Tips for Healthy Skin From Dermatologists That You Need to Follow

When it comes to looking and feeling as youthful as ever, you’re probably aware that your skin can tell a lot about your health and your age. From fine lines and wrinkles to sunspots, eventually, your skin will start to show some wear and tear. But no matter how old you are, there’s plenty you can do today to start taking better care. We all want skin that looks great — and appearance aside, you should also know the warning signs of life-threatening lesions that can lead to cancer.

Here are the tips dermatologists recommend for optimal skin care (including No. 10, which dispels one skin myth you probably believe).

1. Know what’s in your sunscreen

Woman choosing sunscreen

Woman reading the labels on her sunscreen | RossHelen/Getty Images

If you haven’t been wearing sunscreen over the years, it’s never too late to start. Not only does sunscreen help protect your skin from cancer, but it’s also vital for keeping it looking youthful. Not all products are created equally, however. And according to Carl Thornfeldt, M.D., you should be looking for sunscreens that contain anti-inflammatory and barrier-repairing ingredients, Byrdie reports.

“A broad-spectrum sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection of at least SPF 30 is best,” Thornfeldt recommends.

Next: Do you exfoliate your skin regularly? 

2. Aim to exfoliate twice per week for a glowing complexion

Woman checking her skin in bathroom

Woman checking her skin in bathroom | Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

If you really want your skin to glow, celebrity skin specialist Joanna Vargas recommends exfoliating twice per week, Byrdie reports. “Exfoliating twice weekly is what I call my secret weapon to perfect skin. We all tend to either skip it or overdo it,” Vargas says.

When looking for the perfect exfoliant, she recommends a scrub that contains lactic acid to reduce the appearance of fine lines and pores. You’ll also be able to feel a difference when you touch your skin, too.

Next: Washing more often isn’t always best. 

3. Over-washing your skin can cause it to look older

Man washing his face

Man washing his face | Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

Washing your skin is important — but if you’re scrubbing more than twice a day, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Rachel Nazarian from Schweiger Dermatology Group says when you over-wash, it can cause your skin to look super dry, and that can highlight aging and wrinkles, Byrdie reports.

And when it comes to face wash, make sure you’re using hydrating products if you have older skin. Face wash containing sulfates will dry you out.

Next: Your dermatologist can teach you how to do this. 

4. Learn how to do a full-body skin check on yourself

Dermatologist examining mole with magnifying glass

Dermatologist examining mole with magnifying glass | Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

In addition to making a yearly visit to the dermatologist a priority, you should also know how to properly perform a self-examination to check for cancer. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends checking your skin once every month. This includes examining your face, ears, scalp, hands, wrists, back of the legs, and feet.

Checking your skin is only useful if you know what to look for. If you notice any moles or beauty marks that change shape or color over time or any skin growths that increase in size, alert a dermatologist.

Next: You’re probably not putting on sunscreen properly. 

5. Sunscreen should be applied to certain areas of the body first

Woman applying sunscreen

Woman applying sunscreen | Fizkes/iStock/Getty Images

If you’re one of the many who prioritize sunscreening their face first, this is a good habit to break. Dermatologist Doris Day recommends applying the product first to your neck, chest, and hands, Self reports. This is because “these areas age faster and are harder to improve than the face,” she says. Additionally, if you protect them first, you’re less likely to forget to apply sunscreen on these areas later on.

Next: Food can have a huge impact on your skin’s light sensitivity.

6. Know which foods make you more sensitive to UV light


Margarita cocktail | Etorres69/iStock/Getty Images

Not only does food have a huge impact on your health, but it also can affect your skin in ways you’d never imagine. Redbook notes dermatologist Rebecca Kazin said those who love citrus and sitting out in the sun should beware of the “margarita sunburn,” as she calls it. Kazin explains that “psoralen, an organic compound found in lemons and limes, makes skin supersensitive to UV light, causing a chemical burn” that’s extremely common.

If you do develop a “margarita sunburn” treat it like a regular sunburn and apply plenty of moisturizer so it heals properly.

Next: Pay attention to your sleeping position.

7. The way you sleep can cause wrinkles

Senior woman sleeping on bed in bedroom at home

Senior woman sleeping on bed in bedroom | Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

It’s not just the sun that’s giving you wrinkles. Celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau warns that the second leading cause of wrinkles is attributed to how you’re sleeping, Byrdie says. “Squishing your face into a pillow for approximately 2,500 hours per year while you sleep is like ironing wrinkles into the skin,” Rouleau says.

When you sleep, try your best to not allow the lower half of your face to touch the pillow. This will help you avoid those deep creases that develop by the corner of your mouth.

Next: Your facial cleanser may do more harm than good. 

