• 4 Things to Do Right Now for Younger Looking Skin

    Experts say that some of our most innocent habits could induce serious damage to our skin. With these little shifts, you’ll outsmart them all and stay smooth and lovely.

    1. Get the Right Indoor Lighting

    We know that the sun’s UV rays cause wrinkles, spots, and skin cancer – but now, news comes that taking shelter indoors doesn’t completely put your skin out of harm’s way. “LED lightbulbs emit moderate levels of UV,” explains Mona Gohara, M.D., an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University. “And the overhead lighting in office buildings and stores gives off a type of light that can trigger melasma, a condition that causes brown patches on the face.” But before you resolve to live by candlelight, know this: Indoor lights are far less damaging to skin than the sun, and it’s easy to cut down your exposure at home. Gohara suggests using low-wattage bulbs or energy-saving CFL bulbs, and installing dimmers for overhead lighting. To protect skin once you leave the house, apply an antioxidant serum every morning – Yes to Blueberries Intensive Skin Repair Serum ($10; amazon.com) is a nice one – followed by a broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen. Gohara notes that a mineral formula that contains iron oxide, such as SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 ($34; amazon.com), can help prevent melasma.

    2. Turn Down the Heat

    It sounds like something out of a sci-fi flick: Infrared radiation, or IR, is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum that we feel as heat. “It releases from any object that gives off warmth, be it a grill or a steamy sidewalk – and the hotter something is, the more IR it produces,” says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Here’s where things get tricky: Moderate, controlled levels of IR can actually be good for skin, triggering collagen and elastin (which is why you see infrared technology in at-home anti-aging light devices), but excess levels have been linked to skin spots and melasma. So what’s the right balance for a youthful complexion? “You don’t have to toss out your blow-dryer or hot iron; just avoid high heat where you can,” Zeichner says. “Don’t linger in front of a hot stove, and use a headset to chat on your mobile phone so the warm screen isn’t by your face.”

    3. Chuck the Gum

    Your third-grade teacher didn’t know it, but she was giving you great anti-aging advicewhen she told you to spit out your gum. “The motions caused by constant gum chewing can lead to creases around the mouth, even sagging jowls,” says Macrene Alexiades, M.D., president of the Dermatology & Laser Surgery Center of New York. She suggests dialing back to once or twice a week, and chewing for no more than 10 minutes at a time. If you usually grab gum to curb snack cravings, reach for a cup of peppermint tea or water with lemon instead. To soften lines around your mouth, dab on a lotion daily that contains wrinkle-fighting peptides and hyaluronic acid to plump skin – or try Alexiades’s 37 Actives Filler Lip Treatment, which contains both ingredients.

    4. Reduce Tech Neck

    Hold the phone! Our mobile devices may keep our lives in order, but they’re not so kind to the delicate skin on our neck. One study found that on average, we check our phones a whopping 150 times a day, looking down each time. “This repeated folding of the neck skin leads to premature wrinkles and a loss of elasticity there, known as ‘tech neck,’” says Zeichner – one more reason why dermatologists stress the importance of using a neck cream that has retinol or peptides twice a day to keep skin taut. “Blend a nickel-size drop from your collarbone to your jaw with upward strokes so you don’t pull on the skin,” says Zeichner. When checking your phone, hold it at eye level to avoid tilting your neck – or better yet, get off text and call your friend.

    Originally featured on Yahoo Beauty from Redbook

  • This Is What Happens to Your Skin on a Run

    The benefits of running seem to be endless: It can cut your risk of cardiovascular disease, tone your body, help you slim down, boost your mood…should we go on? But have you ever returned from a sweaty, heart-thumping workout and wondered: What’s happening to my face while I’m working on my fitness? What effects does hitting the pavement have on my collagen, elastin, capillaries, and crow’s-feet? We asked the experts for answers.

    That red-in-the-face look is a normal part of exercise.

    We all want that sexy postrun glow (here’s what to keep in your gym bag), but let’s be honest: Sometimes we look more red and blotchy than cute and dewy. That’s normal and not a bit harmful, says Marc Glashofer, a skin-cancer surgeon in New Jersey. When you run, your blood vessels dilate to release heat, which results in red skin.

    For the most part, the red effect chills out as you cool down.

