Everyone falls into a skin rut from time to time. No matter if your face is having a minor case of the blahs or a full-blown freak-out, it’s easier than you think to get your complexion back on track. Luckily, there are a lot of simple things you can do that don’t require an entire skin care overhaul. Don’t believe us? Check out these derm-approved tweaks for a clearer, brighter, and healthier complexion.
Never use your fingers when cleansing
“Use a baby washcloth, which is softer than typical ones, a cotton pad or a sonic cleansing machine,” advises Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. “Fingers don’t give enough exfoliation, plus there’s bacteria under the fingernails.” This will help keep breakouts at bay and boost dead skin cell turnover, leading to more luminosity.
Apply brush-on sunscreen
From premature aging to dark spots to skin cancer, SPF is a cornerstone of every solid skin care regimen. Unfortunately, many of us don’t reapply unless we’re at the beach. “Stopping to put on lotion every two hours isn’t realistic when wearing makeup or doing activities where we don’t want our hands to get greasy,” explains Allison Arthur MD, a dermatologist in Orlando, FL. She suggests stashing brush-on powder sunscreen, like Colorscience’s Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF 50, in your purse: “It’s a zinc and titanium mineral powder sunscreen that is safe for all skin types. Plus, the minerals are heat stable, so it’s okay to leave this sunscreen in the car or in a bag.”
Try a body oil
Up your body’s moisture levels by keeping coconut or robathol oil in your shower. Apply it before you towel off when you’re still wet. “A small amount covers a large area of skin, and it only takes seconds to apply,” says Dr. Arthur. “Just don’t use coconut oil on the face, as it can potentially clog the pores and trigger acne flares.”
Maintain skin’s microbiome
Your complexion is covered in microorganisms (also known as your microbiome), and it’s crucial to keep them healthy for glowing, radiant skin. “In order to do this, use gentle, pH-balanced products instead of harsh scrubs or cleansers,” advises Whitney Bowe, MD, a dermatologist in New York City and author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin. “Your skin should feel hydrated and nourished after cleansing—not tight, dry, and squeaky-clean or harshly scrubbed.”
Use micellar water before washing your face
Looking to simplify a double-cleansing routine? Dr. Jaliman suggests sweeping a micellar water-soaked pad over your face before washing to remove stubborn makeup and grime.
Try: Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Micellar Cleanser ($31; sephora.com)
Layer your skin care
Use a serum and a moisturizer daily to maximize your skin’s hydration levels. “Highly concentrated serums are designed to penetrate deeper into the skin, which fast-tracks ingredients like peptides and antioxidants,” says Dr. Bowe. For the best results, incorporate a serum that targets your skin’s specific needs, like hyaluronic acid for drier complexions or vitamin C for dullness. Then, follow with a cream to seal in the moisture, Bowe adds.
If you’re not using one yet, now’s the time to start applying this anti-aging superstar. The vitamin A derivative boosts cell turnover and stimulates collagen for younger-looking skin. Plus, it prevents pores from clogging and helps treat acne. “One of the retinoids that formerly required a prescription, Differin Gel, is now available over-the-counter,” says Dr. Arthur, making it easier than ever to scoop up an effective formula.
Stash cleansing wipes bedside
Make this year the year you never fall asleep with makeup on. Keep a pack of towelettes on your night stand, so you never go to bed without “washing” your face, says Dr. Jaliman. Remember that snoozing with a full-face can lead to clogged pores and breakouts.
Try: Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towlettes ($6; ulta.com)
Feed your skin
Clear up rough, congested skin by passing on foods that spike blood sugar. Some of those include sweet treats, white bread, white rice, and potatoes. “Avoiding them has been shown to significantly decrease acne breakouts,” explains Dr. Arthur.
Take a probiotic
“Incorporate a probiotic into your daily routine to encourage good bacteria to thrive on the skin,” advises Dr. Bowe. Topically, probiotics are live bacteria that are applied directly to your skin’s surface. Internally, they provide a ton of benefits from calming inflammation to encouraging ceramide production to boasting antimicrobial properties and killing harmful bacteria.
Skip lash extensions
While eyelashes are technically not part of your skin, they do have a huge impact on your overall face. Save time and money by opting for an over-the-counter serum instead of faux fringe. “These solutions can increase the length and density of the eyelashes. Applying one drop to each upper lash line at bedtime is much faster than the time required to touch up professional eyelash extensions or put on false eyelashes at home,” says Dr. Arthur.
Choose complexion multi-taskers
“There are many revolutionary products now available that address two or even three skin concerns with one quick application,” Dr. Arthur says. She suggests choosing an SPF that also has antioxidants to prevent free radical damage or a formula like Colorescience Even Up Clinical Pigment Perfector that evens out skin tone over time, protects against the sun and other environmental stressors, and immediately acts as a color-corrector for any dark spots.
Channeling your inner yogi may improve the quality of your complexion. We all know stress can wreak havoc on skin. Dr. Bowe suggests setting aside an hour a day to do stress-reducing activities. “This can be anything from yoga to deep breathing exercises or even calling a friend. Just make sure to schedule the time on your calendar and stick to it,” she adds.