Complexion Boot Camp

Skin been to hell and back? Here's how to repair the damage and shape up your regimen for fall.

skin types
Skin been to hell and back? Here's how to repair the damage and shape up your regimen for fall.
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Complexion Boot Camp
Living la vida loca during the long, sun-drenched days of August intensifies brown spots, large pores, and wrinkles, and unlike that summer glow, they can stick around long after your vacation ends. "September is the perfect time to rewrite your skincare mission statement," says L.A.-based dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban. The right at-home plan of action can go a long way toward repairing and renewing your complexion, no doctor's visits required.
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Rehydrate Dry, Sensitive Skin

"The salt in sweat and seawater, plus chemicals in chlorine and sunscreen, can dehydrate skin—so can the aggressive detergent in cleanser used to take off that grimy film every night," says New York City dermatologist Dr. Ellen Marmur. "Skin becomes even more vulnerable as the environment shifts to dryer, cooler weather." Her Rx: Give skin a weeklong break. Wash with a gentle cleanser, and moisturize with emollients like shea butter, natural oils, and ceramides to fortify the skin. "When you improve this lipid barrier and give it a rest from potential irritants [like retinoids, scrubs, or acids], skin can get busy with other duties, like building collagen," says Shamban.

Fresh Seaberry Moisturizing Face Oil, $50.

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Rehydrate Dry, Sensitive Skin

Clarins Shaping Facial Lift Serum, $70.

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Rehydrate Dry, Sensitive Skin

Philosophy Full of Promise Treatment Duo for Uplifting Days and Volumizing Nights, $75.

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Rehydrate Dry, Sensitive Skin

Perricone MD Formula 15, $125.

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Minimize Fine Lines

"Heaped up dead cells create creases on the surface of the skin," says Marmur, "so you have to smooth the texture by exfoliating two or three times a week. Chemical exfoliators like alpha hydroxy or salicylic acids do more than get rid of dead skin. They help with brown spots, wrinkles, acne, and enlarged pores, too." Next, try a moisturizer with humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid to instantly plump up and fill fine lines. And incorporate a retinoid into your routine twice a week, working up to more frequent applications. "A retinoid is the centerpiece of any antiaging regimen because it stimulates collagen formation and speeds skin turnover." A quicker fix? Complexion spackle. "Primer-like products with silicones and polymers smooth over lines, making them less visible, and they also help seal moisture into the skin," says Shamban. "Eye creams with mica create a similar optical illusion by reflecting light to soften the appearance of crow's-feet and brighten under eyes."

Clé de Peau Beauté Wrinkle Correcting Concentrate, $150.

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Minimize Fine Lines

Yes to Blueberries Deep Wrinkle Filler, $16.

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Minimize Fine Lines

RoC Instant Facial Smoother, $20.

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Minimize Fine Lines

Physicians Formula Expression Line Freeze, $22.

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Firm Sagging Skin

You need the one-two punch of retinoids to help build new collagen, and antioxidants to stop the deterioration of the collagen you've still got. "Apply a prescription-strength retinoid [like Retin-A or Renova] at least twice a week, or use a less potent OTC formula more frequently," suggests Shamban. Also, use a moisturizer with antioxidants both morning and night. (Put it on top of your retinoid.) "Antioxidants like green tea, vitamin C, and resveratrol quell free radicals that would otherwise destroy skin's collagen. They also help new collagen form in a protected environment." But have patience. "It takes three to eight weeks for these topical ingredients to have an effect," says Marmur. "It's like maneuvering a cruise ship—after you make a methodical shift in your habits, it takes a while to change course." For instant (if temporary) gratification, topical ingredients like caffeine, polymers, and acrylates tighten the surface of the skin.

AmorePacific Time Response Intensive Skin Renewal Ampoule Set, $550.

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Firm Sagging Skin

Olay Regenerist Advanced Anti-Aging Intensive Repair Treatment, $25.

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Firm Sagging Skin

Revision Retinol Facial Repair, $55.

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Firm Sagging Skin

La Prairie Cellular Power Serum, $475.

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Fade Brown Spots

Pigmentation (this includes both brown spots and a tan) is part of the skin's defense mechanism. "Melanocytes produce melanin to protect your DNA from the sun or as a response to injury," says Marmur. "And now they're hyperactive from fighting off summer UV exposure. Being out in the sun less and wearing broad spectrum protection every day allows melanocytes to wind down and produce less pigment to protect the skin." Also, use a moisturizer with lightening ingredients that help block pigment production or its transfer to the skin's surface, explains Marmur. "Hydroquinone is still the gold standard, but OTC ingredients like arbutin, soy, licorice extract, vitamin C, and niacinamide also inhibit melanin and can be used day and night." Adds Shamban: "Existing pigmentation isn't going to go away with these alone. You have to gradually fade surface discoloration with a chemical exfoliator and retinoids." An AHA cleanser or peel, plus a retinoid product like Olay Regenerist Advanced Anti-Aging Intensive Repair Treatment used twice a week (oily skin types can use these more frequently), eventually slough off darkened, dead skin cells.

Chanel Le Blanc Targeted Brightening Spot Corrector TXC, $98.

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Fade Brown Spots

Elizabeth Arden Peel & Reveal Revitalizing Mask, $36.

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Fade Brown Spots

SK-II Brightening Derm Specialist, $190.

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Fade Brown Spots

Garnier Skin Renew Clinical Dark Spot Overnight Peel, $17.

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Tighten Enlarged Pores

It's not your imagination. Your pores probably do look larger right now. "Sun and heat stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more oil, which—along with dirt and keratin—fill up and stretch out pores. UVA radiation, which penetrates into the dermis, weakens and breaks down collagen and elastin, the structural foundation of the skin, and this makes pores even more dilated," says Marmur. De-clog with a salicylic acid product. "Unlike glycolics, salicylic acids are able to penetrate through sebum to clean out pores." For combination skin, just use salicylic acid on the large-pored T-zone.

M-61 Power Pro-Peel, $28 for 10 days.

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Tighten Enlarged Pores

Lifeline Recovery Night Moisture Serum, $190.

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Tighten Enlarged Pores

Murad Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator, $50.

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