    One caveat: Dilated blood vessels can worsen chronic skin conditions like rosacea, says Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, a dermatologist in New York City. This isn’t to say that people with rosacea need to skip running altogether. Just keep a cold cloth by the treadmill to cool down, she suggests. If you’re running outside, a splash from a water bottle works just as well.

    In general, working out keeps chronic skin conditions at bay.

    It’s no secret that cardio calms us the heck down. Exercise decreases the level of the stress hormone cortisol, which can be beneficial for chronic skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne, Kanchanapoomi Levin says. Just skip wearing the one-size-too-small fitness clothes. Supersnug outfits can worsen preexisting skin conditions, she adds.

    A long jog equals a free spa treatment…kind of.

    A five-mile loop could just replace your next spa treatment—sort of. “Increasing your circulation with cardio delivers a greater amount of oxygen and nutrients to your skin, which helps repair it and increase collagen production,” says Kanchanapoomi Levin. Plus, enhanced blood flow helps skin cells regenerate, she adds—meaning cycling could actually be anti-aging. Shoot for cardio at 40 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate, three to five times a week, she suggests.

    Overdoing it might piss off your skin.

    Some research shows that strenuous activity can worsen the health of your skin by causing more free-radical damage, which can age you, says Kanchanapoomi Levin. According to 2008 research findings published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine , superintense exercise can lead to detrimental effects on the skin if you’ve been working out near your maximum heart rate for extended periods of time (this is not including HIIT). Also, as your body produces extra free radicals, it also produces more of the counteracting antioxidant enzymes. “Regular and frequent exercise, coupled with a healthy diet loaded with greens and antioxidants, should be enough for a healthy person to fight off the excess free-radical production from exercise,” says Levin.

    There may be a little something to that whole “sweating out toxins” thing.

    Anyone who’s ever logged a sweaty run can tell you that (most of the time) it beats a glass of rosé on the couch. And according to the experts, it’s as good for your skin as it is for your psyche. “Enhanced blood flow can help skin cells regenerate and remove toxins more efficiently,” says Kanchanapoomi Levin.

    But wait, won’t sweat make me break out?

    First off, sweat is sterile, says Glashofer. “We need to sweat for thermoregulation—it cools us down,” he says. For the most part, our skin is totally OK when we sweat. (Exercise-induced urticaria is a rare condition in whiich you can break out in hives from an allergy to your own sweat.) Def don’t sport sweatproof makeup, either.

    Also, sweat isn’t usually going to cause a huge breakout.

    What’s more likely to give you pimples: sitting around in damp workout clothes. Sweat creates a warm, moist environment, says Levin. “Lingering sweat and dirt can clog pores, and oftentimes in my patients who work out regularly, I see a worsening of acne on the chest, back, or the forehead,” she says. It’s called acne mechanica, and friction between your skin and workout gear stimulates the production of excess oil, which in turn clogs your pores.

    Sidestep the issue by washing your makeup off prerun and rinsing off afterward.

    Acne-prone? A salicylic acid spray or cleanser or a benzoyl peroxide lotion after workouts can help, says Levin. Also, always look for breathable gear.

    Hitting the pavement can up your risk of skin cancer.

    Twenty-minute jogs here and two-hour half-marathons there add up. That’s part of the reason dermatologists might see outdoor athletes at a younger age, says Glashofer. While any kind of activity that puts you outdoors can raise your risk of skin cancer, some runners tend to skip sunblock to avoid the discomfort of it dripping into their eyes, Glashofer says. (It’s also easy to space on the fact that you need it.)

    You should apply sunscreen before you head outside. Pick up a water-resistant broad-spectrum product and reapply every 80 minutes, suggests Kanchanapoomi Levin. Physical blockers like zinc oxide won’t sting like chemical versions when used as sunscreens. And also, don’t forget your lips! A few faves: Elta UV Lip Balm Broad-spectrum SPF 31, Aeon Skin ProSport Non-Drip Sunscreen SPF 50+, and Neutrogena Sport Cool Dry.

