5 Skincare Tips I’ve Picked Up Along Way…

5 Tips for selecting and applying skincare. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

We’ve come a long way since those days of slathering ourselves in baby oil to bake in the sun, or using Preparation H as an eye cream. (Though I know some women still swear by this…😆) Skincare is big business, and seems to get more complicated and confusing all the time. There are entire blogs and books devoted to the finer points of skincare products and ingredients.

5 Skincare Tips From Dermatologists

I like to keep things as simple as possible, so have relied on tips and recommendations from my dermatologists over the years. Products are always changing, (and I’m always willing to switch if I find something more effective) so I thought I’d share some general tips for using and applying skincare that I’ve adopted and stuck with over time.

1. Cleansing: once (a day) is enough.

Most of us don’t need to wash our face more than once a day. (If your skin is oily, you may be the exception.) Use a cleanser at night to remove makeup and any daily grime. In the morning, a rinse with cool water should be sufficient. I’ve been using the Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm lately and really like it. It’s cruelty- and paraben-free (also free of mineral oils and petrochemicals). It’s soothing, effective at removing makeup, and it doesn’t leave my skin feeling tight or dry.

2. Lead with strength.

In other words, apply the products with the most active ingredients first. If you use prescription Retin-A, apply that first. Serums generally have more active ingredients and are formulated to be absorbed by the skin, so they should go on before moisturizers. For daytime, I like Drunk Elephant C-Firma; at night I use Ahava Extreme Night Treatment (recommended by one of the very helpful skincare experts at City Pharma in Paris.) Both are cruelty- and paraben-free.

3. Pause, and reflect

Give your serum a minute or so to absorb before applying moisturizer, and wait a minute (or more) between your moisturizer and sunscreen. I’ve been told this allows better absorption and assimilation of ingredients. And from my own experience, it helps makeup go on better.

4. The eyes have it…

Don’t apply your eye cream directly onto the lid. Tap gently around the orbital bone (above and below the eye). The cream will get where it needs to go. My go-to eye cream at the moment is Makeover Workshop Illuminate & Contour Eye Treatment. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, I also really like Olehenriksen Banana Bright Eye Cream.

5. If you do nothing else…

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. Back when I first started seeing a dermatologist for regular mole checks (my Dad had melanoma twice), I asked, “what’s the most effective skincare?” His one-word response: “Sunscreen.”

My current dermatologist prefers and recommends formulas that include a good percentage of mineral/barrier sunscreens. Look for zinc or zinc oxide. I asked her about the “nanoparticles” concern, and she thinks it’s a non-issue. She said these sunscreens are designed to work by providing a physical barrier, which means they sit on top of the skin.

I was disappointed to learn that my current favorite formula has been discontinued, so when I run out I will give the Elta MD a try (my dermatologist’s pick, also recommended by friends).

More Cruelty-Free Skincare Products

Do you have any favorite skincare tips or recommendations from your dermatologist?

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  1. I checked in with a Dermatologist recently and she recommeded the Elta MD sunscreen. It doesn’t leave a white film. I have trouble with mineral sunscreens because they have a drying effect on my skin and this one has a formulation that is moisturizing. It cost more than a drugstore sunscreen, but within a “department store” beauty product range. Overall I like it.

  2. FYI…Getting “suspicious link” message again. A few months ago I remember this occurring and that it was just a glitch and that proceeding to the site was safe, so I did…and it was.

    1. Thanks, Carolyn. So that my support folks can troubleshoot, can you tell me what browser you’re using (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) and whether this is on the link from the email?

      1. I got my warning by wanting to click through the link from my gmail, running Windows 10 on my laptop.
        Love your site, big XOXO for all you do.

  3. I second that opinion Roseag. I my sunscreen is Elta MD clear broad-spectrum SPF 40 which contains hyaluronic acid. It’s also available as tinted. It doesn’t leave film, goes in smoothly and it doesn’t make my eyes water like the drugstore brands will.
    Susan: another French product to check out is Eau Thermale Avenue, thermal spring water. I spray it after cleansing , pat lightly with ring ringer around the the face until ski is dry, then follow with regular routine. It gives kind of dewy look.

  4. I like City Sunscreen Serum from Supergoop. I’ve been using it for a few years. It’s very moisturizing and also acts as a good primer for foundation. $42 for 2 oz. and even though I use it daily, it lasts several months.

  5. Thank you for that tip about eye cream–I always wondered about that.
    Amen to sunscreen.
    My addtiion: micellar water, which removes makeup like magic. My favorite is Avène.

  6. I, too, got the ‘suspicious’ warning and I am using Chrome.

    I see you have a couple ‘Paula’s Choice’ products – I have used her products for over 20 years and LOVE them! Her products are scientifically-based, reasonably priced – and there are always sales.

    Also, check out beautipedia.com – it’ll give you the lowdown on any product you own or want to buy – I always use it for research – say I am looking for a new mascara – go with ‘Best Products’ – you’ll find that many ‘drug store’ brands are rated excellent!

