Selecting a superior skincare routine and effective products can be challenging and confusing. Conflicting skincare information can complicate the process. So what’s best – and not so good – for your skin? Top dermatologists weigh in with expert skincare advice.
Secret 1: Assess and re-assess your skin type regularly.
Like the rest of our bodies, skin changes with age. If you’re in your 30s or 40s, your skin is probably different than it was in your teens or 20s. In general, with age, skin becomes drier as oil production levels decrease. So even if you had super oily skin during your teens and 20s, that doesn’t guarantee an oily complexion now. Plus, skincare products that once worked great on your skin may no longer do the job – in fact, they can actually cause problems, like dryness or irritation, according the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
If you’ve got combo skin, you may need to use separate skin care on your oily T-zone – like a toner or product with salicylic acid – and drier spots like your cheeks, dermatologist Doris Day, M.D., writes on WebMD. You’ll probably need to moisturize your cheeks more often, too.
Acne is a common problem that can stick around or come back years after your high school prom. Debra Jaliman, M.D., dermatology professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, points to hormonal changes and pore-clogging cosmetics as culprits for adult women.
To find formulas that treat your adult skin (which tends to be drier and more sensitive than teens and young adults), look for gentle, noncomedogenic products with ingredients like sulfur or salicylic acid, recommends the AAD. Tracie Martyn Amla Purifying Cleanser with salicylic acid effectively washes away acne-causing dirt and oil without removing skin’s natural moisture or causing dryness. Still suffering from acne? Dr. Jaliman advises asking your dermatologist about prescription treatments, such as antibiotics or oral contraceptives.
Secret 2: Avoid overload.
Oftentimes we’re so eager to minimize wrinkles, lines, age spots and sagging that we slather on as many treatments as possible, combining, mixing and matching. We may glob on greater amounts than necessary, and apply them too often. We think this approach will help speed up skin’s repair process and make it look better faster, but that’s simply not the case.
In fact, product overload can cause irritation, especially when high concentrations are applied to a small localized area, dermatologist Manjula Jegasothy, M.D., director of the Miami Skin Institute, says in Good Housekeeping.
Take retinoids, for instance. These potent wrinkle- and acne-reducers – which are only available via prescription – are notorious for potential irritation, so you definitely don’t want to overuse these products. For women with irritation-prone skin, “dab a pea-size amount over your entire face, leave it in for 15 minutes, then rinse,” advises dermatologist Ellen Marmur, M.D., in Prevention.
Even having a retinoid on your skin for this short amount of time will give you the same benefits as wearing it all night. Another option – use a retinoid every two or three nights instead of nightly, especially for the first several weeks as your skin gets used to the product, suggests Arielle Kauvar, M.D., a dermatology professor at New York University Medical School.
Secret 3: Your skin is what you eat.
It’s no surprise that for skin to look healthy on the outside, it must also be healthy on the inside. The foods we eat play a major role in how our skin looks and functions, according to experts. Below are expert recommendations on skin-boosting super-foods:
- Fruits and veggies, which are rich in vitamins and antioxidants to repair damage. They also have a high water content to keep our bodies and skin hydrated.
- Healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, nuts, eggs and olive oil.
- Omega-6 fatty acids, found in sunflower and safflower oil, to stave off dryness and inflammation.
- Green tea, a powerful antioxidant to counteract aging and possibly lower skin cancer risk.
Secret 4: Moisturize – no matter your skin type – and protect against UV damage.
Moisturizer plays an important role in your skincare arsenal by helping skin retain its moisture and look healthier and more supple. Choose a moisturizer designed for your specific skin type. Individuals with acne-prone skin might be surprised to learn that they need moisturizer, too. In fact, many acne treatments can be drying and cause inflammation, “so you may need more moisturizer, not less, when you’re fighting breakouts,” dermatologist Amy Wechsler, M.D., tells Prevention.
As a bonus, pick a moisturizer with built-in SPF to eliminate a separate sunscreen for your face. You’ll help defend your skin against UV rays that cause signs of aging and skin cancer. According to AAD guidelines, look for a moisturizer with SPF 30 or higher and broad-spectrum protection, meaning it protects against harmful UVA and UVB rays. Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Plump Perfect Ultra Lift and Firm Moisture Cream SPF 30 delivers broad-spectrum protection, moisturizes and diminishes the look of lines and wrinkles.
Secret 5: Encourage cell turnover with scrubs, microdermabrasion or peels.
Exfoliating – removing the outer layer of dead skin cells – can dramatically improve the look of your skin, no matter your complexion complaints. You can achieve this with at-home or professional scrubs, peels or microdermabrasion.
When you exfoliate and remove dead cells, you’re also removing excess pigmentation from sun exposure that causes age spots. Plus, you’re removing dead skin cells that can clog pores and potentially cause acne breakouts. The result? New, healthy, brighter-looking skin.
You’ll notice an improvement right away following an at-home peel or microdermabrasion, according to Elizabeth Briden, M.D., a dermatology professor at the University of Minnesota. Another advantage of encouraging new cell turnover – skin will be smoother and softer, and your makeup will go on much easier.
