Skin-care advice is simple—don’t overwash, don’t pick—except when it’s not.
Then it gets confusing with various miracle ingredients, and flat-out contradictory advice: Avoid oil if your skin is oily. No, wait, wash your face with oil instead. Get oxygenating facials. Or, no, use antioxidant products. (Some of the advice out there is flat-out wrong—see dermatologists’ misguided love affair with Cetaphil.) Obviously, skin care isn’t one-size-fits-all. Your best beauty routine is one that’s tailored to your skin type, age, and areas of concern.
But certain truths transcend those specifics. I asked top aestheticians for their basic rules for having great skin. Here’s what’s in their own routines—and what should be in yours too. —Ann Abel
1. Drink green juice every day. We know the benefits of our favorite beverage are multi-fold, but according to NYC facialist Joanna Vargas, grabbing your daily blend is the most important thing you can do for your skin. “Replacing your afternoon coffee with green juice is absolutely my favorite skin advice. It will transform your skin in a matter of days, plus it helps oxygenate and stimulates lymphatic drainage, so it de-puffs, too.” If you want bonus points, throw a scoop of avocado in your juice—she says it hydrates your skin from the inside out. Here are some of her fave recipes for great skin.
2. …And take off your makeup every night (no, seriously. Take off your makeup every. night). Sleeping in your makeup is the ultimate beauty no-no, according to Marjorie Whitfield, an aesthetician at Jillian Wright Clinical Skin Spa in New York. “Today’s cosmetics are created to last throughout the day, and silicone and other chemicals in makeup stay in pores if you don’t use a product specifically designed for the job, like BioElements’ oil-free makeup dissolver.”
3. Take a probiotic. “Great skin happens when your digestive tract is working well,” says New York holistic facialist Elena Rubin, who also recommends avoiding inflammatory foods like dairy, gluten, and nightshades, and eating papaya and pineapple for their natural digestive enzymes.
4. Increase your elderberry intake. According to Vargas, the plant is known to protect against sun damage and cell mutation, which can lead to skin cancer.
5. Don’t even think about working out in makeup. “Perspiration mixed with cosmetics is a bacterial stew for your pores to steep in,” says Whitfield. “Never, ever work out with a full face. Not even a tinted moisturizer.”
6. Sleep. Then sleep some more. We know, we know, you hear it all the time. But that’s because your body’s need for sleep is no joke. Rubin recommends splurging whenever possible for 8, 9 or even 10 hours. “The body repairs itself during sleep and you really notice in the skin, especially the eyes, if you are well rested.” And wear an eye pillow, preferably one with lavender filling, which provides soothing gentle pressure and helps drain away puffiness.
7. Don’t skip the toner. Although some experts say it’s not necessary, after eight years in the business and 3,000 facials under her belt, Whitfield can see a big difference between clients who use one and those who don’t. “Those that skip toner usually have more congestion and larger pores.” She likes Rhonda Allison’s Berry Wine Toner, which uses raspberry extracts rather than drying alcohol. Here are more toners that actually do something for your skin.
8. Start with an antioxidant serum. Los Angeles facialist and Arcona co-owner Chanel Jenae, who tends to the skin of Emmy Rossum, Diane Lane, and Katherine Heigl, recommends cocktailing Arcona’s Youth Serum (20 percent vitamin C) with Arcona’s Booster Defense Serum, a formula that fights free radical scavengers with resveratrol, spin trap, green tea and vitamin E.
9. Exfoliate on the reg. Use AHAs such as glycolic or lactic acid two to four nights a week, depending on skin’s sensitivity. Arcona’s Jenae then recommends gently polishing off the skin cells brought to the surface from the AHA’s with a scrub made with jojoba spherical beads that won’t tear the skin.
10. Use sun protection all the time. Yup, you knew that was coming. But it’s the number one product that helps prevent skin cancer, plus sun damage like brown spots, and the signs of aging that inspire most women to buy skin-care products in the first place. According to Rubin, you have to throw a hat on, too (and yes, even in the winter).