This article was created in partnership with Blue Diamond Almonds.
Dermatologists know a thing or two about good skin care (duh), but shelling out a copay to get those juicy details isn't always in the cards. That's why we went straight to the source and asked four derms what they do to maintain their own skin, hair, and nails. Sure, they've got access to fancy treatments, but turns out they actually keep their own regimens pretty simple.
1. Use protection.
It's hardly a beauty secret when every dermatologist in the world practically shouts, "Use sunscreen!" from the rooftops. But you might be surprised how consistently they use it themselves. They apply every day, rain or shine, even if they'll be indoors, and regardless of their skin type or color.
Jessica J. Mercer, M.D., a partner at Gwinnett Dermatology in Georgia, wears a moisturizer with SPF 50. "I personally use sunscreen every single day, and I am an African American female," she says.
And that truly means every day. "UV rays are always present in the daytime, even if it’s cold or cloudy," says L.A.-based, board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, M.D., FAAD. "Moreover, UVA even passes through window glass, so if you spend your day in your car or are lucky enough to have a window office, you are being exposed."
As an added precaution against free-radical damage from the sun and pollution, Shainhouse wears an antioxidant serum under her sunscreen and at night.
"Used in the morning, antioxidants can prevent DNA damage by preventing oxidation during exposure, and when used at night, they help repair potential damage from the day," she says. "Look for ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin E, coffee berry, resveratrol, açai, [and] green tea extract."
2. Snack well.
Before turning to supplements and lotions, Mercer gets her hydration and antioxidant fix through her diet.
"Drinking water gives you that more radiant appearance," Mercer says. "Often a lot of the snacks that I consume are rich in vitamins. For example, for a midday snack, I eat a lot of almonds."
Almonds are full of magnesium, a crucial mineral that helps with hundreds of functions in your body, and vitamin E, which protects skin from free radicals. One serving of Blue Diamond Whole Natural Almonds packs 20 and 35 percent of your daily magnesium and vitamin E, respectively. Not too shabby for an afternoon snack!
Rachel Fine, a registered dietitian in New York, swears by eggs. "Egg yolk is densely packed with nutrition and proteins, such as biotin, folate, vitamin A, and vitamin D, all of which are essential to luscious hair, nails, and glowing skin," she says.
3. Use a retinol or retinoid.
While so many other ingredients in lotions and serums only "probably" or "theoretically" work, retinoic acid has the seal of approval from scientists and doctors for its ability to clear up acne and promote collagen growth for younger-looking skin. While there are tons of products at drug and department stores that contain retinol, Mercer prefers to use prescription-only tretinoin, the generic version of Retin-A.
"I want to get the most bang for my buck, so I think the prescription strength works the best," Mercer says. At the same time, she says those with more sensitive skin might want a lower concentration of the ingredient, since it can be irritating. In that case, over-the-counter retinols would work just fine.
4. Supplement wisely.
Maral K. Skelsey, M.D., the director of dermatologic surgery at Georgetown University, takes biotin and saw palmetto for healthy, strong nails and hair.
"Biotin deficiency leads to thinning of nails and hair, but it’s not clear how much supplementation affects growth," Skelsey says. "Saw palmetto has antiandrogenic activity... It [may be] useful for thinning of the hair that is hereditary."
Mercer seconds the vote for biotin. "I take a 5000 mcg biotin tablet every single day to promote strong nails and strong hair," she says. "It's one of the protective mechanisms for all the different styling tools that we use."
5. Get some zzzs.
Sleep was on more than one doctor's list of beauty musts. When we're sleeping, our pituitary glands secrete growth hormones, which are key to repairing cell tissue damage. That's one reason not getting enough rest also leads to skin looking older, faster.
"Somebody had it right when they talked about beauty rest," Mercer says. "If you get a really good night's sleep, eight hours or nine hours, you wake up the next morning not only feeling refreshed, but oftentimes looking refreshed."
These dermatologists are not affiliated with Blue Diamond Almonds. Blue Diamond Almonds makes no claims regarding the clinical guidance provided.