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The Best Morning Skin-Care Routine

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    Forget freaks and vampires: When it comes to beauty rituals, it’s our inner princesses who come out at night. It’s then that we languidly soak in tubs of skin-nourishing oils and mind-quieting aromatics and casually delve into nine-step Korean-inspired skin-care regimens. The mornings, on the other hand? Well, in that our hour of groggy discontent, count us lucky if we can brush our teeth before getting out the door in time.


    While most of us know that, as a minimum, we should slap some SPF on our skin before heading out into the day, fewer of us are keyed into the idea that other airborne nanoparticles (like smog, cigarette smoke, soot, pollen, water droplets, and pollutants) contribute to aging skin. Research has shown that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) cling to these airborne nanoparticles, where they are converted to quinones — which can age the skin in the same ways that chronic exposure to UV light can. And, those who live in cities are more exposed to PAH. It’s a lot to consider — especially before coffee.

    The takeaway: When we talk a.m. skin care, SPF is only half the battle; we’ve got to clean our skin and arm it with antioxidants (then UV protection) to ensure we’re really ready to face the day. To figure out how to best protect our skin from good, old UV and the solid and liquid particles suspended in the air (many of which are generated during the combustion of fossil fuels), we spoke to Dr. Debra Jaliman, a New York-based dermatologist and author of Skin Rules, about the best way to handle our morning skin-care regimens. Regardless of your complexion, Jaliman advocates for cleansing, applying a serum, and, finally, SPF. Read on for her tips on how to tinker with the morning trifecta, no matter your skin type.

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    We reserve our heavy-duty toners for before bed to remove every speck of leftover makeup and dirt, but this one is intensely moisturizing and serves as the perfect base for your day moisturizer.

    Fresh Peony Brightening Moisturizing Facial Toner, $60, available at Fresh.

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    Dull Skin
    To wake up dull skin, cleanse with an exfoliating powder, which will help slough off dead skin cells to not only reveal a rosier complexion but also create a smoother canvas for makeup. “If you’re being photographed that day, take an extra step and exfoliate — your makeup will go on better,” Jaliman advises.

    Bioré Baking Soda Cleansing Scrub, $7.99, available at Walmart.

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    Turns out, 'gentle exfoliator' isn't an oxymoron after all. Mix a little of this powder with water and massage it on for super silky skin.

    Tatcha Polished Classic Rice Enzyme Powder, $65, available at Sephora.

  5. Photo: Via May Lindstrom.

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    For daily cleansing, reach for hydrating products like this one from May Lindstrom, which is packed full of nourishing (and antibacterial) honey.

  6. Photo: Via Amala.

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    Further, products with lactic acid, vitamin C, licorice root, ginkgo, and other antioxidants and anti-inflammatories help deliver nutrients and brighten skin.