Top dermatologists share their favorite advice—besides applying (and reapplying!) sunscreen.

By Chelsea Traber Burns
Updated May 18, 2018
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“If you get regular breakouts, treat your whole face as opposed to just the zit,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “This way, rather than playing catch-up, you can prevent pimples from developing to begin with. The face is made up of thousands of pipes connecting oil glands to the skin’s surface, and we don’t know which one will become clogged next. Apply a pea-size amount all over before bed.”

We Like: Differin Acne Treatment Gel, $12; target.com.

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“Antioxidants are like insurance policies on your sunscreen,” says Zeichner. “They help reduce any inflammation. Apply one under your sunscreen during the day, then slather on some more after an afternoon in the sun.”

We Like: Avène A-Oxitive Antioxidant Defense Serum, $44; dermstore.com.

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Another reason to use antioxidants: “Free radicals are chemical particles from UV light and pollutants that cause wrinkles—think of antioxidants as the Pac-Man that goes around eating them,” says Mona Gohara, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. “Vitamin C is the ultimate antioxidant. Apply a serum—as it’s the most concentrated—under your moisturizer in the morning.”

We Like: Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, $80; drunkelephant.com.

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“No one except a dermatologist should be looking at your skin that closely,” says Dendy Engelman, MD, associate dermatologic surgeon at Manhattan Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in New York City. “Not only does it make you want to pick at things you otherwise wouldn’t have noticed, but it also brings down your self-esteem. If your eyesight is bad and you feel you need a magnifying mirror, use one with five to eight times magnification only.”

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“Although ultraviolet rays are the main cause of aging and are linked to 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers, there are other offenders too, like the lightbulbs in your office or living room,” says Gohara. “That's right: Visible light can worsen brown spots big-time. To guard against all types of light, use an SPF with iron oxides. Try a powder formula so you won't mind reapplying.”

We Like: Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-on Sunscreen SPF 50, $65; colorescience.com.

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“Vitamin A derivatives—retinoids and retinol—are my go-to for patients who want to slow the signs of aging,” says Engelman. “They help correct fine lines and wrinkles by building collagen, they help reverse sun damage, and they improve tone and texture. Since they can be irritating, I recommend patients start with an over-the-counter product before upgrading to prescription strength.”

We Like: RoC Retinol Correxion Max Daily Hydration Crème, $25; walmart.com.