Friday, October 31, 2008

Turn your home into a spa!

Lets face it: For most of us, stress is a normal part of life. When it begins to take its toll on your body and mind, try a mini spa day in your own home. Here are 3 easy ways to prepare your space for a relaxing spa day.

1. Whether you consider it de-cluttering or releasing negative energy, a relaxing environment is the first start to your spa experience. Begin by clearing out the clutter and tidying up your soon-to-be serene space.

2. Candles and incense can transform a regular bedroom or bathroom into a spa-like retreat in a matter of minutes. Choose your scent based on the desired result:
*To relax, use lavender or classic vanilla.
*To rejuvenate, choose clary sage or ylang ylang.
*To energize, select a citrus scent like lemon balm or grapefruit.
*If you’re feeling under the weather, try peppermint or eucalyptus.

3. To relax your mind, try a deep-breathing exercise and let go of the day. Sit cross-legged on the floor or on a chair, making sure to straighten your spine and sit upright. Take a deep breath, holding it at the top of the in-breath and slowly let it out. Continue this for a few breaths, until you’re feeling relaxed.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Money-saving advice!

So, if you're like me, you're not rich...but that doesn't mean that you need to compromise when it comes to your skin. Now I'm not investing that you break into a bank or take out a huge loan, but by investing in just a few skin care splurges you will notice a dramatic difference in the health and vitality of your skin. But which items are worthy?

Survey says, save by buying basic cleansers, toners and makeup removers. Since the primary goal is to gently cleanse and remove impurities, you won't be losing anything by doing so. Instead, spend your money one higher-priced serums or night creams. These items are left into the skin to soak in, so your skin will reap the full benefits of higher quality ingredients. When it comes to day creams, the choice is yours. You can go a little higher in price, but the real concern is to find a day cream that moisturizes (without clogging pores) and also provides sun protection. If it does both, you're in business.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Freckle-Free (How to be!)

A smattering of freckles can be cute, but for those of us who had to suffer "connect the dots" jokes, or developed these spots later in life, freckles often feel more obnoxious than adorable. But fear not! There’s a plethora of products and skin care procedures for removing those spots.

Freckles are just a high concentration of melanin in small areas of the skin, caused by genetics or sun exposure. No matter how you got those freckles, treatment options are pretty much the same. Natural options like lemon juice have been used for years, probably centuries, but there hasn't been enough research to prove whether these actually work.

Certain over-the-counter products can fade facial spots. Products like alpha hydroxy acids and retinoids work by exfoliating the top layer of skin, which removes the darker, more pigmented layers. Bleaching creams like hydroquinone are also helpful, but you have to be careful not to bleach surrounding skin.

Doctor-performed peels can smooth and firm your skin while gradually lightening freckles. The more superficial peels have almost no recovery time or side-effects, but deeper peels offer more dramatic results.

Laser resurfacing removes the outer layer of skin very effectively, but can cause some pain, redness and peeling. Its also quite pricey, and can be between $1,000 and $5,000.

Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL) uses intense, broadband light to treat the skin. Unlike with lasers, the outer layer (epidermis) of skin is unharmed, so there’s little to no recovery time or side effects. But treating freckles with IPL may take several treatments, while laser resurfacing can zap those spots in one fell swoop.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vitamins A, B, & C...and your skin

Eating various nutritious foods provides essential vitamins and antioxidants — critical for your health and skin. But, which nutrients do what? And which foods contain these beneficial vitamins, antioxidants and fats? Find out and pile your plate with these tasty treats!

Vitamin A helps prevent free radicals from breaking down the skin's structure, and also fights acne. Find it in green and yellow vegetables like spinach, peppers, broccoli and squash, as well as low-fat dairy products, egg yolk, peaches, apricots and cantaloupe.

