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Category Archives: Beauty

Hairstyles for Medium Layered Hair to Light You Up

Medium layered hair styles are an excellent option since they flatter all women and have a broad spectrum of styling. Ladies with luxurious thick hair rock these hairstyles easily. Those with fine, thin hair get the desired volume, and for the ladies with curly hair, they can efficiently structure their curls.

Styling medium layered haircuts are easy, which is, of course, a big plus since you can do it at home. A medium layered haircut looks great if you make some highlights on the ends. Besides you can create curls on the ends of your hair using a curling iron. Check over here at these glam hairstyles for medium layered hair that will inspire your next styling.

  1. The Perfect Bedhead

Layers are an excellent option for ladies with medium length hair since they boost texture, volume and depth giving you a cute hairstyle without interfering with the length. Fine highlights in the medium brown hues are always an elegant touch for all brunettes.

  1. Medium Layered Hair with Wavy Cut

Immense layering complements very well with mid-length or shoulder haircuts for a health and dense hair. This gives way for more weight to be eliminated as is needed for all hairstyles with layers and bangs.

  1. Med-Length Hairstyle with Side Layers

You don’t have to style your layers on your entire head to come up with the needed volume and dimension. A gorgeous style incorporating side layers can give you a proper framing of the face, especially if you have a long neck or an oval face shape.

  1. Medium Haircut with Layered Bottom

Layers can have an immense impact on the straight hair especially if they are concentrated at the lower part of your head. If you have a thick hair to top it off, let your hair stylist chop the trimmings with layers to maintain it vibrant, yet bold, not bulky.

  1. Brunette Feathered Bob with Bangs

A medium layered hair is not usually what thick textures gravitate towards, but including piecey bangs whereby some of the hair is timed out can make this style a viable solution. Sectioning the bangs using your fingers and blow drying the hair increase the pieceyness.

  1. Point Cut Bob with Caramel Balayage

In case you feel bored with your straight or blunt haircut, you can make it soft with a pointcut bob. By having the haircut with an angle, you give the style a more texturized look. A pointcut appears great on many hair shades. However, balayage in cool colours such as caramel seem to be lighter and brighter nowadays.

  1. Straight, Sleek, And Layered

This is a sweet yet straightforward cut, plus the maintenance and styling are effortless and hustle free. Applying some product and blow drying it make the layers distinct, giving you a sassy, tousled hairdo. Try it as a transitional haircut as you grow your hair.

The Basics of Hair Removal

In addition to plucking, your options include waxing, bleaching, and chemical depilatories. Waxing keeps hair at bay four to six weeks. Plucking, bleaching, and depilatories last about two to three weeks or less. Each method has pros and cons. Waxing removes hair quickly and smoothly but can be painful and expensive if you get it done in a salon. You also run the risk of damaging your hair shafts and gettingingrown hairs. Bleaching is pretty easy, but it can burn and sting if you leave it on too long. Be sure to use a product made especially for the face, not the arms or legs. It’s a good option if your hair color contrasts with your skin color. The day before, test a patch on your inner wrist to make sure you don’t get redness or swelling. You should do a patch test with depilatories as well. These products, which come in aerosol, lotion, cream, and roll-on preparations, contain a chemical that dissolves the surface of the hair, separating it from the skin.

Read instructions very carefully; leaving a depilatory on too long can irritate your skin. Also, make sure you get a preparation made specifically for the part of your body you’re targeting. A product aimed at hair on your legs could well be too strong for your face. In any case, you shouldn’t use depilatories around your eyes or on inflamed or broken skin.

For longer-term hair removal, you can hit hair follicles with the more expensive options of lasers or electrolysis. Lasers work best when you’re attacking dark hair on pale skin; however, some newer methods target other skin and hair combinations. It usually takes several treatments to get at hair in different stages of growth. Electrolysis also takes several treatments and can be painful; if your technician isn’t properly trained, you could get an infection from an unsterile needle or even scarring. And both of these procedures can be costly. For either, be sure to check the credentials of the operator. Most states require people to be specially licensed to perform these procedures. If you can, get a recommendation from a dermatologist or your physician.

