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Skin care products containing hydroquinone are often called bleaching creams or lightening agents. These skin care products are used to lighten hyperpigmentation, such as age spots and dark spots related to pregnancy or hormone therapy (also called melasma).
My Experience: One thing I was dying to include during this experimental week was the Blithe Patting Splash Mask ($45, sephora.com). The watery texture tricked me into thinking the product would just run down my face, which wouldn’t give it any time to sink in or have a noticeable effect. But damn Daniel, that was not the case! I tried it twice, both times in the shower since I didn’t want to “splash” all over my clothes or bathroom counter. I poured a cap full of the Green Tea mask thinking I was in for a nice calming green tea treatment. But after patting onto my skin, I could really feel the active ingredients against my skin. It was clear this product is a seriously potent mix of ingredients (and that explains why it only takes 15 seconds to work). The first time, I got too close to my eyes, and I couldn’t even open them because of the stinging. By my second attempt, I learned my lesson.
Be on the lookout for these nine warning signs if you’re not sure about your current routine. If you’re experiencing these things, you just might want to pull a Beyonce, tell your skincare routine that it’s time to “Upgrade U,” and try something new.
Joel Schlessinger, MD ,Researcher, advisory board, and/or consultant for 3M Pharma, Abbot Pharma, Allergan, Amgen, Barrier Therapeutics, Bioten, Centocor, Clay-Park Labs, Collagenix, Connetics, Dermik, Dow, ESC Medical, Fujisawa, Galderma, Genentech, Glaxo Pharma, Glenmark Pharma, Healthpoint, Immunex, Ipsen, Kythera, Medicis, Mentor, Merz, Novartis, Novum, Nucryst, Ortho Pharma, Penederm Pharma, Perrigo, Pfizer, QLT USA, Regeneratio Pharma AG, Sandox, Shering Plough, Stiefel Labs, UCB/Vitae, Artes, Glaxo, Health and Wellness Council of America, MJD Communications, Obagi, TheDERM.org, and Vaseline Petroleum Jelly (National spokesperson 2000-2001). Stockholder of Allergan, Excel Cosmeceuticals, Medicus, Mentor, Obagi, and TKL Graceway.
You don’t always have to exfoliate (especially if you have sensitive skin), but keep in mind that exfoliating at least twice a week is crucial for clear, polished skin. Sloughing off dead skin cells makes it possible for the rest of your skin care products to mingle with your pores and do their magic. Gently massage or tap an exfoliant into your skin for smooth and silky skin.
If you were to go to a cosmetics store and purchase this product without looking at others, you would think that it was worth it because it does produce results. The price is very high, so much so that we probably shouldn’t have listed it. We wanted to give an example though of a higher end product that is not more effective than the less pricey choices.*
Spot treatments are designed to give problem pimples a mega-dose of concentrated benzoyl peroxide — in a couple of regimens, like the Proactiv Teen Kit, the spot treatment had nearly three times the benzoyl peroxide as its all-over treatment. It makes sense: If benzoyl peroxide can be irritating to the skin in high concentrations, limiting its intensity to just the pimple itself could save the rest of your healthy skin.
*Suggestions and Results can be experienced differently by different individuals. This website provides information that is based on, published research, individual reviews, and clinical studies examined by the researchers, experts and our editors. Supporting research and information for facts is found directly in the content, or in the “Research” section as well as the “Terms & Conditions” section of WomansAnswers.
Behold your ablutions, for instance. You’re never sure whether a specific body wash or soap will reduce or promote your acne. You think twice to use a harsh sponge or loofah to clear your body of dirt and bacteria, as it might irritate and worsen your body acne.
There’s no need to slather your face in day-glo green or mud and scare off all the neighborhood kids. Experts say masks and scrubs do little, if anything, to improve acne. A gentle, non-abrasive cleanser that’s formulated for your skin type (oily, dry, or combination) will do a lot more to keep your face pimple-free.
Of course there are ways around that. Some jars come with applicators: little spoons that you’re supposed to use to take dollops of the product out. Maybe you’re the type that can always follow the rules (we’re not) — so while we didn’t declare tubs a deal breaker, we did consider it.
