A female plastic surgeon's skin care routine

One of the most common questions my patients ask me is "What is your skincare routine?" As a woman, I want what my patients want-- to stave off signs of aging, to avoid skin damage that could potentially cause cancer, and to have a routine that is practical.

These are the basics of my personal approach. Of course, for formal medical advice, you must see your doctor in person. All products may not be right for all people, and people with allergies and sensitive skin must be extra cautious.

For the Minimalist

If you want to keep a solid maintenance routine on a budget, these three choices are very respectable. There are other, fancier products available. Some of them smell great, feel luxurious, and come in beautiful glass jars. I have certainly used my fair share of these products, and when I want to splurge, I still do. But for a practical, affordable routine, consider these:

A small amount of Dove soap in the morning and at night. $1.50, available in drugstores

A small amount of Dove soap in the morning and at night. $1.50, available in drugstores

A bit of CeraVe moisurizer once a day, or twice a day if your skin is dry. This can be used on your face, body, eyelids, and neck. $25, drugstores

A bit of CeraVe moisurizer once a day, or twice a day if your skin is dry. This can be used on your face, body, eyelids, and neck. $25, drugstores

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Faces sunscreen, SPF 45, every single morning, rain or shine. This contains zinc and titanium and protects against UVA and UVB rays. $12, drugstores

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Faces sunscreen, SPF 45, every single morning, rain or shine. This contains zinc and titanium and protects against UVA and UVB rays. $12, drugstores

For the Sophisticate

If you are the type of person who wants scientifically proven skin care that is even more effective, your choices are more expensive and more medical. For the prescription-strength products below, you will need to see a doctor. That being said, they are extremely effective at what they do.

A retinoid is the best way to decrease fine lines and signs of photoaging (and it also helps with acne). Retin-A, Renova, Differin, and generic tretinoin and adaptalene are prescription only and not appropriate for pregnant or lactating women. They make your skin extra sensitive to the sun, so they should be applied at night in small amounts. $100-200, prescription only

A retinoid is the best way to decrease fine lines and signs of photoaging (and it also helps with acne). Retin-A, Renova, Differin, and generic tretinoin and adaptalene are prescription only and not appropriate for pregnant or lactating women. They make your skin extra sensitive to the sun, so they should be applied at night in small amounts. $100-200, prescription only

Topical Vitamin C has been shown to dramatically improve skin wrinkling and signs of aging. There are many creams on the market containing ascorbic acid, the active ingredient. $30-200, cosmetic counters

Topical Vitamin C has been shown to dramatically improve skin wrinkling and signs of aging. There are many creams on the market containing ascorbic acid, the active ingredient. $30-200, cosmetic counters

Triluma contains a steroid, a lightener, and a retinoid to improve skin texture, decrease wrinkles, and get rid of age spots and freckles. It should not be used with another retinoid and is not appropriate for pregnant or lactating women. $160-300, prescription only

Triluma contains a steroid, a lightener, and a retinoid to improve skin texture, decrease wrinkles, and get rid of age spots and freckles. It should not be used with another retinoid and is not appropriate for pregnant or lactating women. $160-300, prescription only

For the Epicurean

If you would like the absolute best products on the market, they will require more of an investment, as well as a trip to your plastic surgeon's office. The modern era of skin aesthetics offers choices that can smooth your skin, plump your lips, grow your eyelashes, and replenish your complexion in under 30 minutes. For more information about these products, you should see your doctor for an in-person consultation.

Latisse is a prescription serum that lengthens, thickens, and darkens your eyelashes. It takes several months for the full effect, but the look is dramatic and beautiful. $140-160 for 6-8 week supply, prescription only

Latisse is a prescription serum that lengthens, thickens, and darkens your eyelashes. It takes several months for the full effect, but the look is dramatic and beautiful. $140-160 for 6-8 week supply, prescription only

Botox and other neuromodulators are extremely effective at smoothing wrinkles on the forehead and crows feet. $1000-2500, physician administered

Botox and other neuromodulators are extremely effective at smoothing wrinkles on the forehead and crows feet. $1000-2500, physician administered

Juvederm, Restylane, and other facial fillers can smooth out deep furrows like marionette lines, jowls, and forehead creases. They can also be used to subtly plump your lips or sculpt your cheekbones. $1000-3000, physician administered

Juvederm, Restylane, and other facial fillers can smooth out deep furrows like marionette lines, jowls, and forehead creases. They can also be used to subtly plump your lips or sculpt your cheekbones. $1000-3000, physician administered