Vitamin B helps to smooth skin and prevent the formation of blackheads. It also helps to relieve dry, flaky skin by helping with oil production. Find it in proteins like meat, fish, eggs and peanut butter, as well as brown rice.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to repair and grow tissue, protect against free radicals and heal the skin from burns or wounds. It promotes collagen production to firm the skin. Our bodies don't produce vitamin C, so its crucial to incorporate certain foods into the diet: broccoli, berries, citrus fruits, fruit juices, beets, avocados, asparagus, tomatoes and peppers.

Friday, October 17, 2008

3 Top Tips for Applying Makeup

Sometimes I get so stuck in my makeup routine that it gets hard to branch out and try something new. Which is why its a good idea to comb the Web for bright new ideas that are simple enough to incorporate on a daily basis.

Create a canvas

If your skin is relatively clear and even, here are some tips on how to create a canvas sans foundation. Apply concealer anywhere that appears dark or red, including under eyes and around the nose. Look for a formula that offers multiple shades, so you can blend to create your perfect shade. If you have oily skin, dust on a little loose powder.

Keep it simple. The easiest way to define your key features with little makeup is to use a natural blush, a coat of mascara and some lip color.

*Cheeks: Choose a natural pink or peach shade that complements your skin tone in a gel or cream formula. Apply color to the apples of the cheeks with your fingers. Brush in a circular motion, blending towards the temples.

*Eyes: When enhancing your eyes, the most important step comes before you set the mascara wand to your lashes — curling. After a few seconds with the eyelash curler, wiggle your mascara brush horizontally to coat upper lashes from root to tip.

*Lips: For a pretty daytime pout, try a natural gloss. For a little more color, select a shade based on your skin tone. Darker skin tones can wear pretty much any shade from deep reds to light pastels. Medium skin tones should choose shaeds with brown undertones like mauves, reds and berry tones. For light skin tones, try pinks and peaches in sheer shades.

Add eye-catching drama

If you have a few extra moments, define eyes with a liner. Choose brown and smoky grays, which look natural on most skin types. Pull your lid taut, so you can easily trace your lid line. Start drawing pencil liner two-thirds into the corner of the eye. Keep the line as close as possible to your lid for the most natural look. For a smokier, sultry eye, line the entire lid and smudge with a cotton swab. Smoky eyes aren’t about precise lines, so you can still achieve this look quickly.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Guide to eye creams

If there’s a first line of defense to be drawn in the war against aging, it starts at the eyes. Because the skin around our eyes is so thin and lacks oil glands to provide natural moisture, it’s the first place on the face to show significant signs of aging. First of all, and most importantly: why can't we just use our face cream around the eye area, too? While it would be great if we had a multi-use cream that worked for everything, the reality is that the active ingredients in facial moisturizers are just too strong for the fragile eye area. There are tons of eye creams to treat everything from dark circles to fine lines--all it takes is knowledge about what ingredients to look for.

Dark circles: These can be tough to treat topically because the cause is usually beneath the skin, such as excess pigment or allergy/sinus symptoms. Look for products with peptides or retinol to build collagen and thicken skin. Vitamin K can also help, working to strengthen blood vessels.

Puffy eyes: These happen b/c of fluids that pool up as we sleep. Look for products with alpha hydroxy acids to regenerate surface cells, and ingredients that smooth skin and stimulate collagen production: vitamin C, copper and retinol. Caffeine is also helpful, working to constrict blood vessels and push fluid from the skin.

Fine lines/wrinkles: Look for formulas with retinoids or peptides to boost collagen and antioxidants to fight free radicals. These tried-and-true ingredients not only work to repair prior damage, but they also prevent future signs of aging. And of course, use sunscreen to prevent further aging.

Hydration: This is probably themost important element to any eye cream! Look for a product rich in humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid. They draw water to the skin, giving it a softer, younger appearance.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How vitamin B helps your skin

By now, you've probably heard of many skincare products that contain either nacin (or vitamin B3) or pantothenic acid (B5). What exactly do they do?