    Article originally featured on Allure.com

  • Which Vitamins and Supplements Will Make Your Hair and Nails Grow Faster

    It seems every day we get a new claim about a vitamin doing this or supplement doing that, and no two segments of beauty see more of these claims than the hair and nail industries. We all crave stronger, shinier hair and seemingly indestructible nails that grow longer by the minute, so the question is simple: what vitamins help your hair grow and give you stronger nails?

    For the answers to our burning questions, we went straight to two of the industry’s top experts on hair and nails. Here’s what you need to know about which vitamins and supplements you should be taking for stronger nails and a serious head of hair.

    Beauty High: Why would you recommend vitamins and/or supplements to a hair client?
    Devin Toth, Senior Stylist and Director of Education for Ted Gibson Beauty: Usually we would recommend vitamins for hair growth, but to understand it you need to know that vitamins and supplements fall under three categories:

    • Vitamins that are always good for hair: These are vitamin A (needed by all your cells for growth), and B vitamins (B6, B9, B12, and B complex/Folic Acid, needed to help create iron so cells work properly).
    • Vitamins that prevent hair loss: vitamins C, E and zinc help repair damage to the body on a cellular level since they’re high in antioxidants. Besides repairing obvious damage you can see (cuts and bruises), they help repair the damage created by the digestive process of turning food into energy. Repairing damage from the inside out helps with overall body healthy and, by default, healthy hair growth.
    • Vitamins that are lost from a deficiency/poor diet: If your diet contains too much salt, sugar, alcohol, caffeine and carbonated beverages, you’re probably poor in iron and magnesium, which can lead to hair loss. You can take iron quite easily, but magnesium is a bit tricky; it has to be absorbed with equal parts calcium and potassium. The great news is that magnesium doesn’t have be taken as a supplement. You can add more nuts to your diet as a great way to take in more. Also, if you take it right before you go to bed, magnesium is a great muscle relaxant, so it will help you sleep, which is great because hair grows fastest at night.

    Which supplements work best for which types of hair/hair issues?
    Biotin increases the density of your hair and it helps you produce more hair. Fish oil just makes hair really shiny and smooth by collapsing the cuticle to make it shinier from the inside out the way some conditioners coat from the outside. Even if you’re not into supplements, if you get more and better sleep, eat more nuts and vegetables and cut out processed and damaging foods, you should see an improvement in the condition of your hair growth. Really, anything that helps your cells work more efficiently will help the condition of your body, which will help the health of your hair.

    How long does it take to see results?
    Vitamins work immediately, which is why you take them. You’ll feel differently immediately, but you’ll see the effects in 2-3 months. Supplements are called supplements for a reason: they supplement the nutrients you should be taking in from your regular diet. If you supplement your vitamin intake and have an exemplary diet, you’ll look and feel stronger and your hair will respond in kind by growing stronger and healthier.

    Beauty High: What are the telltale signs that someone should be taking vitamins or supplements when it comes to their nails?
    Skyy Hadley, Celebrity manicurist and Owner of As U Wish Nail Spa: Ridges, dents and discoloration or an unusual nail shape can be a telltale sign that something is wrong with your nail health. Also, If your hands are regularly exposed to water, soap or harsh chemicals, your nails may become soft or brittle, and break or chip easily.

    What type of vitamins and supplements are most effective for nail growth and health? What do they do?
    Biotin, or vitamin B7, is crucial to maintain protein production and can help strengthen weak or brittle nails. Since your nails are made of protein, L-Lysine supplements can be taken to help build healthy proteins and help maintain healthy nails.

    How long does it take to see the effects of taking vitamins and/or supplements?
    These supplements begin to work on your growing nails, not your currently visible nails, so it could take a few months to see results. It all depends on how quickly your nails grow.

    Article originally featured on Stylecaster.com

  • 6 Sneaky Signs That Your Skin Is Aging Poorly

    There are plenty signs of aging we see all the time, like attending your baby cousins’ graduation, receiving an invite to a high school reunion, and watching your 401(k) mature. And when it comes to your complexion, most of us are on the lookout for the telltale signs: forehead furrows, crows feet, and undereye bags. But according the experts, there are a few lesser-known and more subtle signs of skin aging that are good to know about. Take what follows as a friendly info session, not a stern admonishment. The more you know about taking care of your skin, the better it will look.

    Sun spots in your 20s or 30s.

