Did you ever stop to think why so many dermatologists have such flawless skin? Could it be genetics, or have they been obsessed with complexion care from childhood? To find out, we went right to the sources and got eight top skin doctors to divulge everything -- from the skin-saving habits they've adopted to the products they can't live without.
1. Never use the same product year-round.
"Because skin is a living organ that's constantly affected by everything from hormones to humidity, I use a variety of products -- some only in certain seasons and others just on certain days," notes 40-something Susan Taylor, M.D., director of the Skin of Color Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. In winter, when her skin is drier, she uses a moisturizing cleanser like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($6; at drugstores). In summer, she switches to normal-to-oily formulations like L'Oréal Plénitude Hydra Fresh Foaming Gel ($5; at drugstores).
2. Always wash your face before hitting the sheets.
"Get the goop off your skin before you go to bed," says 43-year-old San Francisco-based dermatologist Kathy Fields, who is meticulous about her nightly face-washing routine. (What doesn't get wiped off migrates into the pores, where it sets the stage for blemishes, she explains.) Fields suggests using cleansers formulated with pore-purging benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid like Clinique Acne Solutions Cleansing Foam ($17.50; clinique.com) and Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash ($5.79; at drugstores), both with salicylic acid.
3. Get enough shut-eye.
Sleep deprivation can result in puffy eyes, sallow skin and breakouts, says 48-year-old Chappaqua, N.Y., dermatologist Lydia M. Evans, M.D. (You need from eight to nine hours nightly.) If you do end up with morning puffiness, New York dermatologist Amy B. Lewis, M.D., swears by Neova Eye Therapy ($40; dermadoctor.com), which contains the anti-inflammatory ingredients found in Preparation-H.
4. Soak away stress.
While any form of relaxation will do wonders for your skin, Lewis loves bubble baths. "I take them to unwind four or five nights a week," says the 38-year-old director of dermatologic and laser surgery at Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. State University of New York. (Lewis likes anything fruit scented, like Origins Fretnot tangerine bubbling bath, $22.50; origins.com.)
5. Give skin the rub.
"Exfoliation makes skin more radiant," says 46-year-old Katie Rodan, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. An advocate of chemical and mechanical exfoliation (think topically applied creams and lotions as compared with scrubbing granules or a Buf-Puf), Rodan uses a scrub like M.D. Formulations Scrub ($35; mdformulations.com) on her face every morning and a vitamin-A-based wrinkle-smoothing, skin-sloughing prescription medication like Renova ($60 per tube) at night. Her reason for the two-pronged approach (which should be worked up to over several months to prevent irritation): "Physically sloughing off dead skin cells loosened by vitamin-A creams will help your moisturizer better penetrate the skin and your makeup go on much more smoothly."