- THE NAIL BRIGHTENER For mani-pedi devotees who find themselves with yellow-tinged nails, New York–based dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla, MD, suggests a stain-fading paste of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and lemon juice. "Soak your nails for 10 minutes daily," she says. "The acidity in lemons helps degrade the yellowish coating, hydrogen peroxide is a lightening agent, and baking soda amps up the lightening effect of peroxide." (If nails don't brighten after a few treatments, see your doctor to make sure it's not something more stubborn, such as a fungal infection.)
- THE PRE-SHOT ESSENTIAL Illinois-based dermatologist Rebecca Tung, MD, has patients pop a Claritin tablet about 15 minutes before any shot. "Whenever you inject skin, histamine is released, causing swelling," she says. Claritin's active ingredient is loratadine, "a nonsedating antihistamine that's great to help minimize the body's inflammatory response." Doctors also advise against drinking wine or beer before such procedures, since both contain histamines (red wine has exponentially higher amounts than white) and, like all alcohol, have a blood-thinning effect.
- SWEET SOLUTIONS Gohara is particularly inspired by the skin-care routines of ancient Egypt, some of which hold up today. "They used sugar, which is still one of the best natural exfoliants," she says. It's also less likely to inflame sensitive skin, which can happen with other favorite DIY natural scrubs, such as salt. Another ancient skin fix, honey, moisturizes and speeds the healing of wounds when applied to the skin. Supermarket and farmers' market honey might have impurities that could lead to infections—though manuka honey, it's worth noting, has the strongest antibacterial and antimicrobial properties—so doctors recommend getting an Rx for sterilized medical-grade varieties, which are typically produced by bees in closed greenhouses, or seeking out skin-care products that contain purified honey.
- THE BLEMISH BUSTERS Facials can help clear up skin, but Mariwalla, like many derms, is wary of extractions. "Pressing on a blemish the wrong way from either side can cause blood to shoot through the pore and break the skin, and then cause scarring." If you're gung ho for extractions and have a trusted facialist, Mariwalla suggests incorporating a retinol into your nightly routine to increase cellular turnover and chemically exfoliate top layers to make it easier to remove debris. (She has patients stop using retinol four to five days before a facial, since it increases skin sensitivity.)
Or cover a spot overnight with a hydrocolloid bandage. Sold as a blister treatment in the Band-Aid aisle, hydrocolloid strips—moisture-absorbing bandages that doctors use to help protect and heal wounds—create a sterile environment and draw out fluids, helping dehydrate blemishes so they shrink and flatten by morning.
- GOLDEN RULES It's not just sun and cigarettes that age skin; some of the prime causes of wrinkles are quite surprising. "Avoid yo-yo dieting," recommends Mariwalla. The size of fat cells increases and decreases as weight fluctuates, eventually causing skin on all parts of the body and face to lose elasticity. "Think of it like blowing up a balloon and deflating it over and over again; its surface gets more wrinkly and withered every time."
Minimize tablet time, Mariwalla adds. Staring at smartphones and computer screens for extended periods at close proximity—i.e., modern life—is yet another fine-line former. A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Ophthalmology found that office workers who experience digital eyestrain blink less than those who aren't staring at a computer screen—leading to dry eyes and, according to Mariwalla, tiring the surrounding muscles, contributing to telltale crepeyness over time. Furthermore, keeping those eye-area muscles pumping requires increased blood flow, which floods microcapillaries and worsens dark circles. We suggest taking a moment to unplug—and reapply your eye cream.