorite beauty brand or a prescription-strength serum from your dermatologist, retinol will do the trick. Yadav even says that it can do everything from promoting new collagen and cellular turnover to combating and preventing acne.

3. Minimize stress

Easier said than done–but something you should always strive for. Stress is a big factor in the health and beauty of our skin. “Stress causes inflammation in the body, and systemic, chronic inflammation is very unhealthy–your skin can’t heal or regenerate itself as rapidly and your oil production is negatively affected, causing congestion and breakouts,” notes Yadav. Finding stress-reducing activities like yoga, meditation, walking outside, working out or even a nice warm bath can go a long way in your aging skin journey. 

Aging Skin FAQ’s [Answered by Dermatologists]

When does your skin start aging?

“By 30, if not earlier, most women will start to see changes related to skin aging. Genetics and

lifestyle choice influences when changes start and how rapidly they progress,” says Jeffy.

What serum is most effective for anti-aging?

Dr. Yadav highly suggests finding a skincare formula that contains retinol or retinoic acid. It’s been proven to treat signs of aging along with many other skin benefits. “It can address fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, skin laxity, enlarged pores, and blemishes—it’s really an all-in-one treatment and should be a staple of your regimen,” says Yadav.

Is it normal to get wrinkles at 30?

Yes, it’s completely normal. “There is no abnormal time to get wrinkles—everyone’s skin is different—but it’s in our thirties that we begin to see wrinkles more frequently,” says Yadav.

I’m getting dark spots on my skin as I get older, is that normal?

They definitely can be. Dr. Jeffy told us that sun-induced brown spots can occur as early as the teen years in areas that have been chronically exposed to the sun. “They often appear first across the shoulders. With continued exposure, more appear often on the face, neck, chest, and upper back,” says Jeffy.

When should I be concerned about spots on my skin?

“If you notice that a spot is larger than a pencil eraser, has multiple colors, jagged edges, is changing or bleeding, get it checked out by a board-certified dermatologist,” says Jeffy. It could be a normal dark spot on your skin, but it could also be something more serious.

Aging Peacefully & Gracefully

As moms, we are used to constantly juggling multiple responsibilities and taking care of everything and everyone–often putting our own needs to the side. However, it’s important to remember that taking care of ourselves isn’t a luxury, but a necessity.

While looking in the mirror and seeing your face change over the years can feel discouraging, it’s important to embrace the changes and fall in love with the wisdom and experience that come with growing older. Remember to always wear sunscreen, give a retinol serum a try and strive to reduce the daily stress in your life. It’s never too late to start taking care of your skin.

Experts in this article:

Dr. Brooke Jeffy is a board-certified dermatologist practicing in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the founder of btwn skincare, a product line to help tweens and teens get started with healthy skin and wellness habits early.

Dr. Geeta Yadav is the founder of FACET Dermatology in Toronto. She is a board-certified dermatologist who trained at the University of Toronto, Johns Hopkins and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. Dr. Yadav is an expert in both medical and cosmetic dermatology with a large and growing medical practice that specializes in atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and skin cancer. She has a special interest in skin of color and has been quoted in numerous mainstream publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Allure, Vanity Fair and Cosmopolitan. She has a regular presence on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn and tries to use these platforms for education and awareness on a variety of topics.