With the start of the new year comes newly established goals that we intend to carry out before the next ball drops. For many of us, a new year’s resolution has to do with bettering ourselves, physically and mentally, whether it’s exercising more, eating healthier or making more time for self-care. But one all-important area that we tend to forget, however, has to do with our body’s largest organ: the skin.
At least one of your new year’s resolutions should involve taking better care of your skin, says Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, a cosmetic and medical dermatologist at the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York and Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College. “Our skin is essential to our overall health and well-being,” she explains. “It protects our body from hazardous substances, microorganisms, and harmful UV rays, plus prevents water loss in our body and helps regulate body temperature.”
How we care for our skin affects far more than just its appearance — it has implications on our health overall. And much of what we do directly affects our skin health, including our sleep habits, diet, stress levels, and environmental exposures (sun, pollution, smoke, etc), adds Dr. Murphy-Rose. “For example, stress can increase inflammation in the skin, worsen many skin conditions, and reduce our ability to fight off infections,” she says.
Superficially, these factors contribute to signs of premature aging like fine lines and wrinkles, dullness and dehydration, increased breakouts, and more. So, if you’re looking to put your best skin forward in the new year, you can start by following the dermatologist advice below. Here, we asked top derms to share the skincare resolutions they wish their patients would make going into 2022.
Dermatologist Advice for Better Skin
Be kind and patient with your skin
Most of us are quite impatient when it comes to waiting to see changes in the quality of our skin, however, dermatologists agree that it takes time for most products as well as regimens to work. “As I counsel my patients, when it comes to skincare and skin health, we must adopt a long-term view,” says Jeremy A. Brauer, MD, dermatologist and founder and director of Spectrum Skin and Laser in Purchase, New York. “Actions taken and changes made now, will benefit you and your skin for years to come, especially when it comes to your diet, exercise, and topical routines.”
Exfoliation has many skin benefits, including treating and preventing clogged pores, evening skin tone, removing dullness and revealing brighter, healthier, more youthful skin, notes Dr. Murphy-Rose. However, she warns that overdoing it — i.e. exfoliating more than 2-3 times per week — can quickly lead to irritation, redness, sensitivity, and flaking, which causes a breakdown of the all-important skin barrier.
“Gentle exfoliation is key, as well as avoiding harsh scrubs like physical or mechanical exfoliators, as these can cause micro-tears in the skin, leading to a compromised skin barrier and forming portals of entry for microbes and increasing the risk of infection.” Instead, she recommends choosing chemical exfoliators like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), which can more easily penetrate the skin without causing damage.
We like SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight ($80; dermstore.com), with glycolic and phytic acids, as it’s gentle enough for daily use and won’t irritate skin.
Establish a skincare routine that works for you—and stick to it
Whether you prefer a 10-step regimen or doing the bare minimum, one of the tenants of good skin is consistency. If you’re hoping to keep your routine low-maintenance, Dendy Engelman, MD, cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at Shafer Clinic in New York City, recommends including a cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF at minimum.
“Those who enjoy a many-step skincare routine may prefer to pamper their skin by double-cleansing with a cleansing oil and facial cleanser, swiping on toner, applying serum and following with your favorite moisturizer along with SPF,” she says. “No matter what your preferences are, the most important thing is to find a routine that you can stick to.”
The Best Skincare Routine in Your 30s
Wear (and reapply) sunscreen daily
This is probably the dermatologist advice you hear most, and for good reason: Even on cold and cloudy days, the sun’s harmful rays are still able to penetrate your skin and cause premature aging, unwanted pigmentation, and skin cancers, warns Neda Mehr, MD, a dermatologist and medical director at Pure Dermatology Cosmetic & Hair Center.
She recommends applying a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 every morning after brushing your teeth so you won’t forget. (Here are our top suggestions for every skin type.) Slather it on your face, neck, top of your hands, and any other area of skin that is exposed. “If you’re really looking to be diligent, put a wide-brimmed hat by your front door and in your car, so if you’re planning on being out longer than 10 minutes, you’ve got great physical protection,” she adds.
Hydrate! Hyrdate! Hydrate!
One of the easiest ways to achieve healthy skin is to make sure you’re properly hydrated — inside and out. You can do this by drinking at least 64 ounces of water each day, applying products that contain hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, and running a humidifier to keep your home environment at an ideal humidity level and prevent transepidermal water loss (loss of moisture through the skin barrier), according to Dr. Engelman. Her go-to is the Canopy Humidifier because it does not release mist and has anti-mold technology, making it one of the cleanest devices out there.
Meditate while washing your face
The stress hormone cortisol is not kind to our skin and can exacerbate almost every skin condition you can think of, from wrinkles to psoriasis, vitiligo to hair loss, warns Dr. Mehr. “Research has shown that meditation can reduce anxiety and stress, so while washing your face in the morning and at night, do not rush to complete the task,” she says. “Take those few minutes to relax, be present in your body, and breathe deeply while massaging your skin — it will help you ‘wash off’ the worries from the day and get prepared for a restful nights’ sleep!”
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