If you’ve simply gone your whole life without giving a thought to your skin care regime, it’s never too late to get on the bandwagon and make meaningful changes to positively affect your skin’s health.
Unfortunately, there are consequences to forsaking your skin, and the longer you go without tending to its needs, the more work you need to put in to reverse the damage. Whether you aren’t careful about sunscreen, have trouble remembering to take your makeup off at night or your skin has never seen a drop of moisture in its life, eventually, you begin to see the effects of neglect and mistreatment.
Dr. Shari Sperling, a board-certified dermatologist at Sperling Dermatology in New York and New Jersey, told HuffPost that issues including acne, blemishes, dryness, dermatitis and signs of aging can arise as a result of neglect, which includes falling asleep without washing your face. This can lead to clogged pores and breakouts and compromise your skin’s natural repair process, which in turn can cause premature aging. Alarmingly, she also mentioned that you can even risk getting eye irritation or infections from not removing eye makeup.
Additionally, Dr. Brendan Camp, a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology in New York, noted that maintaining a regular skin care routine is a healthy habit akin to working out: “Keeping healthy habits for your skin can prevent and treat signs of premature aging, such as fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots, and conditions like acne.” Like Sperling, he also emphasized the importance of washing your face, adding that “by not washing your face you are not removing excess oil, debris and pollutants that can irritate the skin or cause inflammation.”
Ideally, Camp recommends developing healthy skin habits early in life, encouraging teens to develop a basic regimen that includes cleansing, medicating and moisturizing, and people in their 20s to start incorporating anti-aging steps into their routines.
And although issues like the impact of sun exposure can’t be reversed on a cellular level, it doesn’t mean you can’t start a skin care routine later in life. “It is never too late to start a skin care routine,” Camp explained. “The skin has different needs at every stage of life. Whether you are early or late to the game, simple changes to how you treat your skin can impact your physical, as well as mental, health.”
It’s a relief to know that all is not lost, and it’s always worth it to help restore your skin to its former glory. You can even start with baby steps as you get into your skin care comfort zone. Sperling said that “it doesn’t need to be anything elaborate, but properly cleansing and moisturizing the skin, and wearing SPF daily, can make a difference.” But if you do want to add a few more effective and reparative elements, she recommended ingredients like retinol (which can help reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles while stimulating collagen production and helping to even out skin tone) and vitamin C (an antioxidant that protects skin against oxidative damage and can help improve texture and tone).
Below, I’ve rounded up Camp and Sterling’s skin care reset recommendations, and they include everything from cleansers and moisturizers to serums and masks. They’re available at at a range of price points and are chock full of the healing ingredients they mentioned, and more. Pick one up for yourself and pamper your skin the way it deserves.
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CeraVe moisturizing cream
"This is a great affordable option for those with dry skin. It’s very moisturizing and applies easily on the skin. It’s formulated with ceramides, which help restore the natural skin barriers." — Sperling
First Aid Beauty hydrating serum with hyaluronic acid
Drench your skin with moisture, leaving it bouncy and firm, with a serum like this one from First Aid Beauty that's preferred by Camp.
"Hyaluronic acid (HA) is normally found in skin, and functions to attract water molecules to keep skin moisturized. Using an HA serum at night helps skin recover from environmental stresses from the preceding day." — Camp
Supergoop City Serum SPF 30 sunscreen
On Camp's list of recommendations, this sunscreen serum is a great option for people who dislike the feeling of heavy sunscreen on their skin. It's lightweight and made with nourishing ingredients and antioxidants.
"Include a daily SPF moisturizer to your skin care routine, and use it year-round. An SPF moisturizer may help prevent skin cancer, and it can lessen the impact of UV radiation on premature aging. This includes reducing the likelihood of developing fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots." — Camp
Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM night serum
This powerful serum can help tackle visible signs of aging with a powerful dosage that won't irritate sensitive skin, and it's one of Camp's go-tos.
