25 Things Your Dermatologist Wants You to Know
Each day there’s a new ingredient, technique, or product on the scene with a bevy of skincare tricks to go along with it. And don’t get me wrong—I love innovation. Learning about skincare is one of my very favorite things to do. But there is something to be said about the tips that have become classics over the years.
I reached out to a slew of top dermatologists and estheticians about the most effective, time-tested information they’ve learned throughout their careers. What are the best skincare tips of all time? Well, you’ll just have to keep reading to find out.
“Avoid the sun, and when you can’t avoid it, wear sunscreen and a hat. I swear by Coolibar sun protective clothing and Colorescience Sunforgettable Loose Mineral Sunscreen Powder ($57).” — Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care
“Use a sunscreen containing anti-inflammatory and barrier-repairing ingredients. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection of at least SPF 30 is best. I recommend Epionce Active Shield Lotion SPF 30+ ($20) or Ultra Shield Lotion SPF 50 ($25) every day—even during non-summer months.” — Carl Thornfeldt, MD
“You have to get a full-body skin exam by a dermatologist by the time you turn 30. It’s important to have expert eyes take a look at any moles you may have and be able to follow them for changes in the future. Also, the dermatologist can teach you how to do a proper skin check on yourself. This is very important because melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, is almost 100% curable if caught in its earliest stages. If women are armed with information on what to look for, it may save their lives.” — Elizabeth Tanzi, MD
“We consider treatment steps to be anything between toning and moisturizing. Layering your serums and essences from thinnest to thickest helps the skin to absorb each layer most efficiently! Try it with an ultra-lightweight essence like the Earth’s Recipe Dual Hydrating Liposome ($48), following up with the Blithe Tundra Chaga Pressed Serum ($49).” — Sarah Lee and Christine Chang, founders of Glow Recipe
Instead, use ginseng.
“Ginseng applied topically works to stimulate blood flow in the capillaries, promoting a healthy, firmed, glowing-from-within visage. Bonus points if you layer a product containing plumping hyaluronic acid with your ginseng! Try it with Soyedodam’s Ginseng Hydrogel Sheet Mask ($9).” — Sarah Lee and Christine Chang
“When applying a sheet mask, maximize adherence by snipping from the side of the nose fold to the eye hole. This will allow you to wiggle the mask just so, getting it closer to the under-eye area and preventing any tenting. If necessary, make a snip below the cheekbone and layer the mask over itself to maximize the fit further. Try it with an aloe vera–based mask like Whamisa’s Organic Hydrogel Sheet Masks ($40).” — Sarah Lee and Christine Chang
“AHAs and BHAs are popular in dermatology clinics but are also formulated to be used in at-home exfoliating treatments to reveal brighter and more even-toned skin. Simply put, AHAs help to ‘unglue’ stubborn surface skin cells that cause dullness and clog pores, while BHAs enter pores to dissolve sebum and fight dormant acne. The Yoon Dermaline Aqua Peeler ($6) contains a blend of AHA and BHA that gives you the best of both worlds.” — Sarah Lee and Christine Chang
“It’s been said a million and one times, but effectively removing makeup is the gateway to clearer, healthier skin. When makeup is removed, the skin becomes a clean canvas ready to absorb product. An easy tip is to clean your face as soon as you get in the door instead of waiting right before you go to bed. Just as you are dying to get out of your constricting work clothes, skin desperately wants to rid itself of pore-clogging debris and pollution! We like to use a gentle cleansing oil as a first step.” — Sarah Lee and Christine Chang
“Use a skincare product that optimizes the skin barrier and contains anti-inflammatory ingredients. This will also help reduce chronic inflammation, induced by ultraviolet light and airborne pollution. Barrier-damaging skincare and cleansing should be avoided.” — Carl Thornfeldt, MD
Give Tatcha’s Indigo Soothing Triple Recovery Cream ($135) a try if you have sensitive skin.
“Moisturizers help our skin barrier by providing lipids, protecting from external chemicals, and providing water to our sometimes parched skin. My all-time favorite moisturizer is of course virgin coconut oil.” — Vermén Verallo-Rowell, MD, of VMV Hypoallergenics
If coconut oil doesn’t do it for you, we’re partial to La Mer Moisturizing Cream ($85).
