You've known since middle school that makeup can mix with skin oils
and dirt to cause zits. Cosmetics can also trap skin-damaging free radicals
that float in the air (think: bus exhaust) against your skin, according
to Zoe Draelos, a professor of dermatology at Duke University School of
Medicine. But you've had a long day, and the bathroom sink is 20 feet away....
• Avoid the situation entirely by washing your face as soon as you
get home. Don't wait for the final credits of
The Daily Show to roll. At the very least, remove your mascara.
• For nights when you're just knackered, Heidi Waldorf, a professor
of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, tells patients to dab
on Albolene Moisturizing Cleanser with a tissue, wipe it off, and never
mind the residue—it's actually moisturizing.
Don't let your skin take a hit just because you've discovered an
amazing new workout. "A lot of women are switching from big gyms
to studios that focus on Spinning, boot camps, yoga, or Pilates, and often
they don't have showers," says Karyn Grossman, chief of dermatology
at St. John's Medical Center in Santa Monica, California. As a result,
she says, more patients aren't washing right away—and have the
acne (and bacne) to show for it. She advises hard chargers to wear moisture-wicking
clothes (Nike and Lululemon make them) and to pack salicylic acid Stridex
pads in their gym bag. Swipe the face, back, and chest after class, and
change into a clean, dry T-shirt. Back home, hop into the shower as soon
Having a dermatologist survey your body once a year is crucial, even if
you're diligent about monthly self-exams. "We look in more nooks
and crannies than you ever will," says Wexler. For convenience, group
your annual appointments (physical, mammogram, dermatologist) at a time
of (relative) quiet—after the holidays, or when the kids go back
to school. "Before you leave the doctor's office, make an appointment
for next year, put a reminder in your phone, and ask the receptionist
to follow up," says Wexler.
"A baby's skin replenishes itself completely every 14 days,"
explains Howard Sobel, a clinical attending physician in dermatology at
Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "But by age 30, an adult takes
a full 28 days to replenish." With all that extra time, skin cells
have a chance to dry out and lose luster—unless you jump-start the
renewal process by exfoliating. Fusco tells patients to use a gentle face
scrub, like Bliss Pore Perfecting Facial Polish,once or twice a week,
and a chemical exfoliant—she likes Philosophy Help Me Retinol Night
Treatment,which dissolves the glue that holds dead skin cells in place—on
two other days of the week. After using a pad for your face, don't
let it go to waste: "Massage it on your arms," says Waldorf.
To make exfoliating less of a chore and more of a treat, consider parking
a motorized Clarisonic Classic Sonic Skin Cleansing System
For starters, stop treating your nails like tools. "Tearing open boxes
leads to chips and peeling," says Grossman.
• To keep both nails and hands from dehydrating, forgo plain antibacterial
gels and instead choose moisturizing versions, like
Purell With Lubriderm—and do the same with soaps.
• More advice: Keep SPF hand cream throughout your house. "Like
the face, hands are exposed and need coverage," says Grossman. She
keeps a stick of
Hawaiian Tropic Kids SPF 50 in the glove box. "Even with UV-protective auto glass, damaging rays
penetrate, and they will age your hands," she says.
CLEAN YOUR MAKEUP BRUSHES
Unless you won the school science fair, you probably don't realize
what can happen when good brushes go bad: Makeup and skin oils build up,
creating a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause irritation. "In
an ideal world, you would clean your brushes once a week, but most of
us don't," says Fusco. Instead, wash your tools monthly with
a liquid hand soap or baby shampoo and lukewarm water (hot water can cause
bristles to fall out), then rinse well, squeeze out the excess water,
reshape, and allow the brushes to dry thoroughly by balancing them over
the sink. Weekly, spritz them with antibacterial Colorescience Pro Brush
Cleaner or Sephora Professionnel Daily Brush Cleaner Anti-Bacterial Formula,
and dry with a tissue.
KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF YOUR FACE
Yes, it's tempting to squeeze a pimple, but just the act of touching
your face with your fingers brings pore-clogging oil and dirt to the skin.
How not to pop? Get rid of magnifying mirrors, put "Don't touch"
Post-it notes around the house, and grab a squeeze toy to keep your hands
busy, especially if certain times of day (morning drive?) trigger the
urge. When you do give in, applying over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream
right away can help calm inflammation and prevent long-lasting marks,
says Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, a professor of dermatology at Yale University
School of Medicine.
Waiting for a new skin treatment to show results can be a test of patience.
"A good anti-aging cream can take six weeks, so don't give up,"
says David Bank, a professor of dermatology at Columbia University/New
York-Presbyterian Hospital. That goes for skin lighteners and acne products,
too. "But if nothing has changed by week six, the product will never
work for you," says Bank. Time to move on.
Originally featured in Allure magazine by Mary Rose Almasi