Ramp up your beauty regimen Just follow these simple steps to look and feel (even more!) gorgeous in the new year.
1. Apply sunscreen each day.
In rain or shine, harmful ultraviolet rays are present throughout the entire year, so cover up if you want to avoid premature wrinkles, dark spots, and skin cancer. "Everyone should wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day," says Jeannette Graf, MD, New York dermatologist.
2. Smooth on eye cream daily.
Skin around the eyes tends to be delicate and dry, making the area susceptible to early aging. To fight fine lines and wrinkles, apply a nourishing eye cream twice a day. When choosing one, look for these two ingredients: retinol and hyaluronic acid. Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that stimulates collagen production and speeds up cell turnover to keep skin bright and smooth. "It's the single most important ingredient for skin health and beauty," says Graf. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant that draws moisture up to 1,000 times its weight in water, leaving skin feeling softer and looking plumper.
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3. Exfoliate at least once a week.
"As we get older, our own enzymes that normally exfoliate our skin are no longer as effective so complexions can look rough and dull," says Graf. Revitalize your texture and tone by buffing away dead skin cells. Dermatologists recommend using a glycolic acid peel twice a week. If you have sensitive skin, use only once a week. Graf suggests Glytone Mini Peel Gel ($54, glytone-usa.com). If you prefer polishing with a cleanser or face brush, both are gentle enough to use daily. Try LiftLab Purify and Clarify cleanser ($65, theliftlab.com) or Clarisonic skincare brush ($199, clarisonic.com).
"Always exfoliate at night," says Graf. Skin is in protection mode during the day, and renewal mode in the evening so sloughing off dead skin cells before heading to bed works synergistically with your natural regeneration cycle.
4. Remove makeup and wash your face before bed.
It is extremely important to cleanse your face before going to sleep. Although nothing catastrophic will happen overnight, skipping this step prevents your skin from functioning optimally and can accelerate aging over time.
Debris from sebum (an oily, waxy substance that skin naturally produces during the day), makeup, and environmental pollutants build up during the day. By nightfall, the concealer you applied in the morning may even trap skin-damaging free radicals. "You want to wash that off and have your skin properly renew and repair itself at night," says Graf. Even if you're exhausted, reach for a face wipe and remove impurities.
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5. Take inventory of your beauty tools.
Clean makeup brushes at least once a week. The benefits are clear: It's better for your skin, helps makeup go on smoother, and extends the lifespan of the brushes.
New York makeup artist Andie Markoe-Byrne shares her tips on caring for your brushes:
Squeeze out a drop of liquid antibacterial soap on the center of your palm. Wet the brush and swirl it around the soap. Next, run the bristles under warm water until it runs clear. Gently ring out the bristles and lay it flat. Never stand it up in a cup - the water will drip down and loosen the glue that adheres the bristles to the handle, cutting its lifespan in half. "On average, you can get 10 years out of a quality brush if you take good care of it," says Markoe-Byrne. If the brush has lost its shape, the bristles are falling out, or the handle comes loose, it's time for a replacement.
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6. Apply heat protectant on hair before using hot tools.
Direct heat on your hair can cause damage ranging from frizz to breakage. Keep strands strong and healthy with a thermal protectant. "You don't need to look for specific ingredients in this case," says Graf. Polymers (also known as PVP), silicones and oils such as Argan and castor all help create a barrier between your hair and hot tool.
If you have straight or wavy locks, go for a spray. It's lightweight and won't weigh your hair down. Spritz six inches away to ensure even distribution. For curly or thick hair, try a serum. It adds moisture while protecting hair. Make sure to thoroughly coat the ends where strands tend to split.
7. Deep condition hair every week.
For shiny, healthy tresses, comb through deep conditioner once a week. While daily conditioners detangle and smooth, deep conditioners repair and hydrate strands as well. "It builds the keratin protein in the structure of the hair and strengthens it," says New York hairstylist Sarah Potempa.
To get the most bang for your buck, soak strands with warm water before smoothing on deep conditioner. "This will help open up the hair cuticle and allow the product to penetrate," says Potempa. Keep it on for as long as you can, preferably in a shower cap. Finish with a cool water rinse to lock in moisture and seal the shine.
8. Make your manicure last.
It only takes three easy steps. First, avoid soaking nails in water before applying polish. "It swells your nails significantly and prevents the polish from adhering properly," says Julie Kandalec, New York-based manicurist. Next, swipe on a clear base coat. It will help the color stick and act as a barrier to prevent enamel from staining nails. "Apply horizontally (perpendicular to the direction of nail growth) to create a stronger bond between the base coat and lacquer," says Kandalec. Lastly, apply a top coat every other day to protect the lacquer.
9. Get more zzzs.
"Sleep is free cosmetic medicine," says New York dermatologist Amy Wechsler, MD, "It's directly linked to our hormonal cycles, which help stimulate growth and cell reproduction, allowing for a fresh looking complexion." Ideally, you should get seven to eight hours of shut-eye a night to allow your body time to heal and restore. Lack of sleep exacerbates stress and decreases growth hormone production, causing a sallow appearance. "This can also impact your weight, as a lack of growth hormones negatively affects your proportion of fat to muscle," says Wechsler.
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What beauty regimen do you swear by? Let me know in the comments!
-by Carol Kim
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