You may have seen ads for face creams and moisturizers that claim to slow hair growth. Try these products and see if you notice a difference. They may not actually slow growth but rather make it less obvious. That could be enough for you. If it isn’t, you might ask your doctor about prescription medications to slow hair growth. One of the newest is Vaniqa (eflornithine HCl). After about eight weeks, you may find that you need to tweeze or wax less frequently.

Diet for Dry Skin

If you have dry skin, you know that lotions and moisturizers help. But can certain dietary choices combat dry, itchy, scaly skin?

“The most important part of the skin barrier is lipids, including phospholipids, free fatty acids, cholesterol, and ceramides,” says Amy Newburger, MD, an attending physician in the Dermatology Department at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Medical Center. “Skin without enough fat in it has a protein predominance and is kind of like a mess made just of twigs with no glue between them.” Water easily escapes through a barrier without lipids, allowing skin to become dehydrated.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are necessary for the production of intercellular lipids — the “glue” between the “twigs” in the stratum corneum, or surface of the skin. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect on irritated skin. Two types of fatty acids that are “essential” — that is, they must be obtained through the diet — are omega-3s, and omega-6s.

Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish like salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines, as well as flaxseed oil, some types of eggs, and grass-fed beef. Evening primrose oil and borage seed oil, which are high in omega-6s, help hydrate the skin and prevent water from evaporating, says Leslie Baumann, director of the University of Miami Cosmetic Medicine and Research Institute. “If you don’t like fish or are pregnant and can’t eat it, omega-3 supplements are a good option.” Most Americans get enough omega-6s through their diet because they’re contained in corn and safflower oils.

While anecdotal success of fatty acids for alleviating dry skin has not been conclusively bolstered by research, several studies have shown significant positive effects: In a 2006 study of 50 patients with atopic dermatitis, 96 percent of those given capsules of evening primrose oil for five months showed notable reduction in intensity, itching, and dryness of the skin. In another study, of 29 elderly patients, borage seed oil supplements taken in pill form helped reduce water loss from the skin by 10.8 percent. And in a study of 118 infants with high risk of developing atopic dermatitis, those who were given borage seed oil and went on to develop the condition experienced a lower severity of the disorder than those in a placebo group. On the other hand, a 2006 meta-analysis of 22 studies that tested the effects of essential fatty acid supplementation found that no significant benefit was conferred on people with atopic dematitis by plant and fish oil supplements. More studies must be conducted before conclusions can be reached.

Vitamins and Minerals for Dry Skin

“Vitamin C is necessary for the function of the enzyme that causes collagen to form,” says Dr. Newburger, “and collagen acts as a sponge for moisture.”

Newburger adds that copper and zinc are also necessary. Together, vitamin C, zinc, and copper keep collagen denser, which in turn allows for plump, hydrated skin. “Any good multivitamin with trace minerals in it contains zinc and copper,” says Newburger. Zinc has also been found to have anti-inflammatory effects, which is vital for maintaining smooth skin.

Caffeine, Alcohol, and Dry Skin

While consuming caffeine is unlikely to dehydrate you, it does make the blood vessels constrict, which is why it’s used in eye creams (to reduce puffiness). “Long term, this means a reduced amount of blood flow and nutrients though the tissues,” warns Newburger. “And if you don’t have healthy circulation, you won’t have age-appropriate cell turnover.”

In the case of alcohol, Michele Murphy, a registered dietitian at NewYork Presbyterian–Weill Cornell Medical Center, explains that although it’s a diuretic, you’d need to be severely dehydrated to experience any noticeable changes. “The average person having a glass of wine with dinner every night and maintaining adequate fluid intake is unlikely to see any real difference,” she says. Contrary to popular belief, drinking large amounts of water does not affect skin. “The water we drink that’s processed internally isn’t going to impact the external look or feel of the skin,” Murphy says. Instead, it’s the skin’s outer layer that is essential for keeping moisture in.

Don’t Overdo It

If you’re already eating a balanced diet with sufficient fats, adding more fats or taking supplements is not necessarily a quick fix for dry skin. “If you’re deficient in fat or certain vitamins, it does have the potential to affect the look or feel of your skin,” says Murphy. “But supplementing beyond what the body needs has not been shown to improve skin.”

