morning skincare routine

Photo: monkeybusinessimages/iStock

The One Time It's Okay to Skip SPF

Elizabeth Hale, MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center and co-founder of Complete Skin MD in New York City.

Wake-up time: 5:21 a.m.

Morning skincare: I apply an antioxidant serum, Meaningful Beauty Crème de Serum, to my face before leaving to work out. It's the one time I leave the house without SPF, because it's still dark out. I like to maximize absorption of the serum when my face gets warm and my pores open up during exercise. Heat and sweat increase permeability of the skin. After I shower, I put on SkinMedica's TNS Essential Serum and their Total Defense + Repair Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 34.

Favorite workout: SoulCycle. I also try to run once a week—this year I'll do my 12th half-marathon in April and my seventh full marathon in November.

Makeup trick: I swear by NARS Radiant Creamy concealer. It's so lightweight but provides even coverage. Sometimes, I use it as my foundation, too!
jumping jacks skincare secret

Photo: pecaphoto77/istock

The Skin-Friendly Alternative to Coffee

Sue Ann Wee, MD, a fellowship-trained laser, cosmetic and general dermatologist with Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City.

Wake-up time: 8 a.m. most weekdays. I like to sleep in on the weekends.

Morning skincare: I like to apply two types of moisturizer and two types of sunscreen. I [start with] my favorite prescription moisturizer, EpiCeram, which features three key lipids to repair and strengthen the skin barrier, since I have eczema-prone skin. To maximize retention of water in my skin for all-day hydration, I use an occlusive type of moisturizer on top, such as Aquaphor ointment. I blot off the excess with a clean towel. Then, I apply a double layer of sunscreen: a high-SPF zinc sunscreen with DNA-repair enzymes (such as those from Neova) and Peter Thomas Roth's CC Cream SPF 30 to enhance my natural tone and to ensure I haven't missed any spots. My regimen is akin to wearing armor for my skin!

Go-to breakfast: An important part of achieving radiant skin requires the raw materials to build and protect collagen, so I am mindful to include enough complete protein, vitamin C, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and balanced amounts of minerals in my diet. For breakfast, I eat a protein-rich meal such as egg whites and Greek yogurt and drink a cold-pressed vegetable and fruit juice. A couple times a week, I'll take a teaspoon of Norwegian cod liver oil, since it's a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. I have also cut down on coffee and started drinking more green tea. Coffee has been shown to have negative effects on collagen production and may spike the stress hormone cortisol, whereas green tea has been shown to have skin-protective as well as other beneficial health effects. I also drink two to three glasses of water in the morning before I leave for work. What we eat and drink is truly reflected in the health of our skin and body.

Favorite workout: Every morning, I strengthen my core using Pilates-type exercise.
ice cubes before makeup

Photo: PeopleImages/istock

The Quick Fix for Under-Eye Circles

Dendy Engelman, MD, dermatologic surgeon at MDCS: Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in New York City and Hampton Bays, NY.

Wake-up time: Most days, I am up by 6:45 a.m.

First thing I do: Brush my teeth and check on my one-year-old son.

Morning skincare: I use an antioxidant serum with vitamins C and E every morning to give my skin extra protection. Just five drops in the morning helps to boost UV protection. I love Decleor's Aromessence Neroli oil serum to add hydration. For sun protection, I always go for SPF 50.

Makeup secret: I have terrible seasonal allergies and will get pretty significant under-eye circles as a result. I lean on Givenchy Teint Couture concealer to help camouflage these away. I do my makeup in the back of the car on my ride to work while making work calls. I can do it blindfolded!

Go-to breakfast: Green juice and a probiotic [supplement]—to help maintain good bacteria in the GI tract and to benefit the skin.
skincare products dermatologists use

Photo: fizkes/istock

Another Reason to Exercise (That's Not About Weight Loss)

Noëlle Sherber, MD, dermatologist at Sherber + Rad in Washington, DC.

Wake-up time: It varies, but a typical day would find me up at 7:30 a.m.

Morning skincare: I'm always seeking new results-oriented products, so my routine is always changing. One staple product that I love is Eve Lom Cleanser, since it is so thorough yet so gentle. I also use Caudalie's VineActiv 3-in-1 Moisturizer, which defends against environmental damage. A hot topic in dermatology is how pollution generates as many free radicals in the skin as UV light, and topical antioxidants' role in fighting this damage. And, of course, I always use daily sunscreen! I typically use mineral formulations, like Natura Bissé The Cure Sheer Cream, because I have sensitive skin.

Makeup secret: I love Tom Ford Illuminating Highlight Pen in Naked Bisque. I have had patients ask me in consultation for under-eye filler and have suggested that they try this brush-on brightener instead if they don't need volume: sometimes, less is more!

Go-to breakfast: I am not a major breakfast person but have a café au lait with whole milk and a sprinkle of raw sugar. A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that children who drank a cup of whole milk daily had higher vitamin D levels and lower BMI than low-fat milk drinkers. I'm always looking for good sources of vitamin D since I am not a sun-seeker.

Favorite workout: My mainstay is Pure Barre, since I love that I can get a full-body workout in one hour that improves strength and flexibility. Exercising in the morning not only energizes me for the busy day ahead, but a study found that subjects who added moderately strenuous exercise twice a week for 30 minutes over three months developed a thicker collagen layer on skin biopsy, as is seen in younger skin!
morning skincare routines

Photo: iprogressman/iStock

The Supercharged Skincare Basics

Julie Karen, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, co-founder of Complete Skin MD in New York City (and sister to Dr. Elizabeth Hale).

Wake-up time: 6:02 a.m.—6 a.m. feels too early!

First thing I do: Check my email and scan my newsletter email from The New York Times. Then I get up and brush my teeth. If I'm going to work out, I quickly make a cup of coffee and have just a few sips, along with a big glass of water, before exercising.

Morning skincare: I'm all about using efficient products that deliver results. First I put on Alastin Skincare Restorative Eye Treatment; it stimulates collagen and elastin. Then I layer SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum under EltaMD UV Facial SPF 30+. It seems like a lot of steps, but it takes almost no time and I'm covering what I consider the essentials—I get my antioxidants, peptides and, of course, broad-spectrum sunscreen.

Favorite workout: Twenty minutes on the Peloton (twice a week, it's amazing how much I can sweat during that time!) or a 20-minute HIIT workout—having done many of these through the years, I now make up my own HIIT workout.

Want more stories like this delivered to your inbox? Sign up for the Healthy Body Newsletter!