Some things pack more of a punch together than they do on their own — hello, lime and tequila! That principle holds true in skin care too. Use the right combos and your skin will look more flawless than if you stick to applying a solo treatment daily. Ahead are three expert-approved power pairings that will transform your skin now and later.
1. Antioxidant Serum + Sunscreen
You're already well aware of why you should wear sunscreen 365 days a year (rain or shine), but just in case you're hearing/reading it for the first time: Ultraviolet light wreaks havoc on skin, causing cellular damage that can lead to uneven tone, fine lines, and a leather-like texture. Research proves that 90 percent of visible aging is caused by environmental damage (this means the sun, but also pollution too). Worst of all, overexposure can cause skin cancer. What you might not realize is that even the most powerful sunscreen cannot protect you from 100 percent of the sun's rays — especially since you might not be applying enough or reapplying as often as you should, and any rubbing or sweating compromises the UV shield.
This is why combining your sunscreen with an antioxidant serum packs the most powerful punch. "Antioxidants act like scavengers, fighting free radicals — molecules caused by pollution, stress, and the sun — which also age skin," says Omar Torres, M.D., founder of DermGroupNYC. "If you combine one with sunscreen, then you're protecting skin from potential damage caused by UVA and UVB rays, as well as eliminating free radicals." Dr. Torres suggests layering an antioxidant-packed treatment (look for vitamin C, E, resveratrol or niacinamide) before bed, so it can penetrate overnight. "Then simply wake up and apply sunscreen," he says. No need to wash your face — it's clean from the night before.
2. Face Oil + Spot Correcting Cream
The reason this duo rocks is twofold: Face oil makes the skin's surface super-hydrated, "so when you use a treatment product, like one that is meant to fade the look of brown spots, your skin has a better environment to accept the active ingredients," explains Marta I. Rendon, M.D., founder of the Rendon Center in Boca Raton, Florida. "It can make a huge difference compared to if you used it alone."
Secondly, face oil takes the product applied on top through the outer barrier of the skin and into the deeper layers, which is where you want it to go. You can use this combo to brighten all over or target a cluster of spots.
3. Exfoliant + Moisturizer
Buffing away the superficial layer of dead cells clinging to the surface of your skin is the difference between a blah complexion and an I-woke-up-like-this glow (#MakeupGoals). How can you get your glow on? "Use an exfoliating cleansing brush along with a gentle face scrub to physically take away those cells," says Dr. Torres. "Or, do it chemically by applying a mild chemical peel [such as glycolic or lactic acid-based pads or serum]." The result: "Your skin will reflect more light, and look younger and more refreshed," he says.
Because replenishing moisture is also the key to glowy skin, once the outer layers of dead cells are removed, creams can penetrate more completely, keeping your skin hydrated longer. That's why post-exfoliation is "the perfect time to moisturize, since it can get deeper into skin and hydrate it, and not simply sit on top," explains Dr. Torres.
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