Category Archives: Beauty

Know More About Ageing Skin

Ageing Skin – does diet play a role?

The simple answer is yes. Environmental factors, nutritional status and dietary intake more than genes can add years to a person’s appearance. While topical applications make a difference, a healthy glow is more often a sign of internal health than anything else. There is a growing body of evidence to show that what we eat certainly influences skin aging and not surprisingly, the dietary correlations that relate to reduced skin aging also relate to reduced aging in general.

Apart from dietary interventions, research is showing that supplementation with specific nutrients and antioxidants supports the use of topical anti-aging products and that in fact the combination is more effective than either treatment alone. Below is a review of the most significant dietary and nutritional influences on aging.

An Australian study at Monash University looked at the effects of food and nutrient intake on skin wrinkling in areas exposed to the sun. The participants were from Melbourne, Greece and Sweden.

Food intake questionnaires were used to measure diet and microphotography of the skin was used to measure skin wrinkling. The study showed that Swedish had the least skin wrinkling, followed by Greeks and Australians had the most. The types of foods consumed did have an effect on the degree of skin wrinkling with more damage seen in those with a higher intake of meat, dairy and butter.

Foods that had a protective effect against skin wrinkling included vegetables, legumes, olive oil, tea, prunes and apples (see full list below). Overall, positive dietary habits trended towards a low-GI diet.

Another study supports the above food associations showing that skin wrinkling in a sun-exposed site in older people of various ethnic backgrounds may be influenced reducing intakes of fats and carbohydrates and increasing antioxidants and beneficial fats, dietary measures which are associated with better skin-aging appearance.

It is worth noting that research linking skin aging and dietary habits should not be taken out of context. Overall dietary trends produce these effects rather than any single food group in isolation. However, the dietary trends in both studies show that high GI and saturated fats seem to have the most significant pro-wrinkling effect. Due to their higher saturated fat content meat, dairy and butter can increase skin inflammation and lead to faster skin aging. In addition a high sugar intake is also associated with greater skin wrinkling. Simple sugar has a pro-inflammatory effect but it also promotes the production of advanced glycosylation end products (AGE). AGEs are closely associated with oxidative stress.

A combination of a high antioxidant diet and low sugar reduces inflammation, free radical damage and AGE production in the body. Again the trend shows that the protective foods are low or have no saturated fats and are low GI and rich in phytochemicals which support skin collagen and reduce inflammation.

The Monash study indicated that these foods associated with less wrinkling:

Mono-unsaturated fat including those from olive oil and olives
Nuts and legumes
Vegetables
Fish (particularly those rich in essential fatty acids)
Low fat milk and milk products, such as yogurt
Wholegrain cereals
Fruit and fruit products (especially prunes, cherries and apples)
Eggs
Tea and Water

More wrinkling was associated with diets that included higher intakes of:

Saturated fat (including butter)
Trans fats (including margarine)
Meat (especially fatty processed meats)
Full fat dairy products
Refined carbohydrates and sugars such as cakes, pastries and desserts
Soft drinks and cordials
Confectionary of any kind
Many packaged and processed foods contain hidden sugars
Packaged cereals

Apart from dietary trends, certain nutrients also show promising effects on skin aging.

Studies have shown that antioxidant nutrients, specifically vitamins C and E, as well as lipoic acid and flavonoids, exert protective effect against oxidative stress in the skin, in particular photoprotective effects. That is they help protect the skin from the oxidative damage caused by the sun. Lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin as a specific subset of carotenoids may also be used as oral sun protectants and contribute to the maintenance of skin health. In fact, taking carotenoids prior to sun exposure will increase the depth and lasting effect of a sun tan (not that extended tanning is advised).

In other research, a daily dosage of soy isoflavones (40mg per day) resulted in the improvement of fine wrinkles and increased skin elasticity after 12 weeks of supplementation in middle-aged women with aged skin. Interestingly, a common arthritis supplement glucosamine also improved the appearance of visible wrinkles and fine lines. Glucosamine is incorporated into glucosaminoglycans (GAGs) in the body. GAGs work to increase epidermal thickness and elasticity of the skin although they have no effect on skin hydration.

Research into oral proanthocyanidins flavanoids from grapeseed extract or pycnogenol has shown they both have a significant protective effect on the collagen matrix of the skin and capillaries. They work by reducing capillary fragility and inhibiting collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin breakdown. Both substances also have an anti-inflammatory effect and can improve peripheral circulation.

Again it is important to note that while supplemental nutrition can support skin health in a number of ways, if concurrent dietary changes aren’t made, the supplements will be combating the constant inflammatory cascade from high GI foods and saturated fats. Removing these dietary items will ensure that inflammation, AGEs and oxidation are all reduced allowing the supplements to work to their optimal level and effect real changes in skin health

Know The Best Care for Your Skin Type

Makeup experts and skin care specialists refer often to various skin types — dry, oily, combination — assuming you know which category you fall under. Your skin care regimen depends on your skin type, but not everyone has a good understanding of their skin. As a result, their skin care plan is more of the hit-or-miss variety.

Know Your Skin Type

Unsure of what skin type you have? See which description fits you best:

  • Dry skin. “Dry skin can be flaky and easily irritated. It’s more sensitive,” says Linda Franks, MD, director of Gramercy Park Dermatology and clinical assistant professor in the department of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine in New York. She says if your skin has these qualities and also tends to react to some (or all) of the skin products you have tried, you have dry skin. The extreme version of dry skin is sensitive skin.
  • Oily skin. The primary test for determining if you have oily skin is when you start to feel some oil on your face. Most people can feel a little oil by late afternoon, but if you feel oil around midday, you have oily skin. Oily skin rarely reacts negatively to skin products like dry, sensitive skin types do. It has slightly better natural sun protection, but is also prone to acne.
  • Combination skin. If the description of dry skin matches your cheeks, but the description of oily skin matches your “T-zone” (nose and brow area primarily), you have combination skin.

Matching skin care to skin type is important. Dr. Franks notes that there are two commonly used skin care products that just about everyone can steer clear of: toner and too-frequent exfoliation, both of which can strip away the protective layers of your skin. If you have a good skin care regimen, you don’t need either one, although you could plan for a semi-annual exfoliation as seasons change.

Caring for Dry Skin

 Skin Cancer: Melanoma Warning Signs
Dr. Wu defines melanoma as a malignant tumor of the skin pigment producing cells, so individuals with lots of moles or fair skin should examine themselves regularly.

Dry skin needs babying and lots of tender, loving care. Here are the key components of dry skin care:

  • Cleanse. Use a gentle cleanser. You should be able to cleanse at night and not have to cleanse again in the morning. “Mild cleansers are best for all skin types,” says Franks, who recommends Purpose, Dove bar soap, or Cetaphil cleanser. These cleansers should easily remove makeup as well as dirt.
  • Apply retinol. “Stick to a retinol for anti-aging. Retinol can be very good for dry skin,” says Franks. However, not everyone with dry skin can use retinol products due to sensitivity. If irritation appears, the frequency of use can be decreased.
  • Apply products with hyaluronic acid. “The other thing that can go on underneath a moisturizer is a hyaluronic acid product. That molecule is very hydroscopic — it pulls water in around it. That would be a great augmenting moisturizer for someone with dry skin,” says Franks.
  • Moisturize. “The stratum corneum, which is the dead skin cell layer that protects the surface of the skin, tends to get easily interrupted with dry skin. You want to try to repair that,” advises Dr. Franks. Look for moisturizers that contain phospholipids, cholesterol, and essential fatty acids. She recommends CeraVe Moisturize in the morning (with an SPF of 30) and more moisturizer before bed, using a thicker cream, such as Olay’s Regenerist.
  • Proceed with caution. It helps to take your time adding new products to your skin care routine, says Franks. Try them one at a time and wait to see if you get a reaction before adding another new product.

Caring for Oily Skin

If you have oily skin, you’ll have an easier time finding skin care products that won’t irritate, but your challenge is managing the oil:

  • Cleanse. People with oily skin or acne should wash with a gentle cleanser morning and evening. Franks offers this tip for cleansing properly: Use your fingertips and rub it in for 30 seconds before rinsing.
  • Use salicylic acid. Apply an alcohol-free salicylic acid product, such as a Stridex pad, or a salicylic acid medicated cleanser on the oily areas of your skin. Do this two or three times a week.
  • Apply retinol. Retinol products also cut down on oil production and reduce the appearance of large pores. They are a good anti-aging choice for those with oily skin, who are less likely to find them irritating than those with dry skin.
  • Moisturize. Use an oil-free moisturizer with SPF 30. “One of my favorites is Complete Defense in the Olay line,” says Franks.

Caring for Combination Skin

People with combination skin will follow the same basic routine, but have to make it a balancing act, drawing from skin care routines for both oily and dry skin:

  • Cleanse. Stick to gentle cleansers. “Do not use a medicated cleanser at all — keep it mild,” says Franks. Once a day should be fine unless you have significant oil in some parts of your face.
  • Spot-treat with salicylic acid. Apply this to the oilier areas of your face every other day.
  • Moisturize. Go for oil-free products with SPF 30 and spot-treat the drier areas of your face with richer moisturizer.

Take some time to develop the skin care routine that’s right for your skin type. If you are still unsure of how to care for your complexion, talk to a dermatologist about the products you are using and how they affect your skin. With a little work, you can achieve a healthy glow, no matter what your skin type

Simple Ways to Protect Your Skin

Your skin plays a vital role in protecting your body, so it’s important to take steps to promote skin health. Caring for your skin doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming, and can quickly become second nature, like brushing your teeth.

You can keep your skin looking and feeling great by guarding against a slew of skin woes, from chapped skin to premature aging to skin cancer. “We’re talking about things that happen over decades,” says dermatologist Samantha Conrad, MD, in practice at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

That’s why it is important to develop healthy skin habits —and it’s never too late to start. Here are five skin protection tips you can incorporate into your routine right away.

Limit Sun Exposure

You’ve heard the message a zillion times, but there’s good reason — ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun cause many types of skin damage, including:

  • Skin cancer
  • Wrinkles
  • Freckles
  • Age spots
  • Discolorations
  • Benign growths

Using skin care products that offer ultraviolet protection is one of the best ways to help keep your skin looking fresh and youthful. Try these tips to help protect your skin from the sun:

  • Use sunscreen every day and reapply regularly whenever you’re outdoors for extended periods. “I encourage people to use sunblock that is more mineral- or physical-based,” says Dr. Conrad. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
  • Cover up. “It’s really about protection — that means wearing hats and protective sun clothing,” says Conrad. Long sleeves and pants or long skirts give you more coverage.
  • Stay indoors when the sun is at its most intense, usually between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., according to the AAD.
  • Combine sun protection strategies. A study published in January 2017 in JAMA Dermatology found that beachgoers using an umbrella alone for sun protection were more likely to get sunburn than those using sunscreen alone — but neither strategy completely prevented sunburn. The researchers concluded that combining multiple strategies offers the most protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

Keep in mind that tanning beds are just as harmful as direct sunlight, as they also emit ultraviolet rays, according to the AAD.

Stay Hydrated

“Drinking enough water/fluids is important for your general health,” says Karyn Grossman, MD, a dermatologist in private practice with Grossman Dermatology in Santa Monica, California, and spokesperson for the AAD. She recommends starting the day with a cup of green tea for hydration, caffeine, and antioxidants.

In addition to drinking enough fluids, keeping your skin moist is essential to skin protection.

“Dry skin can have small gaps in the skin barrier that allow entry of bacteria and fungus,” says dermatologist Michael Lin, MD, medical director of the Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Institute in Beverly Hills, California.

Skin that is properly hydrated retains pliability and is less likely to become chapped, scaly, or flaky. Try these tips to keep your skin hydrated:

  • Use the right moisturizing cream or lotion for your skin. “Look for moisturizers with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, or coconut oil,” says Dr. Grossman. “Always apply on damp skin. This keeps the moisture in the skin.”
  • Take warm (not hot) showers or baths and limit them to between five and 10 minutes. It seems counterintuitive, but exposure to water actually dries out your skin, Grossman explains. If dry skin persists, consider cutting back on the number of baths you take.
  • Invest in a humidifier. “If your skin tends to be on the dry side, using a humidifier in your bedroom at night and in your work space during the day can help keep the air hydrated, which can prevent the air from zapping moisture from your skin,” says Grossman.

Take Health Precautions

Cold sores are caused by a viral infection of the skin bordering the lips, while bacteria can contribute to acne and other skin conditions. Paying close attention to what touches your skin can help lower your chances of exposure to germs. Start with these tips:

  • Don’t share any personal items, such as lip balms or toothbrushes, with others.
  • Don’t share drinks with other people.
  • Avoid touching your face with your fingers, and avoid facial contact with objects that have been used by other people, such as telephone receivers.
  • Don’t pick at cysts or splinters. Instead, ask your doctor to help you with these skin conditions, says Grossman.

Being prompt with first aid is also important, she says. If you get a bug bite or a scratch, “get on it right away.” Grossman recommends cleaning the site, applying antibiotic ointment if there is a break in the skin, using a clean bandage, and cleaning the site twice daily as it heals.

Use Gentle Skin Care Products

Washing your face is important to remove dirt, oils, germs, and dead cells from your skin. However, scrubbing your face can cause irritation and lead to chapped skin that can become vulnerable. “I find that people often over-rub, over-scrub, and over-peel,” says Grossman, who recommends avoiding abrasive exfoliation skin care products.

The AAD recommends:

  • Washing your face twice daily with warm water and a mild cleanser.
  • Gently massaging your face with your fingers, using a circular motion.
  • Rinsing thoroughly after washing to remove all soap and debris.
  • Patting — not rubbing — your skin dry, then applying moisturizer.

Know Your Skin

“Check your skin regularly for changing moles and other signs of possible skin cancer,” says Grossman.  Talk to your dermatologist about what kinds of changes should concern you.

Certain skin conditions merit a visit to the dermatologist, including frequent acne, inflamed or irritated dry skin, and skin rashes and irritations that don’t go away, as these could be signs of one of the many types of dermatitis, or skin inflammation.

However, should you ever notice any other skin problems, it’s important to get medical attention to resolve them quickly and avoid putting your skin at risk

Know More About Dry Skin Care Essentials

We all want healthy, hydrated skin, but the reality is that skin can become dry, flaky, and rough. Why? The outer layers of your skin are put together in a type of brick-and-mortar system. Healthy skin cells are stacked with oils and other substances that keep skin moist. When those substances are lost, skin cells can crumble away, which leads to dry skin.

Itching is the No. 1 symptom of dry skin, says Angela Lamb, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Dry skin tends to be flaky, red, and irritated. Your skin may also look dull or ashy (if you have dark skin), which can progress to skin being scaly or cracked. In the worst-case scenario, skin can become thick and leathery.

What Causes Dry Skin?

Dry skin often results when the skin loses water or oil, particularly in climates with low humidity, or during winter months when low humidity and indoor heat affect the natural balance of healthy skin. “Your skin is the primary barrier to the environment and prevents water from evaporating off the surface,” Dr. Lamb says. When humidity is low, more moisture is lost from the skin’s surface and it dries out.

On top of that, certain medical conditions can make you more prone to developing dry skin, including:

  • Keratosis pilaris. As many as 40 percent of adults and up to 80 percent of teens have an inherited dry skin condition called keratosis pilaris, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. The condition causes tiny red or flesh-colored bumps on the skin, particularly on their upper arms and thighs or on the cheeks in children. The bumps are dead skin cells and make skin feel rough, like sandpaper. Skin may also itch during the winter or in low humidity.
  • Atopic dermatitis. Up to 20 percent of children and 3 percent of adults around the world have atopic dermatitis, according to a 2015 study published in Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism. This is a common type of eczema in which itchy patches of skin form. When the skin is scratched, it may become red and swollen and could crack, weep fluid, or scale. This type of eczema often occurs in people who also have asthma or hay fever.
  • Hormonal changes. When your body is going through hormonal changes, you may notice dry or flaky skin cropping up. It’s something that happens even in babies. Newborns commonly develop cradle cap — flaky, scaly skin on the scalp — as a result of being exposed to mother’s hormones in the uterus, according to The Nemours Foundation. Hormonal changes after menopause can also lead to dry skin.
  • Thyroid disease. One of the early symptoms of hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, is dry skin.
  • Diabetes or kidney disease. People with diabetes or kidney disease may notice dry, itchy skin on their legs due to poor circulation. This happens when the skin is not getting the proper amount of blood flow. In fat, very dry skin is a warning sign of diabetes, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

How to Go From Dry Skin to Healthy Skin

The main step you can take to heal dry skin: Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Apply moisturizer to your body and face at least once a day, when your skin is still damp from the shower, recommends Alisha Plotner, MD, a dermatologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. In the summer, a thinner lotion will do the job, but in the winter when skin becomes drier, a thicker cream or ointment is a better choice, she says.

Good ingredients to look for in a moisturizer are lactic acid, glycerin, petrolatum, and hyaluronic acid, says Nazanin Saedi, MD, a dermatologist,  director of Jefferson Laser Surgery and Cosmetic Dermatology Center, and an assistant professor at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia. Persistently dry areas can also benefit from petroleum jelly, she says.

If over-the-counter moisturizers aren’t enough for your skin, your doctor may prescribe an ointment that contains ceramides, or proteins that help rebuild the skin barrier, Lamb says. Prescription-strength products are especially helpful for eczema and other severe skin conditions. People who have eczema may also get relief from applying cold compresses on itchy skin. Over-the-counter or prescription corticosteroid creams may also be needed to heal the skin barrier and calm inflammation, Dr. Saedi says, but prolonged use can thin your skin, so carefully follow your doctor’s directions about using them. Your doctor may also prescribe oral corticosteroids, but they’re not intended for long-term use.

Another over-the-counter or prescription option is a barrier cream. Barrier creams penetrate a little deeper than standard moisturizers. “Anyone prone to dryness with repeated exposures to detergents, soaps, water, and other irritants would benefit from a barrier cream,” Dr. Plotner says.

For those with keratosis pilaris, moisturizing with creams that have urea or lactic acid helps the itch, but doesn’t necessarily smooth the skin. However, mild chemical peels or topical retinoids may soften the skin.

Other dry skin remedies include:

  • Taking short, warm (instead of hot) showers
  • Using moisturizing soaps
  • Placing a humidifier in your home to add moisture to the air

Although it hasn’t been studied, some doctors believe that polyunsaturated fats, found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel and soybean and safflower oil,  can help keep the skin healthy, Lamb says.

With the right tender, loving care — and a good moisturizer — you can restore a healthy luster to dry skin

All About Oily Skin

If your skin is oily, you may be bothered by the shine, greasy texture, and breakouts. But don’t blame the foods you’re eating. “There is no data to show that you will produce more oil if you consume things that are more oil-based,” says Rebecca Kazin, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins University and medical director of the Johns Hopkins Cosmetic Center in Baltimore. “The fact is that people who have oily skin were probably born that way. There is not much they did to get it and there is not much they can do to prevent it.”

Oily Skin Care Dos

The good news is there are several ways to manage oily skin, experts say:

  • Wash with salicylic acid. “Cleansers that contain salicylic acid penetrate into the pores and help remove fats that clog the pores and lead to blackheads,” says Leslie Baumann, MD, director of the University of Miami’s Cosmetic Medicine and Research Institute.
  • Use a retinoid at night. Whether over-the-counter or prescription, retinoid products decrease oil production in the skin. “This helps reduce blackheads and may lower sebum production,” says Dr. Baumann.
  • Use oil-free foundations. To avoid creating more of a shine and potentially clogging pores, make sure your foundation is oil-free. Use a powder blush instead of a cream formula for the same reasons.
  • Use blotting paper. Washing your face during the day can be difficult, especially for women who wear makeup. Instead, dermatologists recommend blotting paper. “You can absorb the extra oil without washing your face, and they are not irritating to the skin,” says Dr. Kazin. Paper towels can be substituted in a pinch, but blotting paper is better because it contains a small amount of powder, which evens out skin color.

Oily Skin Care Don’ts

Knowing what not to do can be just as important as knowing how to properly care for your oily skin. Experts weigh in on what to avoid:

  • Don’t use creamy or milk cleansers. “These types of cleansers deposit unnecessary lipids — oils — on the skin, which can make you feel even oilier,” says Baumann. Better to stick with salicylic acid or glycolic cleansers, or gentle liquid cleansers such as Cetaphil.
  • Don’t moisturize. Even better than searching for the perfect oil-free moisturizer is ditching this step altogether. Instead, use a gel or serum with anti-aging ingredients. Baumann recommends Skinceutical CE Ferulic or Replenix CF serum.
  • Don’t rely on SPF powders. Most sunscreens are formulated in oil preparations that feel and look greasy, so for people with oily skin, SPF (skin protection factor) powders are tempting. But Baumann warns: “They do not have enough SPF, even if it says so on the label. To get the SPF stated on the label, you’d need to use 15 times the amount of powder you would normally use.”
  • Don’t overwash. Oily skin isn’t a hygiene problem, so extra cleansing isn’t the answer. “If you wash too much, you can strip your face of the essential oils that serve as a barrier to a lot of irritants,” Kazin says. “This can cause your face to become red and raw. It’s better to wash twice a day and use blotting paper when you feel shiny throughout the day.”

Knowing how to care for oily skin is important. Follow these tips to keep your skin in the best health possible: Healthy skin equals beautiful skin

Anti Wrinkle Creams

Every wrinkle cream promises visible, transformative results,but the truth is, most tubes and tubs of wrinkle reducer creams being sold over the counter don’t make a dramatic difference.

That’s not to say that there’s no help for wrinkles. There is. The challenge is wading through all the products that have a minimal effect on any skin wrinkle and finding the ones that have big anti-wrinkle benefits.

How Do Wrinkle Creams Work?

The average over-the-counter wrinkle cream works by moisturizing the skin, which reduces the appearance of fine lines by improving skin texture and helping to reflect light, says Richard Eisen, MD, dermatologist and founder of South Shore Skin Center in Plymouth, Mass.

Wrinkle creams also tend to include alpha hydroxy acids, which help slough away dead skin cells and exfoliate, Dr. Eisen says. As a result, your skin will look smoother.

Some anti-wrinkle creams contain antioxidants, such as coenzyme Q10, kinetin, or green tea. Antioxidants can destroy free radicals, the unstable molecules are created by sun damage and can cause skin wrinkles. However, antioxidants work better at preventing future wrinkles than as a wrinkle reducer, Eisen says. So, if you’re going to use a wrinkle cream with antioxidants, wear it under sunscreen to help prevent further sun damage.

Retinol: The Wrinkle Cream Wonder Ingredient?

Wrinkle creams that offer real benefits include retinol, which you can find in products sold over the counter, and prescription retinoids such as tretinoin (Retin-A and Renova) and tazarotene (Tazorac and Avage). They’re all derivatives of vitamin A, used to stimulate the production of collagen and reverse thinning of the skin, which helps smooth wrinkles. Retinoids even improve the pigment of your skin by lightening brown spots.

The biggest reason to use a retinoid: They really do work. Retinoids have been studied and shown to be effective in reducing the wrinkles you already have, Eisen says. They also can help prevent new wrinkles. It takes about 10 to 12 months of treatment to see the full results.

Retinol, which is sold over-the-counter, can give you some benefits, but it’s not as effective as prescription retinoids because it’s a less potent form of vitamin A.

The Downsides of Wrinkle Creams

While skin wrinkle creams do offer benefits, there are some negatives to consider:

  • Limited results. They may help your skin look better, but over-the-counter wrinkle creams aren’t going to give you dramatic results.
  • The cost. Prescription tretinoin can cost $55 for under an ounce, which may or may not be covered by insurance. However, this is far less than some cosmetic-counter creams that don’t deliver on their promises, and it works. Also, because you apply just a pea-sized amount, a small tube lasts quite a while. Drugstore over-the-counter wrinkle creams can cost $15 for less than an ounce and a half, but may give you limited benefits.
  • Pregnancy caution. Because there may be a risk of birth defects, doctors don’t recommend using retinoids during pregnancy.
  • Irritation. Retinoids can cause redness and irritation. If you tend to have irritated or dry skin before starting treatment, retinoids may cause more problems. To get around that, Eisen often recommends that his patients either start with a retinol and move on to prescription tretinoin as their skin gets more accustomed to retinoids, or use tretinoin only every third or fourth night until their skin learns to tolerate it.

Retinoids aside, by far, the most important anti-wrinkle product you can use is sunscreen. Choose one with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 that protects against both types of ultraviolet rays, and you may not have to rely on wrinkle creams quite so much as you get older

Tips To Choosing the Right Skin Care

Selecting skin-care products can be a daunting task, what with all the choices filling pharmacy aisles. You’ll find dozens of over-the-counter products with such labels as “maximum strength,” “clinical strength,” and “original prescription strength” — plus seemingly identical products that are available only by prescription. What do all these labels mean, and how do you know which product is the best one for you? Here are some answers.

How Much Active Ingredient?

The active ingredient in an over-the-counter product is often the same as the one found in its prescription counterpart, but at a lower dosage. Over-the-counter dandruff shampoo contains a lower dosage of the active ingredient ketoconazole (1 percent), while the prescription-strength versions contain 2 percent. In hydrocortisone anti-itch cream, the maximum over-the-counter dosage is 1 percent, while prescription-strength creams contain 2.5 percent. According to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, once a product’s active ingredient reaches a certain percentage — such as 1.5 percent for hydrocortisone, or 2 percent for salicylic acid in acne treatments — it requires a prescription from a doctor.

Sometimes It’s Just a Marketing Strategy

Because the FDA does not closely regulate over-the-counter skin-care products, a company can label a product “maximum strength” or “clinical strength” for any reason it sees fit — and the label is no guarantee that the product will actually be any stronger than others on the market. The best way to find out whether you are really getting the “maximum” strength of an ingredient is to check the ingredients label, says Robyn Gmyrek, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. “Compare the label with other products on the shelf,” says Dr. Gmyrek, and check the percentage of the active ingredient in each product.

Although an increase in the active ingredient in a product of 1 percent may not seem as though it would significantly affect the strength, it can, says dermatologist Doris Day, MD, director of Day Cosmetic, Laser and Comprehensive Dermatology in New York City and a professor at NYU Medical School. For this reason, it’s best to test a new skin-care product by applying a dime-sized amount on your forearm, to see if it causes a reaction.

Prescription Products Must Be Approved by the FDA

For the FDA to approve a product’s switch from over-the-counter to prescription-strength status, regulations require a company to show that even a slight increase in the amount of active ingredient (for example, 1 percent) “changes the structure or function of the skin.” All prescription products are reviewed by the FDA and have gone through numerous clinical trials, says Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City dermatologist. The FDA also decides what dosage level constitutes a prescription. Some OTC products may be labeled “original prescription strength,” which means a prescription from a doctor was once required, but the product is now available without one.

Finding the Right Product for You

How do you know which product to try? Stronger dosages can have harsher effects on your skin, so it’s generally safer to start with a lower dosage. Try the basic OTC product for a minimum of two weeks to gauge the results, then move on to a maximum- or clinical-strength product, if necessary, or request a prescription, says Dr. Day. For acne, you should expect to wait a little longer — from four to six weeks — to see results. And if any product irritates your skin or makes symptoms worse, see your doctor immediately

Know More About Tender Loving

Itchy, dry skin, also known as xerosis, is a distraction we can all do without. It’s uncomfortable and the cracked, flaky, red skin can be unattractive. If you scratch a lot, bacteria can invade those cracks and then you might even develop an infection.

The good news: You can manage dry skin even if you can’t control the environmental conditions that cause it, such as cold weather or central heating.

Skin Care for Dry Skin

First, cut back on washing. “Overwashing, particularly long, hot showers, is the number one reason for dry skin,” says Bruce Robinson, MD, Manhattan-based dermatologist and spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

His recommendations for people with dry skin? “Decrease their frequency of bathing, use a mild soap, and don’t soap the whole body every day. And, moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.”