“Your skin acts as an excretory system to get rid of substances that don’t agree with your body. In the case of dairy, it is mucus-forming and can be difficult for the body digest—which is why many people are lactose intolerant. So when you get too much dairy for your body to digest, it may come out in the form of cystic acne (hard, painful bumps under the skin) on the chin and jawline area. The consumption of milk, cheese, and yogurt may become factors that influence endogenous hormones and mimic the hormones that trigger oil production in the skin to ignite the acne process. As soon as a cyst forms, dab on the cult-favorite Renée Rouleau’s Anti-Cyst Treatment ($43). It will dramatically reduce the infection and cut the healing time, at least by half. When used twice a week on areas prone to cysts, you may find they won’t show up at all!” — Renée Rouleau, celebrity esthetician
It’s important for your body to rest—it’s all connected. If your body is well-rested, your skin will look better as well. Plus, your skin can regenerate and repair itself best while you sleep.
“I often explain this concept to patients by giving the analogy of our mind being like a computer that needs to be rebooted every night so as to process all you put into it. The seven to eight hours of sleep allows this to happen.” — Vermén Verallo-Rowell, MD
“My number one tip is absolutely my favorite skin fix: Drink a green juice every day. It will be a great replacement to your afternoon coffee and will transform your skin in a matter of days. The ingredients in the juice help oxygenate the skin and stimulate lymphatic drainage, so it’s de-puffing too! Start by eating a bit of avocado every day or even throwing half of an avocado into your morning smoothie. Avocado supplies the skin with healthy fats and phytonutrients to hydrate from the inside out and bring back your glow.” — Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salon and Joanna Vargas Skincare
“Exfoliating twice weekly is what I call my secret weapon to perfect skin. We all tend to either skip it or overdo it. Twice a week with a physical scrub that has a chemical element like lactic acid is a perfect combo to great skin. It keeps the pores minimized, keeps the fine lines at bay, and resurfaces the skin perfectly.” — Joanna Vargas
“Another great at-home treatment is lymphatic drainage massage to keep skin clear, de-puffed, and glowing. For dry skin, massage in circular motions upward. Start at the base of the neck where your arteries are. Massage in gentle circles upwards, toward the jaw, up the sides of the face, and around the eyes. This will help coax nutrients into the tissue. You want to do the opposite motion and start on the top of the face by the eyes if you are prone to breakouts—this will draw the waste away. Lymphatic drainage massage can completely change the look of someone’s face.” — Joanna Vargas
“Complete nutrition for the epidermis is critical. The epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin) is a key protective structure that uses 23 vitamins. These vitamins must be provided at therapeutic concentrations and delivered within the epidermis for optimum skin health. A vitamin serum is non-irritating and formulated with vitamins A, B, C, D, and E to give skin the nutrition it needs.” — Carl Thornfeldt, MD
“When applied topically, specific peptides can reduce the appearance of lines and crow’s-feet. My favorite non-needle approach is painless, affordable, and cumulative. Try Environ Ionzyme Focus Frown Serum ($174).” — Francesca Fusco, MD, dermatologist
“This instrument (Stacked Skincare by Kerry Benjamin Collagen Boosting Micro-Roller, $30) helps to restore the look of tightness to the face, neck, and body. It reduces the appearance of fine lines, softens the look of scars, and enhances the performance of skincare ingredients.” — Francesca Fusco, MD
“When choosing a cleanser, stay away from high-foaming cleansers as they can strip the skin, leaving it tight, dry, and more prone to breakouts. It can even cause lines, wrinkles, and sensitivity to the environment. Apply a pre-cleanser prior to cleansing to help thoroughly clean your skin without stripping your skin’s natural oil.” — Candace Noonan, esthetician and director of education at Environ Skin Care
“Dry, overly washed skin looks more aged and highlights wrinkles than hydrated skin. Also, as we get older, skin naturally loses the ability to maintain its own natural moisture retention. Stick to something like Dove Beauty Bar ($14), and you can’t go wrong.” — Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group
