5 Skin-Smoothing Miracles
No matter what our age, healthy, plump, smooth, supple-looking skin makes an enormous difference in how we look and feel. There’s plenty of common sense involved: Don’t smoke. Go easy on alcohol. Avoid the sun. Sweat a lot. Focus on great nutrition and exercise. But a smart (clean, nontoxic) skin routine certainly helps, too.
Wake up your skin with a massage
The complexion-improving benefits of face massage are real (research shows face massage can delay the onset of wrinkles and have a tightening effect), and incorporating a rose quartz roller into a morning or nighttime routine is an excellent way to wake up your skin. This skin-care massage tool was used in ancient China to leave skin looking and feeling refreshed. What’s certain is that the cool rose quartz feels stupendously soothing and tension-relieving as it smooths when we roll it over our cheeks, forehead, and chin. The boost it gives us first thing in the morning is very real, and it’s a bit of a goop-editor obsession right now. As are face massages: They feel fantastic, calming, and enlivening at once. (Read our story “A Face Massage to Ease Stress” to give yourself an incredible one.)
Sleep…on your back…
or a silk pillowcase.
Studies show that mechanical compression (i.e., sleeping with your face buried in your pillow, as most of us do) may exacerbate wrinkles. Many dermatologists recommend eschewing cotton pillowcases for silk ones, which may not have the potential skin-creasing texture of fabrics with more friction. Another reason to go with silk (aside from the obvious ones—that it’s supremely elegant, luxurious, and pampering): It doesn’t absorb moisture, which means the creams and serums you smooth on before bed stay on your skin.
You can’t OD on hydration.
It’s epidermal math: Moisture makes lines and wrinkles less noticeable, but we produce less collagen and oil as we get older. A layered approach, depending on your skin type, gets moisture into your routine from several angles. Formulas with hyaluronic acid, a dermatologist favorite that our skin produces naturally, are loved for their super effective and almost watery texture. HA is a humectant, meaning it pulls moisture from the air into our skin to make it look plumped and supple, instantly and more so over time. The serum from Barbara Sturm sinks in like magic, and the effects are instantly noticeable.
Since HA serum works from the inside, those who need more moisture should layer it with a more occlusive cream, one that seals water in by creating a barrier on skin (like Lavido Age Away Hydrating Cream). Eye creams that are rich and occlusive are particularly great: Formulas swirled with botanical oils and butters help ease crinkles in the eye area’s thin skin, plumping them up (and making concealer considerably easier to apply).
Sweep away dead skin cells
The most effective way to smooth, brighten, and detoxify is by exfoliating, which increases cellular turnover (which also slows as we age) and creates a radiant glow. Exfoliating is also the best way to deep-clean pores, which appear larger when they’re clogged and/or lax from collagen loss.
Retinoids (vitamin A derivatives) have more research-backed collagen-boosting and line-softening benefits than any other exfoliating compounds; clean, nontoxic formulas are especially important, since conventional prescription and OTC retinoids are often stabilized with parabens and other potentially toxic preservatives.
Natural alpha and beta hydroxy acids are excellent exfoliators, and many people tolerate them better than retinoids. They brighten and smooth by dissolving the cellular glue that binds dead skin cells.
Always wear (clean) sunscreen.
If you’re not already wearing sunblock every day, start now. The sun’s UV rays, even on cloudy days, damage and age the skin, degrading collagen and causing premature lines, wrinkles, and a generally rough texture. Mineral (also known as physical) sunscreens are the ultimate in long-lasting, broad-spectrum protection. They sit atop skin and deflect the rays, rather than absorbing the rays as chemical sunscreens do. Incredibly, chemical sunscreens degrade in sunlight, so the daily moisturizer people put on at 8 a.m. may be completely ineffective by noon. Even worse: Chemical sunscreens contain some of the most irritating chemicals in the beauty industry. Irritation (whether from chemicals, UV light, or a scratch on your arm) causes inflammation. Since inflammation is well known to be a prime factor in aging, these formulas may do the opposite of what people are hoping for. In contrast, Ursa Major’s daily SPF 18 is soothing, sinks right in, doesn’t degrade in sunlight, and deflects rays rather than absorbing them.