Turns out, they do a lot. Both are helpful in retaining moisture and thus reducing skin irritation. B vitamins are also great exfoliators, helping to clear dull skin and even out skin texture. Topical niacinamide is actually great for every skin type--it prevents pigmentation and minimizes dark spots. Those with sensitive skin will find that niacinamide helps keep irritants from harming delicate skin. Sun damage is repaired, and when used with an SPF product, niacinamide provides excellent all-around sun protection.

Although the effects of topical vitamin B aren't as intense or noticeable as other vitamins (such as vitamin A), most people notice significant improvement in the general look of their skin within four to eight weeks. People who are sensitive to other products can safely use vitamin B without worrying about uncomfortable redness or flaking. Skincare products created with vitamin B can also help to clear up blemishes--a plus if you're experiencing menopausal acne.

Smile to prevent wrinkles!

Did you know that it takes four times as many muscles to frown as it does to smile? Frown lines, often found around the eyes and lips, and etched into grooves on the cheeks can be managed with a few tips.
Many facial movements that cause wrinkling of the skin are subconscious. While concentrating, studying or even watching television, some people subconsciously draw their eyebrows together, creating a furrow between the brows. This type of frowning, which uses the Supercilii muscle, has the potential to create wrinkles or lines between the eyebrows, especially if done repetitively.

Squinting is another major culprit of frown lines with many factors causing squints. Bright sunlight, overhead office lights, or reflections off of pavement or water can all cause us to squint to protect our eyes from the glare. Also, if you have prescription glasses or contact lenses, be certain that your prescription is fresh; improperly focused lenses will not only strain your eyes, it will also cause you to squint in an effort to see!

Daily habits can lead to frown lines, as well; in particular, smoking. Often, smokers get smallish frown lines around their lips and deeper lines in the nasolabial fold due to the repetitively inhaling smoke from the cigarette. In addition, smoking releases vast quantities of free radicals in the body—guaranteed to damage both internal organs and the skin, as well as interfere with the production of collagen.

Use an anti-oxidant rich treatment in this area to help smooth and contour fine lines, as well as protect the skin from free-radical damage. Also, try patting a rich eye cream around the eye area twice a day to minimize the effects of squinting.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Can Berries Prevent Skin Cancer?

Over 250,000 new cases of squamous cell carcinoma are diagnosed each year, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. When treated early, squamous cell carcinoma — which is mainly caused by sun exposure — may need minor surgery and has a good prognosis. But, if undiagnosed, it can actually lead to disfigurement. Interestingly, though, a recent study from Ohio State’s College of Medicine shows that black raspberry extract might actually slow the growth of this type of cancer.

The study. Researchers believe that squamous cell carcinoma may partly occur because of an inflammatory response, and black raspberries may reduce this response. To explore the role of black raspberries in squamous cell skin cancer, senior author VanBuskirk and her team exposed mice to UVB rays (which cause sunburn) three times a week for 25 weeks. Next, the mice received an application of either KY jelly containing a freeze-dried, ground-up compound of black raspberry extract or a gel without the berry powder. A third group served as a control.

Results: Mice treated with the extract actually showed a 50 percent decrease in their tumors. And these same mice, when compared with the control group, had smaller tumors. Inflammation was also reduced. These beneficial results might stem from anthacyanins — which provide black raspberries with their dark color.

Future of this research. Scientists hope that eventually, after further studies can help to strengthen this correlation, they may be able to utilize these berries to help sun-damaged skin.

Plastic Surgery: De-bunking 3 Common Myths

With cosmetic surgery becoming a household topic, it’s spawned many a myth and rumor. Here are three common myths about "getting some work done."

1. It’s just for the rich

As the price of plastic surgery continues to drop you can get a big change with just some change from your pocketbook.

