Wander through the aisles of Walgreens or CVS, with the walls of moisturizers, serums, scrubs, soaps, exfoliators, and more, and you would probably conclude that it’s super, super complicated to keep your skin healthy and looking good. However, younger- and healthier-looking skin is really about only two things, says 46-year-old dermatologist Corey L. Hartman, M.D., an MH advisor and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham: Keep your routine simple and always use products with scientifically proven ingredients. Here’s how he takes his own advice.
Use retinol before bed
I apply a product with retinol at night—no skincare ingredient has more science behind it. It’s an exfoliant, so you don’t get acne or dull skin, and it stimulates collagen, which helps keep fine lines and wrinkles away. I wash my face with an exfoliating cleanser (SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser Gel), then use prescription retinol (Arazlo) and a hydrating cream (Senté Dermal Repair Cream) to help the retinol penetrate and reduce irritation.
Do Botox sooner, rather than later
I started doing Botox around age 30 and now do it every four months on my upper face. It does more than just erase age. Among the many benefits: It stops wrinkles from becoming etched in, it helps with collagen production, and it just makes me look less mean and more approachable. I don’t have to convince my male patients to get Botox anymore, probably in part because I’m so open about using it.
Use a mask to battle acne
The masks we use at my office have to be N95’s or a similar grade. We clean them, but it doesn’t take out all the oil that can clog pores, so I was having big-time maskne. I started using a clay mask (SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Masque) a few times a week when it got really bad, and that keeps my face clear.
Use this to keep cancer away
Since I’m Black, the melanin in my skin gives me a certain amount of SPF. But the SPF that’s effective against skin cancer—which people with any skin color can get—is higher than what I naturally have. (Skin cancer can hit younger than you think, too. Find out more about that here.) So I wear sunscreen every day. I use an emulsion (ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Ultralight Emulsion) that doesn’t leave a chalky film even though it contains zinc oxide.
Erase spots that bother you
Any patient of color and anybody over 40 is going to start to see pigment changes, like sun spots or dark spots from acne. That bothers people more than wrinkles do. I use Cyspera, a new pigment corrector that doesn’t require spot treatment; you just swipe it all over. You have to leave it on an unwashed face for 15 minutes. I put it on when I leave the gym, and when I get home, it’s ready to be showered off.
Keep the beard, lose the problems
I have a history of razor bumps that I’ve gotten under control with laser hair removal. It was life changing. Like a lot of people’s, the majority of my issues were on my neck. Neck hair is not necessary for a full-beard look—my patients are often surprised to hear that—so I just got rid of it. I don’t get razor bumps anymore, and the hyperpigmentation and red bumps, with their potential to scar, got better as well.
A version of this story originally appeared in the July/August 2021 issue of Men’s Health.
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