With so many different types of moisturizers available, finding the right one for your needs can be a challenge — should you choose a lotion, a cream, or an ointment?

Dermatologist Susan C. Taylor, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University in New York, recommends moisturizers that contain ceramides, natural lipid molecules that contain fatty acids. “Ceramides have a natural moisturizing factor. If you add ceramide to lotions and cleansers, you replace them in the skin. That’s the newest twist on moisturizers,” she explains.

Besides looking for a moisturizer that contains ceramides, Dr. Taylor, who is also a spokesperson for the AAD, says it’s wise to choose an ointment or cream over lotion. In fact, good old-fashioned petrolatum (petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline and similar store brands) can be the most effective choice.

“The oils in petrolatum trap moisture in the skin and provide a barrier from the outside environment,” Taylor says. “As long as you’re not acne-prone, I don’t have a problem with using petrolatum.”

Dry Skin Care in Winter

It can be particularly difficult to maintain soft, pliant skin in colder weather. Take these steps to keep your skin in good shape during the winter:

  • Take brief, lukewarm showers or baths. Pat dry and then immediately apply moisturizer.
  • Try using a humidifier to relieve the dryness in the air. Be sure to clean it regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid mold.
  • Protect your skin from the elements. Shield yourself from extreme cold and wind with layered clothing, hats, gloves, and warm shoes. Don’t forget to use petrolatum-based lip balm to avoid chapped lips.
  • Always use sunscreen. Regardless of the season or the weather, exposure to the sun can lead to not only dry skin, but also early aging and skin cancer.
  • Apply moisturizer several times a day if needed. Older adults need to pay even more attention to their skin to keep it supple, attractive, and comfortable. As part of the normal aging process, our skin tends to lose some natural oils, making us dryer, according to Taylor. “Make sure you apply a moisturizer several times a day, particularly as you mature,” she says.

Dry Skin Care: Other Considerations

In addition to what you should do, what not to do is also important when you have dry skin. There are products that you may want to steer clear of:

  • Any health and beauty aid that can be very drying to the skin, like regular, non-moisturizing face and body bar soaps. Unless you are otherwise directed by your doctor, look for a mild, pH balanced soap-free cleanser instead.
  • Acne-fighting chemicals, like benzoyl peroxide.

How your skin reacts, and what you should avoid, is very unique to each person. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist about your skin care regimen and see if any of the products you’re using contain ingredients that could be making your dry skin drier.

If you can’t seem to get a severe case of dry skin under control, and certainly if you develop an infection, see a dermatologist for an evaluation and treatment. A fresh look at how to care for your skin might give you the improvement you’re looking for.

Tips To Finding Skin Creams That Work

Walk through any drugstore or department store aisle, and you’ll see dozens of skin cream options that promise to erase wrinkles, eliminate dryness, and bring back that youthful glow. Some creams are highly specialized, while others focus on treating a specific issue.

Most skin creams with a rich texture will soothe dryness, but there are many that say they can reverse the signs of aging — and that’s where you need to be careful. Fortunately, some skin creams do what they promise and deliver that healthy, youthful glow everyone wants.

But with so many to choose from, how do you know that you’re picking the best cream for your needs? Before you start shopping, learn more about the ingredients that you should be looking for on the labels.

Common Skin Cream Ingredients

  • Retin-A and Renova. Some of the more popular beauty-counter skin creams include an ingredient called retinol, a form of Vitamin A. However, the only form of Vitamin A that has been proven to be effective as an anti-wrinkle agent is called tretinoin, and it’s only available as a prescription. It comes in two formulas: Retin-A and Renova.Scott Gerrish, MD, founder and CEO of Gerrish & Associates, PC, describes collagen as “the skin fibers that give your skin support and its plump, youthful look.” Retin-A and its sister formula Renova actually stimulate collagen growth, plus increase the thickness of your skin, skin-cell turnover, and the flow of blood to your skin.

    First used to treat acne more than 30 years ago, Retin-A was created by dermatologist Albert M. Kligman, MD, professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Dr. Kligman’s older acne patients reported that their skin was not only clear, but more youthful after using it — an amazing side effect of the formula.

    Because Retin-A was aimed at people with oily skin and breakouts, it was drying to older complexions. Renova was developed in the 1990s to deliver the same anti-aging effects in a cream base without the side effect of dryness.

    A physician has to prescribe the right formula for your skin type and give you careful instructions for proper use. Either version can costs over $100 for a tube, but because only a pea-sized amount is used at a time, it lasts for months and, unlike some skin creams that cost hundreds more, it’s a skin care treatment that works. Dr. Gerrish adds this caution when using either Retin-A or Renova, “Make sure you use a sunscreen daily as it will make your skin more sensitive to the sun.”