    “Sun spots in your late 20s or early 30s should be a wake-up call,” says Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “If you are getting them that early, it means you’ve had significant amounts of sun exposure. While you can’t undo the past, you certainly can minimize the damage and slow down the skin’s aging process by using a broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher and a morning antioxidant. Vitamin C can minimize free radical damage and protect collagen. In the evening, use a topical retinol product to stimulate new collagen production to keep the skin strong and supple.”

    Gaunt hands.

    “Loss of subcutaneous tissue, bone, and muscle results in a gaunt face and hands, plus the temples and lower eyelids can seem carved out. This process is so gradual that an individual may not perceive any differences initially. Unless your face is photographed periodically, the changes may go unnoticed,” says Patricia Ceballos, a dermatologist in New Rochelle, NY. Counteract your losses by fortifying skin with hyaluronic acid. “In the dermis of aged skin, natural hyaluronic acid is reduced which contributes to rough texture and loss of skin thickness,” she says. You could also consider fillers. “Hyaluronic acid binds 500 to 1000 times its weight in water, so it has enormous benefits when injected into atrophic skin of aged hands, rendering them plump and rejuvenated,” says Ceballos.

    The skin on your neck is patchy and irritable.

    “Uneven color on the sides of the neck and on the V of the chest is evidence of early photodamage,” says Annie Chiu, a dermatologist in North Redondo Beach, California. “If your skin is easily irritable, thats a sign of aging—healthy skin has a strong skin barrier that resists chronic inflammation.” Chiu suggests Skinceuticals Phloretin CF Serum for uneven skin tones on your neck. “The antioxidants fight UV mediated photodamage, which causes brown-red discoloration on the neck, and the vitamin C and phloretin have a brightening skin evening effect,” she says. La Roche Posay Ciclaplast Baum B5 Soothing Repair Balm may also help calm angry zones. “I often use this to soothe skin after in-office peels or laser treatments,” she says.

    Wrinkles along your cheeks and a loose jawline.

    “People develop wrinkles just from movement, so that’s not really a sign of aging poorly. But if fine lines and wrinkles appear in the middle of the cheeks or the jawline sags in the twenties or thirties, it is. The middle of the cheeks and the jawline show sun damage and wrinkles early on,” says Rachel Nazarian, a dermatologist in New York City. To minimize, Nazarian uses ultherapy, a treatment that incorporates ultrasound technology to firm up and tighten skin. “Although multiple sessions are needed, with time, new collagen and elastin are formed to minimize wrinkles and bagging,” says Nazarian.

    Your skin is itchier than usual.

    “With aging, comes a loss of moisture. The cell membranes become more porous, contributing to dryness and the crepe-y look. Consequently, skin tends to become itchy and more sensitive. Pay attention to your skin—it might be trying to tell you something,” says Ceballos. Reminder: Our favorite moisturizers under $20 are at your fingertips.

    Your eyes are changing shape.

    “As we age, our bones start to recede inwards. It’s most prominent at the inner upper corner and the outer lower corner of the skull. As a result, the eyes go from being really rounded to slightly more horizontal,” says Kavita Mariwalla, a dermatologist in West Islip, New York. “The best thing to do to is maintain the texture of your skin with products, like Neocutis Lumiere Bio-restorative Eye Cream and therapeutic treatments, such as Pelleve for skin tightening.”

    Article originally on Allure.com

  • Great Tips for Shaving Between Laser Hair Removal Treatments

    Dry shaving—ouch. Even though it saves time, it almost always causes little red bumps that last for days. “Shaving cream and gel were designed to help your razor glide gently across your skin without tugging or pulling,” says Joel Schlessinger, MD, board-certified dermatologist and RealSelf advisor. “Without them, you’re most certainly left with razor burn, cuts, skin damage, and irritation.” Desperate? Even using water is better than nothing at all

    Yes, we’re serious—you need to toss it once a week if you’re shaving every single day. “Dull blades are more likely to cause razor bumps, irritation, nicks, and cuts, and old blades can harbor bacteria, which can lead to infections,” says Schlessinger. If you want a closer shave with the least amount of irritation, pay close attention to how many days your current razor has racked up. “A good rule of thumb is if you feel like it’s tugging at your hair or skin, toss it—it’s most definitely a ticking time bomb waiting to irritate,” says Dendy Engelman, MD, a dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery in New York City.