  • Drop in prices: In the U.S., the average cost for breast augmentation, tummy tuck or nose reshaping is $5,000 to $8,000, according to plastic surgeon Jane Loftus, M.D., of Info Plastic Surgery.
  • Financing options: Patients have a variety of payment alternatives, including installment plans from plastic surgeons and credit from finance companies.
  • Medial tourism: Many Americans travel abroad in search of cheaper cosmetic surgery. According to the University of Delaware Daily, a facelift in South Africa costs $1,250 compared to $20,000 here in the U.S. Importantly, medical tourism isn’t considered safe, so consult with your doctor first.

2. It’s just for looks

Many cosmetic surgeries have little to do with enhancing one’s looks and more to do with health or achieving a normal appearance.

  • Reconstructive surgery: In the last 10 years, reconstructive surgery has increased by 34 percent, writes Walter Erhardt, M.D., for the Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery.
  • Popular procedures: In 2005, the most common surgeries were actually reconstructive ones, including: "tumor removal, laceration repair, scar revision, hand surgery, breast reduction and maxillofacial surgery," he writes.
  • Rhinoplasty: It isn’t about the perfect nose. In many instances, rhinoplasty is used to treat sleep apnea or sinus diseases.
  • Patients: Reconstructive surgery helps a variety of patients: breast cancer survivors; those with birth defects, deformities and skin cancer; people who’ve lost a significant amount of weight; and patients in need of breast reduction.

3. It’s just for the ladies

While the market was once reserved for aging ladies, men now make up a significant base for plastic surgeons.

  • Male stats: "Fourteen percent of Botox injections, 15 percent of all liposuction and eyelid surgeries, 20 percent of laser hair removal and 24 percent of nose jobs are carried out on men," writes Kate Grossman, M.D., medical director of About.
  • Top five surgeries: For men, these include rhinoplasty, hair replacement, eyelid surgery, liposuction and breast reduction, notes Dr. Grossman, M.D.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tips for a Beautiful Neck & Dècolletè

Although the neckline and chest area are some of the most viewed body parts and the most likely to give away your age, they're still the least pampered. Don't overlook your neck and dècolletè any longer by following these tips.

Provide protection. It's said that the way your neck ages is about 20%genetics and 80% how you care for it. So, every time you head outdoors, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to your neck and dècolletè (and all exposed areas) 20 to 30 minutes before leaving the house. Look for either a titanium dioxide & zinc oxide formula, or a sunscreen with avobenzone (a.k.a Parsol 1789), Helioplex, or Mexoryl.

Share your basic routine. If you’re treating your dècolletage differently than your face because you don’t want to waste your expensive products on such a large area, it’s time to consider the alternative (think dull, sagging, aging skin). Make your neck and dècolletè part of your morning and nightly skin care regimen by also using your cleanser, toner and moisturizer on these areas. You can also add a product specifically formulated for the neck and dècolletè areas.

Do damage control. If you're already noticing sun damage or aging skin, know that many treatment options are available. Because of their exfoliating properties, alpha hydroxy acids, particularly glycolic acid, are ideal for helping damaged skin. After exfoliating, follow with an anti-aging moisturizer that contains antioxidants.

Indulge. Look into other ways you can pamper your dècolletage. Some day spas offer special masks that target the neck and chest as well as massage therapy to help support your firm, taut and healthy skin. Also, try at-home treatments like massage oils with vitamins A or E and nourishing creams with anti-aging ingredients like retinol, beech extract or vitamin C.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Want younger-looking lips?

Who doesn't? We reach our peak for pout perfection as teens or as young adults in our 20’s. After that, the lips begin a downward aging spiral, losing collagen, elastin and moisture, leaving you with thinning lips, lines and wrinkles. As our faces age, the structure of the lips can also change: The facial skin begins to lose its firmness and elasticity because of the redistribution of fat cells underneath, resulting in wrinkles and sagging skin.

