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5 skin care steps dermatologists do before bed

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These skin care tips will ensure you wake up to healthy, glowing skin.

woman putting on face cream

There are a few basic rules that it seems like everyone will tell you: Always wash your face at night. Wear sunscreen every day. Moisturizer is a must. But to get the most out of your skin care routine, especially at night, it’s good to do those basics right and to go beyond them. And who better to ask for skin care advice than dermatologists? Experts in everything skin care, they know the most helpful habits for maintaining healthy, radiant skin. Below, two top derms outline what they consider the most important steps for any evening skin care routine.

Wash your face (and not just with a wipe)

It’s a golden rule in skin care and, according to dermatologists, the most crucial one. “I think the most important thing to start with is a gentle cleanser,” says Michele Farber, M.D., a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. If you wear eye makeup, make sure your face wash properly removes it, or opt for a makeup remover designed for the eyes. “Your eye makeup has to come off, or else you get irritation and particles in your eyes,” explains Anna Guanche, M.D., dermatologist and founder of Bella Skin Institute in Calabasas, CA. “Over time, chronic irritation causes your eyes to be puffy, then go back down, and that causes wrinkles.”

Consider a retinol

After cleansing your skin, Dr. Guanche recommends using a retinol or retinoid product, which increases cell turnover and boosts collagen production. She uses a prescription retinoid, which is typically stronger than a retinol-containing product you can buy over the counter. “That is the only anti-aging topical that has a receptor that we’ve identified, actual biological activity, and multiple studies about it,” Dr. Guanche explains. Talk to your own dermatologist if you’re interested in a prescription-strength retinoid. If you have sensitive skin, look for products that contain peptides, says Deanne Robinson, M.D., a dermatologist in Westport, CT. They similarly boost collagen and elastin production without irritating skin.

Use a quality moisturizer

Not all moisturizers are created equal. Your best bet is to use a thick, non-comedogenic moisturizer that contains ceramides. “Ceramides are the fatty acid that helps to rebuild our skin barrier, so I put that on top to seal everything in,” Dr. Robinson says. Use them after applying your treatment-focused formulas, including retinols or any serums. Dr. Guanche also recommends looking for a moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid, which is particularly good at retaining water.

Invest in a separate eye cream

The skin around your eyes is much thinner and more delicate than the rest of your face. Look for an eye cream that’s formulated with ingredients such as peptides and caffeine. “ [These] can help with some of the dark circles,” Dr. Farber says. Dr. Guanche is a fan of applying her eye cream to both the upper and lower eyelids to plump and hydrate the skin around the area.

Treat your skin below the face

While skin care routines often focus on the face, don’t forget about your neck and chest area. “If I’m lazy, I’ll put my same moisturizer on my chest and neck and hands,” Dr. Guanche says. “But if I’m not lazy, there are really good neck creams that are specific for that area.” The neck and chest are often more prone to damage than your face, since most people don’t apply protective skin care formulas, like sunscreens, quite as diligently there. So the skin will benefit from this extra attention!