Skin Care Secrets from the Dermatologist to the Stars

Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, Victoria Beckham, Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres all have something in common besides a net worth of zillions. They share the same dermatologist -- Dr. Harold Lancer, who dispenses advice and high-tech treatments from his office on Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive, next to boutiques like CHANEL, Dior, Prada and Ralph Lauren. Now, in his new book, Younger: The Breakthrough Anti-Aging Method for Radiant Skin, Lancer shares his simple four-step secret to getting red-carpet radiant skin (no matter your bank balance).

1. Exfoliate your skin every day and do it before you cleanse. A gentle daily “polish” --the word Lancer actually prefers to exfoliate -- is like “taking the tarnish off silver.” Dead cells and surface debris are whisked away to allow “fresh, radiant skin to shine through.” You can polish your skin either mechanically (with a loofah, rough washcloth or a scrub with tiny beads), or you can choose a chemical exfoliator that uses enzyme-based ingredients like papaya or pineapple to dissolve those old skin cells. Polish your skin once a day, preferably at night, for 60 to 90 seconds. Dampen your skin with warm water before you begin and finish with a rinse of lukewarm water.

2. Follow polishing with a non-irritating cleanser to cart away the uprooted debris. Apply a pea-sized drop of cleanser to your fingertips and massage it into your skin, working from the jawline up.

3. Complete your nighttime skin care regimen with a nourishing lotion, cream or serum. Check the ingredients label for damage-fighting antioxidants like Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Peptides and pentapeptides will also keep your skin looking its best by boosting the production of new collagen. Again, apply a pea-sized amount and work the product into your skin from the jawline to your hairline.

4. During the day add one more step: protect. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. For all steps of this regimen, find products that feel good on your skin. The more “pampered” your skin care regimen makes you feel, says Lancer, the more likely you are to stick with it.

Get Beautiful in Your Sleep

In the movies, the heroine always wakes up looking perfectly refreshed and gorgeous. Sure, she may have Hollywood magic on her side, but the rest of us have a potent beauty weapon too: sleep!

It turns out, there really is such a thing as beauty sleep. “Sleep allows the body to go into several stages of non-REM and REM cycles for restoration of body functions,” says Dr. Vermén M. Verallo-Rowell, a research dermatologist. Further, the emerging science of chronobiology -- the study of the impact of biological rhythms and their effects on the body -- has uncovered subtle differences in skin behavior at night. The skin is more permeable; it expends fewer defenses against the daytime’s free radicals, pollution and sun damage; and oil production is lower. All these changes help active ingredients absorb more effectively at 2 a.m. than at 2 p.m.

Here’s a guide to the types of treatments and products that work their magic in the dark.

Hair Conditioners
Sometimes called “deep conditioners” or “reparative masks,” these temporary leave-on hair products can work even better when they’re allowed hours, not minutes, to absorb deeply into the hair shaft. Before bedtime, massage the mask along the ends and mid-shaft of dry hair and comb through. Rinse and style as usual in the morning.

Heavy-duty Moisturizers
Quick-absorbing, lightweight hydrators with built-in sunscreen are perfect for protecting the skin during the day and providing a satiny base for your makeup. Nighttime is when you’ll want to slather on the thicker, richer, more emollient moisturizers that may look greasy but provide more reparative moisture benefits. This deeply penetrating moisture can have a carryover benefit into the daytime.

Retinoids
Dermatologists suggest that patients use over-the-counter and stronger prescription retinoids (tretinoin, tazarotene, adapalene) only at night because these topical forms of vitamin A can degrade in light and make the skin more vulnerable to sun damage and more likely to burn. “They have become the gold standard of what dermatologists recommend to help exfoliate, lighten brown spots, stimulate collagen production and clean out pores,” says Dr. D’Anne Kleinsmith, a Michigan cosmetic dermatologist.  

