Then, to keep breakouts at bay, Levin uses a prescription medication called Aczone 7.5%, a gel-based treatment that targets adult acne. “I apply it to my entire face once daily before moisturizing with Avène Eau Thermale Hydrance Emulsion,” she says.
Depending on the day, Levin also sometimes likes to use Isdin Flavo-C Ampoules to provide antioxidant protection. “This formulation is sealed in a glass ampoule to ensure stability and potency and is easy to use for travel,” she says. “I especially love it for the winter since, in addition to the L-ascorbic acid, it also improves skin moisturization due to hyaluronic acid and proteoglycans.”
Levin finishes with a healthy dose of the Isdin Eryfotona SPF 50. “It’s an elegant, lightweight-but-effective pure mineral blocker with 11 percent zinc oxide and DNA repair enzymes.”
Levin’s nighttime regimen is largely the same, save for a few steps. To remove makeup and debris, she uses La Roche-Posay Micellar Water on a clean cotton pad. “I love micellar water because it’s minimal in the number of additives and relies mainly on water and oil, which gently remove the residue off of the skin,” she says. For cleansing, she favors either Alastin Gentle Cleanser or Neostrata Resurface Foaming Glycolic Acid Wash Cleanser. “I use Neostrata as an effective exfoliating cleanser since it contains 18 percent glycolic acid and lactobionic acid to exfoliate, smooth irregularities, and brighten skin,” she explains.
Then, before moisturizing, she uses a combination of antioxidant- and retinol-containing serums. “I use Isdin Melatonik for its unique combination of melatonin, bakuchiol — a naturally derived botanical with retinol properties — and vitamin C,” she says. For retinol, she alternates between Differin Gel and SkinBetter Science Intensive Alpha Ret (both of which Allure has revered in the past).
Lastly, Levin uses two moisturizers: a prescription cream called Ceracade, which contains a ton of ceramides to help repair the skin barrier, topped with Dermalogica Barrier Defense Booster. “The latter has oat kernel oil, which is chock-full of healthy cholesterol, linoleic acid, ceramides, and sterols,” she says.
For Levin, caring for her neck and chest is just as crucial as caring for her face. “I teach my patients that the face, neck, and chest is one unit that should be treated, which is why I use Alastin Restorative Neck Complex as it’s an antioxidant-based firming and tone-correcting cream that addresses crepiness, horizontal necklace lines, and discoloration.”
Carlos A. Charles, dermatologist in New York City
As far as routines go, board-certified dermatologist Carlos A. Charles is about as bare-bones as it gets. “My routine looks like this: In the morning I wash with a gentle cleanser, such as CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, followed by a generous layer of EltaMD UV Clear, which doubles as both my sun protection and moisturizer,” he says. Charles adds that sometimes he’ll also use a vitamin C serum to ward off free-radical damage, which helps with his hyperpigmentation. Lately, he’s been using — wait for it — SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic. Anyone surprised?
In the evening, Charles says, he sometimes swaps out CeraVe’s original Hydrating Cleanser for its foaming option, as he says it works better at removing the dirt and grime from the day. “Then I moisturize with CeraVe PM Face Moisturizer, and twice a week I’ll use a gentle retinoid cream on top to assist with cell turnover and collagen production,” he says. “I usually go with the tretinoin 0.025 percent cream.”
Charles says he always, always uses a fragrance-free soap on his body (such as Dove or Aveeno) and makes sure to apply a generous amount of moisturizer from head to toe right after bathing.
Mona Gohara, dermatologist in Hamden, Connecticut
“After washing with a gentle, nonsoap cleanser, a vitamin C serum is the first thing that hits my face. Often I’ll use Obagi Medical Fx C-Clarifying Serum with hydroquinone to deal with my melasma. Over that, I’ll layer hyaluronic acid, like SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator. Last is sunscreen: I vary between EltaMD facial and First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30. Because I get oily in areas, I like Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF 50 to freshen up in between patients.”
“This is when I put on the ‘worker bee’ actives: I wash then medicate with a retinoid-like prescription-strength Tazorac and moisturize over that. I’m a big fan of SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2, but sometimes I legit put Vaseline petroleum jelly on my face. It’s thick and has a barrier repair function.”
“I exfoliate once a week for my melasma with gentle First Aid Beauty FAB Pharma White Clay Acne Treatment Pads with 2% salicylic acid.”
Ellen Marmur, dermatologist in New York City
“I believe sweat is nature’s best facial cleanser, so after my morning workout 90 percent of the time I just rinse [with water] in the shower. With my skin still damp, I put on two pumps of [my own] MMSkincare MMRevive Serum, then tinted SPF. For workdays, Chanel Vitalumière and on days off, it’s EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 Tinted. For activities like tennis, EltaMD UV Active Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+. Then my N95 mask, sunglasses, and I’m out!”
“My super skin secret is sleep. [Before bed,] I always use Neutrogena Gentle Oil-Free Makeup Remover or Beautycounter Instant Eye Makeup Remover, then remove the residue with a damp cloth. I love using my MMSkincare MMSphere 2.0 home LED therapy to relax and boost dopamine, aka the sleep hormone.”
“When it’s very cold, I apply what I call a ‘rescue cream’ — Aquaphor Healing Ointment or an Aveeno body lotion — to my face and neck. And if I notice milia or blackheads, I exfoliate [in the office] with a Jessner’s Peel, then hydrate with MMSkincare MMRevive Face Mask.”
Nada Elbuluk, dermatologist in New York City
“I wash with Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar [Elbuluk is a Dove Partner] and I use a moisturizer with an SPF of 30 or higher. I’m always trying different ones. Sometimes I’ll also use a vitamin C–based antioxidant product or one with vitamins C and E, [like] SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum.”
“Because my skin doesn’t tolerate prescription-level retinoids, I tend to use cosmeceutical-grade [products] that are retinol- or retinaldehyde-based. SkinMedica and SkinCeuticals have really great ones — and there are [good drugstore] options like the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair and RoC collections — but I haven’t gotten married to one yet.”
“Retinols cause increased cell turnover, so I don’t do additional exfoliation. I’m a less-is-more kind of person.”
Jill Weinstein, dermatologist in Chicago
“Glytone Age-Defying Antioxidant Eye Cream has antioxidants to protect from environmental damage and caffeine to de-puff. I don’t put much on right now — I worry any product could be too occlusive under my mask or cause heat rash — but I use EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46. After, I top it with a loose powder, like Nicole Jacob Mineral Powder, to mattify and set it.”
“Glytone Exfoliating Body Wash has slightly more glycolic acid than a face wash, but for me, it’s still not irritating. I use it nightly to prevent congestion and for fresher-looking skin. I alternate between two eye creams — SkinMedica Instant Bright Eye Cream and Eau Thermale Avène RetrinAL Eyes — for improved fine lines and crepiness. I use Glytone Age-Defying Antioxidant Night Cream and, two times a week, Eau Thermale Avène RetrinAL 0.1 Intensive Cream with a form of retinol that’s less drying than prescription-grade retinoids.”
“In the summer, I use SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense Serum to help prevent redness and hyperpigmentation.”
Kaleigh Fasanella and Angelique Serrano contributed reporting.
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