17 Skin Care Tips Dermatologists Follow Themselves

Good skin care involves more than making sure you wipe your makeup off every night.

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Always Use an Eye Cream

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“The eyelid skin is the thinnest and most delicate skin and shows age the fastest,” says Debra Jaliman, MD, author of Skin Rules and an assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. So even though the skin-care aisle can be incredibly overwhelming, it’s worth spending some time there. To ensure effectiveness, look for peptides and antioxidants on an eye cream’s ingredient list, suggests Dr. Jaliman.

Sleep on a Silk Pillowcase

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You’ve probably heard rumors about sleep lines: The way you snooze could leave unsightly lines on your face. Some research suggests it’s not true: One study from the University of Michigan found sleep position had little impact on the appearance of wrinkles or fine lines. But what could impact the pesky lines? The material on which you snooze. With silk, your face will slide—not crunch—against the pillow, says Dr. Jaliman. This means you’ll avoid even the possibility of the marks (and you’ll be more comfortable!). If you’re super skin-conscious, switch to silk.

Eat the Rainbow

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A white bread-based diet does not for clear skin make. That’s why Dr. Jaliman makes sure her diet is packed with brightly-colored fruits and vegetables. “Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants which give glow to the skin,” she says. Specifically, research suggests that pigments called carotenoids—found in foods like carrots, spinach and other leafy greens, and tomatoes—have been linked to healthy glow.

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Use Headphones When You Chat

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Your cellphone is a pool of germs. Cue the ick factor: In a small sample of 51 phones, University of Oregon researchers found 7,000 different kinds of bacteria. So do as skin doctors do and keep your iPhone away from your face. Some of the bacteria on the surface of your device can cause breakouts, says Dr. Jaliman. (And, hey, remember to clean your cell every now and then!)

Cut Your Sugar Intake

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In November, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed that added sugars—the non-natural kinds added to processed foods—not exceed 10 percent of your total calories for the day. And nutritionists aren’t the only ones cutting back on the sweet stuff—dermatologists have long known about sugar’s negative side effects for your skin. Sugar molecules can stiffen collagen—the protein that helps keep your skin healthy—and cause wrinkles, Dr. Jaliman says. Try these expert tips to wean yourself off sugar.

Sunscreen is imperative

Everyone has heard time and time again that sunscreen is essential for anti-aging skin care. What many people don’t know is that sunscreen should always the first thing you apply to your face, not the last. According to board certified Dr. Neal Schultz, host of DermTV.com and creator of BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz, “The reason being that when the sunscreen was tested by the FDA it was applied to absolutely bare skin – so if you want the rated sunscreen protection, it needs to be applied first. When I'm spending time outside, I abide by the shadow rule. When my shadow is shorter than I am, then I know the sun is at it’s strongest, and even with sunscreen - which I apply daily - it’s important to limit sun exposure." Harvard-educated female dermatologist Victoria A. Cirillo M.D. of Philadelphia agrees, "The way I remember to apply sunscreen throughout the day is tied to an Australian saying Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide. I've told it so many times to my own family when on trips. It means: Slip on a shirt, Slop on SPF 30+ sunscreen, Slap on a hat, Seek shade or shelter, and Slide on some sunglasses."

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Utilize tomatoes

Telling someone “your cheeks are as red as a tomato” have long remained a reference to their vigorous, thriving health. Well, there’s a good reason behind that: health and tomatoes have always been interlinked due to the fact that the red fruit holds a plethora of nutritional benefits. Dr. John Layke, Beverly Hills cosmetic + plastic surgeon, swears by using tomatoes to brighten skin, reduce age spots, and reduce discoloration due to high levels of lycopene, a potent antioxidant.

Maintain a consistent morning and nighttime routine

Oversleeping in the morning or getting back late at night might discourage you from fulfilling your skin routine. However, Dr. Loretta Ciraldo stresses the need to maintain morning and evening routines. “I often compare a once daily use of a product that's recommended for a twice a day as only getting "half the dose" of what you need for desired results. If I need to give someone an antibiotic shot and I dump out half the amount of medicine before I give the shot, they'd know I am wasting their time and lowering efficacy. It's really very similar with using skincare just as recommended!”

Be a minimalist

People try unusual approaches to skin care in their quest for perfect, glowy skin, but the standard cliche really does ring true in the case of skin care: less is more. Dr. Tyler Hollmig, dermatologist and director of Laser and Aesthetic Surgery at Stanford Health Care, says, “As a rough rule with cosmetic products, fewer ingredients is better, so I like products without lots of additives such as fragrances. In the evening, I cleanse my skin to remove grime/pollution with water and a gentle exfoliant, then moisturize with a cream (something that comes in a tub rather than a pump-bottle is generally best) and head to bed.”

