How to turn a “meh” complexion into one that’s smooth and glowing.
While Advanced Magic may not be a course requirement for those studying dermatology, it can certainly appear that way to anyone who’s ever witnessed the powerful transformation of their own skin at the hands of one of these modern-day wizards.
But those “ta-da” moments don’t have to be so few and far between. We spoke with Dr. Jeannette Graf, a New York-based dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and asked her to reveal some of her favorite skin-changing tricks you can do on a daily basis.
With a few simple tweaks to your routine, your skin will look fresher, smoother, and more radiant—no wand required.
Wash Your Face Twice a Day
Laziness is a powerful seductress, especially after a long day. But when you don’t stop and take off all your makeup, you’re leaving on a pillowcase-marring layer of grime and all the free radicals and environmental toxins your face has Pac Manned-up throughout the day.
“We’re programmed to brush our teeth twice a day, but I can’t tell you how many patients—and even colleagues—don’t wash their faces at night,” says Graf. “They get into bed and think, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow.’ Or, you have the people who do wash their faces before bed and think it’s then OK to just splash water on their face in the morning. It’s not, and that won’t remove the impurities that have collected on your skin overnight.”
Graf’s favorite easy fix? Micellar cleansers. “You don’t have to suds up, or even use water or be near a sink,” she says. “Keep a bottle by your bedside with some soft cotton pads like you’d use to remove nail polish, and simply dab a pad with the micellar cleanser and rub it over your face. That’s all it takes. You don’t have to rinse, and your skin is clean.”
Start Using a Retinoid Cream at Night
“Retinol enhances the recovery of the skin at a DNA level—and by using it at night when your skin is in recovery mode, you’re best able to enhance its natural processes and get the best results,” explains Graf. She says that after 8 to 12 week of using retinol, you’ll notice that your skin tone looks more even and that your lines and wrinkles have started to fade (retinol helps jump start collagen production). You’ll also see a boost in elasticity and firmness, and that all continues to improve over time.
“As a society, we eat way too much animal protein. And animal protein is inflammatory, which accelerates aging,” Graf says. “Switching to a plant-focused diet is going to make your system more alkaline, which reduces inflammation.” Graf says that your skin will immediately look less blotchy and irritated, and over time, it’ll be better equipped to hold onto moisture, protect itself from free radicals and pollutants, and build collagen and elastin.
Embrace Lymphatic Drainage Massage
The lymphatic system is like the sewage system of the skin: It pumps out all the metabolic waste that our cells push out. But when that system slows down, which happens with age as well as inactivity, skin looks puffy and unhealthy, and things like eye bags and dark circles become that much worse.
Graf’s a big believer in doing your own daily lymphatic facial massage while applying your morning moisturizer and eye cream. And the best news is that her technique only takes a minute or so. Here’s how to do it:
Start at the midpoint of your forehead and move your fingers gently out to your temples, down in front of your ears, over your jaw, and down your neck. Repeat three times. With your eye cream, run your fingers above your eyes and out toward your temples and down your face. Then do the same thing under the eyes. Repeat this three times as well. Finally, start in front of each ear and run your fingers down your jawline and neck. Repeat three times, and you’re done!
Load Up on Vitamin D3
Here’s just one example of where being a real stickler for details is going to get you results. Consider ordering some supplements when you finish this article, but be sure they’re explicitly vitamin D3 supplements. (Not generic vitamin D, not vitamin D2—you want D3.)
Vitamin D is responsible for the skin’s ability to protect itself from environmental assault, as well as help it heal from wounds. “In order for your skin to look great and function well, you need to be taking a vitamin D3 supplement,” says Graf. “We are a D-deficient population and, no, you’re not going to get enough from the sun and you’re not going to get enough from your diet. You need to take a supplement.”
Graf explains that adults lose the ability to make vitamin D3 as they get older. “I have teenagers take 2,000 units a day, and adults should take 5,000 units or more, depending on how deficient they are,” she says. “I like it in liquid form, in a dropper bottle. It’s easy to take and it’s in oil, so it’s well-absorbed by the body.”