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Here's advice from the pros on how to protect and maintain healthy skin.
Pour on the Protection
To ensure she layers on enough sunscreen ("the best way to keep skin youthful"), Garland, TX-based dermatologist Lisa Garner, MD, president of the Women's Dermatologic Society, fills the hollow of her palm (about ½ teaspoon) with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to coat her face, neck, and ears. "I usually have to apply two coats to finish what I've squeezed out, but that's how I make sure I'm covered."
Eat a Skin-Saving Breakfast
The first meal of the day for New York City derm Doris Day, MD, includes almonds. "They contain essential fatty acids, which help put the brakes on inflammation that accelerates fine lines, sagging, and blotchiness." Not feeling like a nut? Salmon, tuna, and halibut are good lunch/dinner sources.
Zen Your Skin
If anyone has stress, it's doctors. High levels of tension can spike hormone production that leads to breakouts or aggravates conditions like psoriasis. "Controlling stress keeps your skin calm—but that's easier said than done," says Annie Chiu, MD, a derm in LA. Taking a 10-minute time-out to apply a face mask and relax on her bed works for Chiu. Another trick: Ban the 'Berry. "I turn off my cell phone after 8 at night. Every little bit helps!" she says.
Develop a Bedside Manner
"I often find it difficult to stick to my anti-aging regimen at bedtime," says Francesca Fusco, MD, an NYC derm. To avoid missing her evening routine, she stores these products in a pretty skincare case she keeps on her nightstand. "So if I've forgotten—or was just too tired to apply products at the sink—I can do it easily while in bed." Her must-haves: Renova (an Rx retinoid), EpiCeram (an ultrahydrating Rx moisturizer), SCO lip balm, Earth to Skin Care Cracked Heel Renewal, Creative Nail Design Solar oil (to soften cuticles), and Listerine White Strips.
Wear Your Veggies
Frozen peas help soothe itchy, irritated eyes for Jeanine Downie, MD, a derm in Montclair, NJ. "Once I get home from work, I remove my skincare and put a bag of frozen peas on my lids for about 5 minutes." The cold helps reduce swelling and pigmentation, a side effect of repeated irritation from her eczema. Unlike inflexible ice packs, a bag of peas easily conforms to the shape of the eyes for a faster effect.
Strike a Pose
Most derms will bend over back-ward for great skin. Hema Sundaram, MD, a Washington, DC-area dermatologist, bends forward. Yoga moves "like Child's Pose, Downward-Facing Dog, and Sun Salutations improve circulation—the boost of oxygen is what gives skin that lovely yoga glow." Another reason to take to the mat: New research finds regular yoga practice may reduce the inflammation and stress that speed skin aging.
Diet soda is a vice that Audrey Kunin, MD, a Kansas City, MO, dermatologist, just can't quit—she downs up to six cans a day. When she realized that all the sodium in soda (anywhere from 25 to 50 mg per can) made her eyes and jawline puffy, she switched to a brand that doesn't punish her skin: sodium-free Diet Rite soda. "It satisfies my cravings and my skin looks much better."
Cut Back on the Sweet Stuff
The breakdown of sugars, called glycation, damages the collagen that keeps skin smooth and firm. To prevent this natural process from careening out of control, Naila Malik, MD, a derm in Southlake, TX, sticks to low-glycemic carbs like whole grains; they're naturally low in sugar, and the body processes them slowly to limit the loss of collagen.
Pump Iron to Plump Skin
"I am religious about strength-training, and I always tell patients to do it more as they get older," says Patricia Farris, MD, a dermatologist in Metairie, LA. The payoff: firmer skin from the neck down, the result of having better, more supportive muscle tone. "It's like adding volume to the face with fillers, except on your body," says Farris.
In her teens, Amy Wechsler, MD, an NYC derm, started drinking green and black tea for the taste. Now she drinks three to five cups a day to safeguard her skin. Research suggests that both types of tea contain protective compounds—like EGCG and theaflavins—that help prevent skin cancers and the breakdown of collagen, the cause of wrinkles.