Simplify Your Skincare Routine

Top tips and picks for paring down (and revving up) your skin care arsenal.

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on November 19, 2012

Looking for a few essential skin care products? Dermatologists Sandra Lee, MD, and Andrew Alexis, MD, say that less is more.

Dr. Lee's Top Picks:

A: You need just a few tried-and-true products that work for your skin, so it makes sense to refresh your at-home cosmetic counter. Start with a cleanser. A good one that works year-round is Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser, a gentle foaming formula that effectively removes the dirt and grime that has accumulated on your face throughout the day.

Sunscreen is another must-have, and not just for sunny summer days. You still get plenty of ultraviolet exposure when the sky is overcast. To keep your skin protected, make sure your daytime moisturizer contains sunscreen. One to try is Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 30. I also recommend an on-the-go product with sunscreen that you can apply throughout the day. I love Colorescience Pro Sunforgettable Mineral Powder Sun Protection SPF 30 because it's easy to use. Not only can you apply it without a mirror, it comes with the brush applicator attached.

At night, you'll need a good moisturizer, such as SkinMedica Tri-Retinol Complex, which doubles as a fine-line fighter. The cream slowly releases retinol (a form of vitamin A) while you sleep, helping to diminish the irritation some women get with vitamin A products.

Dr. Alexis's Top Picks:

A: The new year is an ideal time to reevaluate your skin care routine and overall skin health. If you aren't sure where to start, talk to your dermatologist about cleansing, moisturizing, sun protection, and anti-aging strategies that are right for your skin.

In general, look for a gentle facial cleanser that contains ceramides, important fatty acids that are also in the uppermost layer of skin that protects deeper layers from the environment. One to try is CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser.

You'll also want a light moisturizer infused with a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA (the aging kind) and UVB (the burning kind) rays. Most SPFs block UVB rays, but to ensure you are also protecting yourself from UVA rays, look for ingredients like mexoryl and avobenzone on the label. I like La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid, a noncomedogenic sunscreen that won't clog pores, doesn't leave a white film or residue, and is great for daily use.

And what about nighttime? Wash your face before bed and apply an over-the-counter anti-aging night cream that contains retinol, such as Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum. Don't forget the delicate skin around your eyes, which typically shows the first signs of aging. Try RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream, which helps reduce crow's feet, even out dark circles, and minimize puffiness.

The opinions expressed in this section are those of the experts and are not the opinions of WebMD. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.

For fabulous skin all year, Mona Gohara, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, suggests doing something for your complexion every season.


To do: New Year's resolutions abound. Make sure a head-to-toe skin check by a dermatologist is on the list.


To do: Schedule a microdermabrasion treatment with a light chemical peel at your dermatologist's office. “It will revitalize your skin before summer,” Gohara says.


To do: Stock up on sunscreen. Gohara recommends applying a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to exposed skin every two hours, and after you swim or sweat, to prevent sun damage (wrinkles, age spots) and skin cancer.


To do: Consider IPL (intense pulsed light) treatment to remove brown spots caused by the sun and reduce facial redness or flushing caused by cold temps, Gohara says.

Show Sources


Sandra Lee, MD, dermatologist, Skin Physicians and Surgeons, Upland, Calif.

Andrew Alexis, MD, dermatologist; director at the Skin of Color Center, St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, New York, N.Y.

Mona Gohara, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology, Yale School of Medicine.

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