For as long as I possibly could, I put off turning 30: I traveled overseas the week of my birthday, dodged my mother’s calls on the actual day (er, bad reception?), and then, upon my return, delayed the festivities for a month. I am a natural-born procrastinator — in scheduling haircuts and holidays, even in getting married. And aging, in my mind, was simply no different.
You see, I was granted some pretty good genes and, hence, have always looked young for my age, so serious skincare — not the splash-your-face-with-water-and-fall-into-bed college variety, but the science-scrutinized alpha-, beta-, and omega-infused kind — just never resonated with me. Sure, I’ve dabbled in a new eye cream here, slathered on an exotic peptide serum there, but my basic regimen has been status quo for the past decade.
But now, since my 30th birthday — and since my discovery of a white eyelash (immediately plucked!), panic about the biological clock, and noticing the permanently etched “11” lines between my eyebrows — it’s become apparent that I’m in the thick of it. We live in an era of strategic age management, where 50 looks like 40, and 40 is the new 30. But where does that leave the actual 30-year-olds? Chances are, the prick of a cosmetic needle or scalpel is still foreign to us, but can we afford to hold off for much longer? In another five years, could we still pass for a Gossip Girl’s friend, not her mother? Will we still be asked for ID at bars?
In Survival of the Prettiest, author and Harvard psychologist Nancy Etcoff likens physical beauty to athletic skill — it peaks before age 35.
According to Manhattan dermatologist and founder of DDF Skincare, Dr. Howard Sobel, “Thirty is the tipping point of aging. You don’t look much different than you did seven years ago, but the next three to five years are critical.”
As if that’s not depressing enough, MD Skincare’s Dr. Dennis Gross puts it like this: “At 30, things are usually not as good as they appear. What lies beneath — cumulative sun damage, crumbling collagen and elastin [the support beams of still-plump skin], and disappearing blood vessels — is about to emerge as brown spots, wrinkles, and sallow and sagging skin if you don’t take care of it.”
The solutions Gross is talking about include the many topical and minimally invasive cosmetic treatments that have been embraced by his 20- and 50-something patients alike. From glycolic peels and nonablative lasers like VBeam and Mixto SX CO2 to injectables such as Restylane, Juvederm, and the ever-popular Botox (despite its recent FDA controversy), in-office choices tallied up to over 9.5 million procedures in 2007 in the U.S.