If you're reading this, chances are you have a couple of dubious skincare habits. You might be reluctant to throw away your old makeup, for example, or perhaps you don't wash your face for long enough (a common mistake, according to this expert). But if one of your 2023 goals is to achieve healthier, happier skin, look no further.
We asked Dr Hiba Injibar, consultant dermatologist at Dermasurge Clinic, to lay down the smart skincare resolutions she thinks everyone can benefit from in the new year – and they're actually super easy to stick to.
Ditch this ingredient from your moisturiser
"January and February are the coldest months of the year," says Dr Injibar, "and dry air draws moisture away from the skin, making it more likely to crack, bleed and become irritated." When your skin barrier is compromised, any skincare products that contain fragrance have the potential to irritate your skin and make it feel sore or look red and inflamed.
Unfortunately, fragrant ingredients in skincare are not always individually disclosed, explains Dr Injibar, and sometimes just listed as 'fragrance'. "There is not always clarity as to whether the fragrance is synthetic, animal-derived, insect-derived or natural, so it becomes harder to predict whether fragrance in a skincare product will irritate your skin," she says.
Dr Injibar suggests beginning your new year by investing in a good fragrance-free moisturiser, which she says will ease the dryness and stiffness in skin during the cold winter months. This is especially useful advice if you are prone to eczema, allergies or other skin sensitivities. R29 recommends The Nue Co. Barrier Culture Moisturizer, £45, which boasts moisturising squalane and glycerin, soothing cica and skin-strengthening ceramides.
If you have a smaller budget, The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, £5, is just as moisturising thanks to glycerin and hydrating hyaluronic acid. Also try Avène Tolérance Control Soothing Skin Recovery Cream for Sensitive Skin, £19.15, with squalane, glycerin and beeswax to keep moisture under lock and key.
Get a handle on skin picking
If you pick at your skin mindlessly, particularly if you experience breakouts, you could be exacerbating them. "It can be tempting to squeeze or pop a spot," says Dr Injibar, "but doing so can force bacteria and pus deeper into the skin, making the pimple more swollen and red." Popping breakouts can also cause scarring or leave permanent pits in your skin, explains Dr Injibar.
To bring down a spot, invest in a salicylic acid spot treatment like R29-favourite Medik8 Blemish SOS Rapid Action Target Gel, £21, which exfoliates skin and reduces inflammation in one go. Team it with a spot patch like Mario Badescu Drying Patch, £16.25, or COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch 24 Patches, £5.99, so you're less tempted to touch or pick your skin further.
Seek out skincare with this souped-up hydrator
Forget hyaluronic acid for a moment. It's super hydrating but it's not the be-all and end-all of great skin. If you're dealing with flaky patches or your face feels uncomfortably tight after cleansing, look out for urea, says Dr Injibar. "This is a humectant, which means that it draws moisture into the skin like a magnet." Dr Injibar says urea is an active part of the natural moisturising factor (NMF), a group of moisturising elements that are found inside our skin naturally. Often, our natural reserves run low and need to be replaced using skincare. "Lotions and creams that contain urea can help hydrate the skin further and ease flaking, dryness or itchy skin, too," says Dr Injibar. It's great on elbows and knees, too.
Try The Inkey List SuperSolutions 10% Urea Moisturizer, £18.99, or Eucerin UreaRepair Original 10% Urea Cream, £13.50. The Ordinary's fragrance-free moisturiser also includes urea.
Give up 'anti-ageing' skincare products
One of the most common mistakes that Dr Injibar sees in clinic is patients buying expensive, supposedly 'anti-ageing' creams which promise lifting and tightening. "All they do is moisturise," says Dr Injibar, who believes that no cream can reverse slack skin. Consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto seconds this. She recently told R29: "If we look at the clinical data, there are very few ingredients that are shown to have true 'anti-ageing' or rejuvenation effects."
Dr Mahto says that retinoids are one of the only effective skincare ingredients for minimising the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, if that's what you're looking to achieve.
Stop overspending on sunscreen
Sunscreen doesn't have to be expensive to work well, says Dr Injibar. "Some of my favourites include Eucerin Photoaging Control Sun Fluid SPF50, £19.99, La Roche-Posay Anthelios UVMUNE 400 Invisible Fluid SPF50, £19, and Avène Very High Protection Cream SPF50+ for Sensitive Skin, £19.15, for sun protection throughout the day."
If you'd rather spend less, R29 loves Bondi Sands Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+ for Face, £6 (also recommended by aesthetican Alicia Lartey), and Altruist Dermatologist Sunscreen Fluid SPF50, £9.15, which was made by dermatologists.
shop 5 products
"Sun protection is essential in all seasons," says Dr Injibar, particularly if you're outside in the winter – even if it's cloudy. "It can help protect your skin's appearance and health as it serves as a protective barrier between your skin and UVA/UVB rays," says Dr Injibar. Most importantly, it helps shield against sunburn and skin cancer.
In the summertime, Dr Injibar hits home the importance of applying sunscreen 30 minutes before you head outside. "If you plan to be exposed to the sun for an extended period of time, top up throughout the day," she advises.
Choose the right vitamin C serum
Using a retinol at night and then vitamin C followed by sunscreen in the morning is a great, simple skincare routine, says Dr Injibar. But she believes that not all creams containing vitamin C are effective. One product she really likes is ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self Activating, as it provides a potent dose of vitamin C to brighten skin. But it is only available via certain skin clinics. Alternatives are Farmacy Beauty 10% Waterless Vitamin C Serum, £48, and The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%, £10. If you aren't a seasoned vitamin C user, start with something gentle yet effective like Lumene Nordic-C Glow Boost Essence Serum, £32.90, or Naturium Vitamin C Complex Serum, £22.
Don't skip this one skincare step
Cleaning your makeup brushes is technically skincare and according to Dr Injibar you should be doing it at least twice a month. "This will avoid the build-up of bacteria, which could easily result in acne and skin irritation," she says. Dr Injibar suggests using a solid cleanser for synthetic brushes and a liquid cleanser for natural brushes. "Begin by washing the makeup brushes under lukewarm water, swirling the bristles into the cleanser, rinsing and repeating, particularly if there is still residue left on the brush."
Another top tip: Dr Injibar recommends drying your brushes upside down to avoid water seeping into the bristles, which she says may eventually loosen them.
Refinery29's selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission.