Skin-Saving Tips

1. Don't overdo cosmeceuticals. With more and more beauty potions containing alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), salicylic acids, antioxidants, and retinoids, mixing a cleanser from one line with a scrub or daytime moisturizer from another, then a night cream from yet another, can lead to over-exfoliation and irritation, says Deborah S. Sarnoff, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at the New York University School of Medicine, in New York City. This can add up to a real problem, especially for women with olive and darker complexions, who are more prone to discoloration when their skin is irritated. To play it really safe, stick with one line of products which are formulated to work together. If you use any prescription products, such as Renova, ask your dermatologist to advise you on how to combine prescription treatments with over-the-counter cosmeceutical products.

2. Shake your booty. Twenty to 30 minutes of any aerobic exercise will give you a glow. Exercise increases blood flow, which brings more nutrients to the skin, says Sarnoff. But beware -- the buildup of oil and perspiration can result in sweatband acne, folliculitis, and prickly heat. The solution: Shower as soon as possible after working out.

3. Don't get intimate with the phone. Constant rubbing on the mouthpiece may lead to rashes around the chin and mouth, says Alexa Boer Kimball, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of dermatology at Stanford University Medical Center, in Palo Alto. Hold the phone away from those areas when talking, and clean it often with a mild soapy solution or rubbing alcohol.

4. Check your birthday suit for spots. Any sudden or suspicious-looking bump, mole, or other growth is reason to see a dermatologist. But as skin-cancer rates rise, having a full body check by a professional is crucial -- especially for those of us in the baby-oil-and-iodine, pre-sunscreen generation. "People in a high-risk group -- having a personal or family history of skin cancer, a lot of moles, fair skin, and/or light eyes or hair -- may need regular checkups starting in their teens, and probably no later than age 35," says Randall K. Roenigk, M.D., professor and chairman of the department of dermatology at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota. Even if you're not in a high-risk group, the American Cancer Society recommends that between the ages of 20 and 40, people have a cancer-related checkup, including a skin exam, every three to four years. Once you hit your 40s, begin having a cancer-related checkup, including a skin exam, every year. You should also be doing monthly self-exams to keep an eye out for changes and growths. (For step-by-step instructions on how to do a head-to-toe self-exam, call the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345; ask for a free copy of their brochure, "What You Should Know About Melanoma." Or visit

More Advice

5. Eat healthy. Antioxidants (vitamins A, C, and E) -- which help reduce sun damage and fight certain cancers, including skin cancer -- are essential to your health, says Wilma F. Bergfeld, M.D., director of clinical research, department of dermatology at the Cleveland Clinic. She recommends a well-balanced diet filled with at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables, plus a multivitamin that meets RDA standards.

6. Don't wear your makeup to bed. We all know it, but we sometimes do it anyway. "Layers of foundation, powder, and blusher left on overnight can clog pores and lead to acne or folliculitis," warns Sarnoff. Take it all off before bed with a mild non-soap cleanser. But don't waste your money on a cleanser with glycolic acid or AHAs: "It's not on your face long enough to absorb into the skin," says Sarnoff. "These ingredients are more effective in your moisturizer."

7. Hands off those zits. Poking, prodding, and popping can prolong a pimple's life and make the problem worse. Scarring and the spread of infection are two possible consequences. To speed up healing, cleanse your face, then apply a warm compress, such as a clean, damp washcloth. Next, dab on an over-the-counter cream or lotion containing a drying agent, such as salicylic acid, sulfur, or benzoyl peroxide.

8. Get your shut-eye. Most of us don't get the eight to nine hours we need to avoid sleep deprivation. There haven't been any conclusive studies on how being tired affects skin, says Alexa Boyer Kimball, but the effects aren't hard to detect -- namely, under-eye circles. The solution: Budget in sleep time, including a short afternoon nap whenever you can manage it. The downside: Sleeping in the same position for years on end can lead to wrinkles. Look for special pillows that help prevent sleep creases on your face.

9. Adopt "water, water, every day" as your mantra. Yes, drinking water does keep you hydrated, which helps skin look and feel better," says Bergfeld. Get in the standard 6 to 8 eight-ounce glasses throughout the day -- more if you're a heavy exerciser. Bergfeld also warns that many of the new sugar substitutes are dehydrating, so drink more water if you're into low-cal liquids.

No comments:

Post a Comment