7 Things Dermatologists Do Every Day for Healthier Skin

Smile more — your skin will thank you.
Image Credit: Cecilie_Arcurs/E+/GettyImages

Have you looked at your dermatologist's skin lately? (Or, really, anyone who works in a dermatologist's office.) Usually, they're bright, glowing and have few wrinkles — the picture of healthy skin.

It's not just access to the best products and in-office procedures (though those do help), but a commitment to healthy living that sets up their skin for success.

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Here's what five board-certified dermatologists told us they do to care for their complexion and slow down the aging process:

1. They Find Their ‘Zen Zone’

"I find my 'zen zone' at least once a day," Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor in the department of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine, tells LIVESTRONG.com. "This brings down the stress hormone cortisol, which can cause inflammation and aging in the skin."

In other words, it's important to take time in your day to do something that relaxes or refreshes you. That might be a few minutes of meditation, a quick yoga flow, writing in a journal, listening to music or just taking a couple deep, deep breaths.

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It doesn't matter what it looks like, it just needs to bring down your stress level. According to a June 2014 review in ​​Inflammation & Allergy Drug Targets​​, stress has been associated with premature skin aging. It can also trigger inflammatory conditions like psoriasis, eczema and acne.

2. They Get Their Beauty Sleep

Dr. Gohara also makes getting good shut-eye a top priority because it, too, can guard against the kind of stress and inflammation that can show up on your skin.

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Even in the short-term, lack of sleep can affect skin health. In a small March 2020 study in ​Skin Research and Technology​ that looked at Korean women in their 40s, just one night of sleeping for four hours reduced skin hydration, elasticity and radiance, and wrinkles were more pronounced.

PSA: The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

3. They Spend Active Time Outside

Dermatologists don't shy away from the sun. (They just slather on the SPF before going out and reapply every two hours, as advised, of course.)

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"I find a good mix of outdoor activities is a good way to shake up an exercise routine consisting of weight training, cardio and yoga," Carmen Anthony Julian, DO, board-certified dermatologist with U.S. Dermatology Partners in Austin, tells LIVESTRONG.com.

Some go-tos include paddle boarding, kayaking, mountain biking and camping.

Of course, he's not out there every day, but the goal is to regularly do something physically active and take a break from it all, which is important for slowing down the aging process, he says.

"Being away from work and your home, out in nature, has been shown to boost endorphins and reduce cortisol," Dr. Julian adds. (Cortisol is the stress hormone, for the record — have we mentioned that's bad for your skin?)

4. They Smile More

Maybe you've been worried about your expression lines, but here's a secret: Smiling more is something that Loretta Ciraldo, MD, board-certified dermatologist in Miami, Florida, and founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare, credits for her youthful appearance.

"Smiling often tones the muscles that keep the corner of the mouth lifted and firms up and tones the jawline, neck and chin. It has really helped me to have a decently smooth neck and jawline, plus minimal marionette creases, even though I'm in my late 60s," she says.

Need a nudge to smile more? She recommends smiling when you look in the mirror instead of automatically looking for facial flaws. You can also spend time smiling while thinking about the positive things in your life during a gratitude practice.

5. They Dry Off Gently

Notice that your skin gets dry in the winter? So does Marisa Garshick, MD, board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology in New York City.

When Dr. Garshick gets out of the shower, she tells LIVESTRONG.com, she makes sure to pat herself dry with a towel (no vigorous rubbing!) and then immediately applies a moisturizing cream. For her feet (an especially parched place), she slathers on petroleum jelly before slipping on socks.

"These things help to seal in moisture and help the skin retain its natural oils to prevent it from drying out," she says.

6. They Stick to Mediterranean-Style Eating

Foods included in the Mediterranean diet — that is, fresh veggies, olive oil and lean protein — are tops when it comes to nourishing healthy skin, Jason Miller, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in Freehold, New Jersey, tells LIVESTRONG.com.

Dr. Miller also avoids high-sugar foods (think: desserts, candy, soda, juice). Past research suggests that excess dietary sugars speeds up skin aging.

It's just part of an overall healthy lifestyle, which includes avoiding smoking, exercising and stress management, all of which allows the "body to function at an optimal level, often leading to improved skin texture and appearance," he says.

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7. They Apply SPF to Their Lips

One thing Dr. Garshick always carries around: An SPF lip balm in her bag.

"Although the lips are definitely a focal feature of the face, many people forget to apply sunscreen to the lips," she says. But lips can still suffer from UV damage. "This can lead to a condition known as actinic cheilitis, where the lips are dry and cracked as a result of sun damage."

Lips can also develop skin cancer. So next time you leave the house, remember: Swipe and go.

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Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911. If you think you may have COVID-19, use the CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker before leaving the house.
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