“After sunlight/UV exposure, the second cause of wrinkles is sleeping. Squishing your face into a pillow for approximately 2500 hours per year while you sleep is like ironing wrinkles into the skin. Strategically position your head so the lower half of your face never touches your pillow. What this helps to prevent is a squishing of the face, which would exacerbate the wrinkles that come with age. These are the deep creases also known as the ‘parentheses’ or ‘marionette’ lines that run from the nostril to the corner of the mouth on both sides of the face and are enhanced every time you smile or laugh.” — Renée Rouleau
“Whenever a blemish appears, the goal is to get it to heal quickly. Most people have a myriad of zit-zapping spot treatments in their bathroom and will apply these generously the moment a blemish pops up in hopes of drying it out. This may come as a real surprise, but most spot treatments actually make the blemish stick around longer when used in this way. It will also lead to a prolonged recovery time with scarring. When there is an infection within the pore, the natural process is for the infection to come up and out through the skin’s surface. This is the skin’s way of healing itself. The best solution is to leave it alone (without the application of a drying spot treatment) to get rid of it faster. However, when the infection comes to the surface, appearing as a whitehead, you can gently squeeze it out as long as it comes out in one or two tries. Anything more than that means it wasn’t ready to come out and you will injure the skin, resulting in a red or dark scar. Be sure to wrap your fingers in tissues when trying to pop a pimple. Applying a warm, damp washcloth to the blemish beforehand for two minutes can soften up the skin to make for an easier extraction. Once the whitehead is removed, dab on a zit-zapping product. This works to dry out any remaining bacteria to help close up the skin.” — Renée Rouleau
“Here’s the sad news about the neck for those in their 20s: While you have the wisdom of caring for your skin better than your mother did (due to more awareness and better products available now than ever before), with technology more so embraced by younger people, you are creating what is known as ‘tech neck.’ The 45-degree angle that you hang your head to look at your cell phone causes a repeated squishing of the neck, resulting in premature folds and wrinkles. To treat neck this, most people know to apply moisturizer to the neck, and many do this, but the mistake is made in treating the neck as an afterthought. This particularly applies with sunscreen, since the number one cause of premature skin aging is UV rays given off from the sun. The best way to apply sunscreen to this area is by doing a full second application exclusively to the neck. If you have sensitive, oily, acne-prone skin and require a sunscreen that dries to a matte finish, use Renée Rouleau Daily Protection SPF 30 With 7% Zinc Oxide ($38). If you have sensitive, normal-to-dry skin and require a moisturizing (yet non-greasy) sunscreen, use chemical-free, all-mineral Age Defense Moisturizer SPF 30 With 20% Zinc Oxide ($39). In addition to sunscreen, be sure to apply your serums and moisturizers in an upward motion to go against gravity.” — Renée Rouleau
“When the skin ages, less oxygen and nutrients are being delivered to it. For example, by the time you reach 75 years old, you have about 50% fewer blood vessels in your face. So with fewer vessels, it means less nutrient-rich blood, and oxygen is being brought to the cells of the skin. The result is dull, tired-looking skin. To be sure skin is healthy and has good blood flow, hang your head upside down for three minutes per day. This can also be done up against a wall, during a downward dog in yoga, or by simply hanging your head over the side of your bed. After three minutes, a slight redness will appear on the skin, and in the long run, it can make a big difference in getting and keeping that inner glow going strong.” — Renée Rouleau
“I always recommend clients have facials once a month. Nothing you do at home can replace a professional exfoliation, extraction, and attention!” — Joanna Vargas
“The best skincare tip I can recommend is something I learned when my son had eczema as a baby. To this day, it is my family secret for healing dry, sensitive skin. Boil a large pot of water with one cup of chamomile tea leaves and one cup of rosemary. Cook these for 15 minutes. Then strain and add this water to your bath. Not only will you feel relaxed from your day, but also, this potion will soothe your skin like nothing else. Dry patches and redness will disappear overnight!” — Joanna Vargas
Do you have any favorite skincare tips? Let us know in the comments below!