1. Never, ever go to bed with makeup on.No matter how exhausted you are or how late it is: Take. It. Off. “Removing your makeup can make the difference between beautiful, glowing skin and a complexion that looks dull and has clogged pores,” says Debra B. Luftman, M.D, a dermatologist in Los Angeles for Simple skincare. Plus, while you’re sleeping, “makeup can get pushed deeper into your pores, leading to acne,” explains NYC dermatologist Francesca Fusco, M.D.
Another factor you might not take into account: Some dead skin cells are meant to shed every day, but having makeup on 24/7 can cause them to stick to the skin’s surface. “This can also lead to breakouts and exacerbate fine lines,” explains Dr. Fusco.
To remove makeup quickly yet effectively without rallying to wash your face, use a cotton pad soaked in a gentle cleanser, like Simple Skincare Micellar Cleansing Water. With a blend of purified water and vitamin B3, it helps wipe away makeup in seconds — no rinsing required.
2. Use a ton of TLC to remove your eye makeup. “The skin around your eyes is the thinnest, most delicate skin on your face,” says Dr. Fusco. So if you tug too roughly when removing your eye makeup, your skin can stretch out over time and fine lines can become more noticeable. Instead, use light, downward motions to wipe away your shadow, liner, and mascara, and opt for a non-greasy eye makeup removing formula that won’t irritate skin and contains ingredients known to soothe skin such as vitamins B5 and E. Try Simple Skincare Eye Make-Up Remover Pads.
3. Drink plenty of water morning to night.And not just when you’re hitting the gym or you’re super thirsty (if you get to that point, you’re most likely already dehydrated). Hydration — inside and out — is key to keeping your skin radiant. Wondering how much to drink? Eight 8-ounce glasses is still the recommended daily minimum, says the Mayo Clinic, so drink up for gorgeous, fully hydrated, flake-free skin.
4. Add an antioxidant serum to your daily routine. Consider these free-radical-fighting formulas your gateway to anti-agers. “UV light is still able to inflict damage on your skin even if you’re wearing sunscreen,” says Julie Karen, M.D, a dermatologist in NYC. “But if you layer a serum containing antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, underneath your SPF, your skin is more likely repair the damage as it occurs, preventing the onset of brown spots and fine lines prematurely.” Try DermaDoctor Kakadu C Serum with vitamins C and E, ferulic acid, and kakadu plum.
5. Use a face cream and sunscreen combo every day. Even the five minutes you spend in the sun running into the mall or work each day add up. “People often only think to use sunscreen when they’re out for an extended period of time, but even incidental exposure every day over a few years causes brown spots and fine lines to show up earlier,” explains Dr. Fusco. So, 365 days a year, regardless of the season, use a face cream with SPF 15 or higher (try Simple Skincare Protecting Light Moisturizer SPF15), then apply your makeup, says Dr. Luftman. She suggests adding dots on your forehead, cheeks, chin, down the front of your neck (and both ears if your hair is up) to ensure that all exposed skin is properly protected.
6. Always sleep on a clean pillowcase.“Your skin can pick up dirt and bacteria, traces of makeup, dead skin cells, saliva, and hair product residue from a pillowcase that hasn’t been washed,” explains Dr. Karen. So flip your pillow over once a week and wash it every two to avoid a buildup of these pore-clogging substances.
7. Never lay in a tanning bed. Hitting a booth, even a few times, can have irreversible effects, including DNA damage to skin cells. Your risk of forming melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, increases by 59 percent from using tanning beds and gets higher with each use, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. “Tanning beds accelerate the aging of skin through the breakdown of collagen and are proven to increase the risk of skin cancer,” explains Dr. Fusco. “Women who are trying to achieve great skin should never tan.”
8. Don’t pick at your skin. Leave that pimple/blackhead/bump alone. As tempting as it can be, unless you’ve got a clear whitehead (that you can use two tissues to gently press out), it’s more likely that you’ll either drive bacteria farther into skin, make it more inflamed, or add more dirt and bacteria to the area from your fingers and nails. If you have a blemish that is red and raised, hold an ice cube on it for 20-second intervals for a few minutes to bring down the inflammation, and then apply a dot of a salicylic acid spot treatment and cover with concealer on top.
9. Work regular workouts into your routine. Getting to yoga or spin class can have a positive effect on your skin as well as your mood and body, because a workout increases circulation, creating that great glow once it’s done. Another plus: Working up a sweat can help lower the stress hormone cortisol, which is linked not only to skin aging but breakouts and clogged pores.
10. Don’t binge on junk food. We aren’t talking about enjoying the occasional DC and bag of chips. If most of your calories are coming from the snack machine, your skin is going to pay the price. “More studies are pointing toward carbs as the bad guys for skin,” explains Dr. Fusco. “Sugar, white bread, pasta, cake, and candy may speed up glycation in skin.” (Glycation is when sugar molecules latch onto cells, including those in skin, and cause them to become malformed and accelerate the breakdown of collagen.) What you see in the mirror: loss of radiance, more noticeable lines, and skin that doesn’t look as supple. Overdoing it with carbs and dairy has been linked to acne as well.
Instead, eat a well balanced diet full of non-processed, nutritionally dense foods (think green veggies, fresh fruit, yogurt, lean protein, plus nuts and seeds) to make sure you skin stays breakout-free, supple, and on point.
11. Gently exfoliate. Depending on your skin type, use a chemical peel like a glycolic acid or AHA, soft scrub, or try derma-planing (when you glide a special razor over skin in downward strokes) to remove dead skin for a glowy, glass-like finish. Exfoliating one or two days a week is enough.
12. Wear sunglasses year-round.“Sunglasses have multiple important protective effects,” says Dr. Karen. “Not only can they protect your actual eyes from UV-inflicted damage both acute and long-term, but they also protect the fragile surrounding skin against fine lines and brown spots.” Plus, the less you’re forced to squint, the less repetitive muscle movement in that area. The result: no crow’s feet.
13. Clean your phone daily. And don’t press it directly against your skin when talking either. “Your phone is a breeding ground for germs,” explains Dr. Fusco.
14. Apply a face mask weekly. If your skin is on the drier side, opt for a moisturizing mask that contains glycerin or hyaluronic acid such as Eve Lom Moisture Mask. If you’re more oil-prone, then alternate between an exfoliating mask and a clay-based treatment likeDr.Jart+ Dermaclear Trans-Foam Trio. For those with combination skin, try multi-masking and apply what you need, where you need it (such as detoxing clay on your nose and chin, and a hydrating mask on your forehead and cheeks
15. Get ample sleep. Put your devices to bed (preferably in another room) an hour before you tuck in. “The goal is to try to unplug, shut down any connection, and just allow yourself to sleep and fully, fully rest. Ideally, get eight hours of sleep uninterrupted,” Dr. Karen adds. “You want to enter the deep sleep that allows your mind, body, and skin to repair.” Night, gorgeous!