Active Treatment Products
Many treatment products work best when they’re not competing with layers of cosmetics and sunscreen, says Dr. Patricia Farris, a Louisiana dermatologist. What’s more, active ingredients such as salicylic acid, which exfoliates dead skin cells, as well as peptides -- tiny proteins that stimulate collagen to help reduce the signs of aging -- are most effective when they’re not being diluted by perspiration or fending off daytime environmental stressors like pollution and sunlight. The increased blood flow to skin at night, along with nocturnal water loss, may help these ingredients better penetrate the skin’s barrier layers.

Rough-skin Erasers
Products made to soften rough skin on the feet or hands are likely to get the best results if they’re applied at bedtime. Many include alpha hydroxy acids (lactic, glycolic and citric acids) that penetrate the outermost layer of skin to promote exfoliation. Or, try this softening treatment suggested by Dr. C. Ralph Daniel III, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center: Soak hands and feet in room-temperature water for up to five minutes. Apply an extra-thick moisturizer, such as shea butter or petroleum jelly. For the best overnight penetration, pull on a pair of light cotton gloves or socks.

Antiperspirant
Some extra-strength antiperspirants are specially formulated for nighttime use, but a regular formula can also be more potent during the night’s optimum conditions. “For people who have problems with excessive perspiration, it makes a lot of sense to apply an antiperspirant before you go to bed,” says Kleinsmith. “When you’re not already perspiring, you can block the sweat glands more easily and let the medication work more effectively.”

Beauty Essential: Concealer

Concealer can be a girl’s best friend, especially after a night out sipping salt-rimmed margaritas. But even teetotalers can wake up with under-eye bags or dark circles -- resulting from lack of sleep, fluid retention, hay fever or just the deep-set eyes you inherited from Mom and Dad. Dermatologists say the thin tissue around the eye is subjected to more stress than are other areas of the skin, making it one of the earliest problem areas for women.

A good concealer can hide the problem, but there’s an art to finding the right shade and formula. For that, we asked Eugenia Weston, an Emmy-nominated celebrity makeup artist. She says there’s a reason most concealers are either peach (orange-based) or yellow: Each color does something different, which is why they’re often packaged side by side in a single compact. The trick isn’t deciding between peach and yellow (most of us need both), but choosing the depth of tone they’re available in -- light, medium or dark -- to match the pigment in your complexion.

Choosing the Right Color Concealer
If you have bluish or dark circles, a peach concealer will help cancel them out. But if your under-eye area and eyelids are pink-tinged, a common condition among the fair-skinned or allergy prone, a yellow concealer will counter the redness. The formula -- cream or liquid -- is a matter of personal preference. Cream concealers offer more coverage but take a little more skill to apply; liquids are sheer and a better bet for minimal circles or younger skin.

How to Apply
Using your ring finger for a light touch, prep the under-eye skin with eye cream so that the concealer won’t drag on. If you woke up with puffy peepers, apply a tightening or firming eye gel instead. The coolness and lifting ingredients should help send those bags packing.

If you wear foundation, bring it up under the eyes. Using an oval-shaped 1/3-inch wide synthetic bristled concealer brush, apply three dots of concealer starting at the tear ducts and ending at the iris. Paint them down and outward to cover the entire area. Gently blend in the concealer with your ring finger, using a press-and-roll motion. If upper eyelids are pink, stroke on yellow concealer there as a neutralizing eye shadow base.

Use a Powder
Set your concealer with one of the new ultrafine mineral powders in a colorless, one-size-fits-all translucent shade. “Dip the corner of a triangular latex sponge into the setting powder -- I use pressed rather than loose for neatness -- and blot it right up against the lash line,” says Weston. Powdering concealer is an often overlooked but essential step. “Otherwise, the mascara and eyeliner you’re about to apply will smudge as the day wears on, creating the very darkness you’re trying to eliminate.”