    1. I, too, have used only Paula’s Choice skincare since she started it, and I wouldn’t think of buying any cosmetic product without checking Beautypedia first.

    2. Interesting in how varied our experiences can be. I tried three different products from Paula’s Choice, and all of them caused my sensitive skin to break out (a rare event for me). Currently I am using Bioderma micellar water, Olehenriksen truth serum, Tatcha indigo cream, and Australian Gold sunscreen. But I’m always open to try new things and enjoy reading your products review, Susan; – and the comments!

  7. To all who are getting the “suspicious link” warning from your email…can you add “[email protected]” to your “preferred” or “safe” senders list in your email settings? If you still get the warning after that, can you please let me know? Thank you!

  8. I’ve used Elta MD for years, though some of their products use chemical sunscreens which I won’t use. I recently was turned on to Epionce Daily Shield Tinted lotion 50 SPF by my esthetician. The tint actually works with my complexion and foundation can be used with it though I find I don’t need foundation anymore as the tint is enough.. It’s very moisturizing and I won’t use anything else now I love it!

  9. It’s funny you should talk skincare when I am, at this moment, purging all my skincare due to the recent diagnosis of rosacea. There are certain chemicals that can’t go people with rosacea, of course absolutely everything I have has those chemicals. I have found a brand that has a line of skincare and makeup just for rosacea (I’m also a big fan of this brand) . I’m on day 3 of using the skincare and I’ve already seen a difference. I love Ahava products!! Since I was young I always took off my makeup at night, moisturized and used sunscreen. I always look for products with sunscreen. Love your blog!

  10. I was excited to try the Elta MD moisturizer with sunscreen, after reading good things about it. I loved that it was recommended for sensitive skin, rosacea, etc. I ordered some, and tried it the next morning. The instant it touched my skin, my cheeks started burning and itching, and my skin felt tight. I washed it off immediately, but the discomfort remained for nearly an hour. So much for the reviews. It went straight into the garbage. For me, it was back to my old, trusted Neutrogena Healthy Defense, SPF 50. Beware.

    1. I had the same reaction to an expensive primer that was advertised as good for sensitive skin. Back to my standby Neutrogena primer (for about 1/3 the cost). I stick with Neutrogena and Clinique for everything only except CoverGirl Outlast on my lips. I can use the color but not the gloss that is sold with it to go on top – go figure. I only use Neutrogena lip balm.

    2. You just had a reaction to it! Millions of people love it. It does have hyaluronic acid in it which does make some people have adverse reactions. A friend had the same reaction, she didn’t read the ingredients before she bought it. One must always read the ingredients before trying anything new, saves grief and money. I have rosacea and I have no problems at all with it. I love Neutrogena for spray sunscreen for my body, but I’m thrilled with the Elta MD tinted sunscreen.

  11. Great post! I wish I’d listened to my “porcelain-skinned” grandmother and used sunscreen as a teenager. I started in my late 20s and have been a nut about it since then, but I still see more sun damage than I care to. My current favorite is Laura Mercier Broad Spectrum 20 tinted moisturizer over an application of Coola Classic Face Organic Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 – Cucumber (which is great for body, too!).
    Another vote for the Elemis cleansing balm and I just discovered Paula’s Choice and love the 8% AHA and the 2% BHA!

    I always enjoy your posts and this one is no exception!

  12. I’ve received about the same advice. For facial sunscreen, I use the Australian Gold tinted SPF for face. I’m fair but find the tint isn’t much once it’s on. It works well under make up, and you can get it at Ulta, CVS or Target. My daughters use the Elta MD untinted (good for acne) sunscreen and love it. I tried it, but didn’t notice anything that encouraged me to switch.

  13. I use the Rodan and fields line which I love. They absorb so well into my skin and have facial sunscreen and sunscreen for the body which I use a lot as I golf.

  14. Hi Susan
    I like the Elta MD Sunscreen and I keep coming back to the It Cosmetics CC cream. I like the one with the illuminating added though!

  15. I do not lay out in the sun much and thus don’t have much natural color in my legs. I recently discovered Jergen’s Natural Glow artificial tanning lotion. It has worked well for me. I now have lightly (fake) tanned legs for the first time in my life. I feel very comfortable wearing knee-length dresses and skirts without hose. In addition, I wear capri pants with abandon. Wonderful!

  16. Both my parents and my middle daughter have dealt with melanoma, plus other skin cancers, so I am recommending that EVERYONE see a dermatologist yearly…including children! If your child has many moles they should be seeing a dermatologist yearly so that they can be monitored. Melanoma is the most common form of skin cancer in children. Better safe than sorry. Thanks Cindy for your recommendations..always fun to change things up and see what’s new (or tried and true) out there!

  17. I’m in the UK and love the Elemis range and their cleansing oil is a winner as well as the balm. Their Daily Defence SPF is great so are their masks. Their Overnight matrix Cream is fantastic. I buy it on QVC UK – the prices are so much cheaper and I know they sell it on QVC US as well. I have a giant stash of products that will last me a couple of years.

    I use Safari and often get the unsafe site warning, on some posts not all. This post was once such example.