Dermatologist and author Doris Day, MD offers her "ageless skin care regimen, " incorporating cleansing, sun protection, moisturizing, exfoliating and masks.
I believe that there are a few essential basics for skin care that apply to everyone, with a few minor variations, as you will see. The idea that most people can be compartmentalized into clean, straightforward categories of oily skin or dry skin is a myth. We all have a variation of combination skin with more oil around the nose and forehead and drier areas on the cheeks. True, your skin tends to get drier or less oily with time, and you may have other issues such as sun damage or adult acne. Even so, the overall basic routine for skin care changes very little. In other words, if the areas of your skin that are dry are very dry, you'll choose a rich moisturizer, whereas if your dry areas aren't particularly dry, you'll choose a light moisturizers. But either way, you won't skip the moisturizer! The products you use may be different from those that another person uses, but the process is the same for everyone.
First Thing in the Morning
Use a gentle cleaners or mild soap - that is, one with little or no added surfactants. Apply with circular motions of your hands. Rinse or wipe off with a washcloth wrung out in warm water. Pat dry with a clean towel. Do not use bar-shaped cleansers that are made from detergents rather than soaps. These have been dubbed "syndet bars," which stands for synthetic detergent bars. They are made from chemicals that are usually much more irritating to the skin than soap. Actual soap is made from oils such as olive, palm, or coconut oil and is gentler for use on the skin. Depending on the type of oil used, the soap can be more or less creamy. Also, glycerin is a humectant commonly used in soaps. The more glycerin in the soap, the more relatively moisturizing the soap is. Sometimes color and fragrance are added to the soap to make it more appealing to the user. Ideally the scents in soaps should come only from the essential oils since the fragrance and color add nothing to the actual cleansing process and serve only to increase the potential for irritation and allergic reactions.
Apply a light moisturizer with an SPF of at least 15. Use upward strokes on your neck and forehead, and outward strokes on your cheeks, the area around your eyes, and between your brows. Never pull or press hard and never pull down.
Apply either a foundation with a sunscreen, or a sunscreen product specifically made for facial skin. This is an extra layer of protection over the moisturizer with SPF. Again, stroke gently upward and outward, not down. If you are prone to acne, look for products that say noncomedogenic or nonacnegenic on the label. These products are least likely to clog your pores and contribute to your breakouts. If areas of your skin tend to be especially dry, use creams rather than lotions, since these are more moisturizing. I use the cream on most of my face, but I don't put it on my forehead, since that area is oilier.
Use your cleanser again just as you did in the morning. If you wear contact lenses, remove them before cleansing, and try to get the hang of taking each lens out directly from your eye rather than pulling the skin around your eye taut, unless otherwise instructed by your eye doctor. Repeated rubbing or pulling day after day is not good for the delicate, easily wrinkled skin in that area.
Apply a rich moisturizer designed for use on the face. Unless the oily areas of your face are very oily, you should use a creamier moisturizer at night than in the morning. Your skin loses more water while you sleep than while you're awake. You can skip moisturizing your nose since it is generally oily. Apply the moisturizer about half an hour before putting your face on the pillow. This gives the moisturizer time to be absorbed so it won't end up on your pillowcase.
Once or Twice a Week
Use an exfoliating scrub to speed the natural process in which the cells of the epidermis, the outer layer of your skin, slough off. Most exfoliators are too irritating to be used daily.
Once a Month
Use a firming mask to tighten pores and improve blood circulation to your skin. You can choose the first day of the month, or any day that is easy for you to remember. Also, if you use an electronic calendar, add this part of the regimen as a recurring appointment.
Dr. Doris Day is a board-certified dermatologist and columnist for Redbook who has been featured in such magazines as InStyle, Vogue and Glamour. The following is an excerpt from her book, Forget the Facelift: Dr. Day Turns Back the Clock with a Revolutionary Program for Ageless Skin. Reprinted with permission.