There’s a cream for just about every skincare woe out there, but sometimes simpler is in fact better. Whether you’re looking to save a little money or just want to eliminate the hassle of hoarding products that don’t seem to make a difference, two top dermatologists reveal the only four products you truly need to apply to your face every day.
1. Sunscreen. SPF was at the top of both experts’ lists, simply because avoiding the damaging effects of the sun is the best anti-aging preventative measure around. “You should apply a great sunscreen every morning to help prevent any additional sun damage, to prevent future wrinkles as the years progress, and most importantly to prevent any kind of skin cancers from forming,” says Dr. Jill Waibel, owner of Miami Dermatology & Laser Institute.
Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse at Rapaport Dermatology of Beverly Hills, agrees: “While staying out of the sun and wearing protective clothing, like sunglasses, hats and higher-neck, long-sleeve shirts are ideal, applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection is the next best thing. Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients like Avobenzone, that break down the UV rays when they reach the skin, to minimize collagen breakdown that presents as sunspots and wrinkles, as well as preventing DNA damage that can lead to skin cancers. Mineral sunscreens contain ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, that deflect and dissipate the UV rays to prevent skin damage.” Shainhouse’s expert product picks? Elta MD’s UV Daily Broad Spectrum SPF 40 and La Roche Posay’s Anthelios AOX Daily Antioxidant Serum with Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50.
2. Retinoids. Sunscreen is to day what retinoids are to night; if you want a more youthful complexion, don’t hit the pillow without them. “At night, every women should apply a retinol,” Waibel says. “This is a cream that is applied along with a gentle moisturizer that has anti-aging properties, helps stop future acne formation (by slowing down oil production), and also helps in preventing skin cancers.”
Women who are 30 and older especially benefit from retinoids like Tretinoin (prescription) and retinols (over the counter) because these vitamin A derived, topical agents accelerate cell turnover and help the skin make new collagen, a process that naturally slows down once we reach our 20s, Shainhouse says. But, if you’re a retinoid newbie, proceed with caution. “They can be irritating and drying, so start using them only twice a week, until your skin toughens up in a good way,” Shainhouse says. “They will help you shed older skin cells at the surface, to reveal shiny, healthy, stronger skin. They are best used at bedtime.” Shainhouse recommends Neutragena’s Rapid Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer (Night) and SKN Beverly Hills’ Triple Threat Age Defense Moisture Cream.
3. Moisturizer. Whether you have acne-prone skin or a dry, parched complexion, a solid daily moisturizer and night cream are key to looking your best. “Based on the age of a patient there are specific moisturizers that can be used,” Waibel says. “Even patients with acne-prone skin require an oil free moisturizer to protect the skin barrier. Keeping your skin nice and moist will help with the texture of your skin as well as having a heavenly glow that every women craves.”
4. Antioxidants. Think of antioxidants as the busy bees that keep chugging on to help diminish free radical damage to DNA and collagen in the skin caused by UV exposure–even as you go about your day or hit the sheets at night. “Used in the morning, antioxidants can prevent DNA damage by preventing oxidation during exposure, and when used at night they help repair potential damage from the day,” Shainhouse says. “Look for ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin E, coffee berry, resveratrol, acai, green tea extract.”
Some products Shainhouse recommends: La Roche Posay’s Anthelios AOX Daily Antioxidant Serum with Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50, Skinceuticals C E Ferulic, Skinceuticals Phloretin CF, SKN Beverly Hills Resveratrol Rejuvenating Cream and SKN Beverly Hills SeCret Agent.
For more beauty news and advice, check out how to combat dry skin around your nose in the winter and the face serum that literally blows your wrinkles away.