- Scrubs. To avoid irritation, look for a gentle scrub with smooth, round beads and the ingredient polyethylene. Try hypoallergenic, oil-free, noncomedogenic Avene Gentle Purifying Scrub. It removes impurities and dull skin to reveal a fresher, brighter complexion, and is even safe for sensitive skin.
- Microdermabrasion. Want to do microdermabrasion at home? Opt for Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion, especially effective at smoothing lines, clearing acne and refining skin’s overall texture and appearance.
- Peels. You’ll find many versions of milder – and still effective – peels on the market, such as the Philosophy Microdelivery Peel and Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel. But avoid buying peels on Web sites that carry highly concentrated and overly potent peels. Deeper peels are best left to the pros, who’ll customize the peel based on your skin type and the severity of damage. In-office peels use different types of chemicals in varying concentrations or strengths.
Secret 6: Reach for skin soothers.
Everyday assaults on our skin from the environment – including the sun, wind and pollution – can cause irritation, inflammation and sensitivity. Blood vessels expand and skin becomes red. Dermatologist Howard Murad, M.D., author of The Murad Method: Wrinkle-Proof, Repair and Renew Your Skin with the Proven 5-Week Program, recommends products with soothing botanical ingredients to reduce inflammation and protect skin from damaging free radicals.
He suggests chamomile, licorice root, vitamins C and E, aloe vera, zinc and curcumin. Pevonia RS2 Care Cream, with chamomile, licorice root extract and vitamin E, calms and soothes sensitive, irritated skin.
Secret 7: Build up collagen.
Collagen is a natural substance that keeps skin plump, supple and smooth. However, collagen production decreases with age, leading to wrinkles, lines and sagging skin. Thankfully, certain topical ingredients can help boost new collagen synthesis in skin cells.
Specifically, vitamin C is “known to stimulate the fibroblasts to produce collagen,” writes Dr. Murad. He also advises retinol and alpha hydroxy acids for this purpose. Dermatologist Audrey Kunin, M.D., uses SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, according to the Web site TotalBeauty. This potent formula contains vitamins C and E and ferulic acid, which help to build up collagen and improve skin’s texture and elasticity.
Secret 8: Don’t cleanse too often.
Especially if your skin is oily, you may be tempted to suds up several times a day to remove dirt, oil and grease. But over-washing can actually be harmful, because it disrupts skin’s protective lipid layer. As a result, “the skin becomes more vulnerable to environmental damage and inflammation, and precious moisture escapes,” writes Dr. Murad.
Instead, use a cleanser designed for your skin type, and wash twice a day – tops. You don’t want your skin to feel super-tight or squeaky-clean after washing – these are indicators that your cleanser is too drying for your skin type.
Secret 9: Start anti-aging treatments while you’re young.
Like anything else, it’s better to prevent or stave off aging before it happens. Protecting your skin now helps to prevent premature wrinkling and age posts caused by the sun. So start in your 20s, and look for peptide creams, dermatologist Francesca Fusco, M.D., tells Glamour.
Kinerase Pro Therapy C8 Peptide Intensive Treatment contains peptides, antioxidants and growth factors to defend your complexion from environmental assaults and keep skin healthy.
Secret 10: Focus beyond the face.
Do you focus your skincare routine mainly on your face? What about your lips, hands and neck? All these areas are also prone to irritation, dryness, sun damage and premature aging.
- Lips. Lips tend to lose natural volume with age, taking on a thinner appearance. They’re also more vulnerable to sun damage. Keep your kisser soft and smooth by using a damp washcloth to slough off rough skin. Then apply a protective, hydrating lip balm, advises Dr. Fusco. Exuviance Essential Multi-Protective Lip Balm SPF 15 features moisturizing shea butter and nut oils, exfoliating polyhydroxy acids plus broad-spectrum sun protection.
- Hands. Apply “sunscreen on your hands like it’s going out of style,” dermatologist Ranella Hirsch, M.D., tells Prevention. For healthy hands, nail care is important, too. When removing nail polish, first apply hand cream or cuticle oil to the skin surrounding your nail to keep nails strong and hydrated, Jan Arnold, cofounder and style director of the nail brand CND, tells the magazine.
Hand treatments are also helpful. Dermelect Timeless Anti-Aging Hand Treatment provides non-greasy moisture and exfoliates dead skin, so your hands are left silky-smooth and supple.
- Neck. Anything you use on your face should go on your neck, too, writes dermatologist Leslie Baumann, M.D., on The Skin Guru, her Yahoo! Health blog. In fact, did you know that 80 percent of how your neck ages is due to your skincare habits? That means good-for-you habits, like applying sunscreen daily, play a huge role in your neck’s health and appearance.
You may want to extend your beauty care to your chest, too. For instance, Dr. Kunin uses the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic serum on her décolleté. Because vitamin C can be irritating on gentler areas like the neck and chest, use it every other day, suggests Dr. Baumann.
You can also try specialty products or procedures designed for these areas. Dermelect Self Esteem Neck Firming Lift helps to reduce sagging around the neck and jaw, promote resiliency, improve texture, plus brighten up your skin tone. For reducing sun spots and smoothing the neck, Dr. Baumann is a big fan of the Fraxel laser.
Incorporate these top 10 skincare secrets from the experts into your skincare routine, and you’ll undoubtedly reap the healthy, radiant rewards!
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