“When applying a sheet mask, maximize adherence by snipping from the side of the nose fold to the eye hole. This will allow you to wiggle the mask just so, getting it closer to the under-eye area and preventing any tenting. If necessary, make a snip below the cheekbone and layer the mask over itself to maximize the fit further. Try it with an aloe vera–based mask like Whamisa’s Organic Hydrogel Sheet Masks ($40).” — Sarah Lee and Christine Chang
Retinol and AHAs are the two non-negotiables for the best wrinkle cream: They work behind the scenes and target long-term results. Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a nice-to-have: It gives you short-term benefits while you wait patiently for those other guys to kick in.
“Complete nutrition for the epidermis is critical. The epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin) is a key protective structure that uses 23 vitamins. These vitamins must be provided at therapeutic concentrations and delivered within the epidermis for optimum skin health. A vitamin serum is non-irritating and formulated with vitamins A, B, C, D, and E to give skin the nutrition it needs.” — Carl Thornfeldt, MD
There are two big guns used to take down acne, and they’re both great at doing entirely different things. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that comes from willow bark and works primarily as an exfoliator, breaking down fatty acids like sebum so your pores don’t clog. (Glycolic acid works similarly, but is less effective.) These acids do their thing on comedones — whiteheads, blackheads, and other non-red bumps.
@ brazen i also get exposed to sunlight a lot and would recommend Cetaphil as it has no photosensitive effects. I use Cetaphil wash and it has really been a great help with my acne. it cleans your skin thoroughly while still being gentle. i would recommend using this with a cleansing brush (clarisonic, luna, spin brush etc) and following with a toner preferably one with witch hazel. these combination of things has worked wonders for my skin. 3 months down the line the improvement has been fantastic. All I’m dealing with now is the scars (Hyperpigmentations).
There’s an additional concern that’s more grounded, however. Retinoids degrade very quickly in the sunlight, losing their potency. More worryingly, the 2010 handbook of Cosmetic Dermatology Products and Procedures suggests that retinoids may release free radicals as they degrade — molecules that harm your skin rather than helping it. Because of this, the handbook concludes, “it is still recommended to avoid UV exposure when using topical retinoids” (312). Sunblock does slow retinoid degradation, according to a 2008 study, but the retinoids still degrade to some extent. Ultimately, this wasn’t a risk we felt comfortable taking. Until there’s been more extensive research on the topic, we’ve opted to skip all sunscreen-containing products.
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You’re dressed to perfection, yet you need something to complete the look. Your smile! While we spend so much time and energy on honing our bodies and looks, we forget to express our inner joy and happiness. “Keeping a smile on your face will help maintain the tone of your facial muscles and skin. People may say you look 10 years younger than you are!”, adds the Ayurvedic physician, Vasant Lad.
The Erno Laszlo Anti-Blemish Beta Wash ($45, sephora.com) has an antiseptic ingredient that helps clear away the bacteria behind your breakouts. There’s also salicylic acid to exfoliate the skin. Consider this the sophisticated version of the acne wash you used as a teen.
“One of the best skincare tips I can recommend is something I learned when my son had eczema as a baby. To this day, it is my family secret for healing dry, sensitive skin. Boil a large pot of water with one cup of chamomile tea leaves and one cup of rosemary. Cook these for 15 minutes. Then strain and add this water to your bath. Not only will you feel relaxed from your day, but also, this potion will soothe your skin like nothing else. Dry patches and redness will disappear overnight!” — Joanna Vargas
Promising Review: “I have sensitive, fair, blemish-prone, combination skin. I was previously using Proactiv. But this wash is a much less expensive alternative. It also smells better than Proactiv! The Neutrogena wash has worked really well on my combination skin. I always feel refreshed after I use it. I usually scrub it on my face, rinse with warm water, and then use a warm, wet washcloth to get any remaining scrub off of my face. I also use the Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Defense Face Lotion to moisturize my face.” —Mhanley
As your doctor will tell you, Retin-A should only be used at night, because it makes your skin more sensitive to the sun and more susceptible to sunburn. Use extra sunscreen and sun protection when outdoors.
Upgrade your (no-doubt soapy, sudsy) face wash to a milky cleanser that will “take off all makeup, sunscreen, and pollution from the day but in a way that’s not stripping,” says Holey. If you’re oily, go for a purifying clay- or charcoal-infused gel formula like the Bioré Pore Penetrating Charcoal Bar instead.
