This is default featured slide 1 title
This is default featured slide 3 title
This is default featured slide 4 title
This is default featured slide 5 title
 

Category Archives: Beauty

The Aging Effects of UV Rays

Damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause your skin to age prematurely — think wrinkles. The good news is that premature aging due to UV rays is largely preventable. By taking steps to avoid excessive sun exposure and protecting your skin when you’re in the sun, you can help keep your skin healthier and postpone wrinklesfor years to come.

The Sun’s Spectrum of Ultraviolet Rays

Radiation energy emitted from the sun reaches the earth in the form of UV rays. Ozone in the Earth’s atmosphere provides some protection, but the breakdown of the ozone layer that has occurred over the past few decades is making us even more vulnerable to UV rays damage. Even on overcast days you’re still being exposed to UV rays — “cloud cover” offers no protective value.

Two types of UV rays reach the earth, UVA and UVB (the sun also emits UVC rays, but these are absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere). UVA rays are the rays that cause tanning as well as wrinkles and other signs of premature aging, and UVB rays cause sunburns and skin cancer. But both ultimately damage your skin. UV rays are more powerful during the summer months. They are also stronger in high altitude areas and the closer you get to the equator — geographic factors that increase your risk of premature aging.

Damage Done by UV Rays

When UV rays reach your skin, they interact with a natural chemical in the skin called melanin. Melanin is your first line of protection and absorbs UV rays in order to shield your skin against sun damage; this chemical reaction is what gives skin a tan. When the amount of UV rays you’re exposed to exceeds the protection provided by melanin, however, you get a sunburn.

Repeated overexposure to UV rays can lead to various forms of skin damage including:

  • Fine lines
  • Wrinkles
  • Age spots, freckles, and other discolorations
  • Scaly red patches, called actinic keratoses, thought to be the beginnings of skin cancer
  • Tough, leathery skin that feels and looks dry and rough

As if these signs of aging weren’t enough, the sun causes numerous types of skin cancer, including life-threatening melanoma; eye damage such as cataracts, which impair vision; and a weakened immune system, leaving you less able to fight off infections.

Break the UV Ray Cycle

You can help protect your skin from wrinkles and other sun damage with the following steps:

  • Use sunscreen. Every day, generously apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, choosing products that provide what’s called “broad spectrum” protection against both UVA and UVB rays. When you’re in the sun for prolonged periods of time, reapply sunscreen every two hours.
  • Wear protective clothing. Whenever possible, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses to further shield your skin from the sun. Consider clothes made from fabrics with built-in SPF.
  • Avoid peak sun hours. Stay in the shade during the hottest part of the day, usually from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are at their most intense.
  • Follow the UV Index. The UV Index is a daily indicator of how much UV radiation is expected to reach the earth — think of it as a pollen count reading for your skin. Developed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Weather Service, it’s usually broadcast along with your local weather report. A rating of 1 to 2 is considered low, and anything over 11 is very high. The higher the number, the more you risk overexposure to UV rays.
  • Never use tanning beds. Tanning beds emit the same UV rays that come from the sun, so skip them. Contrary to popular belief, they are not a “safer” way to tan.
  • Bronze yourself with sunless tanning products. If you like the look of sunkissed skin, consider do-it-yourself tanning products or splurge on a salon spray-on tan. But remember to still use sunscreen and take all other precautions against UV rays when you’re going to be outside.

While the sun may feel warm and inviting, exposure to UV rays comes at a cost. Take steps to protect yourself from the havoc that sun damage can wreak on your skin.

Tips to Care a Dry Skin

Understanding Dry Skin

The outer layers of your skin are put together in a type of brick-and-mortar system. Healthy skin cells are stacked with oils and other substances that keep skin moist. When those substances are lost, skin cells can crumble away, which leads to dry skin.

Itching is the No. 1 symptom of dry skin, says Francesca Fusco, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and a spokeswoman for the Skin Cancer Foundation. Your skin may look dull, flaky, or ashy (if you have dark skin), which can progress to skin being scaly or cracked. In the worst-case scenario, skin becomes thick and leathery, Dr. Fusco says.