    True, it might help you get a slightly closer shave, but it’ll also cause pain. Plus, the blunt-tipped end of the hairs can grow back into the skin rather than up and out. Holy ingrown hairs. “Especially for those with sensitive skin, it’s better to shave only in the same direction that your hair grows,” says Schlessinger. “If you’re prone to razor burn and ingrown hairs, apply a gel or serum like PFB Vanish [sold at SpaDerma!], which relieves irritations caused by hair-removal techniques like shaving.

    “You’re more likely to nick yourself, irritate your skin, or miss spots when you’re trying to shave too quickly,” says Engelman. “Instead, you want to carefully use smooth, even strokes to prevent any skin troubles.” If you do slice yourself—even slightly—you’ll probably bleed more than you’d expect, so the best thing to do is place pressure on the area until the bleeding stops. “If you’re running out the door and don’t have time, put a little astringent on it to halt blood flow and rub some antiperspirant on the area,” says Engelman.

    When it comes to how hard you should be pressing the razor blade down on your skin, always remember less is more. “The harder you bear down, the more uneven the skin surface becomes, because you are essentially creating dimples where the blade falls,” says Engelman. Many multi-bladed razors shave below the skin, causing ingrown hairs and infections when you press too hard.

    To avoid razor bumps, you should use an exfoliator before whipping out that razor. That’s because it removes dead skin cells, allowing your razor to glide easier. “I always recommend First Aid Beauty Cleansing Body Polish [$28, amazon.com] to all my patients with shaving complaints,” says Engelman. “It not only exfoliates, but it also cleanses and helps moisturize the skin.”

    “It’s best to moisturize your skin as soon as you step out of the shower,” says Schlessinger, since applying moisturizer while your skin is still damp helps lock everything in. If you skip this step, the top layers of your skin can quickly become dry and dehydrated from the combo of exfoliating and shaving. Engelman also recommends dabbing a hydrating body oil over the area to reduce inflammation and redness. Try Bio-Oil Multiuse Skincare Oil ($13, amazon.com).

    Originally featured on Prevention.com

  • Your Risk Of Melanoma Skyrockets If THIS Body Part Gets Sunburned

    Bake your back and you may pay the price long after the redness fades: Sunburns on your back are more likely to lead to melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—than burns in any other location, research from Harvard finds.

    In the study, men who had a severe sunburn on their back—even just one—were more than twice as likely to develop melanoma than those who’d never been sunburned.

    Men who had sunburns on their lower limbs, faces, or arms still had an increased risk of melanoma compared those who hadn’t had a sunburn anywhere, but it was not as significant a risk as for those whose backs had been burned.

    So why is your back so susceptible to the sun? It may be because your back is much less likely to receive regular exposure to the sun than your face, arms, or legs are, says study author Shaowei Wu, PhD. Then, when you whip off your shirt at the beach or on a sweltering run, your back suddenly receives hours-long sun exposure. And that level of intensive sun not only sends your risk of sunburn soaring, but also increases the subsequent threat of melanoma, Wu says.

    Your move is simple: When the shirt comes off, the sunblock goes on. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using one with broad-spectrum protection of 30 SPF or higher, applied every 2 hours.

    And if you’ve already suffered a severe sunburn in the past, particularly on your trunk, you need to check your skin about every 3 months for signs of melanoma, Wu says. (Also make an appointment with a dermatologist for a yearly skin check.) These include things like new moles or changes in existing moles, blemishes, and freckles.

    Spot something suspicious? Call your doctor or dermatologist. She can take a look, and if it seems abnormal, biopsy it to see if it’s cancer.

    Originally featured on Prevention.com

  • Injectables: Fact or Fiction?

    There’s no denying that more and more people are getting cosmetic injections—botulinum toxin injections alone (Botox, Dysport) increased a whopping 759 percent between 2000 and 2015. But despite their growing popularity, there’s still a lot of contradictory information surrounding these beauty shots. “Everyone knows about injectables, but lots of people come in with preconceived notions,” says New York City dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank. To help clear up the confusion, here’s the real deal on what’s true and what’s an urban (beauty) legend.