How Hair Can Help
It never hurts to think outside the box. If under-eye circles are chronic, a good hairstyle can deflect attention from them, says Tom Brophy of the Tom Brophy Salon. For instance, sideswept bangs cut from a side part will direct the beholder’s gaze away from the under-eye area, as will soft layers around the face. “What I would avoid,” says Brophy, “is a middle part or horizontal fringe, both of which would only frame the problem area.”

Also, consider that your natural hair color may be exaggerating those under-eye circles by casting a shadow on them. Colorist Michelle Vance at the Tom Brophy Salon has a solution: Lighten up. “Since dark shades and ashy tones can accentuate under-eye circles, think about taking your overall color one shade lighter. Or add a few blond highlights around the face to brighten things up,” she says.

Next thing you know, those sunglasses that were hiding your under-eye circles will have nothing to do but act as a headband up in your hair.

Four Ways to Fake Great Legs

After a long winter, you’re definitively ready to toss aside boots and leggings for sandals and short skirts. The question is: are your legs prepared for public display?

If gnarly toes, pasty calves and jiggly thighs are telling you “absolutely not,” don’t panic. You can get great, gorgeous legs with these easy beauty routine fixes and tricks.

1. Fake a Sunkissed Glow
No matter how long and lean your legs are, they’ll look even shapelier with a sunkissed glow. Drugstore shelves offer a wide variety of self-tanning products for an even, natural-looking tan that will leave your skin smelling great too. Here’s a guide to the formula that’s right for you.

  • Wash-off self-tanners These solutions create a temporary color that lasts about a day and washes away with soap and water. Apply one layer for a sheer look; add a second for deeper color.
  • Tanning mousses and gels Quick, but doesn’t dry instantly, so you can correct mistakes. The tint lets you see any spots you might have missed.
  • Daily self-tanning moisturizers Gradually builds a subtle glow with daily use. Foolproof, these are perfect for self-tanning novices.
  • Tanning lotion Produces the deepest caramels and bronzers for that “just back from St. Bart’s” look.
  • Tanning sprays The fastest way to achieve all-over coverage. Perfection takes practice; try this out a few times before a big event.

2. Pamper Your Feet
Squeezed into boots and forgotten for months, your feet are likely looking dry and callused, and your toes a bit ragged. Get them ready for their flip-flop debut with a spa pedicure that goes beyond just a file and polish.

Look for a service that offers these steps: a foot soak in a warm bath with moisturizing ingredients like essential oils; an exfoliating scrub to soften calluses and remove dead skin cells; a second scrub with a foot file to banish those calluses and other rough spots; a soothing massage followed by the application of a super-hydrating lotion that’s sealed by dipping your feet into warm paraffin or wrapping them in hot towels.

The final steps: shaping your toenails and applying polish. Scott Barnes, a makeup artist for such celebrities as Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce, suggests painting your toes in sheer nudes or a brown hue to make your legs look their longest. Nail stylist Reham Bastawros who prettifies the peds of Renee Zellweger and Miley Cyrus favors a splashier look: eye-catching colors like bubblegum pinks, citrus yellows, watermelon hues or a classic vixen red.

3. Choose Shoes That Elongate Your Legs
Fling aside those 4-inch tottering heels! Shoe designer Stuart Weitzman says this season, ’70s-inspired wedges will add height without straining the foot the way stilettos often do. Opt for shoes in nude or tones like blush-beige, khaki, brown or bronze that will trick the eye into thinking your legs and shoes are one lean, unbroken line. Avoid ankle straps -- they’ll chop your legs to make your gams look shorter than they are.

4. Tone Your Muscles
Want to rev up the definition of your legs in a flash? Dr. Philip L. Goglia, a Los Angeles nutritionist and trainer whose clients include Kim Delaney, Owen Wilson and Raven-Symone, suggests these three moves:

Wide-stance squats: Do them like a ballet plie, with toes angled outward, and a stance wider that your shoulders. Do five sets of 20 reps daily.