"Retinols will help normalize skin cell turnover, which can reduce the likelihood of clogged pores and acne. Overtime, retinols can encourage the production of collagen, which can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles." — Camp
La Roche-Posay Toleriane hydrating gentle cleanser
Another of Camp's recommendations, this nourishing French pharmacy staple is perfect for anyone with dry and irritated skin. It's moisturizing, so you don't have to worry about it stripping the skin of its natural oils, but it's also powerful enough to do a deep clean.
"Use a cleanser twice a day to help remove excess oil, dirt, and pollution that can cause acne and skin irritation. For those with dry skin, consider using a cleanser once a day or using water as a cleanser." — Camp
Kiehl's Powerful-Strength vitamin C eye serum
Don't sleep on the power of eye creams! Camp is a fan of this antioxidant-rich option from Kiehl's, which is as hydrating as it is effective at improving the look of lines and discoloration.
"Eye creams and serums maintain help prevent the delicate skin around the eyes from showing your true age. Products with vitamin C or retinol are effective for encouraging collagen production and minimizing the appearance of wrinkles." — Camp
CeraVe makeup removing cleanser balm
If you don't like a foamy cleanser, or want to double cleanse with a balm first, Camp recommends this nourishing CeraVe balm. It's ideal for sensitive or reactive skin.
"Use a gentle cleansing agent that will help remove makeup without removing too much of your skin’s natural oils." — Camp
Image Skincare Vital C hydrating enzyme masque
While a face mask might seem high-maintenance, there's a good chance you'll be able to find a way to pop it into your routine even just once or twice a week.
"This mask is soothing, anti-aging, hydrating and is great for all skin types, including dry/dehydrated skin. It leaves the skin looking and feeling refreshed." — Sperling
Ilia C Beyond Triple serum SPF 40
I had to throw this pick into the mix myself, because it's perfect for those just starting to dip their toes into skin care. It's a multitasking serum that is full of delicious active ingredients recommended by Camp and Sperling, like vitamin C and niacinamide, while also functioning as both an SPF and a foundation, adding a touch of color to the skin.
Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46
Another of Camp's picks, this mineral sunscreen is great for people who have breakout-prone skin. This is the tinted version, but you can also grab a clear one
if you prefer a natural, clean slate. It doesn't clog pores or feel heavy and has a lovely soft finish that isn't too oily.
Dr. Dennis Gross Vitamin C Lactic 15% Firm & Bright serum
There are tons of vitamin C serums on the market, but this pick from Camp is a powerful, effective option for anyone looking to amp up their routine. It can help tackle sun damage, dark spots, lines, dullness and more.
"Vitamin C serums neutralize the free oxygen radicals, which are unstable oxygen molecules that can damage cellular structures like DNA, lipids, and proteins. Used on a regular basis, they can also help brighten skin and reduce the appearance of sunspots." — Camp
"Retinol helps promote cell turnover, stimulate collagen, reduce discoloration and restore your skin’s natural texture and tone. Differin, which used to be prescription-only but is now available over the counter, is a great product for acne and anti-aging." — Sperling
Cetaphil daily facial cleanser
Keep things simple with this affordable and accessible cleanser recommended by Camp. It's great for people with oily skin, other skin conditions and people looking to repair past damage. It is gentle and won't irritate even the angriest of skin.
Glow Recipe Guava vitamin C dark spot serum
Looking for a silky, gel-like serum that won't feel heavy or sticky but is still full of all the aforementioned doctor-recommended ingredients? You might want to give this Glow Recipe serum a shot. It's formulated with five kinds of vitamin C, guava, tranexamic acid
and ferulic acid that can leave skin more glowy and even.
CeraVe Skin Renewing night cream
"This cream is formulated with peptides, hyaluronic acid and ceramides to deeply hydrate the skin while helping to renew the skin’s natural barrier overnight." — Sperling
Avène Retrinal ceramide lipid-replenishing balm
"Ceramides are naturally occurring lipids in the skin that help retain moisture and maintain the integrity of the skin barrier. Including ceramides in a skin moisturizer helps skin stay smooth and hydrated." — Camp
U Beauty The Barrier Bioactive treatment
This highly concentrated overnight treatment is a HuffPost editors' pick we couldn't leave out. It uses bioactive marine ingredients that promote skin renewal and can soften, renew, revitalize and strengthen skin.