So, how do we combat this? Try these tips for younger lips:

Protect and plump: Don't think your lips are somehow immune to sun exposure; they can suffer from sunburn, too. In fact, excessive exposure has been linked to lip cancer. So, shield your lips from the sun year-round by wearing a broad spectrum lip product.

Boost the good, battle the bad. Experts recommend products that contain vitamins and antioxidants, because they encourage new collagen development to keep lips full and soft. These ingredients also defend against free radicals, which damage skin cells. Look for ingredients like shea and cocoa butter, vitamin E and grapeseed oil.

Beauty lift: For an easy trick to create fuller lips, line slightly outside your natural lip with a lip pencil and color in your lips; then apply lipstick and lip gloss. The shine from the gloss reflects light and creates the illusion of fuller lips.

Peel away the lines: Particularly effective for the upper lip, chemical peels differ in type and intensity, providing women with a number of options. Light peels work on surface skincare problems, whereas deeper peels actually remove layers of skin that show damage from problems like acne, injuries, photodamage & hyperpigmentation.

Collagen & Elastin: The Basics

We here about them everywhere: collagen & elastin, key elements in why our skin begins to lose its firmness & elasticity. So, what are they all about, and why do they begin to break down?

Collagen and elastin are proteins found in the skin and are excellent water binders, helping to keep the skin supple and hydrated. Mainly found in the dermis, the layer of skin below the epidermis (the top layer of skin), the two work in tandem and help provide a foundation for the skin. Collagen cushions and supports the epidermis, preventing it from collapsing on the muscles and bones, while elastin allows the skin to stretch and flex smoothly.

With age, collagen and elastin production slows, causing a gradual depletion of existing collagen and elastin and a thinning of the skin. The result of this slowdown? Sagging skin, fine lines and wrinkles. Additionally, the breakdown of collagen and elastin can be hastened by environmental damage, most notably: sun damage. Sun damage prematurely breaks down collagen and elastin fibers, causing changes to skin tone, texture and density, as well as leaving behind age spots. Other culprits that can break down collagen and elastin include: alcohol, smoking or tanning beds.

Help the body maintain stores of these crucial proteins by incorporating antioxidants into your skincare regimen, in particular, vitamin C. Research suggests that vitamin C may actually encourage the production of collagen in the skin, as well as fighting off free-radical damage. Also, vitamin A based skincare is another option. Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, will improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as clarify the overall texture of the skin.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why use Alpha Hydroxy Acids?

AHAs are natural acids derived from fruit, milk or sugar cane, which dissolve dead skin cells and allow fresh, healthy cells to emerge. There are many types of AHAs: glycolic, lactic, citric, mandelic and malic acids, and all provide different levels of exfoliation.

Our skin is made up of layers of dead skin cells that form a barrier around fresh cells, causing a dull complexion and clogged pores. AHAs are different from granular scrubs in that they actually dissolve the protein bond that connects the dead cells to healthy cells. Once the outer layer is removed, a brighter skin tone and improved texture is revealed. For instance, when using a glycolic acid for acne, the acid penetrates the pores and fights the bacteria that cause your breakouts. It also helps with inflammation and reduces the oil below the skin's surface.
In addition, as the AHAs exfoliate the skin, sun spots and blemishes fade, and topical treatments like moisturizers, acne creams and serums are better able to penetrate the skin.

Vexed by cellulite?

The less you weigh, the less cellulite you have, right? Not necessarily. Contrary to popular belief, the real culprit of cellulite is damaged skin. Closely linked to overall health, cellulite is a skin disorder that affects, or will affect, most women at some point in their lives, regardless of how much they weigh. New research has shown that the appearance of cellulite is more closely related to skin damage, or, in the words of Dr. Howard Murad, "the loss of cellular water."

Many factors contribute, such as: environment, stress, diet and lifestyle. When the skin doesn't get enough water or vital, cell-building nutrients, dehydration sets in, causing fat cells, normally contained deep within the dermal layer of the skin, to bulge out between the collagen and elastin fibers. The result of this breakdown?? Cellulite. A breakdown of the blood vessels is considered the start of cellular water loss and may even be the reason cellulite develops at all.