    1. FACT: Injectables can have a preventative, anti-aging effect.
    There is, in fact, some truth to the idea that injections work prophylactically—it’s not just marketing mumbo-jumbo. Take botulinum toxin, for example. By paralyzing the muscle, you’re preventing dynamic wrinkles (those caused by the muscle contractions), and ensuring that existing lines and wrinkles don’t become deeper, according to dermatologist Whitney Bowe, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Hyaluronic acid fillers also have proven long-term, anti-aging benefits. A 2007 study from the University of Michigan showed that the injection of non-animal-derived, stabilized hyaluronic acid (found in in fillers such as Restylane and Juvéderm) stimulated collagen production. “None of this means that you should start getting injections at age 19. The time to start is when something starts to bother you, but it’s good to know that it’s not only therapeutic but will also prevent wrinkle development over time,” adds Frank.

    2. FICTION: Getting injected will make you look like you’ve had “work” done.
    “It’s not what’s done, it’s how it’s done,” says Frank. “You only notice the bad work.” The overly taut, terrifyingly smooth foreheads of Hollywood starlets or bizarrely large duck lips of reality housewives are examples of excess. “There are too many examples of people who accidentally or purposely look like they had too much work done,” says Frank. To maintain a natural appearance, it’s about rejuvenating your looks, not making you look different. Find an injector who is experienced and understands anatomy and the natural proportions of the face, and no one has to know that you’ve gone under the needle.

    3. FICTION: There’s a set amount of time that each injectable lasts.
    ​”People believe there’s a set time limit, but that’s the biggest misconception. Articles and ads make sure to say ‘it lasts up to,’” says Frank. It’s not a hard-and-fast guarantee that the same will hold true for you. It simply means that when it was being tested, this was the longest it lasted. Many factors affect the longevity of the results, including which product is used and where it’s injected in the face. Rather than getting hung up on a set time frame, Frank suggests focusing on when you notice the effects starting to wear off and use that as a guideline. And it’s better to come in more frequently for subtle tweaks rather than book a yearly appointment where you do more. “Not only does this make for a more natural result, but it also spreads out the cost and minimizes any trauma to your face.” And when it comes to toxin injections, if you initially do them more frequently, you’ll eventually be able to use less and go longer in between, says Bowe: “If you go every three months the first year, you start to lose that muscle memory that creates the wrinkle. Over time, you’ll be able to stretch it out to every four or six months.”

    4. FACT: These products are safe.
    It’s understandable how the idea of deliberately injecting a known toxin into your body can seem dangerous. But botulinum toxin was first approved by the FDA in 1989 to treat crossed eyes and spasms of the eyelid, and it’s been used cosmetically for almost three decades. “People also worry about allergies, but you’re more likely to have a reaction to a vitamin or a tea that you buy in a natural-food store,” says Bowe, who says an allergy to neurotoxin is rare (though she adds that anyone with extensive drug allergies should be sure to mention this to their injector). And fillers like Restylane, Juvéderm, and Belotero use a stabilized form of hyaluronic acid, a sugar molecule. To further ensure your safety, however, it’s essential to only go to reputable and well-trained dermatologists and plastic surgeons who are using the actual, FDA-approved products. To that point…

    5. FACT: You get what you pay for.
    Now is not the time to bargain-shop. While many factors affect costs, at the end of the day, there’s no denying that these products are expensive, says Frank. “When you see deals and bargain prices for injectables, you’re either getting diluted product or the injector isn’t making money off of it. And if they’re not making any money off of it, they’re likely just using you as practice as they try and build a practice,” he cautions. Bottom line: Steer clear of Internet deals or steep discounts for any kind of cosmetic injection. Discuss your budget with your dermatologist or plastic surgeon and ask about the variation in pricing amongst the different brands, but be ready to pay up.

    Originally featured on Allure.com

  • This is How a Moisturizer Should Feel on Your Skin

    Moisturizers can be complicated—you have a lightweight moisturizer for the summer when your skin feels superoily, and a moisturizer for the winter when your skin is parched. You probably even bought those moisturizers because a friend told you one works wonders on dry skin or you read (possibly on this site) that your summer moisturizer won’t clog your pores. But do you really know how a good moisturizer is supposed to feel when you apply it? Should it take a while to soak in? And what exactly is a moisturizer?

