I know what you’re thinking: How could a 20-something beauty writer with so much expertise and knowledge about skincare be having skin problems? (Isn’t it convenient – and maybe a little creepy – that I seem to know what you’re going to ask before you ask it?)
Oh, you didn’t think I was 20-something? That stings a little. I mean, I’m not 20-something, but I used to be.
This is my dilemma. Knowing isn’t the same thing as doing. I tell anyone who will listen (and I do tend to go on and on about it!) that one of the biggest secrets to great skin is consistency: It’s not just buying the products, but it’s using them, day in and day out. And the problem with my skin, and that of many of my fellow beauty writers, is that it’s a little confused. It’s hard to be consistent enough to see results when you are constantly being bombarded with the latest, greatest new products to test and review. Right now, I have 23 anti-aging creams on a table behind my desk. I can spot a bad cream after a use or two, but giving a product my seal of approval (and recommending it to you) takes longer. It can take weeks, months even, to determine a product’s effectiveness. So that means by the time I review all of these creams, I will be a couple years older and my skin will be even more confused.
Listen, I don’t want you to feel bad, even though it is, essentially, your fault. I do it because I love you. And I love creams and have a bit of a hoarding problem and commitment issues. But mostly, it’s because I love you. And you can’t take all the blame for the signs of confusion on my face. I mean, I don’t sleep and my diet is iffy and the birthdays just keep coming (thank you, God!). Still, my face is a walking experiment and it’s largely for your benefit. (And yes, the reviews of the 23 creams are coming. I promise).
Not content to just apply creams, I decided to try a series of innovative anti-aging treatments combined with products, and I’ll share all the details very soon. And yes, there will be before and after pictures. Without makeup. (If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.)
Clearly, I am obsessed with skincare. And I’ve been privileged to go to some of the top dermatologists in the country (the late Dr. Brandt when I lived in Miami, Dr. Dover when I was in Boston, and currently, Dr. Foley here in Florida) and many of them have generously agreed to share their experience and wisdom in my book, 110 Easy Skincare Tips From the Experts. I’ve heard so many amazing skincare tips addressing every possible issue, from dark undereye circles to rosacea, acne to aging, so when I decided to share a sampling of my favorite tips with you, it took me a while to narrow it down. Some of these are straightforward, while others you may find surprising. Here, the 10 best skincare tips from the pros!
Take It Easy
Being too aggressive, and putting too many products on your skin, are the most common mistakes. People will use vitamin C followed by an AHA in the morning, and then a scrub followed by Retin-A in the evening, and then they wake up all irritated and red and wonder what’s wrong with their skin.” Jessica Wu, MD
“I believe it is in the consumer’s best interests to use one product for multiple uses. I like to consolidate, not proliferate. If you look at the ingredient list of any skin care product, the last four to six ingredients are there for shelf life; preservatives, emulsifiers, and chemicals that are necessary and not undesirable, but if you can avoid them, you should. If you use a product that has three [key ingredients] in one, you’ve cut down on the chemicals. It gives you better skin over time. When applying multiple skin care products, use the “product with the fastest penetration first, usually the lightest one. So start with liquids, then gels, then lotions, then creams, then ointments. Otherwise, the heavier ones can prevent the penetration of the lighter ones. Sunscreen can be applied at any step in your skin care routine, according to how heavy or light it is.” Dennis Gross, MD
“The best way to use retinoic acid is to apply it in a pea-sized drop divided in four and applied to the dry face every second or third night, and eventually increase to every night or every second night. Retinol does not work nearly as well as tretinoin, which is the other name for retinoic acid. Retinoic acid is available by prescription only and retinol is available over the counter and it is important not to confuse the two and not to assume that retinol will give the results of retinoic acid.” Jeffrey Dover, MD
When to Skip SPF
