Dear Marta,

I am in my 30s, was trying to cheer myself up looking for something new to buy and browsing your site made me think it would be great if you could put together a basic regimen that covers all the bases and is right for my age.

Dear T,

The first things that come to mind – since you mentioned that you were in need of cheering up (and in November, who doesn't?) – are brightening and pampering. You are in need of an exfoliating mask – and so are most 30-somethings.

It is in your 30s that your skin starts to look a little gray and washed out. A weekly, gentle exfoliating mask will give you a brighter complexion, refine your skin tone and help close enlarged pores. Plus the very act of putting on a mask and having to wait 15 minutes or so gives a busy woman some well-deserved “me time”. I would go for La Vie Celeste’s glycolic mask, it has mostly natural ingredients and a 5% glycolic concentration that is just enough to give you a glow (read our reader review).

As far a 30-something regimen goes, a good cleanser is essential. Oily skin will benefit from John Masters Organics Bearberry Oily Skin Balancing Face Wash ($22). For those of you who don’t think it’s a real cleanser unless it foams, this one is for you. A key ingredient is willow bark and oily skins will benefit from its astringent and antiseptic properties, as well as sebum control.  If your skin is prone to breakouts, then Epicuren’s Discovery Milk  Cleanser ($22) is very helpful with vitamin E and kukui nut oil (read the full review).

Now, whether a 30-something should go for a serum really depends on an objective (not paranoid) assessment of their skin. If you don’t have wrinkles then there is nothing to repair, so something like ReLuma with its repairing stem cell cytokines is probably a waste of money. A few fine lines, however, are a good signal to start getting serious about prevention and antioxidants that prevent free radical damage are going to be a great investment.

Tilvee’s Cranberry Balancing Cream is great for skin that is out of sorts from too much work, partying, hormonal times of the month, or all three. As well as vitamin C and polyphenol-rich cranberry, there is milk thistle extract, whose powerhouse is a compound called silymarin, an antioxidant that protects against cell damage, and its most active compound, silybin. It is really good value too at $31 (read the full review).

If funds permit and that objective appraisal of your skin condition concludes that heavier guns are needed, then I would suggest Your Best Face Restore with vitamin C and alpha arbutin for brightening the skin (read our 30-year old tester’s review). It will take down redness, moisturize without being oily, and “plump” skin, while giving you a dose of YBF’s radical scavenger, spin trap.

I do think this is the time to start thinking about eye creams rather than hoping that one cream will do for everything. Your Best Face Refresh would be a good investment if lines are beginning to appear. If your outer eye area still reassembles itself after a hearty laugh then you’ll be more than happy with the refreshing efforts of Sevani’s Ageless Eyes at $54 in the TIA shop.