Sometimes, being a creature of habit can work in your favor—at least when it comes to your skin. Michele S. Green, M.D., a Manhattan-based dermatologist, shares the routines that are musts for beautiful skin now—and that will set you up for great-looking skin later on down the road, too.
Going to a Dermatologist
If you haven’t done so yet, book an appointment with a dermatologist in your area ASAP. Green says that having an expert on your skin works to your advantage in major ways. That way, you can get on a scientifically proven treatment plan that is tailored specifically to you. Regular checkups help your dermatologist keep track of changes in your skin, so your routine can change as your skin does.
Buying Products Meant for Your Skin Type
Combination, sensitive, dry, oily—knowing your skin’s needs is half the battle, says Green. Each skin type requires different types of cleansers, serums, moisturizers, and treatments. Save yourself years of trial and error with products by asking your dermatologist what your type is.
Green says nothing ages the skin quite like sun damage. For skin that will stay beautiful as you mature, wear an SPF 40 sunscreen underneath your foundation every single day. Seriously, your foundation’s sun protection isn’t enough. You’d have to use an entire bottle to match the power of a stand-alone sunscreen—so use both.
Using a Serum
If you don’t have a serum in your skin-care arsenal, you’re seriously missing out. They provide a concentrated dose of active ingredients that absorb into the skin lightning-fast. Look for one that satisfies your skin’s needs, whether it’s extreme hydration or pigment lightening.
Are you getting wrinkles from worrying about wrinkles? The minute you’re aware that your skin is not perennially gorgeous, it’s time to take preventive measures (after all, it’s called anti-aging for a reason). Green says you should start looking for products that have anti-aging benefits as early as your 20s.
Using Vitamin C and Retinol
The number one thing that Green’s star patients have in common? They all use vitamin C and retinols in their youth. Vitamin C provides antioxidants and promotes collagen production, while retinol smoothes wrinkles and boosts elasticity. Incorporate both products into your routine to keep skin looking youthful.
Cleaning Up Your Diet
Unfortunately for your face, all of the toxins you put into your body (whether they enter via alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, or environmental pollution) will eventually show up on your skin. Green’s best advice? Limit your exposure as much as possible.
Sleeping with a Humidifier
Sleeping with a humidifier running every night can eliminate dry skin and help minimize environmental toxins, says Green.
Treating Yourself to Regular Facials
While they aren’t a cure-all for your skin woes, Green says facials work wonders at restoring oxygen and moisture to the skin. Get one done by a pro every month or two, and find an at-home formula that you can use once weekly. Green recommends St. Ives Nourished and Smooth Oatmeal Scrub & Mask ($4.29, Walgreens).
Being Gentle with Your Skin
Scrubbing your face won’t solve your skin issues—in fact, Green says it will only make matters worse. Your skin is most receptive to products when they’re applied with a soft touch in swooping, circular motions.