Most people do not realize that you should never use a facial moisturizer with an SPF on your skin at night. Moisturizers with an SPF work differently than moisturizers without sunblock. They are designed to sit on the surface of your skin and prevent your own natural moisture from escaping. A moisturizer without SPF can actually penetrate the surface layers of the skin and affect changes in hydration levels, plump fine lines, etc. So both are actually crucial to well-balanced skin.” Danielle Browning
“Your skin care routine should depend on what you are trying to achieve with your skin. Consistency is the way you see results. For basic skin care, start with a cleanser, a treatment, and a moisturizer, morning and night. Three steps are all you need to begin with. In the morning, make sure your moisturizer has an SPF of at least fifteen, preferably thirty. Treatment products can include serums with high concentrations of antioxidants that promote cell turnover and help prevent wrinkles and fine lines from forming. There are treatment products that help rosacea, adult or teenage acne, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles. But I encourage people to start with three products. I don’t think you need to overload yourself with tons of products to get results. People get discouraged if you throw too much at them; I remember how I was when I was first exposed to skin care.” June Jacobs
Erasing the Circles
“The appearance of dark under-eye circles can be the result of several different things, and best treatment depends on the cause:
“Heredity – if your parents had dark circles, it is likely you will too. Creams with arnica or light reflecting agents such as Skin Medica’s TNS Illuminating Eye Cream have been shown to decrease the appearance of dark circles.
“Vascular congestion – the blood vessels are very superficial in this area and certain times of the year patients may notice a darker or more puffy appearance. A daily trial of an antihistamine like Allegra can be very helpful for these patients.
“Volume loss – a slightly hollow area may form where the lower eyelid meets the upper cheek creating what we call a tear trough. This creates shadowing that gives the appearance of dark circles. Hyaluronic acid fillers like Belotero can be placed here to restore the lost volume.
“Slipped fat pads – this gives the appearance of puffiness or bags under the eyes. Surgical removal of the unwanted fat pad is the gold standard, however, there are exciting new options available and on the horizon. Neotensil is a new temporary topical solution to this problem. It offers a Spanx-like effect for the under-eye bags and will last all day.” Michelle W. Foley, D.O.
“Exfoliation of the skin is most effective when you combine both chemical exfoliants (i.e. beta/alpha hydroxy acids) and physical exfoliants (scrubs) into your weekly routine. Physical exfoliants remove surface dead skin cells and chemical exfoliants loosen the bond that holds dead skin cells together so that they shed more effectively. Most estheticians combine different types of exfoliants in their facials, and that is what gives your skin that gorgeous ‘just had a facial’ glow.” Danielle Browning
The Pimple Pill
“The prescription diuretic ‘spironolactone’ is a generic medication that’s been around for over thirty years that can virtually eliminate adult acne in many cases. It’s potassium-sparing, and does not deplete you of good minerals. It also prevents bloating, and decreases cravings for salt, sugar, and chocolate. You can take twenty-five to one hundred and fifty milligrams a day, and it’s fairly inexpensive. Some doctors don’t know about this, but for women with resistant recalcitrant breakouts, it works so well. It even normalizes the oil in the T-zone.” Jan Marini
The 3 Essential Products
“A sunscreen, a retinoid, and an antioxidant are the three skin care products that every woman needs. Take your pick of antioxidants. Prevage, vitamin C, and flavonoids like grapeseed extract are my favorites.” Mary Lupo, MD
“I do not believe that scrubs are a good choice as an exfoliant for skin prone to blemishes. Scrubbing an already irritated and inflamed skin is, to my mind, a terrible idea, and it could open the blemishes and spread infection. I much prefer using L-lactic acid or salicylic acid for exfoliation.” Shan Albert
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful! One of the things that dermatologists have told me, repeatedly, is that great skin is easier to achieve than you think. For most of us, a simple skincare routine (as little as 3 steps), morning and night, is the most effective way to see results over time. To see another 100 of the best tips from the pros, check out my book, 110 Easy Skincare Tips From the Experts.