Hydrating the skin from the inside-out is one key component to preventing or even reversing the signs of cellulite and a great start is to strengthen blood vessels. In addition to staying hydrated and drinking enough water, consider supplementing your diet with certain nutrients that are particularly effective in the fight against cellulite, including: grape seed extract, glucosamine sulfate and gotu kola. Another whole-body wellness step, which will also assist with the appearance of cellulite, is to ensure your diet includes adequate amounts of essential fatty acids, or EFA's. Not produced naturally by the body, EFA's must be obtained through the diet.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Yikes! Varicose & Spider Veins

Sigh. Just as you get excited to put on that pair of running shorts and hit the gym, you notice yet another varicose or spider vein--enough to ruin anyone's motivation. What are they, and how can they be treated?

Varicose veins are twisted, bulging veins that result from prolonged periods of standing. They are usually dark blue or purplish in color, and can actually hurt. Spider veins affect the smaller, more surface-level veins. They look like clusters of red, thread-like veins and can appear on the face in addition to the legs. While spider veins aren't dangerous, varicose veins can sometimes mean a serious medical condition, so they're definitely worth a visit to the doctor.

Both of these conditions can occur simply as we age, and our veins stretch and stop functioning quite like they used to. When the valve fails and blood pools in a vein, the veins can become enlarged and twisted, turn color and protrude from under the skin. Genetics, hormones and stress can also contribute, as well as pregnancy or jobs where you're on your feet much of the time.

Surgical methods are available to treat varicose veins, such as laser and light therapy, and minimally invasive procedures (Endovenous thermal ablation uses heat to seal off malfunctioning veins, thereby diverting blood flow to nearby healthy veins; micropuncture or micro-incision phlebectomy involves a doctor "hooking" and then removing diseased veins through very small incisions; and transilluminated power phlebectomy utilizes a fiberoptic light to highlight the vein segments which are then suctioned out through an incision).

Sclerotherapy is another method for treating varicose veins that is also useful on spider veins. The vein is injected with a hypertonic saline or sodium tetradecyl sulfate solution which causes the vein to collapse and fade from view. For best results, multiple treatments are typically recommended and side-effects may include bruising or tenderness at the injection site. With any vein treatment, consult a doctor or vascular specialist before undergoing any procedure.

How about topical treatments? While many products, usually containing vitamin K, are currently on the market, these treatments are only temporary solutions. They work by enabling the blood to clot in the vein, but the clot is only temporary and the spider veins will return.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sun spots? How to lighten them

Whether you call them sun spots, age spots or liver spots, these unsightly marks are the last thing you want to see covering your shoulders, hands or face! They're most common in adults over 40, but can appear on younger skin too. Not surprisingly, they typically result from long-term sun exposure. Even if you rarely lounge around poolside or spend time at the beach, sun spots can still appear on your body. For instance, spots can form on your hands from driving in the sun.

So, how do sun spots develop? To defend itself against sun exposure, the skin reacts by generating more melanocytes, which produce melanin. When too much melanin is produced, sun spots emerge — commonly appearing on the face, chest, back, shoulders and hands.

The skin-lightening staple: Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone is the most effective, well-researched skin lightening ingredient on the market. It works by inhibiting the enzyme, tyrosinase, which synthesizes melanin. Over-the-counter products are made with 0.5 to 2 percent hydroquinone; higher concentrations require a prescription.
Compared with alternatives like lasers and chemical peels, which must be administered in a doctor’s office, hydroquinone is a much more affordable option. Side effects are minor and can include itching and reddened skin.

