Some of the world’s best dermatologists lift the lid on their morning skincare routines

Posted by
Perdita Nouril

Do as the experts do. Top dermatologists tell us how they look after their skin on the daily.

How much sleep do you need for smooth skin? Which products should you apply when you wake up? How can you combat pollution damage? We asked top dermatologists to reveal their morning skincare routines so you can achieve the ultimate healthy, glowing skin.

Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at The Cadogan Clinic, London, and spokesperson for the British Skin Foundation

Wake-up time: 7.30am. I like to snooze, though, so I set two alarms. Most people need less sleep as they age because the neurons in the brain that regulate sleep patterns decrease. However, I’m not one of those people.

Morning skincare routine: 7.45am. I have acne prone skin, so I wash in the shower with Jan Marini Bioglycolic Oily Skin Cleansing Gel, £28. I then follow with La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo, £16, and Heliocare 360 Gel Oil-Free SPF50, £28.

I finish with Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, £26, which is oil-free, to smooth out acne scarring on my cheeks.

Morning make-up application: 8am. If I’m going to the gym, then I just hide my acne scars with Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, £24. For work, I blend Vichy Dermablend 3D Fluid Foundation, £23, with Nars Velvet Matte Skin Tint, £30. It creates the best shade for my skintone.

Exercise at: 9.30am. Working out is hugely important, as it’s the only time I really detach from everything. I do HIIT three times a week and personal training and spin once a week to focus on core and strength training.

Asleep by: 10.30pm. I need a minimum of eight hours. Pre-lights-out, I scroll through social media for 10 minutes, then read a book for 15 minutes.

Ultimate skin tip: Dial down on the facial oils. My clinic is full of women with blocked pores or comedones (which are the primary acne lesion) because of the trend for moisturising and cleansing with facial oils. You should also check where your skincare advice has come from. Qualified experts will be listed on the General Medical Council specialist register, which you can find here.

Dr Frances Prenna Jones, cosmetic doctor at The Clinic Mayfair, London

Wake-up time: 5.30am if I’m coming from Dorset or 7am if I’m already in London. I’m definitely an early riser and have no problem getting out of bed.

Morning skincare routine: I use products that have maximum impact but take up minimum time. I start with my Clean + Prepare Cleansing Balm, £54, followed by my Formula, £149, which acts like daily insurance for the skin thanks to its infusion of vitamins and antioxidants that strengthen and maintain skin over time. 

Morning make-up application: I keep it really simple. I swear by Lancôme Flash Bronzer Self-Tanning Face Gel, £26 – by lunchtime the tan has developed. I follow with a swipe of mascara and lipgloss.

Exercise at: I incorporate exercise into my day so that I don’t have to go to the gym or take classes. I power walk to and from work.

Asleep by: 10pm. I never take my phone or laptop to bed and always make sure my sheets are crisp, clean and inviting so that it’s easier to drift off. I take a cocktail of supplements before bed: melatonin and magnolia bark to help with sleep efficiency and calcium to regulate the body’s electrolyte balance.

Ultimate skin tip: Go on a ‘skin holiday’ by rotating your products. Your fibroblasts [a type of skin cell] are really similar to your muscles and can [be prone to] fatigue. 

Dr Dendy Engelman, dermatologist, The Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Centre, New York

Wake-up time: 7am. I get ready for work first then help Gadsden, my two-year-old son, get ready for school. I also make sure Ellis, my two-month-old, is fed and changed before I leave for work.

Morning skincare routine: I start with Biologique Recherche Lotion P50, £50, to cleanse. Next, I apply Elizabeth Arden’s Superstart Skin Renewal Booster, £45. It helps prepare my skin for subsequent follow-on products and boosts my skin’s healthy organisms to maintain the optimum microbiome: the layer of good bacteria. I also use Elizabeth Arden Prevage Anti-Aging Serum, £170. It contains idebenone, the single most powerful antioxidant which protects against free-radical damage and oxidative stress. 

Morning make-up application: I apply my make-up in the car (I’m not driving!) on my commute to work. I love Crème de La Mer Long Wear Foundation, £90, Tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer, £28.02, and Mac Lip Pencil in Soar, £14.

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Break time: Mid-morning, I’ll drink green tea for the antioxidant benefit. Most of the polyphenols in green tea are catechins, which can be hugely effective against skin inflammation. I’ll also drink Reserveage Nutrition Collagen Beautea, £21.36, to build collagen from within. Impressively, after eight weeks of ingestion, studies found that it reduces wrinkle depth by 20%.

Exercise: I do Baptiste Yoga at Lyon’s Den after work or at weekends. I find it better than working out first thing. 

Asleep by: 11pm. I should try and unwind but I check my email right before bed and I’m usually asleep before my head hits the pillow.

Ultimate skin tip: Because of the way the pores on the face are oriented, it is best to apply skin serums and creams upwards and outwards, massaging them into the face so that you’re really driving them into the skin. Stimulated skin has increased blood flow, which enhances absorption and increases oxygenation and nutrient delivery to the skin. In Asia, facial techniques and massage for skin stimulation are standard practice, but in the west it’s not yet mainstream. As for make-up, powders and foundation should be applied in the opposite direction (from outside, near the ear and hairline down, and toward the center of the face) in order to keep them from being driven into the pores.  

Dr Barbara Sturm, aesthetic doctor and dermatologist, The Skincare Clinic, Düsseldorf

Wake-up time: 6.30am or as soon as the light appears. I’m always in different time zones due to work commitments but I try to stick to 6.30am for routine.

Morning skincare routine: I’m not a beauty junkie at all. Simplicity is key and my approach to skincare is all about reversing inflammation rather than using inflammatory treatments such as acids. I put on my own Face Mask, £118, the moment I wake up to plump my skin with hydration. Its hero ingredient is purslane, as it helps stop the shorting of telomeres. These are the protective codes at the end of chromosomes, which are bit like the plastic wrapping at the end of shoelaces. Keeping them intact helps to prevent skin ageing. I leave the mask on for 15 minutes before peeling it off, then I jump in the shower. I follow with my Face Cream, £132, which I mix with my Anti-Pollution Drops, £105, then I’m good to go.

Morning make-up application: I don’t wear any make-up. I don’t have the time and I’m happy to go bare-faced on a daily basis.

Exercise at: 7am. I have a personal trainer who visits twice a week. Working out first thing sets me up for the day as it helps with my posture, boosts circulation and brings down my stress levels. I’ll do a mix of muscle training exercises using a ball, flexi bars and my own body weight. I also get massages three times a week to help my back and to combat the effects of sitting down a lot. 

Asleep by: 9pm. I wind down by reading my daughter stories. It’s my new glass of red wine, and relaxes me so that I don’t take my work to bed with me.

Ultimate skin tip: View pollution in the same way that you view sun damage. It’s now the biggest skincare concern, with The World Health Organisation claiming that 90% of us live in over-polluted cities. Pollution causes inflammation, which is responsible for every skin condition going.

I also see too many women going overboard with at-home acids and peels. This allows pollution particles to penetrate through your skin barrier, because its lipids are compromised and healthy skin cells are removed. Remember that acids speed up cell turnover but you don’t have an unlimited supply, so they won’t keep replacing themselves endlessly. Try to use physical exfoliators (scrubs) instead if you want to counteract dullness. They only remove dead skin cells, leaving healthy cells intact, so that you’re better protected against pollution. 

Main Image: Rex Features