    Here’s your answer: “Moisturizers typically contain four classes of ingredients: Occlusives, like white petrolatum, form a protective seal over the skin; humectants, like hyaluronic acid, pull in water from deep skin layers; emollients, like glycerin, fill in cracks and roughness between skin cells so the skin feels smooth; and barrier-repair ingredients, like ceramides, replace natural fats that may be missing between skin cells, helping the outer skin layer function optimally,” says Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. We continued this conversation and asked a group of dermatologists to let us know in their own words how a really great moisturizer should feel.

    It should glide effortlessly on your skin and feel silky. “One of the key ingredients in a moisturizer that confers this property is dimethicone. Dimethicone’s role is to create a protective barrier on the skin’s surface so that water can’t escape and environmental irritants are kept out. Dimethicone is present in certain oil-free moisturizers, but in most cases, it’s included along with mineral or other oils, like jojoba oil and derivatives of petroleum.” —Patricia Ceballos, a dermatologist in New York City

    It should contain a NMF (natural moisturizing factor), which is a real thing.”Natural moisturizing factors are molecules that help the moisturizer penetrate the outer layer of the skin and actually do the work of moisturizing. A good moisturizer should absorb quickly and not leave a greasy feeling on the skin. You want it to feel lightweight yet also hydrate the skin so that it feels supple and soft to the touch. Good moisturizers should be unscented, but the consistency depends on the type of skin you have—gel for oily skin, lotion for normal skin, and cream for dry skin.” —Kavita Mariwalla, a dermatologist in West Islip, New York

    You shouldn’t be able to feel it. “A good moisturizer should absorb right into the skin and relieve any tightness or dryness. It should be lightweight so you can’t feel it as a distinct layer on the skin.” —Lotika Singh, a dermatologist in New York City

    It shouldn’t smell like anything. “Choose a moisturizer that is fragrance-free to minimize risk of irritation, and also look for one that contains SPF to help protect your skin from UV rays. If it makes your skin feel oily or appear shiny, look for another product. Cosmetically elegant products just melt into the skin and begin the hydration process.” —Rebecca Tung, a dermatologist in La Grange Park, Illinois

    A moisturizer should never, ever feel oily. “A great moisturizer should make your skin feel hydrated, not oily. It should absorb, leaving a clean finish, and not just sit on top of the skin. It should allow you to layer makeup on top of it without pilling up. Immediately, the skin should look plumped and fine lines should look softened if the product is truly moisturizing your skin. With consistent use of a moisturizer, the skin barrier will be better repaired, so overall the skin should be less irritable and sensitive. Good moisturizers can also normalize oil production, meaning if you are oily in patches, they should become more even throughout.” —Annie Chiu, a dermatologist in North Redondo Beach, California

    Originally featured on Allure.com

  • Picked Your Blackheads and Made Them Worse? Here’s What to Do Next

    At the sight of blackheads on your nose, the first course of action is to grab a trusty pore strip and let it work its magic. However, sometimes some stubborn blemishes get left behind and although you know better, you try to pick them out with your finger only to make the situation worse.

    “If you pick a blackhead, the area around the hair follicle and oil gland may get inflamed,” says Dr. Melanie Palm, MD, MBA, medical director of Art of Skin MD in Solana Beach Calif. Caused by a mix of skin cells and bacteria, inflammation can result in redness, tenderness, and cystic lesions. “Inflammation in the area can lead to pain, unsightly acne cysts, and in worst case scenario, scarring. You basically don’t want to stoke the fire of a well behaving blackhead and make it inflamed and far worse,” explains Dr. Palm.

    If you couldn’t resist taking your finger to your blackheads, your best bet is to cleanse the irritated area with a cream or wash that contains salicylic acid such as SkinCeuticals LHA Cleansing Gel. “As a beta hydroxy acid, salicylic acid penetrates down into the hair follicle and oil gland where blackheads start,” says Dr. Palm. “This helps to remove the sebum and debris that comprises a blackhead, and aids in healing post-inflammatory discoloration and inflammation resulting from picking a blackhead.” And of course, keeping your hands away from your breakout.