The Best Care Tips for Your Skin Type

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

Know Your Skin Type

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

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

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

Caring for Dry Skin

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

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

Caring for Oily Skin

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

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

Caring for Combination Skin

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

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

Two Varicose Veins Treatments

Although laser treatment and surgery are both effective in treating varicose veins, it appears that recurrence of one form of the problem is more common with the laser treatment, German researchers report.

Varicose veins are twisted and enlarged veins that usually occur in the legs. As many as 35 percent of adults suffer complications from varicose veins, usually when the leg’s so-called great saphenous vein becomes blocked, affecting blood flow. Standard treatments include removing the vein either with surgery or a laser procedure, which can prevent complications and improve quality of life, researchers say.

“Our opinion is that both procedures can be equally offered to the patients with great saphenous vein insufficiency,” said lead researcher Dr. Knuth Rass, from Saarland University Hospital in Homburg.

However, patients should be informed that there might be a risk for a higher rate of clinical recurrences beyond two years after the laser treatment, he said.

Bulging varicose veins — often purple and dark blue — are usually seen in the legs or feet because standing puts more pressure on them. In some people, the problem may simply be cosmetic, but in others it can cause aching and pain, muscle cramping, itching and other symptoms. When accompanied by skin ulcers near the ankle, varicose veins can even signal a serious vascular disease.

The report was published in the Sept. 19 online edition of the Archives of Dermatology.

For the study, Rass and colleagues randomly assigned 346 patients to undergo either a surgical procedure called high ligation and stripping, or a laser treatment called endovenous laser treatment.

The surgical procedure involves tying off the vein, which runs between the hip and the foot, through a small incision at the hip. In the laser procedure, a catheter is inserted into the vein and the laser’s burst of light causes the vein to disappear.

During two years of follow-up after the procedure, the researchers looked for recurrence of the condition, severity of the condition, blood flow in the vein and other side effects. They also evaluated how satisfied patients were with each procedure.

Overall, recurrence was 16.2 percent for those who had the laser treatment and 23.1 percent of those who had surgery. But ultrasound revealed that many more patients who had the laser treatment developed one form of the condition called duplex-detected saphenofemoral reflux, where blood flows backward through the vein (17.8 percent of laser treatment patients versus 1.3 percent of surgical patients).

Both treatments equally improved the severity of the disease and the patient’s quality of life, and patients were satisfied with both treatments, the researchers noted. “Ninety-eight percent of the study population would undergo each treatment once again, when asked two years after treatment,” Rass said.

Although there were more minor side effects with the laser treatment, including pain, it did produce better blood flow in the legs and was associated with faster recovery and a better cosmetic outcome, compared with surgery, the investigators found.

Commenting on the study, Dr. Enrique Ginzburg, a professor of surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that “it makes sense that the two procedures have similar results.”

Ginzburg noted there are other treatments, including radiofrequency-powered segmental thermal ablation and another laser treatment called radial laser fiber, which uses less power, thus reducing pain. There is also a technique that involves a spinning catheter that destroys the inside of the vein causing it to clot off, he said.

For people who have mild cases of varicose veins, experts note, doctors may instead recommend self-care (exercising, losing weight and avoiding tight clothes) or wearing compression stockings to help the blood flow more efficiently.

But there are often medical reasons, not only cosmetic reasons, for having procedures to treat varicose veins, Ginzburg noted. “In reality, it’s a combination of both. Varicose veins are painful as they get bigger. At the same time they are unsightly, so it’s not just a cosmetic procedure, it’s a therapeutic procedure,” he said.

Patients are charged about the same for each of these procedures, Ginzburg said. The average cost is about $2,000 whichever procedure a patient opts for, he noted.

As with all surgeries, vein stripping poses some risks, including that of blood clots, infection and nerve damage. Laser procedures for varicose veins also carry a small risk of infection, nerve inflammation and/or damage and blood clots.

Some patients, including pregnant women, should not undergo vein stripping. And as with any surgery, it is also crucial to check the background of the varicose vein specialist beforehand. Experts recommend using a board-certified vascular surgeon.

Simple Tips for Acne Treatment

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

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

Getting to the Root of Acne

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

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

The Right Acne Treatment

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

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

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

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

And what should you stay away from?

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

Acne Treatment: Other Tips

Other tips to keep acne from getting worse:

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

Skin Care for Teen Skin

Acne, blackheads, and oily skin top the list of teen skin complaints, says Jessica Wu, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles who specializes in medical and cosmetic dermatology. But by following her skin advice, you can keep your skin healthy and glowing.

The challenges of teen skin are sizable, says Dr. Wu. “Hormonal surges lead to enlargement of the oil glands, making teen skin oily and creating large pores and blackheads,” she explains.

Even though you and your friends are going through puberty together, chances are your skin is looking and feeling a bit different from your BFF’s. That means the skin tip that works for her might not work for you. Fortunately, you can easily find the right skin advice to choose from to keep your skin clear.

Here are the top skin tips for teen skin care:

  • Cleanse carefully. If your skin is oily, you’ll probably do well with a foaming or gel cleanser for daily skin care. Cleanse once a day, or twice if your skin gets very oily or dirty throughout the day. “If a teen girl wears makeup, it’s best to remove eye makeup first, then cleanse with your fingertips and a gel or foaming cleanser,” Wu says. If you play sports or work hard in PE class, wash your face (if you can) before you exercise. At the very least, she says, carry facial tissues to blot your skin. For teens who have dry rather than oily skin, try a milky cleanser and moisturizer.
  • Wash off makeup before bed. Even if your best friend can sleep with hermakeup on and look great, it’s not a great idea. “If you’re simply too exhausted to tie your hair back, take off makeup, and wash your face, at least use a pre-moistened cleansing wipe to take off makeup, dirt, and oil,” Wu says. If you make a regular habit of sleeping in makeup, you can have an acne breakout or develop a bumpy rash called perioral or periocular dermatitis.
  • Control oil. You want to keep down the shine without being harsh on your skin. According to Wu, there’s a basic three-step process to oil control: (1) choose a salicylic acid cleanser, (2) use an oil-free primer to control shine, and (3) blot oil during the day using specialized cloths or tissues.
  • Exfoliate. You need to exfoliate only once or twice a week, using a relatively gentle product. Don’t scrub (it won’t help with acne or blackheads) and don’t over-exfoliate.
  • Get the right acne products. If you have breakouts, try this approach: Wash your skin, use a toner, and then apply a medicated acne gel.
  • Don’t share makeup. “Do you want to share your friend’s germs?” Wu asks. “It’s an especially bad idea to share eye and lip products.” So, as tempting as it is to try your friend’s perfect new eye liner, get your own instead.
  • Keep hands clean. One way to help your skin stay healthy is to protect it from dirt and too many germs. Wash your hands before you touch your face or touch up your makeup and regularly clean other surfaces that touch your skin, such as your phone.
  • Choose spray hair products. If you notice that your acne breakouts cluster around your hairline or places where your hair often brushes your skin, consider that your hair product might be to blame. Make a switch to spray products, which, Wu says, “are less likely to cause breakouts.”
  • Skip the toothpaste and other old wives’ tales. You might hear about many odd remedies to control acne, like putting toothpaste on your skin. In fact, this could just make skin worse if you are allergic to the ingredients. There’s a ton of great skin care products on the market that can help you look your best.
  • Wear sunscreen. You want your skin to look healthy now and for decades to come. Using sunblock also helps keep your acne breakouts from turning dark, Wu says. Pick an oil-free product, and look for cosmetics, like liquid foundation, that contain sunscreen.
  • Avoid tanning beds. Get a healthy bronze glow with a self-tanner. Tanning beds and sun tanning can set you up for early wrinkles and increased skin cancer risk later on.
  • Talk to a doctor. Seeing a dermatologist about acne can make a huge difference, especially if you have red, pus-filled pimples or large lumps under the skin that are painful or leaving scars. “Those can stay with you for a lifetime,” Wu says. You might benefit from prescription cleansers and acne medication that can clear skin faster and more effectively than over-the-counter products.

5 Tips to Protect Your Skin

These five skin protection tips can keep your skin looking and feeling great, by guarding against a slew of skin woes, from chapped skin to prematurely aging to skin cancer.

