You may spoil your skin with facials, fancy products, and a skin care regimen that would make your dermatologist proud. But there are a few important (and surprisingly simple) steps that can make a huge difference in having healthy, glowing skin. Incorporate these five best skin care habits into your routine and you’ll have smoother, clearer skin in no time.
1. Wear sunblock 365 days of the year
In rain or shine, winter or summer, whether you have ivory white skin or a dark complexion, your skin is always susceptible to sun damage. “You’re consistently exposed to the sun’s rays during daylight hours, even when you don’t realize it,” warns Jeanine Downie, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and director of Image Dermatology in Montclair, New Jersey. “You should be wearing an SPF 30 every day, not only to protect against skin cancer but to prevent fine lines, wrinkles, large pores, and uneven skin tone.” In addition, it’s essential that you reapply your sunscreen every couple of hours, especially if you’re out and about — one morning slathering of SPF 100 won’t last you until sundown!
2. Refrigerate your eye cream
You can get more bang from your eye cream simply by storing it in the icebox. “The cold constricts the blood vessels, immediately reducing puffiness,” explains Manhattan-based dermatologist Francesca Fusco, M.D. “It’s best to apply cold eye cream in the morning; at night, the product can migrate into your eyes and create swelling and irritation.” Look for creams containing caffeine, which will further decrease any swelling. To combat fine lines and wrinkles, products that contain peptidesor retinol will do the trick.
3. Add antioxidants to your skin care and your diet
Here’s a two-point plan to rid your skin of environmental pollutants: Attack the problem from the inside and out. Use topical products containing vitamin A (in the form of retinol), vitamin E, vitamin C, and coffeeberry directly on your skin, and eat brightly colored fruits, vegetables, and other good-for-you foods like blueberries, pomegranates, and olive oil. “Both will help to combat free radical damage, reducing fine lines, wrinkles, and inflammation,” says Jessica Wu, M.D., a Los Angeles–based dermatologist and the author of Feed Your Face. She also recommends eating a balanced breakfast that combines protein, fiber, and healthy fats to regulate blood sugar throughout the day. Studies have shown that when blood sugar rises too quickly, it can cause acne, wrinkles, and rashes.
4. Lightly exfoliate regularly
While you might think anti-aging creams and high-end moisturizers are the key to youthful skin,experts agree that exfoliation is one of the best ways to achieve and maintain a gorgeous complexion. “A good exfoliating agent will slough off the dull top layers, minimizing wrinkles, acne, and dry spots to reveal new, healthy,glowing skin,” explains Fusco. Of course, if you have a sensitive or acne-prone complexion, you don’t want to use a harsh scrub too often. Instead, try a cleanser that contains smooth microbeads just two or three times a week. An even gentler solution for every day: Use a textured cleansing pad, which will very lightly scrub the skin without irritation.
5. Exercise often
Sure, you know you should be hitting the gym, not only for a toned physique but because it’s better for your overall health. Well, here’s another reason to work up a sweat: Exercise tightens the skin on your entire body. “Strength training and cardio boost circulation and improve muscle tone, which results in younger-looking, toned skin,” Downie says. “Not only that, but it also reduces wrinkle-causing,skin-damaging stress.” Just make sure to wash your face post-workout. What good is a hot body if you’ve got clogged pores all over your T-zone?