I Followed a Dermatologist’s Exact Skin-Care Routine — Here’s What Happened
It’s no secret that dermatologists have the best tips for curating a well-rounded skin-care regimen. But what products or rituals do they use in their own routines? I asked Dr. Dendy Engelman, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City, to give me a glimpse into her personal skin-care rituals. After getting the full scoop, I wondered if Dr. Engelman’s routine would be just as effective on my oily skin as it is on hers. Here’s what happened when I tried it.
STEP 1: Cleanser
If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that cleansing the skin is a must, regardless of age or skin type. I do it every morning, and no surprise, Dr. Engelman does the same. In this experiment, I began the day by using a gentle cleanser to rid my skin of any dirt, oil or impurities. Dr. Engelman isn’t partial to any specific formula, so I opted for my usual, the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cleanser. The formula helps remove excess oil and makes my skin feel fresh and comfortably clean.
STEP 2: Toner
After cleansing, Dr. Engelman follows up with a toner. Toner can help to remove any lingering dirt, oil or grime that your cleanser may have missed. It can also help balance the pH level of your skin. Because I have oily skin, I opted for the Lancôme Tonique Confort. It helps promote a more even-looking complexion and reduces the appearance of pores.
STEP 3: Eye Cream
After cleansing and toning, Dr. Engelman applies eye cream. I have dark circles and a few fine lines here and there, so a morning eye cream can be helpful. I tried the Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Dark Circle Reducing Vitamin C Eye Serum.
STEP 4: Vitamin C Serum
Dr. Engelman uses cult-favorite SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic every morning, so of course I had to try it, too. The antioxidant-rich serum works with sunscreen to protect the skin against environmental aggressors and free radicals.
STEP 5: Moisturizer
Dr. Engelman says that her moisturizer pick changes with the seasons. “I like hydrogels for warmer months because they have a cooling effect, are not oily and help to calm irritated skin,” she says. In the fall and winter, Dr. Engelman opts for face creams and lotions that can combat excess dryness that can result. I chose to use the Lancôme Absolue Velvet Face Cream.
STEP 6: Sunscreen
“I believe in sunscreen all year round,” Dr. Engelman says. UVA/UVB rays can be responsible for sun damage and premature signs of skin aging including wrinkles, fine lines and dark spots. She recommends using a broad-spectrum SPF 15 or higher each and every day (I like the Vichy Idéal Capital Soleil Tinted Mineral Sunscreen for Face because it’s oil-free) and reapplying at least every two hours.
STEP 1: Double Cleanse
"In the evening, it’s all about removing the day’s grime and gunk off your face,” Dr. Engelman says. “I follow a double-cleansing ritual.” Dr. Engelman uses an oil-based cleanser followed by an exfoliating cleanser. “Oil eliminates impurities without drying out your skin,” says Dr. Engelman. “I use an oil-based cleanser first and then a gentle exfoliating cleanser that’s similar to a water-based chemical peel.” I did the same with the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil and the Garnier Green Labs Canna-B Pore Perfecting 3-in-1 Cleanser + Exfoliator + Mask.
STEP 2: Serum
The second step of Dr. Engelman’s evening routine involves a serum. “I pick one formulated with antioxidants that help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, skin texture and tone,” she says. The Lancôme Advanced Génifique Anti-Aging Face Serum fits the bill.
STEP 3: Retinol
Finally, Dr. Engelman follows up with the SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5. “This vitamin A derivative is the ultimate multi-tasker,” she says. “It helps with fine lines and wrinkles, improves the appearance of discoloration and sun-induced damage.”
Editor’s note: Retinol can enhance the skin’s sensitivity toward the sun, so be sure to follow with sunscreen in the morning. If you’re a retinol newbie like me, start with a lower concentration of the ingredient two or three times a week and work your way up. Because retinol is powerful, it’s better to build up your skin’s tolerance first to prevent irritation.
After committing to this regimen for a full two weeks, I am pleased to report that my skin feels and looks better than before. I used to stick to three steps in my routine, but it’s clear that adding those few extra products can make a world of difference when it comes to minimizing excess oil and the appearance of visible dark circles. But just because this worked for me doesn’t mean it’s right for you. I recommend talking to your dermatologist to find out what’s best for your skin.
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn