Photo: Chris Eckhert/Studio D.

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You'd probably love to start the new year by putting your best face forward—but that's the very time when your complexion is likely to have lost its radiance. Cold air, wind, and indoor heating strip the skin of proteins and natural oils, says Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. "The skin loses its ability to hold moisture, exacerbating dryness and causing dullness," she says. The brighter side? Getting a glow is as easy as 1-2-3!

1. Hit Refresh

Treatments and creams work best if they can enter the skin—hard to do if dead cells have built up on the surface. Eliminate this debris and the active ingredients in your products will penetrate better, says Gohara. Plus, light will reflect more evenly off the skin, which brightens your complexion. The best way tocome clean is with either a physicalexfoliator (a scrub with a gritty texture that buffs away the dead cells) or a chemical one (a lotion that dissolves the "glue" between the cells, allowing them to be sloughed off). Which should you use? "For maximum results I recommend a combination of the two," says Gohara. Her advice: Once or twice a week, cleanse with a nonsoap face wash and a washcloth, or instead try a gentle scrub or a face polish. Then apply a mild chemical exfoliant containing the vitamin A derivative retinol or an alpha hydroxy acid, such as lactic or glycolic acid. Remember that it's a good idea to exfoliate at night, when skin cell regeneration reaches its peak.