Sure, genetics play a substantial role when it comes to how our skin ages—but a disciplined skin-care regimen can pack a pretty heavy punch, too. Here, top aestheticians share the top rules to follow to get your best skin right now.
Thoroughly cleanse, every time
“Leaving makeup on your skin, or even the oil and dirt that builds up during the day if you’re a non makeup-wearer, sabotages you of a healthy, balanced complexion,” stresses celebrity aesthetician Candace Marino. “I always tell my clients to remove their makeup every night before bed, either with a cleansing milk or an eye makeup remover, depending on how heavy their makeup is that day,” adds top Hollywood facialist Cristina Radu.
A great way to ensure your skin is thoroughly cleansed and never stripped: double cleanse. “The double-cleanse process removes all makeup, loosens impurities, circulates blood flow, stimulates muscles and helps with collagen production,” explains holistic aesthetician Erika Yamaguchi. “The first step is to massage an oil cleanser onto dry skin for about 30–45 seconds, rinse, and follow with a foam cleanser.”
Use vitamin C everyday
A staple in every great skin-care regimen, vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps to shield skin cells from damaging free radicals via UV exposure, which, over time, lead to premature skin aging and hyperpigmentation. Much like sunscreen is a non-negotiable each morning, Czech says those with great skin “never skip vitamin C.”
While vitamin C is available in many forms—cleansers, treatments, serums and moisturizers, to name a few—serums tend to be the most potent forms of the ingredient. In the market for something new? Here are our current favorites.
Ingest good-for-your skin nutrients
Once a skeptic to how much power supplements had over the appearance of the skin, Marino says she’s now a true believer after witnessing a huge change in the skin first-hand. Her go-to? The Nue Co Skin Filter ($60), a daily supplement packed with antioxidants, vitamins A and C, plus zinc. “It helps reduce the appearance of sun damage, prevent it, blur imperfections, and helps to purify the skin and strengthens its integrity. After two months of use, I became a believer—now this is a daily practice for me and many of my clients.”
Another glow-boosting option is enzymes, which are available at many health stores. “I always suggest that my clients ingest proteolytic enzymes just before going to bed,” adds aesthetician Julia March. “They are anti-inflammatory and positively affect the health of our whole body, especially the liver, thus promoting a healthy, glowing complexion.”
Emphasize nighttime skin care
Celebrity aesthetician Joanna Czech puts a gold star next to this item, noting that evening skin hygiene is a must for better-looking skin—and there’s data to prove it. “Your skin is about 60 percent more potent to absorb everything at relaxation time, and this is also the most regenerating time,” she explains. “Two or three times per week, I use a mask either in place of my moisturizer or right before my moisturizer.”
Rely on retinol
“Retinol is my favorite anti-aging ingredient,” says aesthetician Shani Darden. “You should use retinol nightly—or even every other night—if your skin can tolerate it. It decreases fine lines and wrinkles, boosts collagen in the skin and helps make skin glow and look tighter and younger.”
Never, ever skip sunscreen
Marino says this is the number-one rule those with perfect skin follow, no questions asked. “You can be using the best products in the world, eating perfectly and staying hydrated, but none of that is going to count unless you’re protecting yourself from the sun,” she says. “UV rays are the number one cause of advanced skin aging. It’s a simple step we can do everyday to maintain beautiful, healthy skin.”
With the plethora of seriously clear options available now, plus tinted options for those of us who love a little extra coverage, there’s officially no excuse to skip this crucial step. Your derm will thank you!
Hydrate internally and externally
“We naturally lose moisture while we sleep, which can result in puffy eyes, dark circles or a lackluster complexion,” says celebrity aesthetician Kate Somerville. “It’s really important to hydrate both internally by drinking plenty of water during the day and before bed, and externally by using products that contain hyaluronic acid, which carries 1,000 times its weight in water.”
Eat your way to glowy skin
“What you put into your body shows on your skin,” says New York dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD. “Drink at least 8 ounces of water a day and eat a diet full of lean protein and fiber. It’s also important to eat foods that are anti-inflammatory and contain lots of antioxidants such as blueberries, and green leafy vegetables such as kale.”
Incorporate facial massage into your routine
Celebrity aesthetician Natarsha Bimson says that a facial massage increases blood flow, soothes nerve endings, helps to relax muscles, tones, contours and reduces puffiness. “Using an oil, cleansing oil, cleansing balm or cold cream, apply to dry skin with dry hands, work it into your skin (including over the eye area), loosen up all of that gunk from the day, take a few deep breaths and give yourself a quick five-minute face massage. Finish your massage-cleanse by steaming off the oil/balm/cold cream with a hot wash cloth. Use a clean one every day—this will provide your skin with gentle manual exfoliation without being abrasive or causing microlacerations that are caused by many facial scrubs on the market today.”
Use a toner
“A crucial before-bed step would be to take the time to use a quality treatment toner to remove not only the remnants of your cleansing product, but also the mineral deposit from the water, body salts, makeup and environmental pollution,” advises celebrity facialist Biba de Sousa. “By toning your skin, you are virtually removing the day and preparing the body and skin for the nighttime repair processes.” De Sousa compares toner to “Windex for the skin,” explaining that if this crucial step is skipped, you’ll most likely wake up with a blotchy complexion due to the aforementioned ingredients still being left on the skin surface, causing tightening, irritation or acne breakouts.
Properly moisturize—and in the right order
“I always abide by my L.O.C. theory,” says Los Angeles facialist Marc Edward, adding that the acronym stands for “Liquid, Oil, Cream” and consists of apply liquid spray first, then oil, and finally a cream. “It is three layers of moisture versus only one, and delivers much more moisture to the barrier of the epidermis. Each step helps to penetrate the next and allows for more moisture retention. Skin will become more plump and youthful if it is properly hydrated.”
Ease up on heavy moisturizers
“I have always been a big believer in serums to be used twice daily under your moisturizer. In the evening, however, use only the serum instead of a heavy moisturizing cream,” explains celebrity facialist Mamie McDonald, adding that nighttime moisturizers stay on the surface of the skin and are not easily absorbed while sleeping (they just stain the pillow!). “Skin repairs itself while we sleep, so let it happen as naturally as possible, with just a little help from a serum.”