If you're taking the time to cleanse and moisturize your face every day, you may as well slay the aging demons while you're at it.
I recently sat down with NYC Dermatologist Dr. Neal Schultz - founder of DermTV.com - to find out what products pack the most potent punch against those pesky signs of aging.
The good news? We've got more effective tricks than ever to keep our skin looking sensational. But you need to use the right ingredients in the right way to reap the biggest and most beautiful rewards.
Behold the golden rules of I'm-not-getting-old skincare:
1. Use an antioxidant and exfoliator every day. Antioxidants include ingredients like Vitamin C and Vitamin A (retinol), which fight and can even reverse some of the free radical damage that causes skin to age. For a list of the latest antioxidants to choose from, check out our more detailed story here. Exfoliation can be physical with a scrub, or chemical with products that contain ingredients like glycolic or salicylic acid; choose one, don't use both in one day - or else you'll overdo it and risk doing more harm than good to your complexion.
2. Don't ever skip the sunscreen. "The number is more important than the brand. Remember that sunscreen loses one third of its effectiveness when you put it on in real life, because lab conditions are impossible to replicate," says Schwartz.
So for the best protection pay off without an attack of the greasies, choose a sunscreen with SPF 30 – which will really be more like an SPF 20 when you wear it, and put that baby on every.single.day. If you've got pigmentation issues, opt for a physical block like titanium dioxide instead of a chemical sunscreen - it protects better. And be wary of mixing foundation with a moisturizer if it's your only form of sunscreen - it renders the protection half to completely useless.
3. Layer your skincare the right way, or it won't penetrate your skin and do anything for you. In the morning, sunscreen should always be applied first over freshly cleansed skin. After that, layer any other products from thin to thick. In the evening, follow the same thin-to-thick rule. Save serums and antioxidants for night; sunlight negates the important work that antioxidants do.
4. Know your oil and water skin type, and use the appropriate products. If you're oily, stick with oil-free products that hydrate without leaving behind grease slick. If you're dry, look for rich moisturizers that replenish skin sans suffocating your pores with ingredients like mineral oil and petrolatum, which don't allow your skin to "breathe." Dry skin that isn't kept hydrated will wrinkle prematurely – and we won't have any of that.
Lastly, honorary rule number five: smile and laugh more. A radiant happy, inner glow is always the best defense against aging.
Grace Gold is a beauty writer and the author of the eBook The Boob Job Bible: 10 Steps To A Sexy, Safe Breast Augmentation.