1. Limit Sun Exposure

You’ve heard the message a zillion times, and there’s good reason for that unrelenting repetition. Ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun cause many types of skin damage:

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

Using skin care products that offer ultraviolet protection is one of the best ways to help keep your skin looking fresh and youthful:

  • Use sunscreen every day and reapply regularly whenever you’re outdoors for extended periods.
  • Cover skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats.
  • Stay indoors when the sun is at its most intense, usually between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

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

2. Stay Hydrated

Keeping your skin moist is essential to skin protection. Skin that is properly hydrated retains pliability and prevents chapped skin or scaly, flaky skin:

  • Drink lots of water. This is key to hydrating your skin.
  • Use the right moisturizing cream or lotion for your skin type and apply it right after drying off from your bath or shower. Avoid products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, as this ingredient removes natural oils needed by your skin.
  • Take warm (not hot) showers or baths, and limit them to between 5 and 10 minutes. It seems counterintuitive, but exposure to water actually dries out your skin. If dry skin persists, consider cutting back on the number of baths you take.

3. Take Health Precautions

Cold sores are caused by a viral infection of the skin bordering the lips, while bacteria can contribute to acne and other skin conditions. Practicing skin protection means paying close attention to what touches your skin, to lower your chances of exposure to germs:

  • Don’t share any personal items, such as lip balms or toothbrushes.
  • Don’t share drinks with other people.
  • Avoid touching your face with your fingers or with objects like telephone receivers that have been used by others.

4. Use Gentle Skin Care

Washing your face is important to remove dirt, oils, germs, and dead cells. However, scrubbing your face causes irritation that can lead to chapped skin that, in turn, can leave skin vulnerable. For best results, you should:

  • Wash your face twice daily with warm water and a mild cleanser.
  • Gently massage your face with a washcloth, using a circular motion.
  • Rinse thoroughly after washing to remove all soap and debris.
  • Pat your skin dry — don’t rub — then apply your facial moisturizer.

5. Know Your Skin

Pay attention to odd freckles, moles, and growths on your skin, and consult your doctor if you notice any changes. For example, a change in a mole can indicate potential skin cancer. Be sure to treat any cuts that may occur to prevent infection. Other skin conditions that merit a dermatologist visit include frequent acne, inflamed or irritated dry skin, and skin rashes and irritations that don’t go away, as these could be signs of one of the many types of dermatitis, or skin inflammation.

With proper skin care to pamper skin from the outside and with a good diet to nourish from within, skin protection comes down to a few simple steps. But should you ever notice any problems, get medical attention to resolve them quickly and avoid putting your skin at risk.

Tips to Find The Right Moisturizer

While choosing the right skin moisturizer may seem confusing, it’s actually very simple if you follow a few guidelines, says dermatologist Monica Halem, MD, of ColumbiaDoctors Eastside in New York City. Dr. Halem’s first rule of thumb? Don’t spend too much money.

How a Skin Moisturizer Works

Cleansers and moisturizers are the most important skin products, particularly for softening dry skin. A skin moisturizer works by sealing moisture into the outer layer of the skin and by pulling moisture from the inner layers of skin to the outer layer.

Key ingredients that seal in moisture are petrolatum, mineral oil, lanolin, and dimethicone. Glycerin, propylene glycol, proteins, urea, and vitamins help attract water into the outer layer of the skin.

Some skin moisturizers also contain an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), which exfoliates dead skin, says Francesca Fusco, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and a spokeswoman for the Skin Cancer Foundation. AHAs are a good choice if you have very dry skin.

Finding the Skin Moisturizer For You

It may take some trial and error, Halem says, so be patient. Follow these guidelines as you shop and, if you’re not getting the results you want, try a new one the next time:

  • Note the first five ingredients. Look for common active ingredients, such as lanolin, glycerin, or petrolatum, Dr. Fusco says. Glycerin is less likely than lanolin to cause an allergic reaction, she says. She also recommends picking a moisturizer that’s made by a reputable company.
  • Go for added sunscreen. Protecting your skin from harmful sun damage is one of the best things you can do to keep your skin looking young, so buy a moisturizer with a sun protection factor of at least 30. You’ll have to do some searching, but more companies are offering face and body moisturizers with sunscreen, Halem says.
  • Make it skin-type appropriate. The skin on your face is thinner and more sensitive, so it’s a good idea to use a different moisturizer on your face than you do on your body, Fusco says and recommends buying one that’s labeled “non-comedogenic” because it won’t clog your pores. Of course, choose one that’s right for your skin type. If you know you have sensitive skin, it’s always a good idea to look for a moisturizer labeled hypoallergenic. If you have oily skin, go with a light, oil-free moisturizer. If you have dry skin, get something richer. And if you have combination skin, go with a lighter moisturizer for your whole face and dot drier areas with a heavier cream, Fusco says. Keep in mind that you may need a lighter lotion in the summer, and a cream or ointment in the winter.
  • Consider using a moisturizer with retinol before bed. Retinol is vitamin A for your skin, Halem says. It works by increasing the speed at which your skin cells turn over. You can find it over the counter or by prescription, but use it carefully as it may cause a skin irritation, red skin, or dry skin.

