The results are in! When we asked women of all ages about the good, the bad and the ugly in terms of beauty, the priority was clear: a flawless complexion. FC readers revealed their biggest skin concerns in our exclusive survey, and our panel of top derms across the country shared their advice on stopping the signs of aging, starting now.
By Dori Katz
Dr. David Bank, director of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in Westchester, New York
Dr. Jeanine Downie, board-certified dermatologist and director of Image Dermatology P.C. in Montclair, New Jersey
Dr. Mary Lupo, clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University Medical School in New Orleans
Dr. Jennifer Linder, board-certified dermatologist in Scottsdale, Arizona
Dr. Amy Wechsler, dermatologist in NYC and author of The Mind-Beauty Connection
SURVEY SAYS: Dry skin and acne
DOCTORS' RX: Regardless of whether you had breakouts as a teen, they can pop up in your 30s, says Dr. Downie, due mainly to stress and hormones. They are now more likely to appear along the lower part of the face. Years of sun exposure are also a contributor, as pores become enlarged and prone to inflammation and pimples. Whatever you do, don't pick at blemishes—squeezing causes scarring. At the same time, the skin's outermost layer—aka barrier—is weaker, allowing water to evaporate and causing dryness, says Dr. Bank.
YOUR REGIMEN, REVAMPED: Wash with a lightweight, nondrying formula, such as Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, $8. Look for an oil-free sunscreen that contains mineral blockers like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, says Dr. Bank. These protectors layer atop skin instead of being absorbed, which means they won't clog pores. Try Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid Daily Sunblock SPF 50, $12.50. Applying a retinoid before bed lets it do double duty, minimizing fine lines and acne. If you experience mild irritation, dab on every other night. RoC MULTI CORREXION Skin Renewing Serum, $25, contains antioxidant vitamins A, C and E to rejuvenate skin tone. Neova BreakOut Control Swabs, $26/package, shrink blemishes instantly. Each swab is filled with 2% salicylic acid and calming botanicals. Plus, the one-time usage—you swipe, then toss—prevents additional bacteria from spreading.
Perfect for sensitive skin, Rodan + Fields Soothe Mineral Sunscreen protects while cooling the skin's surface to prevent additional redness.
Yes to Tomatoes Repairing Acne Lotion attacks breakouts from the start with gingerroot to reduce redness and inflammation, tomatoes to protect from free radicals, and salicylic acid to unclog pores.
Prevent fine lines from becoming deep wrinkles by using a nightly retinoid. La Roche-Posay Redermic R penetrates deeply without irritating skin.
SURVEY SAYS: Redness, broken capillaries and undereye issues
DOCTORS' RX: Collagen is beginning to break down, allowing blood vessels to become more dilated and visible, says Dr. Wechsler. Smoking, lack of sleep and ultraviolet damage only exacerbate the problem: a healthy lifestyle equals healthy skin and vice versa. Your eyes are also showing signs of aging—in more ways than one, according to Dr. Bank. Crow's-feet are forming due to loss of elasticity. The skin is extra delicate in this region and has become more translucent, causing dark circles and puffiness to appear. Constant squinting can intensify both problems, so don't leave home without your shades.
YOUR REGIMEN, REVAMPED: Soothing ingredients are essential when treating redness, says Dr. Bank, who suggests soy, chamomile and green tea. Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser, $7, includes feverfew (a natural relative of chamomile) to relieve irritation. An eye treatment with caffeine stimulates circulation and brightens the area. Garnier Skin Renew Anti-Dark Circle Roller, $13, also acts as concealer with tinted mineral pigments to hide shadows. Prevent future damage with Olay Professional Pro-X Age Repair Lotion with SPF 30, $42, which includes niacinamide, a derivative of vitamin B3 and a key anti-inflammatory. Beauty sleep is not a myth—skin repairs itself best overnight. Bliss The Youth As We Know It Night Cream, $79, is packed with anti-aging all-stars including peptides, ceramides and a double dose of retinol. Antioxidants are top protectors, so add them to your routine if you haven't already, says Dr. Wechsler. BareMinerals Night Serum, $50, fights free radicals and diminishes ruddiness.
Ceramides and niacinamide in CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM with SPF 30 help strengthen skin's protective barrier in a time-released formula.
Sebamed Age Defense Q10 Lifting Eye Cream uses almond oil, avocado oil and shea butter to nourish and plump this extra-dry area.
Take that, free radicals! Idebenone, a potent antioxidant in Prevage Night Anti-Aging Restorative Cream, acts as a skin shield against environmental stressors all the while repairing previous damage.
Lumene Sensitive Touch 5 Minute SOS Cream calms irritation with anti-inflammatory ingredients, including organic linen seed extract and vitamin B5.
Avon ANEW GENICS Treatment Cream stimulates a universal "youth gene" to help cells act younger—meaning smoother, brighter skin with a more even tone.
SURVEY SAYS: Age spots, uneven skin tone and wrinkles
DOCTORS' RX: Lifelong sun exposure is the main culprit in pigmentation problems, says Dr. Lupo. Dark spots and discoloration go hand in hand and tend to be much more prevalent on the left side of the face, mainly from time spent in the driver's seat. With a much lower rate of cell turnover, skin is not able to repair itself as quickly, says Dr. Linder. Dullness and dryness are common complaints, as skin cells lose water molecules rapidly. Folds become deeper in the forehead and around the nose, caused by loss of fat and bone density.
YOUR REGIMEN, REVAMPED: Alpha hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid, create a clearer complexion by exfoliating without irritating. A gentle option: Glytone Cleanse Mild Cream Wash, $29. Think of your retinol as the workhorse, says Dr. Lupo. Add some peptides into the mix to improve the epidermal barrier, and you've got a power duo. We like Olay Professional Pro-X Deep Wrinkle Treatment, $42. Good Skin Labs Equinol Dark Spot Concentrate, $39.50, uses vitamin C, a known brightening ingredient, to help reduce the appearance of spots—and prevent future ones from forming. A highly effective moisturizer has both humectants to draw water in and occlusives that act as a sealant, says Dr. Linder. Our pick is L'Oreal Paris Age Perfect Hydra-Nutrition Golden Balm Face, Neck & Chest, $20—it contains both glycerin and shea butter, in addition to 10 essential oils for top conditioning.
Brighten on the go with StriVectin-EV Get Even Spot Repair—it has a twist-pen applicator to target spots in seconds.
Elure Advanced Lightening Lotion breaks down melanin in skin—the cause of uneven tone—and brightens the overall complexion with Melanozyme, the brand's patented enzyme derived from a mushroom enzyme.
Dr. Brandt Laser a-peel System removes dead skin cells and smoothes texture in two steps: a glycolic and lactic acid solution to exfoliate and a soothing gel to calm and hydrate.
Make hyperpigmentation a thing of the past with Peter Thomas Roth De-Spot, a brightening solution that helps to minimize discoloration and thus restore radiance to skin.
Originally published in the January 2012 issue of Family Circle magazine.
This piece was accurate at publication time, but all prices, offerings and styles are subject to change.