    Another option that will be available soon at your drugstore is Differin Gel, the first prescription-strength adapalene gel to be available over-the-counter later this year. “This is a prescription-strength retinoid in the same class as Retin-A. This group of vitamin A derivatives helps normalize how skin within the hair follicle sheds and treats all forms of acne – blackheads, whiteheads, inflammatory acne, cysts, and post-inflammatory pigmentation. Applying this cream to areas prone to blackheads helps eliminate them over time,” says Dr. Palm.

    In addition to treating swollen blackheads (which can take anywhere from a few days to weeks to completely heal) with a cream or wash, Dr. Palm recommends avoiding using oil-based products and ones that aren’t labeled “non-comedogenic” to prevent new blemishes from forming. And although picked blackheads don’t usually leave behind scars like cystic acne and whiteheads, it doesn’t mean that can’t happen. “Blackheads by definition and non-inflammatory and should not cause scarring. However, long-standing blackheads can enlarge, creating dilated pores over time,” she explains. “It’s important to treat inflammation early. Salicylic acid peels and using a retinol or retinoid cream are the most helpful means of improving impending scars and preventing discoloration.

    Article originally featured on InStyle.com

  • 5 Reasons Why Chemical Peels Are The Secret To Beautiful Skin

    If you’ve never had a chemical peel before, wipe all thoughts of red, flaky ‘Samantha from Sex And The City’ post-treatment skin out of your head right now. For a start, that whole sorry affair from season five of the hit HBO show was aired 14 (ouch) years ago when late ’90s peels were much less refined, and frankly, hurt like hell…

    But fast-forward to today and gentle (we stress, gentle) chemical peels are seen by most derms and doctors as being just as essential to your skincare plan as antioxidants, sunscreen and efficient cleansing. Perhaps even more so.

    “Getting regular light or superficial chemical peels is all part of a healthy skin regime,” explains Danae Markland, LE, CMLT and VP of education at PCA Skin, the brand recognized globally as the gold standard in professional chemical peels and the originator of the blended chemical peel – think amazing results without the downtime or side effects.

    As part of a medical-grade, professionally-prescribed skincare plan (of which we’re HUGE advocates here at HintMD), chemical peels are gaining huge momentum right now. According to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, more people are getting them than ever. And who can blame us? By revealing deeper layers of fresh, untouched skin, chemical peels have the powerful ability to essentially make the skin look younger and practically ‘new’ again – and all this for much less than the cost of a series of lasers treatments.

    Still not sure you need them in your life? Then allow Danae to convince you with not just one, but five mighty skin benefits of the chemical peel…

    1. Chemical Peels Remove Surface Build-Up

    “The top layer of the skin is made up of dead skin cells. And while this layer is important, the more cells build up on the surface, the duller your complexion will appear and the more likely you are to develop acne breakouts,” Danae says.

    “Chemical peels help to loosen those dead cells and allow them to shed off over the next few days, revealing smoother, brighter skin.”

    2. They Increase Cellular Proliferation

    “In healthy skin, your cell turnover process takes approximately 28 days. As the skin ages and is exposed to environmental offenders, this process can slow down. New, healthy cells appear younger and, well, healthier. Regular chemical peels encourage a healthy cell turnover cycle.”

    3. They Reduce Hyperpigmentation

    “Dark spots in the skin appear darker the closer they are to the surface. With chemical peels, you are essentially raising this pigment to the surface and exfoliating it out of the skin. Depending on how deep the spot is, it may take a series of treatments to see the full results but with each peel, you should notice a brighter, more even skin tone.”

    4. Chemical Peels Increase Collagen Production

    “The application of acids, even in low percentages, creates stimulation in the skin. This stimulation triggers the response that leads to the development of collagen and other structural components in the skin. Building collagen will fill in fine lines and reduce the appearance of large pores and textural scarring.”

    5. They Help Reduce Breakouts

    “The acids used in many chemical peels provide antibacterial activity in addition to clearing out the follicle to keep skin blemish-free.”

    As with any professional treatment, however, choosing a qualified, board-certified physician is vital. And if you fancy saving a few dollars with an at-home peel, then erase those thoughts from your brain, like now.

    “Never try and do a peel yourself,” Danae warns. “I’ve seen people with scarring because they attempted to peel themselves at home, so please leave it to the professionals – it will be worth it!”


    Originally featured on hintmd.com