16 Tips for Clearer Skin, According to Dermatologists
Everyone has a skincare tip they're ready to share — and swear by. Your mom, your best friend, that girl on Instagram who highlights her entire morning and evening routine. The suggestions are endless, but it can be pretty difficult to suss out which are the best and safest strategies for better skin, right?
If you're not the type that wants to trial-and-error your way to healthier skin, we get it. That's why we asked three dermatologists to dole out their best advice for keeping your skin healthy, glowing, and at its best. And the best part? They made it easy, sharing simple tips for better skin — nothing too fancy. Keep scrolling for 18 of their notes.
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1. Choose Water-Based Products
Dr. Ranella Hirsch, a Massachusetts-based dermatologist, recommends using water-based haircare products. Yes, haircare. "Oil and wax-based haircare can lead to breakouts especially around the hairline, and we see this especially frequently in the summer," she says.
2. Consider a Peel
Ask Dr. Kenneth Mark, a cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs skin cancer surgeon, and he will tell you in-office chemical peels are "the unsung hero of dermatology."
"They exfoliate and give skin a radiant glow," he says. "When performed consistently over time, they also stimulate collagen to decrease fine lines and wrinkles."
3. Break a Sweat
Dr. Hirsch, who is also a founding team member of Brooklyn-based Atolla Skin Lab, says getting your heart rate up for 45 minutes or more helps to detoxify the skin, leading to an all-around, regular skin glow.
4. Don't Skip the Sunscreen
Dr. Hirsch says you should use this as a rule of thumb when it comes to sunscreen: If it's light enough outside to see, then you need to apply sunscreen before heading outside. "People think that you don’t if it is overcast or snowy, but this is incorrect," she says.
Dr. Mark adds that regular sunscreen usage can also prevent sun or “photodamage,” lessening signs of aging skin, like brown spots, blotchiness, wrinkles, and noticeable blood vessels.
5. Cut Back on Dairy
Notice that you are getting breakouts? Dr. Hirsch says you might want to think about cutting back on your dairy intake. "Studies have shown that people with high intake of dairy can experience up to 30 percent more breakouts than people whose diets aren’t dairy-rich," she says.
6. Keep Stress Under Control
While stress isn't often the primary culprit behind skin problems, Dr. Hirsch says it can worsen existing issues, like dryness, breakouts, cold sores, and psoriasis.
"Try to balance your life — whatever that means for you," she says. "[Whether] it is getting away once a week to have a quick manicure or taking the time to connect with a friend, it turns out what we do beyond skincare shows intensively on our skin."
7. Hit the Hay
You've probably heard it before, but it's worth repeating: Get your shut-eye. Dr. Hirsch says sleep is when your skin regenerates and repairs itself, meaning your face will show it when you don’t get enough snooze time.
8. Get a Dose of Vitamin C
Dr. Tina S. Alster, director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, recommends applying a topical vitamin C — like her A Method C Antioxidant Gel — under sunscreen each morning. "Topical vitamin C clears away damaging free radicals in the skin, as well as enhances the sun protection effect of sunscreen," she says.
9. Set Skincare Goals
Before you decide how to invest in new skincare products, Dr. Hirsch says it's worth considering what you are trying to achieve with your skincare.
"Focus the bulk of your skincare budget on the actives that help achieve that goal," she says. "There are great and reasonably priced options for cleansing and sun protection, and those should only represent a small fraction of your skincare budget."
10. Eat Vitamin-Rich Foods
Dr. Hirsch says skin-beneficial ingredients, like carrots, dark leafy greens, and pumpkins (which are are all loaded with vitamin A) or citrus fruits (which pack vitamin C) are all worth adding to your diet. And you can lean on avocados for a healthy dose of vitamins C and E.
11. Apply Moisturizer to Damp Skin
"On extra dry days, always remember that moisturizers seal in, rather than replace missing moisture, so they are most effective when applied to a damp skin surface," Dr. Hirsch says, adding that you can also apply a hydrating serum and then “seal it in” with moisturizer.
12. Keep Tech in Check
If you've ever looked your phone after pressing it to the side of your face, then you're familiar with oil and makeup residue that can be left behind. Dr. Hirsch recommends wiping down your cell phone every couple of days to avoid breakouts that result from constantly touching the screen to your face.
13. Repair While You Sleep
Dr. Alster, who is also a clinical professor of dermatology at Georgetown University, says applying a solid retinol product before bed each night can help repair your skin while you sleep. (And if that's not easy, then we don't know what is.)
14. Stop Smoking
Looking to kick your smoking habit? Use this as an incentive: Dr. Hirsch says if you stop smoking, your skin "will look years younger."
15. Stick With What Works
Just because it's trendy, doesn't mean you have to try it. Dr. Hirsch says if you have a skin routine that works for you, then it's OK to stick with it and adapt the formula for changes like the seasons.
"Too much will cause breakouts just as much as too little skincare," she says. "And if you are going to make a change, do things one at a time so you know what the culprit is should something go awry."
16. Try a Humidifier
"A simple way to improve skin hydration isn’t trying to drink 40 glasses of water a day," Hirsch says. "Instead, place a humidifier in the rooms where you spend the bulk of your time (for most people this is bedroom and next to your workspace). The change in ambient humidity will do wonders for your dry skin."