Hill- and flat-walking should be for 30 minutes (good) to an hour (better!) each day. Or, try stair-climbing for the same length of time.

Walking lunges: Great for your glutes! Just make sure that your knees don’t extend beyond your feet as you lunge. Work up to five sets of 20 lunges daily.

The Beauty Rules of Order

The sequence in which you apply serums, creams and cosmetics can be as important as the products themselves, so we asked a celebrity dermatologist and a makeup artist for their advice on what goes on when and why.

The Basics of Skin Care

Apply products with active ingredients that are designed to repair before you apply heavier products that protect. These “actives” include antioxidants, alpha hydroxy acids, peptides, vitamins and pigment lighteners. They contain molecules small enough to penetrate the outer layer of skin in order to get down to the deeper layers where they work to hydrate, brighten, smooth and firm the skin.

Heavier products, such as moisturizers and sunscreens, go on next because they function as shields, keeping UV rays out and moisture in, says Ava Shamban, M.D., who is the featured dermatologist on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover.” “If you make the mistake of topping a sunscreen with an antioxidant serum, the serum won’t be able to sink in since the cells are already sealed,” says Shamban. In other words, access denied, no matter how pricey or terrific the product may be.

The Basics of Cosmetics

Applying cosmetics in the right order results in a natural-looking finish and streamlines the process by preventing mistakes. “It has a lot to do with texture, such as not putting cream formulations on top of powdered ones,” says makeup artist Tonya Crooks, whose regular clients include Megan Fox and Fergie. Using a mineral powder foundation before cream blush will look blotchy because it will be hard to blend the blush. Lipstick should always go under lip gloss, so you can still achieve the shine you’re after.

Top Ten Beauty Rules of Order

Only a beauty-pageant contender would use all of the products that follow, but for purposes of illustration, here they are in their optimal order of application, after your morning cleansing routine.

1. If you use hydrating mists to plump up the skin, or gels for acne or rosacea, apply now. The mists soften the top layer of dead skin cells (the stratum corneum) and help conduct water-soluble products down to the deeper layers of skin.

2. Active ingredients in water-soluble gels and serums go on now. Examples are antioxidant serums, AHAs, peptides, vitamins C and E, ferulic acid, growth factors and pigment lighteners.

3. This is the time for moisturizer, which contains humectants to restore water to the skin and conditioners to soften it. Just as important, the moisturizer seals in the products that precede it.

4. Sun protection comes next. If your eyes are sensitive to the ingredients in regular sunscreen, use an eye cream with SPF that’s formulated to be nonirritating. On the rest of the face and neck, apply a broad-spectrum facial sunblock to fend off both UVA and UVB rays.

5. After allowing five to 10 minutes to let your sunscreen sink in, apply foundation. If you prefer the sheerness of a tinted moisturizing sunscreen, use that instead.

6. Whatever the foundation hasn’t covered gets painted over with concealer. A fine-tipped makeup brush works best to deliver concealer to blemishes, under-eye circles and red spots.

7. Translucent powder and powder blush go on next. (If you like a dewy look, skip the powder and apply cream blush instead.) Adding color to the cheeks at this step helps quell the urge to be heavy-handed on the eyes. “If you apply eye makeup to a pale face, it’s easy to overdo it,” says Crooks, “and then by the time you add blush, it all looks too theatrical.”

8. Eyebrow shadow or pencil, eye shadow and eyeliner are now up. Crooks prefers eyebrow shadows and pencils that are one shade lighter than your hair. If you use a pencil, it should be well-sharpened, hard and waxy to encourage the drawing of fine, hairlike strokes.

9. Mascara should be applied very carefully at this point to avoid smearing all of the good work that’s gone before it.

10. Lip treatments, lip liner, lipstick, and lip gloss are last, but not least. Chapped or dry lips should be prepped and plumped with a treatment cream or lotion. If you use lip liner, it goes on next, followed by lipstick, which can be topped off with lip gloss.