8. Foaming cleansers can make your skin texture way worse

A close-up of an older woman's face

A close-up of an older woman’s face | Shironosovz/Getty Images

Esthetician Candace Noonan warns if your cleanser foams, it may be stripping your skin of its natural protective oils, Byrdie says. This can also leave your skin feeling tight and dry which can then accentuate any lines or wrinkles you may have.

When looking for the perfect cleanser, dermatologist Hal Weitzbuch also warns that cleansers containing a lot of fragrance or harsh ingredients can further irritate the skin, Dermstore reports. “Simpler and softer is usually the best,” he says.

Next: Are you paying enough attention to your lips?

9. The skin on your lips can help guide your routine

Close-up view on senior woman's face

Close-up view on senior woman’s face | IPGGutenbergUKLtd/ iStock/Getty Images Plus

Unsure of you need to be moisturizing your skin more? Self reports dermatologist Ellen Marmur says you should be paying more attention to the texture of your lips to help guide you. If your lips feel dry and cracked, this is an indicator that the humidity in the air is dropping — and your skin probably needs more moisture, too. That’s when you know it’s time to break out your heavy-duty moisturizers for the ultimate in skin repair.

Next: You probably believe this skin myth about hydration.

10. You need to hydrate your skin from the outside, not the inside

Hands applying moisturizer

Hands applying moisturizer |

You’ve certainly been told that you should drink plenty of water for the sake of your skin — and perhaps you’ve even been guzzling water instead of using a moisturizer. In truth, dermatologist Dendy Engelman says there’s actually no proof that your hydration has anything to do with your skin, Self reports. Instead, you need to make sure you’re caring for your skin from the outside in with “serums, creams, and hydrating mists,” she says.

Next: Timing is everything when it comes to your skin.

11. When you apply products is just as important as the product itself

Woman in a bathrobe applying products to her skin

Woman in a bathrobe applying products to her skin | Dejan_Dundjerski/iStock/Getty Images

Mary Lupo, M.D., says when her friends ask her for product recommendations, she reminds them that what while the ingredients themselves matter, so does the timing of when the product’s applied, Redbook notes. Lupo has this general advice: “Daytime is for protection and nighttime is for repair.”

Antioxidants in serums and protection from UV rays are more important during the day, as that’s when sun exposure occurs. At night, aim for more moisturizing ingredients and products that reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Next: Sticking to the same routine for years isn’t always best. 

12. Don’t be afraid to mix up your skin routine

senior woman looking at skin in mirror in bathroom

Reflection of senior woman looking at herself in the mirror | Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

What worked to keep your skin clear and healthy at 25 may not be what works for your skin at 55 — and that’s OK. Be willing to adapt to your routine and try new products if you think your old tried-and-true favorites are no longer working. Paul Jarod Frank, M.D., explains “what worked for your skin years ago — or even six months ago — can change. Good skin care means being attuned to your skin’s needs,” Redbook notes.

When trying new products, it may also be to your benefit to try one new one at a time so you can tell how well it’s working individually.

Next: There’s another aspect of your health you need to pay attention to. 

13. Take care of your teeth as much as you care for your skin

Young man checking his skin

Young man checking his skin | metamorworks/Getty Images

Going to the dentist every six months isn’t just vital for your teeth. Your dental health can also severely impact how your skin looks. Mary Lupo, M.D., says the skin near your mouth can appear “more lax and wrinkled” if your teeth start to deteriorate as you age. “The bones above and below your teeth (right around your nose as well as your chin and jaw) will start to recess, which means you’re going to lose some of your cheekbones and jawline,” Redbook notes she warns.

In essences, visiting the dentist can help your teeth maintain their integrity, which will also result in more youthful skin.

Next: Do you know which foods you should be eating for your skin?

14. If you’re experiencing breakouts, check your diet

Dermatologist checking a patient's skin

Dermatologist checking a patient’s skin | michaeljung/iStock/Getty Images

The older you get, the more you’ll want to make sure your diet is helping your skin instead of hurting it. Refined carbs and sugar are a huge no-no for good skin, dermatologist Whitney Bowe reminds Self. Instead, nourish your skin from the inside out with foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, walnuts, or avocados. You’ll appear way more youthful when you get rid of unhealthy favorites and go for the good stuff.

Next: The SPF in your makeup isn’t enough. 

15. Your foundation’s SPF isn’t accurate

Woman applying makeup

Woman applying makeup | Eva-Katalin/iStock/Getty Images

If you wear foundation every day, you’ve probably noticed that most come with some sun protection right in the formula. Unfortunately, the packaging can be seriously misleading. Redbook notes Anna Chien, M.D., says much thicker layers of the product are used in the lab when testing SPF. So if your foundation says it’s SPF 30, it’s actually wise to cut that number in half for a more accurate representation of what sort of protection you’re getting. And, to be on the safe side, always wear a sunscreen under your foundation anyway.

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