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Use mineral-based products

Unlike traditional globs of thick foundation, mineral makeup lines tend to be free of preservatives and chemicals. Since these steer away from products with parabens, dyes, and fragrances, women with skin conditions like eczema or rosacea who don't want to forgo makeup will find themselves in their wheelhouse here. Dr. Janet Prystowsky, leading board certified dermatologist in New York City, says, “I use a liquid tinted mineral based sunscreen on my face as a foundation. Look for zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in the active ingredients. Elsewhere I’ll use clear mineral and chemical based sunscreens because they absorb well and don’t stain my clothing.”

Dabble in diet supplements

Don’t neglect the bounty of vitamins, minerals, herbals, and enzymes flooding the drugstore aisle; these pills are rich in nutrients that can revitalize your skin from the inside. Whether you opt for the traditional tablets, capsules, powders, or even energy bars, popping these into your diet is a secret cheat-worthy hack for those too busy to regulate a diverse menu. Robin Evans, board-certified dermatologist and a Clinical Instructor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine says, “I take fish oil every morning - 1500 mg EPA and DHA; flax oil which helps hydrate dry skin and flax seed for its anti-inflammatory benefits. All help for anti-aging, moisturizing, and overall skin health.”

Avoid hot showers

This one may come as a disappointment to those who thrive in hot showers steamy enough to burn a man, but dousing yourself in blazing water may be doing your skin a serious disservice. It removes too much of your natural oils and brings blood circulation to your skin, creating inflammatory reactions that result in rashes and aggravate those with eczema or dry skin. According to celebrity dermatologist and head of Skinfluence Dr. Marina Peredo, “During the summers, I regularly take cold showers. After prolonged sun exposure, a hot shower can further dry out skin, causing more damage. Also, excessive sweating leaves you more susceptible to acne breakouts. Cool off by turning down the heat and help keep your skin healthy in the summer months.”

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Try retinoids

Retinoids are an unfortunately underrated element in the standard skin care routine, but most dermatologists are nearly unanimous in proclaiming their unwavering devotion to retinoids. Countless studies prove their capability to boost cell turnover, ramp up collagen growth, diminish pigment production, treat acne, and ward off skin cancer. Dr. Joyce Park, NYC based dermatologist and health/beauty blogger, says, “I recommend a topical retinoid like tretinoin or its over the counter counterpart Differin, which is a Vitamin A derivative that treats acne, lightens dark spots, and helps build more collagen and prevent skin aging. After washing my face and patting dry, I apply a pea sized amount to my entire face. I have very sensitive skin and some of the side effects include irritation, redness, and mild skin peeling, so I try to use my retinoid every 2-3 nights.”

Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate

Exfoliating will not only slough up dead skin cells for a more radiant complexion, it will also scrub away excess oil and clogged pores that lead to blemishes and acne down the road. According to cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Shereene Idriss of Union Square Laser Dermatology, “Exfoliation is essential! Twice to maximum three times a week is the sweet spot. Avoid the harsh beady scrubs as they may further irritate you or even lead to scarring, and try sticking to gentle chemical exfoliants such as a cleanser with lactic acid or, my personal favorite, glycolic acid peels. This renews your skin on a regular basis, keeping fine lines at bay and minimizing pores overall!”

Antioxidants are vital

Just like your internal body requires a balanced medley of beneficial nutrients, so does your skin. Think of antioxidants as food for the skin; not only do they help combat aging, but they also limit the production of free radicals. Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, dermatologist and clinical instructor at the Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine, says, “Free radicals are created when skin is exposed to ultraviolet radiation, infrared radiation, pollution, and environmental stressors. Antioxidants reduces this oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals. By adding an antioxidant, you are adding boosting your sun protection with your sunscreen as well as protection to other stressors.”

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Bar soaps are a great way to get clean, and no, it’s not bad for skin

One of the biggest shower dilemma debates is the one between bar soap and body wash. While many tend to run away from bar soap due to its bad stigma, any product that includes water (like liquid soap) among its ingredients mandates a preservative, which is packed with drying chemicals and surfactants. Bar soap is made with sodium hydroxide, so the formula consists of only soap molecules and moisturizing glycerin. Dr. Terrence Keaney, Dove Men+Care expert dermatologist, says, “Bar soaps get a bad rap – and there is a big misconception about them. People think they're dirty and foster germs, but there are no reputable studies that say there's more bacteria growing on bars. I recommend a bar with moisture built in, like the Dove Men+Care Elements Minerals + Sage Bar; with moisture technology already build in, it takes the hassle out of the process.”

Don’t neglect your dermatologist appointments

A generally accepted rule of thumb is to schedule a checkup with your primary doctor at least once a year. However, the equally important dermatologist appointment often gets overlooked, despite the scary skin cancer stats. Considering that one person in the United States dies from melanoma every hour, it might be a wise idea to check in your derm frequently. According to Brooke Bair, licensed dermatologist in New York, “Most importantly, I see my dermatologist yearly for a skin exam. I have a family history of melanoma and I grew up in Florida in a small beach town. When I was in high school, the more tan you were the better. Now we know more about the dangers of UV radiation and what we can do to protect from the risk of skin cancer, including deadly melanoma.”

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