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The sun, as everyone knows, is the main culprit for these first signs of aging. But unprotected UV exposure doesn't get all the blame. Pollution, smoking, stress, genetics and hyperdynamic motion (continuous muscle movements, like frowning) all break down collagen and elastin fibers.
Beauty Rules to Live By Meet your face-saving ingredients: glycolic acid and vitamin A (retinol). The first deeply exfoliates and the latter increases collagen production. These two tried-and-true ingredients, plus sunscreen, make for a powerful wrinkle-fighting regimen, says Marnie Nussbaum, MD, FAAD, a dermatologist in New York City. Add a weekly at-home acid peel (combining glycolic and salicylic acids) and a hydrating eye cream with retinaldehyde—a form of retinol—once a day.
Doctor's Orders In-office options for wrinkle treatments are endless and vary in intensity. Medical-strength chemical peels increase cell turnover, neurotoxins (Botox) smooth forehead wrinkles, and hyaluronic acid fillers (Restylane and Juvederm) plump areas around eyes, cheeks and lips. Fractionated laser (non-ablative) treatments require multiple sessions to slough away the top layer of dead cells, which reveals smooth skin underneath (although redness and inflammation may last for a few days).
Words of Wellness Sleep on your back to avoid creasing your face, says Jessica Wu, MD, a dermatologist in Los Angeles and author of Feed Your Face. Prevent squinting by wearing sunglasses, even in winter. Smoking and using straws are no-nos—both can create wrinkles around the mouth. Before applying makeup, swipe on a creamy primer to smooth and fill in lines.
Wrinkle Reducers: Dr. Dennis GrossFerulic + Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Overnight Serum, $88. Glytone Mild Cream Wash, $32. Avène PhysioLift Eyes, $42. L'OréalParis 45+ Wrinkle Expert Moisturizer, $10. Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream with SPF 30, $26. M-61 PowerBlast, $54.
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Watch out for the weather—depending on your location, it can compromise your complexion. Cold air and dry indoor heat disrupt the skin's barrier, which keeps moisture in. Harsh products can also cause redness and flaking, says Nussbaum.
Beauty Rules to Live By The key here is to be gentle, says Mona Gohara, MD, a Connecticut dermatologist. Cleanse with a non-soap, pH-neutral cleanser and skip granular scrubs, which can sometimes be abrasive. Instead use a moisturizer with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), like lactic and glycolic, to exfoliate dead skin cells. Look for powerful hydrators glycerin, dimethicone, ceramides and hyaluronic acid; all are humectants, which pull water into skin from the environment. Avoid products with high alcohol content, and choose heavier formulas like creams and ointments. If skin is super parched, Wu is a proponent of natural oils, like marula or argan.
Doctor's Orders For extreme cases, Gohara prescribes a topical steroid, such as 2.5% hydrocortisone cream. She also recommends hydra facials, which are steam-based and are performed in-office. Wu likes Eletone, a prescription-strength anti-inflammatory cream, for her super-sensitive patients.
Words of Wellness Eat water-rich fruits and veggies, like leafy greens and radishes, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, including wild salmon and avocados, says Gervaise Gerstner, MD, consulting dermatologist for L'Oréal Paris. Take short, lukewarm showers (really!) and apply moisturizer immediately after.
Moisture Magnets CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM, $15. La Roche Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser, $24. Pure Marula Facial Oil, $58. Mario Badescu A.H.A. & Ceramide Moisturizer, $20. Lancôme Hydra Zen Masque, $59. Dove Beauty BarDove Beauty Bar, $4/2-pack.
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While we love a good #flashbackfriday, this teen memory is one we could do without. Place the blame mostly on your hormones, along with stress, genetics and sugars.
Beauty Rules to Live By Banish breakouts with a potent two-step plan: a cleanser with salicylic acid and a treatment product that contains benzoyl peroxide, says Nussbaum. Wu also suggests a weekly sulfur mask—it's anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and helps with oil control. Moisturizers should be lightweight, oil-free and non-comedogenic. All our derms agree that when choosing makeup and sunscreen, mineral versions are the best bet for pimple-prone complexions.
Doctor's Orders Aczone and Epiduo are two popular prescription-strength topical creams. For in-office treatments, blue light therapy helps eradicate bacteria.
Words of Wellness Wash your face as soon as you get home (or immediately after exercising), says Gerstner, and wipe down your cell phone daily. Avoid overloading on sweets; sugary foods can lead to inflammation and acne.
Acne Fighters Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots, $30. EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46, $32. Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Daily Leave-OnMask, $8.50. Kate Somerville EradiKate Mask, $54. Dermalogica Active Moist, $41. Clean& Clear Advantage 3-in-1 Foaming Acne Wash, $6.50.
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Stress and Fatigue
When a full night of sleep seems like a pipe dream, exhaustion rears its ugly head, face first. Emotional stress, an unhealthy diet and poor sun habits also cause tired-looking, lackluster skin.
Beauty Rules to Live By Wash with a soothing cleanser that contains chamomile or aloe, says Gerstner. Start the day with an antioxidant serum, followed by a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid and SPF 30 to plump and protect. Dab on an eye cream that has peptides and caffeine for an immediate tightening and brightening effect. If your skin is sensitive, avoid products with fragrances and synthetic dyes. The last step in the routine: a weekly revitalizing mask.
Doctor's Orders In-office microdermabrasion treatments deeply exfoliate and refresh skin. Photofacials—intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments—help remedy mild sun damage and redness.
Words of Wellness Seven to nine hours of sleep will keep cortisol levels down and minimize skin inflammation, says Gohara. Focus on energy-boosting foods like lean meats, legumes and nuts. After late nights drink plenty of water, along with green tea to replenish antioxidants, adds Wu.
Skin Soothers Clarins UV Plus Anti-Pollution SPF 50 Sunscreen Multi-Protection Tint, $44. Eminence Calm Skin Chamomile Cleanser, $38. Fresh Black Tea Age-Delay Firming Serum, $75. Kiehl's Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Masque, $32. Clinique Pep-Start Eye Cream, $26.50. Garnier SkinActive Miracle Wake-Up Cream, $17.