New Year Resolution: Healthy Skin

If you don't already have healthy skin habits, now is the time to start. Here are 5 tips we snagged from Health.com to get you on track in 2015 and beyond.

Avoid heavy-duty cleansers

Unlike your pots and pans, “your skin needn’t be scrubbed or squeaky to be clean,” says Jeannette Graf, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center. So don’t overdo it. Mild, nondetergent cleansers—milks, gels, foams, or cloths—are your best bet. Scan the ingredient labels of products to see if they contain gentle, plant-derived surfactants (the prefix coco- equals coconut, for example; gluco- equals fruit sugars). “The natural source is often hinted at in the name,” says Jim Hammer, a cosmetic chemist with and product-development manager at Pharmasol Corp.

Ditch the toner

These were originally invented to restore the natural pH of skin after it had been washed with an alkaline-detergent soap. “If you’re using a pH-balanced cleanser, there’s no need for toner,” Graf says. “It’ll only dry your skin.”

Make sure acid-laced products are pH-balanced

This means their pH is in sync with skin, so “they gently remove sebum (an oily substance secreted by the skin) and makeup without stripping natural oils,” Graf says. Look for the words “pH-balanced” on cleansers that contain glycolic or lactic acids and on exfoliators, she adds, because some have a low pH, which can cause dryness.

Opt for fragrance-free for sensitive skin

Fragrance is the most common cause of skin-care-related allergic reactions. If you’re sensitive, be sure to choose products that are labeled “fragrance-free.” The ones that are marked “unscented” typically contain small amounts of fragrance to help mask the odors of active ingredients.

Choose multitasking moisturizers

A good day cream juggles two jobs—hydration and protection. Pick one that has plant-based moisturizers (natural oils, butters, and essential fatty acids penetrate skin better than man-made emollients like petroleum, Graf explains) and antioxidants (those from natural sources may also contain bioflavonoids and other beneficial compounds not found in synthetic versions, Hammer says), plus nonirritating physical sunblocks, like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

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