You can learn a lot by paying attention to how experts apply their skills and knowledge in their own lives. For example, what is the fashion stylist’s favorite outfit? Or which cocktail does the mixologist always drink? Similarly, we love learning how dermatologists take care of their skin. That’s why we were eager to have aesthetic derm Dr. Michelle Henry share her skincare routine and tips with us. Keep reading to learn which steps she never skips, her favorite Kiehl’s products, and the dermatologist-approved skincare advice she thinks everyone should know.
Her Skin Type
You can’t just say “copy and paste” when you see a routine you like, even if it’s a dermatologist skincare routine. We always say to cater your skincare steps and products to your skin type and concerns, and that still applies. That’s why, before we dive into the good stuff—Dr. Henry’s daily routine—we want to fill you in on her skin. “I’m combination but a little bit acne-prone,” she shares. She also experiences some hyperpigmentation. All of this impacts how she cares for her skin.
Her Standard Skincare Routine
Find out how your everyday routine compares to an expert, dermatologist-recommended skincare routine.
At Kiehl’s, we always say skincare should start with cleansing, and Dr. Henry abides by the same rule. “I like to use a gentle foaming cleanser in the morning to get rid of any kind of perspiration [from] overnight,” she shares.
For daytime, she keeps it gentle, but come night, she’ll exfoliate. Dr. Henry explains, “I like to use a little bit more of an aggressive cleanser [at night]. I'll use a cleanser with some active ingredients, like glycolic acid or salicylic acid, to help get rid of that dirt, oil, and debris [that builds up] throughout the day.”
Aside from changing her routine based on the time of day, Dr. Henry also switches things up depending on the season, smartly adjusting her skincare to her skin’s needs at the time. She shares, “I listen to my skin, I see what it needs, and I adapt in ways that will suit it best depending on my micro-environment.” For example, in the cooler months, she says her morning cleanser is “typically a cream cleanser so as to not dry out my skin.”
Next up is her serum. “Because I do suffer from some hyperpigmentation, I love to use a vitamin C serum,” she says. For this step, Dr. Henry is a huge fan of Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution. The serum with activated C (a stabilized form of vitamin C) and buffered salicylic acid visibly reduces a large spectrum of dark spots and helps brighten your skin’s appearance over time. Of it, Dr. Henry says, “I really love that [serum]; it’s quite effective and well-tolerated.”
Retinol and retinoids also have a place in Dr. Henry’s routine. Over the summer, when her skin can get oilier, she opts for a prescription retinoid. And then during the winter, a time when her skin becomes a little drier, she tends toward an over-the-counter option like Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Serum With Ceramides and Peptide. This serum is precisely formulated to deliver a gentle, daily-strength dose of pure retinol. It helps visibly improve the appearance of wrinkles, skin firmness, texture, and tone.
This is another product she switches in time with the changing of the seasons. “During the summer months, I like to use a light moisturizer,” Dr. Henry explains. It helps her avoid making her skin oily or greasy as she’s “moving and busy throughout the day.”
At night, she’s able to ramp up the nourishment. She says, “I like to use a rich moisturizer to really restore my skin and help to counterbalance any potential irritation from the active ingredients I’m using.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find a board-certified dermatologist that doesn’t count SPF as a non-negotiable part of their routine. “I absolutely must use a sunscreen; I love the Kiehl’s Super Fluid Daily UV Defense SPF 50+,” shares Dr. Henry. The sunscreen helps protect skin against UVA and UVB rays as well as pollution. Dr. Henry sings its praises, saying, “It’s lightweight, it’s mattifying, it doesn’t make me look too oily or clog my pores.”
Her Once-In-a-While Skincare Habits
A daily skincare routine is essential, but so are the products you reach for less often. Dr. Henry has a few staples she uses as needed, paying attention to what her skin is asking for. “If I'm feeling particularly dry, I love using a rich mask at night,” she says. If she’s particularly blemish-prone, she’ll “add a spot treatment.” She says, “I love salicylic acid and sulfur spot treatments or benzoyl peroxide spot treatments.”
Chemical peels and exfoliative treatments have a spot in her routine as well, helping to address unwanted hyperpigmentation. She counts herself a fan of the Clearly Corrective Accelerated Clarity Renewing Ampoules, a two-week brightening treatment that visibly evens skin tone, enhances radiance, and helps smooth skin. She shares, “I like to do that treatment a few times a year just to make sure my skin is staying even. It gives me an incredible glow.”
Her Favorite Skincare Trends
It’s part of Dr. Henry’s job to try new trends and products. After all, dermatologists want to practice what they preach. Dr. Henry reveals, “I don’t recommend a single thing that I haven't tried.” She often tries new things because “my skin needs new things a lot.” And she gets excited about skincare trends because “skincare is just getting smarter; technology is getting better.”
As for which trends she recommends, Dr. Henry shares that she’s loving ampoules and all the different sunscreen formulas out there. She’s also not a newbie to the slugging skincare trend; “I've done that for a long time, under my eyes, when they are really dry.”
Her Best Skincare Advice
Never miss an opportunity to get dermatologist skincare advice and tips. Lucky for you (and us), Dr. Henry has plenty of words of wisdom to share. She offered two major pieces of advice that anyone can benefit from:
1. Be consistent.
“I think consistency is the biggest [skincare tip],” she reveals. “Some people try something for two weeks and say it doesn't work, or they have a little bit of purging and they give up too soon.” Dr. Henry recommends giving a product a shot for four to six weeks before stopping completely.
2. Don’t overdo it.
“Being aggressive isn't always the best,” says Dr. Henry. “Sometimes patients want really aggressive treatments,” but it can be better to pick good ingredients that are gentle for your skin and go slowly with them. You don’t want to disrupt your skin barrier and make things worse.
Her tips boil down to this: “I always have patience, I always go slowly, and I strive for commitment, commitment, commitment,” a skincare philosophy she applies in her own routine.