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A step-by-step guide to the best skin of your life

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Perfect skin is something I've been trying to attain my entire life, and never had great success even after working with dermatologists and investing in great facials. Then, I read the book written by Beyonce's dermatologist and everything changed: how I thought about skincare, what I used on my skin, and how my skin looked.

If you've got the time, read Younger: The Breakthrough Anti-Aging Method for Radiant Skin by Dr. Harold Lancer. It is super technical, a study in skincare backed by science that convinced a nerd like me to completely overhaul my "beauty regime" (soap, water, never heard of night cream, you get the idea). If you don't have the time, just read this full post and you'll get the highlights (figuratively, and literally if you apply the advice...)


What exactly does Beyonce's dermatologist recommend?

That you take your skincare regime back to the basics and follow a simple, 3-step process every morning and evening that provides the consistency that your skin so desperately craves. He provides drugstore, moderate and luxury product recommendations for each step. Although I am faaaaaaar from a beauty expert, I've followed Dr. Lancer's regimen for a couple of years, tested the product recommendations, and regularly pass along the tips and advice I learned from his book.

Recently, I summarized all of my Dr. Lancer skincare tips and favorite products in an email for a few ladies on my project which went quite viral among the analysts who apparently were also on my aforementioned former "beauty routine" so thought I'd share it here...

Morning routine:

#1 Cleanse – with a gentle, fragrance-free face wash. I use Simple Micellar water with a cotton swab to remove night cream / bacteria instead of a daily cleanser with water. This keeps my skin from over-drying because it preserves some of the natural skin oils where other cleansers strip them.

#2 Tone – to balance your skin’s pH and close pores/prevent breakouts (I use this one from Bioelements, but Neutrogena also has a good basic one). The trick is to put it in one of those $0.99 spray bottles and spritz your face and let it air dry.


#3  Nourish – with antioxidant serum (I alternate between this Origins one that calms my skin when I’m stressed/tired, and this Vitamin C one to brighten and even my skin tone) and a moisturizer with retinol. I've been using Neutrogena Tone Correcting moisturizer, which has a small amount of retinol in the formula. It changed the look of my skin within a couple of days. (Note: if my skin is feeling dry, I sometimes alternate my moisturizer with this one from SebaMed.)

Important tip: Dr. Lancer recommends that you remember to bring your moisturizer all the way down your neck. Most people focus strictly on their face, but failing to keep your routine consistent for your neck and upper chest will catch up with you as you age, and your neck skin won't match the face you've cared for so carefully.

#4 Protect – baby sunscreen (I like this Neutrogena one) when I’m going to be spending a lot of time outdoors, or a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen (I use Shiseido Urban Environment).

Other tips for AM routine: investing in really high quality makeup was a game changer for me. I swear by Cle de Peau undereyeconcealer and Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage concealer topped with her Translucent Loose Powder. Sometimes, that’s all the makeup I’ll wear (in addition to Shiseido tinted moisturizer) and since the ingredients are better quality, my skin looks better when I use them.

Evening routine:


#1  Cleanse – I use this gentle Neutrogena cleanser daily, but if I’m wearing mascara or anything more than basic concealer, I remove it with Pond’s Cold Cream and a tissue before cleansing.

#2 Exfoliate – after you cleanse, you must cleanse again with an exfoliant. Dr. Lancer recommends alternating between a physical scrub with granules and a chemical exfoliant like salicylic acid. I alternate between using this Origins rice scrub (have been using it for years, it is amazing and gentle but must wash/dry your face before using it, then apply it to dry skin, massage for a minute or two, then rinse off for it to work effectively) and a Clarisonic Mia (I run the scrubber head through the dishwasher every 2nd use to keep it fresh) with my Neutrogena cleanser.

The reason Dr. Lancer recommends daily exfoliation is because skin cell turnover slows down in your twenties and beyond. Layers of dead skin can accumulate, clogging your pores and making it difficult for the product you select for step #3 to reach your skin. Being consistent with exfoliation has made a tremendous difference for me.

#3 Tone – same Bioelements toner in #2 above.

#4 Nourish – with my have-to-tell-everyone-about-it Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil (not a Dr. Lancer recommendation, but I bet he would love it) – you need just two tiny drops to cover your whole face. It is MIRACULOUS, retinol for exfoliation but doesn’t dry out your skin. However, I used to use this Neutrogena anti wrinkle night cream for years and love it for a basic night product to keep skin hydrated and prevent wrinkles. Using an eye cream regularly will also pay dividends – I love this one from Neutrogena.


Other tips for PM routine: buy a silk pillowcase, and travel with it. I’ve never woken up with pillow marks, and it doesn’t pull on your skin like cotton. (I use this one, and give them as gifts all the time!) Also, Dr. Lancer (and every dermatologist on Earth) emphasizes the importance of a really good night's sleep - it's right up there with hydrating and staying out of the sun. For someone who has trouble shutting off her mind at night, this is easier said than done. However, L'Occitane Lavande Roll-On Relaxant, a melatonin supplement and a silk eye mask help me to sleep like a baby.

If you made it this far, congratulations. I'm exhausted from writing all of that, and this is just the Cliff's Notes. I'd love to hear about your daily skincare routine, favorite tried-and-tested products, and learn some new tricks for my next viral email to entry level employees unaware of this vast world of anti-aging skincare...

8 comments on "A step-by-step guide to the best skin of your life"
  1. I am sold! I've never put much thought into my skincare routine. Just wash and moisturize. But I need to! Radiant skin is such a big part of looking good. Thank you for doing all the research so I don't have to. Very excited about this!

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    1. Your mind would be blown by Dr. Lancer's book! But the steps are so simple and easy to follow, and some of it was just switching out one drugstore product for a different (and better) one! Thanks for your comment :-)

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  2. Great post. Currently chest high in beauty products discovering what's best. Thanks for the tips!

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    1. Thanks Mandy! Hope Dr. Lancer's steps are helpful in applying said pile of beauty products in a structured fashion!

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  3. Hi Colleen! thank you as always for sharing :-)
    I personally think sunscreen is really really important, I wear it even on a cloudy day. also for dry skin, I love Petroleum jelly, always works for me.
    Hope you have a good day my friend!

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    1. Hi Echo, thank you as always for your comment :-) I agree on the sunscreen and need to get some petroleum jelly, I've heard it makes great lip balm, cuticle cream, hand cream, etc. Hope you have a great rest of the week!

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    2. Yes! I used petroleum jelly on lips every night before I got to bed, and I use a little on my eye lashes. It is really great for dry skin spot.
      Have a good weekend dear!

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    3. Thanks Echo! I could use that on my elbows... will be getting some next time I'm at CVS! Have a great rest of the weekend as well :)

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