Want all this in your inbox?
Get the Refinery29 Newsletter
You're in for a treat...
Thanks for signing up!
Please upgrade your browser for the best Refinery29 experience. Read more.
Wash your face with an actual cleanser.
See results: 5 minutes
Why it works: Friendly service reminder: Makeup-removing cloths are meant to be a backup plan for late nights or travel — not a permanent substitute for soap and water. The most effective way to wash your face is with a gentle formula appropriate for your skin type. The goal is to thoroughly remove the sweat, excess grease, makeup, and random gunk that settles in your pores throughout the day — without stripping away all your natural oils. Cleansing cloths can leave a residue behind, plus they prevent your fingers from actually touching your skin. Why is making contact important? “Gentle skin massage not only gives you a deeper cleanse, it can help encourage blood flow and improve skin tone,” says Dr. Zeichner. Post-cleanse, be sure to slather on a moisturizer to maintain that fresh glow.
“Namaste” your way to more glow.
See results: One day
Why it works: Need another excuse to squeeze in a yoga class in your already-slammed schedule? Here’s three: Mastering your downward dog not only melts away muscle tension and stress, the mind-body practice helps your complexion, too. “Yoga can give your skin a beautiful glow,” says Dr. Engelman. “The increased blood flow increases oxygen and micronutrient delivery to your skin.” And when you make a steady date with your mat, the benefits keep getting better. Regular exercise stimulates mitochondria (your cells’ powerhouses) to function better, which may slow the aging process, according to Dr. Zeichner.
Add a serum to your daily skin-care routine, pronto!
See results: Two weeks
Why it works: It’s time to take serum off your “optional” list and add it to your daily lineup. Several of your skin’s repair processes begin to slow down as early as your mid-20s — even before it shows on your face. A serum gives your skin an extra boost of radiance and keeps it looking healthy. Check out vitamin- and mineral-rich serums like bareMinerals SKINLONGEVITY™ Vital Power Infusion, which contains a blend of Long Life Herb (a Japanese superfood), California Poppy, and Lempuyang Ginger extracts. Lightweight and fast to absorb, it also provides light hydration, leaving your skin smooth and glowy. Apply a thin layer under your moisturizer and never look back.
Use a retinoid two or three times a week (to combat pretty much everything).
See results: One month
Why it works: Vitamin A derivatives are a triple threat against wrinkles, age spots, and acne. “They work on the cellular level to enhance exfoliation and reveal healthier, younger-looking skin,” says Dr. Engelman. You don’t have to look very far to find a good retinoid; just know that they come in different forms and strengths. Retinol is a weaker over-the-counter version found in many drugstore creams, while tretinoin is the prescription-strength, more potent version you can get from a doctor. Both are effective, but results take at least four weeks. Also, your skin may get cranky as it adjusts to vitamin A. “Because retinol accelerates cell turnover, it may increase dryness, irritation, and peeling,” says Dr. Engelman. Start with a light application once or twice a week and then increase to a nightly application if you can tolerate it.
Disappear your dark spots.
See results: Three to six months
Why it works: Pigment enlarges and accumulates over time, so those cute freckles that pop up in summer may morph into brown spots and splotches come fall. Sunscreen can prevent new ones from forming, but you’ll need a topical fading agent to tackle existing spots. Dr. Engelman recommends an over-the-counter brightener that contains hydroquinone or kojic acid. You can apply it twice daily to the dark area immediately after cleansing, then top with your other treatments and daily SPF, she says.
The sooner you deal with hyperpigmentation, the better. Once your melanocytes (the cells that produce pigment) are stimulated, it’s hard to turn them off — especially if your hyperpigmentation is triggered by hormones. Be patient. Clearing melanin pigment from the skin is a slow process, says Dr. Engelman. “It takes eight to 12 weeks to lighten hyperpigmentation.”