  • Vitamin C. Skin creams treat and affect the epidermis, which is the thin, outer layer of the skin that protects the underlying dermis, where your body makes collagen. “Skin creams with a high level of vitamin C help your skin produce collagen and can make your skin look brighter,” says Gerrish. “But in order to penetrate the epidermis and affect the dermis, the vitamin C has to be formulated as magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, or MAP.” Look for products with MAP on the label, such as Isomers Vitamin C Serum MAP + E.
  • Hydroxy acid formulas. Skin creams that contain one of the alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), or poly hydroxy acids (PHAs) offer exfoliation and moisturizing benefits. Says Gerrish, “The glycolic acid family, one of the AHAs, has been further studied and aside from its beneficial effects on the epidermis, with a high concentration of 25 percent, glycolic acids improve the quality of collagen and elastic fibers, improving the dermis and brightening your skin, too.” Over-the-counter concentrations are not quite that strong, but Glytone Rejuvenate Facial Cream 3 and Neostrata Face Cream Plus – AHA 15 are two to consider.
  • Peptides. The latest skin cream on the horizon packs peptides inside. “Collagen cannot penetrate the epidermis; however, peptides are small pieces of collagen that can penetrate it and reach the dermis, the layer where collagen is actually produced.” Peptide creams now available on the market contain Matrixyl or the Argireline molecule. “Another positive of Argireline is its relaxing effect on facial muscles, which reduces wrinkles,” states Gerrish. Faitox-25 contains both Matrixyl and Argireline, and Peptide 6 Wrinkle Cream has Argireline.

“All people can benefit from a good skin cream,” says Gerrish. To help you choose between over-the-counter options, he sums it up this way: “Those with dry skin benefit from the moisture-preserving Vitamin C creams. If your skin is oily, look toward the retinol and glycolic acid creams, which have a beneficial exfoliating and acne-preventing effect. Young people can also benefit from the Vitamin C creams, which preserve moisture in the skin. And everyone should wear a good sunscreen daily.”

A number of skin creams have been proven to help keep your skin looking younger. While none can totally eliminate the aging process, the most effective ones can slow it down and help you look your best

Learn More About Simple Acne Treatment Tips

If you have acne, you’re among more than 70 million people in the United States who have suffered from this skin condition at some time in their lives. It is so common that acne affects about 80 percent of Americans 20 to 30 years old. During the teenage years, acne is more common in boys than in girls, but in adults it’s more common in women.

Despite the fact that it’s so commonplace, there are many misconceptions about acne, says Guy Webster, MD, PhD, a clinical professor of dermatology at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and founder of the American Acne and Rosacea Society.

Getting to the Root of Acne

Whether you call it acne, pimples, or zits, in order to treat the condition, it’s important to understand the causes:

  • Clogged pores and bacteria: In your teens, the glands in the skin begin secreting sebum, an oily substance. This normally comes out through the pores, but in some people, sebum clogs up in the pores, allowing a bacterium, called P. acnes, to begin to grow.
  • Hormones: In your teen years, hormones start changing and affecting your body, including causing acne. This also happens during pregnancy, which explains why pregnant women or women having their periods often have acne breakouts. Hormones released during stressful times can also cause acne.
  • Genetics: You may be more likely to develop acne if your parents had acne when they were younger.

The Right Acne Treatment

There are many ways to take care of acne, depending on what causes it and how bad it is. Moderate and severe acne usually needs acne treatment recommended by a doctor, but mild acne, blackheads, whiteheads, and a few pimples can usually be treated at home.

Dr. Webster says one big misconception is that acne is caused by dirty skin. “The goal is not to scrub acne away,” he says. “If you scrub, you’re taking off skin, and there’s a reason for the skin being there.” Skin is a protective barrier.

Here are some tips that Webster shares with people who have acne:

  • Wash gently; don’t scrub.
  • Use a gentle soap to wash your face.
  • Wash with your hands, not a washcloth or “scrubby.”
  • Use a 5 percent benzoyl peroxide product.
  • Treat your whole face — don’t “spot treat.” This way, you’re treating pimples still under the skin but not yet visible.

And what should you stay away from?

  • Facial scrubs of any kind.
  • “Face puffs” or abrasive pads.
  • Expensive cosmetic regimens that people try to sell you.

Acne Treatment: Other Tips

Other tips to keep acne from getting worse:

  • If you’re a male, be careful shaving.
  • Don’t pick or scratch at pimples.
  • Avoid the sun. While many people feel that sun exposure makes their acne better, this is not always so. The rays can also cause other unwanted issues, such as premature aging and skin cancer.

When Should I See a Doctor for Acne Treatment?

According to Webster, if the pimples are leaving scars or if your treatment isn’t working, then it’s time to see a family doctor or dermatologist.

And while acne is a bummer, it doesn’t have to take over your life; take action and take control of your skin