We all know those women—the ones whose skin always looks annoyingly flawless.
They claim they don’t do anything special, don’t need to bother with foundation or concealer, only see the dermatologist for an annual skin cancer check, and heck, don’t even wash their faces in the morning!
We’re here to say: yeah, right. There may be a miniscule percentage of women who can genuinely make those claims. But believe us, the rest of these supposedly natural beauties have several skincare secrets they simply choose not to spill. So we’re going to reveal them for you!
Habit #1: They never go to bed with their makeup on.
It can be tempting—especially after a late night—to fall into bed without bothering to cleanse your skin. No big real, right? Well, if you routinely skip this important step, it will start to take its toll. “Leaving your makeup on can clog pores, and that means that the oil normally secreted by the pores can get trapped, causing a build up of dead skin cells and eventually breakouts,” explains David Bank, M.D., director of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, NY. Sleeping in eye makeup can lead to irritation—meaning you could wake up with red, itchy eyes. “And while leaving makeup on your skin overnight won’t directly cause wrinkles, it can suck moisture out of your skin, making any lines you have look more prominent by the time the alarm goes off,” he says. Save your skin by doing a quick rinse with a gentle facial cleanser that won’t strip skin of moisture (like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser).
Habit #2: They wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without sunscreen.
It’s a simple fact: Women who shield their skin from the sun look younger, have fewer wrinkles, and smoother, evenly toned complexions. That’s because the sun’s ultra-violet rays are the number one culprit for damaging collagen—the support structure of the skin. Bank recommends using a daily moisturizer with SPF 30, which contains potent sunscreen ingredients such as avobenzone, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Use it every day—whether the forecast calls for sun or clouds. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, up to 80 percent of UV rays can pass through clouds.
Habit #3: They get their beauty sleep.
There are several good reasons why you don’t look your best when you don’t get your requisite hours of z’s. Nighttime is your skin’s time to repair and restore itself after the day’s assault. “Your skin accumulates toxic damage all day long,” says Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology, Yale University School of Medicine. While you’re sleeping, enzymes come in, cut out bits of damaged DNA in the cells and facilitate repair. “If you get enough sleep, your skin cells have a chance to rest and refuel for the next day’s battle,” she says.
Ideally, you want to log at least eight hours in the sack. “Growth hormone is released during the last stage of sleep,” says Alexiades-Armenakas. “So unless you’re getting eight to eight and a half hours of sleep a night, you’re missing out on that last burst of growth hormone.” Growth hormone is thought to play a role in bringing blood supply to the skin surface (which oxygenates the skin) and in improving the overall tone and luster of the skin.
Habit #4: They use RetinA on a regular basis.
“It’s a no-brainer,” says Linda K. Franks, M.D., director of Gramercy Park Dermatology, NYC. “Everyone over the age of 35 should be using a retinol or retinoid product.” RetinA is the stronger, prescription-only version of retinoids; you’ll find less-potent retinol in over-the-counter creams. Starting in your thirties, the skin begins to break down more collagen and to produce less. That adds up to an average two percent loss of collagen per year. Less collagen means skin that’s more prone to wrinkling, sagging, and uneven skintone. “Using retinol or RetinA helps to stimulate collagen synthesis,” says Franks. “Just as important, it helps decrease the activity of the enzymes that are breaking down collagen.” A little of this ingredient goes a long way. Apply a very thin layer to skin at night—starting with just two or three nights a week and working up to nightly application as your skin adjusts to it.
Habit #5: They’ve mastered the secrets of flawless makeup application.
“You need to start with well-hydrated skin,” says Jessica Liebeskind, a NYC makeup artist. “Makeup looks dull, flat and heavy when you apply it to dry skin.” So before you apply any makeup, use a moisturizer that’s right for your skin type. The key to flawless coverage really comes down to selecting the right shades. “If you can see your foundation on your skin, no one will ever be fooled into thinking it’s just your naturally gorgeous skin,” says Liebeskind. To find the ideal shade of foundation, she recommends trying on several. Choose three that look like they’ll be a good match and apply a stripe of each from your jaw line down onto your neck. “Blend each one well into your skin, and the one that disappears completely is the correct shade for you,” she says. For your under-eye concealer, she suggests getting one that’s a shade lighter than your foundation—the better to lighten up dark circles while still blending seamlessly into your skin.
Habit #6: They don’t overdo it.
“The best skincare regimens are all about balanced support,” says Franks. That means not doing too much in the pursuit of perfect skin. In fact, more is usually not better when it comes to your skin. “Over- cleansing, over-moisturizing or over-medicating the skin upsets the balance,” she says. Case in point: You’re trying to tame your acne breakouts so you use several products designed to help dry up excess oil. The unfortunate result? You wind up over-drying your skin to the point where your oil glands are forced into overdrive, producing more oil and probably more breakouts.
Habit #7: They have their dermatologist on speed dial.
If the goal is to look naturally flawless, the last thing you want is to look like you’ve had “work” done. Thankfully, many of the most effective cosmetic treatments out there are non-invasive and require little to no downtime. One quick way to improve skin tone and texture is a treatment called Glycoderm—which is microdermabrasion followed by a glycolic peel. “The combination of the mechanical and chemical exfoliation stimulates collagen and increases water binding to plump up the skin,” says Bank. Brown spots and fine lines can be erased with a series of Fraxel treatments—a pinpoint laser that touches just a fraction of the skin at a time, penetrating beneath the surface to eliminate old, damaged skin cells. And for so-called dynamic wrinkles (the ones you get by making expressions like smiling and frowning), Botox is still the gold standard. “The injection helps to relax the muscles so they don’t contract and thus form a line on the skin,” says Bank.
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