Luckily, some of the most effective acne-fighting must-haves can be found at the nearest drugstore, so they won’t leave your wallet feeling too light. From cleansers to spot treatments, read on for some of the best cost-effective ways to tackle acne head-on for a clearer complexion.
Boscia Charcoal Pore Pudding Intensive Wash-Off Treatment ($38, sephora.com) contains activated charcoal (duh) that absorbs all kinds of impurities and clears out clogged pores. It also contains willowherb, an ultra-soothing ingredient to reduce any post-treatment inflammation. The spatula for application that comes with it makes the whole treatment feel, well, pretty luxurious. Keep a jar of it for a rainy spa day at home.
“Twenty-somethings tend to worry about things they don’t yet see in their own faces but notice on their parents or grandparents,” says Day. “Yet, many are still tanning and not connecting sun exposure with those very things they’re noticing.” With dark spots, by your 20s, “you’ve had enough bursts of intense sun exposure that freckles can start becoming permanent rather than fading after summer,” says Anolik. Under-eye shadows, upon close inspection, may reveal brown pigment burgeoning there, too. True spot- and wrinkle-thwarting sun protection involves daily, liberal applications of broad spectrum SPF 30 year-round, plus frequent touch-ups (we like Colorescience Sunforgettable Very Water Resistant Powder Sun Protection SPF 30), when spending any time outdoors. It also means hats with generous brims, protective clothing, a vampire-like shunning of mid-day rays, and making the shady side of the street your perennial happy place.
Luke warm water is use to clean the oil and fats from the utensils as well as clothes. The same concept is placed over here. If you have oily skin, Luke warm water must be used to clean your face. The warm water will open your clogged pores of the skin and remove excess oil from your skin. Use a cotton ball dipped in warm water and rub over your skin to remove excess oil.
These few minutes of consideration and research will save you a ton of time, effort and money in the future. Because there are two types of face washes and cleansers: the ones that aggravate acne, and the ones that fight acne.
Rinse your face in the morning. Since cleansers can strip your skin of good oils, you do not need to use them in the morning. Instead, rinse your face with warm water and pat dry. Wash your face with cleanser at night.[14]
Try acupuncture to improve circulation, digestion and immunity internally, all of which supports healthy skin externally. Holey recommends weekly treatments initially, then monthly maintenance sessions.
“Oily skin is skin that has larger oil glands and a high sebum content,” Rouleau says. “This is genetic. Oily-skinned women have built-in oil, so the goal is to lessen the oil activity by keeping your skin cells lightly hydrated.” The skincare routine for oily skin contain ingredients that help control excess oil production. 
It can be hard to embrace change. When it comes to putting together a good signature skin-care routine, it can take years of trial, error, and drugstore product testing to find the right roster of favorites. After all of that experimenting, it’s not easy to say goodbye to some tried-and-true skin-care products and steps in your faithful routine, but sometimes, it’s necessary.

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Your sensitive skin may be due to an allergy (such as a rash from fragrance ingredients.) Or your skin may be irritated (for instance, if acne treatment products like benzoyl peroxide or glycolic acid gave you a rash or chapped your skin.)
No, your eyes aren’t skin, but they are the centerpiece of your face. If your eyes look red or tired, your skin will look drab as well. Wake up your peepers with some eye drops and you’ll instantly look and feel more alert.
Avoid harsh cleansers and soaps, which can strip your skin of necessary oils. Among the ingredients to avoid are sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, which are foaming agents, and alcohol, which can be extremely drying and irritating to the skin. Joni Loughran in “Natural Skin Care” recommends investing in a cosmetic ingredient reference book so you can look up which chemicals to avoid and their effects on the skin.
Like retinoids, peptides encourage the skin to regenerate. But they work even more slowly than retinoids, and are a more recent discovery with fewer clinical trials to support their efficacy. Their main draw is their gentleness: This is why, when we reviewed the best eye creams, we looked at a number of peptide formulas. But the skin around the rest of the face is less delicate than the very fragile eye area, so this isn’t a precaution most people need to take with a wrinkle cream. We opted to focus just on retinoid-based wrinkle creams.

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