21 skin-care shortcuts: the lazy girl's guide to better skin
• Lazy-ish: Using daily sun protection is pretty much the only nonnegotiable task, but the SPF in your day cream will work even better if you layer it over an antioxidant serum, like SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF."Antioxidants like vitamin C provide extra protection and help treat wrinkles," says Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "They stick around in your skin, so you can apply it every other day."
• Lazier: Because they make your skin more sensitive to the sun, collagen-boosting retinoids should always be applied in the evening—exactly when you're most sluggish. Rub on a pea-size amount around dinnertime, before you slip into a TV coma. To avoid sensitivity, start by using retinoids on just two nights in the first week, then graduate to at least four nights a week. Wrinkles will be less obvious after a month.
• Laziest: Pop a 500-milligram vitamin C supplement daily. Your body needs it to make collagen, and it's effective when applied topically or taken orally.
• Lazy-ish: Eye creams, shmye creams. Turns out, you can skip that step. "Unless your eyes are really sensitive, you can get away with using facial products with retinol all the way up to your lower lash line," says David Bank, a dermatologist in Mount Kisco, New York. If your skin is easily irritated, try RoC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Night Cream,which contains a gentler form of retinol.
• Lazier: So you haven't moisturized your eye area at all this week. Here's a quick morning fix: Hold a damp washcloth under them for a few minutes—say, while your coffee is brewing. Then pat on a lightweight moisturizer before you pour your first cup. "Your crow's-feet will look less noticeable until later that afternoon," says Bank.
• Laziest: Go to sleep. Seriously. "Fine lines, like the ones around your eyes, repair themselves to some extent while you sleep, even without the help of products," says Jeannette Graf, a dermatologist in Great Neck, New York. When you wake up, chug a glass of water, as teeny lines around the eyes can be caused by dehydration.
• Lazy-ish: "Soothing the undereye area with moisturizers reduces inflammation," says Graf, who likes eye serums with caffeine (found in Garnier Skin Renew Anti-Puff Eye Roller).
• Lazier: A product called2nd Skin Circles sounds a little Silence of the Lambs, but these gel pads, sold at spenco.com, depuff eyes quickly. "Keep them in the refrigerator, and stick them on for two minutes each morning," says Francesca Fusco, a dermatologist in New York City.
• Laziest: Sleep on two pillows. "When you elevate your head, gravity drains the fluid under your eyes, which helps with next-day puffiness," says Zeichner.
• Lazy-ish: Spot-treat with .5 percent salicylic acid (for a whitehead or blackhead) or 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide (for anything else). "It can take up to a week to work, so do it every morning," says Zeichner. And no, smarty, you can't shrink a zit faster with a higher concentration: You may irritate the pimple, making it harder for medicine to penetrate.
• Lazier: Glob on a 1 percent over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream. "The more you put on, and the longer you let it sit, the more will absorb," says Fusco, who recommends waiting 15 minutes. It's the same thing that we inject into pimples to make them go down."
• Laziest: You know how Visine makes your eyes less red? The same goes for blemishes. It won't make them smaller, though.
• Lazy-ish: Use a facial moisturizer. The good kind, with glycerin to draw water to the skin and occlusives like petrolatum to seal it there (say, Olay Complete All Day UV Moisturizer SPF 15 Normal). At night, let a cool-mist humidifier do all of the work for you.
• Lazier: Not so diligent about moisturizing each day? Switch to a creamy face wash with hydrators like glycerin, shea butter, or oatmeal in the top five ingredients. "It's not as effective as a moisturizer," says Zeichner. "But the right cleanser can keep you hydrated for a day."
• Laziest: We know, we sound like pill pushers. But taking a daily 1,000-milligram flaxseed-oil supplement can help your skin retain moisture.
• Lazy-ish: Exfoliating smooths skin. Smooth skin reflects light. It's a no-brainer, and fortunately, "once or twice a week does the trick," says Graf. Stick to gentle cleansing with the Clarisonic Classic Sonic Skin Cleansing System or scrubs containing fine crystals (try Bioré Acne Clearing Scrub). Or "apply a gentle scrub using a Clarisonic to double the benefits and make up for lost time," says Fusco.
• Lazier: Use a one-step peel with glycolic acid (normal or dry skin) or salicylic acid (oily or combination skin), says Zeichner. Some peels can make skin a little red, which is why you're supposed to apply them at night, but if you get one for sensitive skin, you can slap a layer on the day of. Try Philosophy Hope in a Jar Original Formula Moisturizer for All Skin Types or RéVive Glycolic Renewal Peel.
• Laziest: Do two minutes of jumping jacks, or have sex (it's not called "afterglow" for nothing). "You're dilating blood vessels and stimulating oil glands, which will make skin glow for an hour or so," says Ava Shamban, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA. If that's not possible (for whatever reason), sit in a chair and put your head between your knees for a minute. "When your head is lower than your heart, gravity brings extra blood to the cheeks," says Graf.
• Lazy-ish: "Calming," "soothing," and "anti-redness" are magic words on skin-care labels. "Using a mask or cream with anti-inflammatory ingredients is a quick fix," says Graf. She recommends feverfew (found in Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer SPF 15) to calm reactive redness right away. For rosacea, Graf suggests ruscus extract, a blood-vessel constrictor (in Eau Thermale Avène Antirougeurs Calm mask) that eases redness. "Moisturizing every day strengthens the skin's barrier, which could help reduce redness over time," adds Zeichner.
• Lazier: Soak a washcloth in milk and ice cubes, and press it onto your skin. "The cold, pH level, and protein in the milk relieve redness," says Fusco.
• Laziest: Break open an evening primrose oil capsule and rub its contents over blotchy areas, says Graf.
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