CLEANSER: For a glowing, look-at-me complexion, cleanse morning and night in order to remove accumulated dirt and grime. By prepping your skin for the rest of your regimen, cleansing allows active ingredients in your products to be more easily absorbed, says Dr. Erin Welch, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Be sure to use tepid water, as hot can leave your skin irritated and dry.
SCRUB: Use an exfoliater to slough off pore-clogging skin cells and reveal a more radiant complexion. Welch advises using one with synthetic beads that are uniform in size, shape and surface. Stay away from harsh formulations with nut shells, fruit pits or other irregularly shaped particles as they can potentially irritate skin, damage blood vessels or cause little tears on the skin’s surface.
TONER: Designed to restore the skin’s natural pH balance, toners help rid the face of any residual soap while also refreshing and reviving. Make sure you stay away from toners that contain alcohol or witch hazel, warns Welch. These can strip the skin of its natural oils, which paradoxically causes excessive oil production and possible breakouts. Instead, choose a toner with hydrating properties, like hyaluronic acid to add moisture.
MOISTURIZER: Moisturizers not only keep skin nourished and hydrated, they may also reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. There are hundreds of them on the market, all addressing different needs and concerns, but everyone can benefit from a daily moisturizer with broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, says Welch. (Remember, sun damage is cumulative. The sun’s rays affect skin in different ways: UVA Ages you, while UVB Burns you.) Look for a product with an SPF of at least 15; this gives skin 15 times more safe-exposure time than it would have unprotected. At night, when skin gets a break from daily environmental assaults, it naturally rejuvenates, making it better able to absorb and retain nutrients packed into creams and lotions. Welch recommends using a formula with retinol, an antioxidant that increases cell turnover and collagen production, to expedite the process. Also, consider changing your product seasonally: Use a light lotion or cream in humid conditions and a heavier one in winter to combat the dehydrating effects of cold air.
EYE CREAM: We need to pay extra attention to the delicate eye area. Since the skin here is thinnest, it’s more susceptible to damage and often the first place to show signs of aging, says Welch. As dry skin tends to emphasize wrinkles and fine lines, it’s extremely important to keep the area well hydrated and to regularly use a sunscreen to delay the onset of more! Look for formulations that contain ingredients like vitamin K to help combat dark circles, and caffeine for treating under-eye puffiness.
Photography: (beauty) Luciana Pampalone; (still life) MichaeL Essig.