Recent concerns: On August 29, 2006, the FDA recommended a ban on over-the-counter hydroquinone products, citing safety concerns. Specifically, "some evidence" suggests that hydroquinone poses a carcinogenic risk in animals, according to the National Toxicology Program (NTP), though there’s no evidence of a potential risk in humans. The FDA also cited a link between hydroquinone and ochronosis, a condition that causes the skin to darken and thicken. Many dermatologists strongly disagree with the FDA’s proposal, pointing to hydroquinone's well-established safety and efficacy as a lightening agent. But, if you're concerned, there are alternative treatments available.

Alternative treatments

If you would like to avoid using hydroquinone, you can choose from many plant-based skin lighteners, including kojic acid, bilberry extract, mulberry extract and licorice. Of these, one of the most popular is kojic acid, which is derived from the fungus Aspergillus oryzae. Like hydroquinone, kojic acid also inhibits the production of melanin in the skin, causing dark spots to fade.

Make sure you're using a broad-spectrum sunscreen if you try a topical lightening agent, to prevent the hyperpigmentation from returning. And, lightening takes time; it can take weeks or even months, depending on the individual and the product used.

Its not a teen thing! Treating Adult Acne

Whether its a daily struggle or an occasional outbreak, for many women, acne doesn't disappear after their 18th birthday. Believe it or not, acne can continue to rear its ugly head even into a woman's 40's and 50's! Treating adult acne is possible, but its important to keep in mind that the methods are different than for teenagers. An adult's skin tends to be drier and more sensitive, and also more prone to discoloration. Here are some tips for treating adult acne:

1. Go lower-strength. Because adult skin isn’t as tough as a teen’s, try effective active ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, in lower solutions. For instance, instead of 2 percent salicylic acid, choose 1 percent. Rather than selecting a product with 10 percent benzoyl peroxide, go with 5 or 2.5 percent.

2. Try an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). AHAs are great exfoliators that slough off dead skin cells, which along with sebum, dirt and bacteria, contribute to acne. To prevent this build-up, invest in an AHA moisturizer. It not only treats acne but also targets wrinkling and discoloration. In particular, look for glycolic acid.

3. Consider a prescription. If over-the-counter products haven’t been working, your dermatologist can prescribe retinoids, including Retin-A and Differin, which accelerate cell turnover and have been used for decades to treat acne.

4. Look carefully at labels. Make sure all your beauty products say they’re either oil-free, non-acnegenic or noncomedogenic. Cosmetics without these labels can clog pores and trigger acne.

5. Evaluate existing products. Are your skincare products still working? Take a look through your entire skincare stash (especially if you haven’t updated the routine since your younger days), because your once tried-and-true products might be ineffective. Or worse, they might contribute to your lackluster, blemished skin. Remember, just as your skin type can vary by season, it changes with age, too.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Do facial exercises actually work?

So, I'm sure by now that you've heard of the "firming facial exercises" that claim to tone and firm sagging facial skin. Women are attending special classes and ordering instructional books and DVDs. It looks simple enough. You squint your eyes a certain way, pucker your lips or raise the eyebrows and are rewarded with less wrinkles and more tone. And since we work out our other body muscles, why not the face?

I did some research, and turns out that these exercises are more hype than help. Simply put, since sagging skin occurs mostly due to the loss of collagen, these exercises certainly won't create more collagen. And they can't undo sun damage that causes wrinkles either.

In fact, facial expressions are one of the major causes of lines and wrinkles in the first place. And while I'm not advocating that we all stop smiling and adopt netural facial expressions in the interest of preventing wrinkles, there is no need to encourage those wrinkles by using more facial expressions.

Think I'll skip the facial exercise DVD's and invest in a yoga routine instead.
Beauty asked me the following question yesterday:

Thanks for answering my question! What is primer exactly? I thought using moisturizer was enough.

A primer is usually silicone-based, and forms an invisible barrier between your skin and makeup. It can fill in large pores or fine lines, giving you a smoother finish. Its useful for oily skin types because it prevents their foundation and blush from fading, and good for dry skin types because it prevents their makeup from creasing. If you're worried about fine lines and wrinkles but have a fairly even skin tone, you can even use a primer on its own for a more natural look. And, you can also find primers to be used before applying other types of makeup, such as eyeshadows and liners.

