Skin care ingredients that a derm uses every day

There are a few people I trust more than Hadley King, MD, a 46-year-old dermatologist based in New York City. She’s a straight shooter, she really knows her stuff, and she’s not going to sell me (or you!) On anything you don’t need. With a medical degree from Columbia and a porcelain face, I entrust him with my life – and my skin –completely.

With that in mind, I had to ask: what ingredients does she use on her own skin every day? Unsurprisingly, her daily picks are ultra-potent, clinically backed staples that you certainly already know: SPF, Vitamin C, and Retinol. For women in their 40s, like Dr. King, these ingredients should be non-negotiable. Together, they protect the skin from future damage while helping repair damage that has already occurred, meaning they fight the signs of aging on two fronts.

Below, Dr. King explains why these three ingredients are really the ones she can’t live without, and why they should have the same type of “non-negotiable” status in your routine as well.


EltaMD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46 – $ 37.00

Dr King’s absolute must-have, above all else, is sunscreen. “I use zinc oxide [a key ingredient in SPF] to protect yourself from the sun every day, ”she says. There are so many dermatologist-approved sunscreens to choose from, so finding the right one for you depends on your skin type. But it’s clear: have a solid SPF in your routine, every day, without fail. It’s clinically proven to prevent skin cancer and signs of aging, well worth the 10 seconds it takes to apply it each morning.

Vitamin C

Hyper Skin Dark Spot Vitamin C Serum – $ 36.00

Long considered the “little black dress” of your skincare cabinet, Dr. King uses Vitamin C serum on his skin every morning. “Vitamin C (and other antioxidants) help protect my skin from free radicals,” she says. Free radicals are known to cause oxidative stress, which leads to signs of aging, and vitamin C effectively engulfs them before they can cause damage. Plus, beyond these health benefits, it can also help brighten your skin tone.


Avène Retrinal 0.1 Intensive Cream – $ 70.00

As for the non-negotiable in the evening, a solid retinol is the key. “I use retinoids at bedtime to increase collagen production, decrease discoloration and decrease acne,” says Dr. King. Retinol has absolutely exploded in popularity over the past few years, triggering some facial FOMO for those who have yet to reach its fame. But the dermis have spoken: his prowess in stimulating cell renewal is legitimate, and they love it for treating all kinds of different skin problems. If it’s good enough for Dr King, it’s good enough for me.

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