Stressed-out skin probably got that way for a reason. "If someone wants to look 10 years older than their chronological age, smoke and go out in the sun," says Walnut Creek, Calif., dermatologic surgeon Min-Wei Christine Lee, M.D. If your skin's seen better days - whether from years of photo-damage or other types of long- or shorter-term abuse - there are skin solutions that can get back its brilliance.
What to do if your skin lacks luster? These are dermatologists' top-of-the-list dos and don'ts.
Do: Buy products made for sensitive skin.
The products should be specifically tailored to provide TLC - try Aveeno, Eucerin and other low-priced products first and they might just do the trick. For others, the higher-priced brands like Jan Marini and Prescriptives might prove to be better.
Do: Wash in the evening only, with a gentle cleanser.
If your skin isn't oily, a once-a-day wash will suffice. "Your face doesn't have to squeak to be clean," assures Lisa Donofrio, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale University School of Medicine.
Do: Exfoliate to remove the dead skin layer that dulls.
Your body will naturally exfoliate every 28 days, but why wait four weeks? You can exfoliate with a facecloth and your favorite cleanser, or buy an alpha hydroxy acid exfoliator to clear up your complexion.
Do: Consider getting a chemical peel, microdermabrasion or laser or other skin-saving procedure to undo damage.
Ask a dermatologist to help you decide on the easiest route for right-away rejuvenation, or a deeper-reaching procedure that requires more down time.
Do: Make lifestyle changes to save your skin, and in some cases your life.
Don't skimp when applying the sunscreen. Quit smoking - besides causing lung cancer, it causes lines to be etched on your face. Get regular sleep. Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine. Load up on nutritious foods, such as vitamin-rich leafy vegetables, and take a multivitamin if you don't always eat quite right.
Don't: Use toners, alcohol-based astringents or scouring products that make your skin sting or itch.
These products, as well as those with high fragrance content, can further irritate sensitive skin.
Don't: Assume that spending big bucks will buy you better skin.
When choosing from the overwhelming array of skin products that are available, don't think that a pricey product will necessarily work better for you. The $150-per-ounce French face cream could cause your skin to break out when the much cheaper drug-store brands wouldn't bother you a bit.