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Get a Jump on Skincare New Year’s Resolutions

Every December, we make a list of wildly ambitious New Year’s resolutions. While 2013 will probably not be the year we become triathlon competitors or fluent Mandarin speakers, we’re making one vow this season that won’t expire come January 2: to take better care of our skin. We interviewed two Manhattan dermatologists, Dr. Eric Schweiger and Dr. Sejal Shah, to learn what steps we need to take to get our healthiest skin yet.

Don’t Double Dip

Warm, humid environments—like steamy bathrooms—encourage bacterial and fungal growth. To extend the shelf life of your skincare products, minimize their exposure to air and keep them away from germ-ridden fingers. “Dipping your fingers into containers can increase the risk of contamination,” warns Dr. Shah. Always wash your hands before applying a product, or forsake your fingers altogether and use a clean sponge or cotton ball. Also look for products that come in airtight pumps or tubes (one such option: SAMPAR’s Ultra Hydrating Fluid).

Load Up on SPF Every Day

You may have read that you can’t get enough SPF protection from your foundation, but according to Dr. Shah that’s not necessarily true. “The problem is that most people apply only a fraction of what’s needed,” she says. For adequate protection, you should apply about one teaspoon—or, as Dr. Schweiger recommends, a dime-sized amount to your forehead, chin, each cheek, and neck.

If you want to avoid the caked-on foundation look, considering switching to a BB or CC cream. They offer sheer coverage yet also have serious UV filters. Juice Beauty’s new Stem Cellular Repair CC cream, for example, contains 20 percent zinc oxide. But if you’re spending time outdoors, use a dedicated sunscreen like Kiehl's Super Fluid UV Defense or Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 (Dr. Schweiger’s fave).

Kick-Start an Antiaging Regimen

Prevention truly is the best medicine when it comes to skincare, and you should start using antioxidants and retinoids by your mid-20s. “The goal is to begin the regimen before the signs of aging appear,” Dr. Shah says. Prescription retinoid creams like Retin-A are FDA-approved to halt wrinkles but may be irritating, while over-the-counter retinol creams are milder but take up to three months to yield results. In either case, Dr. Schweiger recommends limiting use to three times a week and applying a moisturizer like Kiehl’s Rosa Arctica Cream before and after to keep skin from drying out.

Get Your Moles Checked

Once a year, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist to get any moles checked and screened for skin cancer. Dr. Schweiger says that women are more susceptible to developing malignant moles on their legs than men since they expose their legs to the sun more frequently. In addition to seeing your dermatologist, Dr. Shah suggests performing a monthly self-examination of your skin. Follow the ABCDE rule and look for moles that are asymmetrical, have irregular borders, inconsistent color, or a diameter larger than ¼ inch, or appear to be evolving over time.

Take Care of Your Hands

We tend to overlook our hands, but they’re exposed to the three harshest elements: sun, wind, and cold. According to Dr. Shah, your hands can also age faster than your face because the skin is thinner and there’s less fat beneath it. To keep your hands in optimal shape, slather on an SPF-infused hand cream during the day and a thicker cream like NUXE’s Reve de Miel Hand and Nail Cream at night.

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