Relief by Prescription

If your skin is very dry, consider a prescription moisturizer. Prescription moisturizers contain the AHA lactic acid, which softens the top layer of your skin and can do a better job if over-the-counter moisturizers aren’t working for you, Fusco says. AHAs such as lactic acid and glycolic acid can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Tell your doctor if you experience burning, irritation, red skin, itching, or a rash.

Another prescription option is a barrier cream, which contains humectants that hold on to moisture longer, Fusco says. Barrier creams penetrate a little deeper than standard moisturizers, she adds.

When to Moisturize

Once you find the right product, moisturize every day and you’ll go a long way toward preventing dry skin and even camouflaging wrinkles. While a skin moisturizer can’t get rid of wrinkles — because wrinkles begin much deeper in the skin due to collagen loss — it can plump up the skin and minimize their appearance, Halem says.

Whichever moisturizer you choose, it will work better if you apply it to damp skin. Think about a sponge that’s dried out, Fusco says. If you put moisturizer on it, it won’t go anywhere. But if you soak the sponge in water and coat it with moisturizer, the sponge will absorb it. Your skin works the same way, happily lapping it up.

Could Your Lipstick Give You Lead Poisoning?

According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition that advocates for healthier makeup and hygiene products, hundreds of popular lipsticks currently on the market have tested positive for lead, which can be toxic even in small amounts.

The Campaign reports that the FDA analyzed 400 different lipsticks and found low levels of lead in almost all of them. Maybelline’s “Color Sensational” Pink Petal was the worst offender, with 7.19 ppm (parts per million) — 275 times the amount found in the least-contaminated product, Wet & Wild’s Mega Mixers Lip Balm — but L’Oreal, CoverGirl, and Nars had products in the top five, too. The average lead content across all 400 brands (which include other drugstore lines, as well as high-end companies such as Dior, M.A.C., Chanel, and Lancome) was 1.11 ppm.

To put these numbers in context, the Environmental Protection Agency’s allowable maximum contaminant level (MCL) is 15 ppm in drinking water; 100 ppm in children’s toys. (There is currently no such regulation for makeup by either the EPA or the FDA.)

Consumer advocacy organizations like the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics have stricter standards, however. They’d like to see all MCLs set at zero, or as close to it as possible.

“There is no safe level of lead exposure,” Campaign co-founder Stacy Malkan told ABCNews.com, citing a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the dangers of lead, which include blood and brain disorders in children. “It builds up in the body over time. A little bit every day is adding up and staying with you.”

Indeed, rumor has it that women swallow somewhere between three and nine pounds of lipstick over the course of their lifetime. Given that the average tube amounts to a mere three grams, however, you would have to ingest more than 150 entire sticks to swallow just one pound. So even if you slather on fresh color every morning — which as many as 81 percent of women do, according to a poll from the market research group Mintel — are you really in danger of consuming enough lipstick (and therefore lead) to put you at risk for poisoning?

The FDA says no — for now, at least. “[The study] did not find high levels of lead in lipstick,” the organization said in a statement to Reuters. “We developed and tested a method for measuring…and did not find levels that would raise health concerns.”

“The FDA’s independent study, which will be published in the May/June 2012 issue of the Journal of Cosmetic Science, confirms that lipsticks pose no safety concerns for the millions of women who use them daily,” L’Oreal representatives added. “The lead levels detected by the FDA in the study are also within the limits recommended by global public health authorities for cosmetics, including lipstick.”

Malkan, for her part, claims those “limits” are part of the problem. “When these companies are asked about these chemicals, they argue, ‘it’s legal, so it’s okay,’” she said. “That’s why we’re calling for the FDA to set a standard and give guidance to these companies for the best manufacturing practices.”