The Truth Behind Those Celebrity Skin-Care "Secrets"

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Most of you have probably read an interview or two where a famous celebrity attributes her flawless skin to something as simple and effortless as drinking water or as impossible to replicate as good genes. But, perhaps you can't help wondering if these are the real reasons for many a celeb's ever-present radiant glow.

As someone who works with celebrities regularly, giving professional facial treatments and expert at-home education and product recommendations, I know that the secret to beautiful skin is rarely as easy or basic as we're sometimes led to believe. In an effort to shed some light on these so-called secrets, I'm here to debunk some of the common celebrity skin-care claims as well as provide insight on how the stars really get that red-carpet glow.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
"I drink a lot of water."
The truth: While drinking water is undoubtedly good for your overall health, it’s actually proven to be the least effective way to hydrate the skin. That's because the water you drink doesn’t go directly to the skin; rather, it runs through the intestines, gets absorbed into your bloodstream, and is then filtered out by the kidneys. Only then does it hydrate the cells inside the body, yet it never makes its way up to the skin's surface. Thus, it's helpful to understand that hydration levels in the skin have very little to do with drinking water and much more to do with how you hydrate topically.

What works:
The simplest and easiest way to effectively hydrate your skin cells, which keeps them moist and healthy-looking, is by using an alcohol-free toner and sealing that in with a skin serum that contains hyaluronic acid and sodium PCA. Water-based gel masks are also a great way to both soothe and calm the skin and quickly deliver water to thirsty skin cells. It may be an unusual comparison, but skin cells are a lot like fish in that they need water to live, so keeping skin topically hydrated with well-formulated skin-care products based on your skin type is essential.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
"I have good genes."
The truth: While good genes definitely play a role in certain skin conditions like oiliness, skin color, and skin thickness, you might be surprised to learn that approximately 30% of aging can be attributed to genetics and 70% to personal habits. This is evident in studies that evaluate how identical twins age. If it were all left to genetics, it would make sense for twins to age in the same manner at the same rate, but lifestyle factors play a huge role. For example, if one person smokes or works in a profession that causes her to have more exposure to UV rays, she's bound to age faster than her non-smoking twin who is rarely exposed to harmful UV rays. Good genes definitely play a role in how skin looks and acts, but, ultimately, it's how you take care of your skin on a daily basis that's a reflection of your age.

What works:
Considering that UV light (even daylight coming in through windows in your home, car or office) is the number one cause of premature skin aging, it’s crucial that you block those harmful rays day in and day out. Along with using a skin-care routine with action ingredients like retinol, vitamin C, peptides, and salicylic acid, find a well-formulated moisturizer with sunscreen and apply it generously to the face and neck 365 days a year. Sunscreen is absolutely the most effective anti-aging product available. Can’t find one that is light enough or that won’t clog your pores? Look for sunscreen containing zinc oxide as those tend to be lighter and more compatible for breakout-prone skin types.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
"I try not to wear a lot of makeup in order to let my skin breathe."
The truth: The skin can’t perform the function of respiration, so it doesn’t actually breathe; therefore, avoiding makeup or forgoing a nighttime moisturizer does not benefit the skin in the way that some celebs claim it does.

What works:
While not removing makeup and failing to cleanse skin each night can lead to breakouts, wearing makeup, per se, is not bad for the skin — as long as you wear a formula compatible for your skin type. You also want to choose one that offers a barrier of protection against harmful UV rays. Many types of makeup contain sunscreen, and even if they don’t indicate an SPF number, most have UV-protecting ingredients like titanium dioxide. This indicates that there is actually a benefit to wearing makeup. I never leave my skin bare and do not suggest that my clients do so either.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
"I only wash my face at night."
The truth: I’ve heard many celebrities say they don’t cleanse their skin in the morning since they're waking up with a makeup-free face. They believe that somehow they are doing their skin a favor by only washing it once a day, but there's no validity to this claim. When we sleep, our skin goes in repair mode, secreting toxins and sebum which can prevent daytime products from working effectively if they aren't washed off.

What works:
Cleansing in the morning (only using a gentle, sulfate-free, non-drying cleanser) removes toxins, sebum, and nighttime products so that sunscreen and an antioxidant serum can effectively protect skin from the environment and harmful daylight rays. Think of it as a clean slate for your skin-care routine.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Loyalty, Minimal Sun Exposure, & Regular Facials
As for how celebrities really take care of their skin? Well, most do not mention the team of people dedicated to helping them look flawless — aestheticians, dermatologists, makeup artists, and photographers. I speak from professional experience when I say that the stars are just like everyone else: They experience dark circles, cystic acne, blackheads, and brown spots. But, since their looks are often an important part of their careers, they spend a lot of time and money doing whatever they need to to put their best face forward. Fortunately for us, they have a few tricks to keeping their skin flawless that we can also follow.

They are loyal to their skin-care products.
Celebrity skin needs to look good at all times so when it comes to their at-home skin-care routine, they won’t change products if something is working well. They don’t want to risk possible negative reactions from experimenting with too many skin-care products. So, if you find something that works, stick with it, especially if you have sensitive skin. If your skin is changing, then and only then is it time for a change.

They get facials often.
Chemical peels, oxygen treatments, bio brasion, ultrasonic exfoliation, LED light, microcurrent…they do it all, oftentimes on a weekly basis. Of course, for a lot of us, this isn't realistic — or affordable — but good skin maintenance is something we can all manage. And, if you can't make it into the salon for monthly facials, give yourself one at home.

They stay out of the sun.
Because the number one cause of wrinkles is sun damage, wearing an SPF moisturizer on the face and neck, 365 days a year, rain or shine, inside or outside is imperative. And, whenever possible (and assuming you’re interested in avoiding premature wrinkles), limit your time in the sun. Your skin will thank you and you’ll keep a smooth, healthy-looking, and even-toned texture.Don’t be fooled next time you see a celebrity in a magazine. Their beauty routine is likely anything but easy and effortless.
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