About the face

Step 1: wash
Wash your face and neck once a day if your skin tends to be dry and twice a day otherwise. “Avoid using regular bar soap,” says Dr. Waldman. “It strips away the outer layer of the skin and makes it harder to maintain moisture.”

Instead, choose an over-the-counter product labeled as a gentle cleanser for sensitive skin. “But avoid facial scrubs with small particles, as they can irritate the skin and lead to more breakouts, dryness, or uneven pigmentation,” says Dr. Waldman.

Wash your face the same way you would wash your hands to keep germs away. Massage a pea-sized amount of cleanser onto your wet face and neck for about 20 seconds, or the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice, and then rinse with warm or hot water. “If you tend to have waxy, red, or pink areas around your nose, ears, eyebrows, and hairline, be sure to spend extra time washing those areas,” says Dr. Waldman.

Keep your cleanser near the bathroom sink as a reminder to wash when you brush your teeth, after you wake up, and before bed.

Step 2: moisturize
After washing, apply a moisturizing lotion or cream. (People with oily skin can often skip this.) “Moisturizing recreates the skin’s external barrier to prevent moisture from escaping and prevent foreign substances from entering,” says Dr. Waldman.

While your skin is still damp, apply a tablespoon all over your face and another on your neck until completely absorbed. Look for lotions or creams that contain fewer than 10 ingredients or are labeled for sensitive skin. “Fewer ingredients means fewer chemicals or additives, especially fragrances that could irritate sensitive skin,” says Dr. Waldman.

Key ingredients include hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, glycolic acid and squalene, which help keep skin hydrated. Vitamin C or azelaic acid can specifically help with dark spots.

You may need a thicker moisturizer during the winter when your skin becomes drier. “When you turn the bottle upside down, the lotion or cream should stay in place,” says Dr. Waldman.

Although your arms, legs, and body may not show as much aging as your face and neck, you should also moisturize your skin all over your body to prevent dryness, itchiness, and rashes. Do a full-body moisturizer after bathing when your skin is still damp.

Step 3: Apply sunscreen
Lastly, apply sunscreen to your face, especially around your eyes, as well as your neck and ears. Sunscreen not only protects against skin cancer and the aging effects caused by sun exposure, but it also helps prevent brown spots and prevent existing ones from getting worse.

Use sunscreen with at least 30 SPF (sun protection factor). Also, look for products labeled for sensitive skin or children. Avoid spray sunscreens, which contain alcohol that can burn.

“For effectiveness, a combination of moisturizing product and sunscreen works well,” says Dr. Waldman.

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