Have any of you used a primer? I use them just in the summertime, when my makeup likes to melt off in the hundred degree heat, and it seems to keep me from looking like an oil slick :)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Retinoids: My new love

If there is one ingredient I've found that I would recommend to anyone and everyone (well, almost everyone), its retinoids, or vitamin A. Prescription-strength retinoids can treat everything from acne and warts to wrinkles and sunspots. In my case, I was interested in something that would help with my overall dull complexion. I've only just gotten started with my prescription, but I must say, I'm impressed.

Don't expect immediate results, though. At first, after testing the retinoids on my chin for several nights, I noticed terrible flaking and peeling. I took a night off from the retinoids (you generally don't want to use them during the day, because they make you very sensitive to the sun), and I used a couple drops of jojoba oil--which, amazingly, took care of all the flaking. Its been a couple of months now, and my skin completely adjusted to the retinoids. No flaking or irritation at all. I just have to use a really hydrating lotion, and sometimes I use lotion mid-day as well.

Many people might be too sensitive to the retinoids, so if you find yourself in this boat, you might want to consider retinol instead (which is available over-the-counter, in a variety of anti-aging creams and serums). I might look into an eye cream with retinol at some point if I like the results on the rest of my face. I don't use the retinoids anywhere near my eye area, because my eyes are so easily irritated.

Anti-aging....for your hair?

Yup, hair ages too -- its just not quite so obvious as those wrinkles and fine lines that appear on your face.

As hair ages, elasticity is lost, hair follicles shrink, growth slows and sebum and keratin production diminishes, resulting in brittle, lifeless hair. Protein and melanin loss lead to the characteristic gray or silver hair in both males and females. And after menopause, women may notice their hair thinning around the crown.

To keep your hair looking young, the key is to treat it with care. Avoid over-exposure to harsh chemical treatments, and limit your use of heat-styling tools. If you're going to blow-dry, make sure to use a protective spray beforehand. Use snag-free ponytail holders and smooth clip barrettes only. Also, a natural bristle brush will help to gently detangle and smooth the hair while massaging the scalp.

In the shower, look for shampoos and conditioners that contain shea butter, panthenol, hydrolyzed yeast extract or sweet almond oil, which will respect the hair's natural moisture balance. Wash hair every 2 or 3 days, rather than every day.

Finally, use a deep-conditioning hair mask weekly to replenish lost moisture and protect the cuticle.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A makeup routine for 40-somethings

Along with changing your skincare routine, the 40's are a good time to re-vamp your makeup routine. Heavy foundation and powder will only highlight fine lines, as it finds its way into those creases and wrinkles. If you're noticing thinning lips, try a natural-colored lip-liner. And, for disappearing eyebrows, use a shadow the same color as your natural brows to fill in thinning spaces. Finish with a peach or light rose shade of blush and a light-colored eye shadow, and then a touch of black mascara.

Skin care in your your 40's

Ah, the 40's. And no, I'm not talking about the 1940's. As a 40-something, you start to notice an increase in lines gathering around the eyes, mouth and forehead (just make them go away!). Your complexion might begin to look a little weary and dull. Don't despair; this just means its time to makeover your skincare regimen.

While in the 30's a good skincare regimen consisted of cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing, the 40's are a time to start thinking anti-aging products. Some of the best ingredients to look for are alpha hydroxy acids and retinoids, both which stimulate collagen production.

Also, your skin type might change. I noticed that my skin, which used to be normal/combo, began to go more toward the dry side. If this happens, switch to a creamy cleanser (instead of a gel or foam) and a heavier night cream. Just make sure to choose oil-free formulas if you're still experiencing breakouts, which can easily happen due to fluctuating hormones.