Conditions Causing Dry Skin

Dry skin can affect anyone whose skin loses water or oil, particularly in climates with low humidity, or during winter months when low humidity and indoor heat affect the natural balance of healthy skin, Fusco says. However, some people are more prone to dry skin than others because of certain medical conditions:

  • Keratosis pilaris. As many as 40 percent of people in the United States have an inherited dry skin condition called keratosis pilaris. More common in children and adolescents, the condition causes tiny red or flesh-colored bumps on the skin, particularly on their upper arms and thighs or on the cheeks in children. The bumps are dead skin cells and make skin feel rough, like sandpaper. Skin may also itch during the winter or in low humidity.
  • Atopic dermatitis. Up to 20 percent of people around the world have atopic dermatitis, a common type of eczema in which itchy patches of skin form. When the skin is scratched, it may become red and swollen and could crack, weep fluid, or scale. This type of eczema often occurs in people who also have asthma or hay fever.
  • Hormonal changes. When your body is going through hormonal changes, you may notice dry or flaky skin cropping up. It’s something that happens even in babies. Newborns commonly develop cradle cap — flaky, scaly skin on the scalp — as a result of being exposed to mother’s hormones in the uterus, Fusco says. Women may notice a change in their skin’s oil production when they begin (or stop) using hormonal contraceptives. And hormonal changes after menopause can also lead to dry skin, she says.
  • Thyroid disease. One of the early symptoms of hypothyroidism (when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone) is dry skin.
  • Diabetes or kidney disease. People with diabetes or kidney disease may notice dry, itchy skin on their legs due to poor circulation, Fusco says. It’s a result of the skin not getting the proper amount of blood flow.

From Dry Skin to Healthy Skin

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Apply a skin moisturizer to your body and face at least once a day, when the skin is still damp from the shower, Fusco says. In the summer, a thinner lotion will do the job, but in the winter when skin becomes drier, use a thicker cream or ointment.

If over-the-counter moisturizers aren’t doing enough for your skin, your doctor can suggest a prescription-strength moisturizer. Products that contain lactic acid soften the top, hard layer of the skin, Fusco says. She recommends applying it at night so it can work while you sleep, and then buffing it off in the shower in the morning. The only downside: It can cause an allergic reaction in some people, leading to red, bumpy, itchy skin.

Another prescription option is a barrier cream. Barrier creams penetrate a little deeper than standard moisturizers and contain humectants, which hold onto moisture better and longer.

For those with keratosis pilaris, moisturizing with creams that have urea or lactic acid helps the itch, but doesn’t necessarily smooth the skin. However, mild chemical peels or topical retinoids may soften the skin.

People who have eczema may find relief with a skin moisturizer and can also use cold compresses on itchy skin. Over-the-counter or prescription corticosteroid creams may also be needed, but prolonged use can thin your skin, so carefully follow your doctor’s directions about using them. Your doctor may also prescribe oral corticosteroids, but they’re not intended for long-term use.

Other dry skin treatments include:

  • Taking short, warm (instead of hot) showers
  • Using a moisturizing body wash
  • Placing a humidifier in your home to add moisture to the air

Fusco also advocates adding healthy oils into your diet through foods like olive oil, nuts, and avocados.

3 Ways to Use Color Mascara

So you’ve been wanting to try color mascara, eh? Maybe you just bought some, or maybe you’re eyeing that cute green, cobalt, or burgundy shade online. But…how do you wear color mascara without having it be such a Look? Is there a way to wear color mascara for a subtle pop of color without having everyone for 300 feet know you are WEARING BLUE MASCARA?

Why, yes. Yes there is. You can combine a color mascara with your regular black or brown mascara, making your lashes look different and interesting without getting too bright. Color mascara in class or an office? Definitely! Color mascara for a meet-the-parents dinner? Why the heck not?

Just the tips

Grab your normal, everyday black mascara (we used Inglot Cosmetics Perfect Length Define Mascara, $13), and sweep it on your top and bottom lashes. Next, try a crazy color! We went with Inglot Cosmetics Colour Play Mascara in 02 Green, which is a highly pigmented, almost electric green, and applied it just to the tips of the top and bottom lashes. Presto! A subtle-yet-still-visible color on the tips of your still-proper eyelashes. You can’t even see it unless you get pretty close, but when you do, it’s like your entire soul suddenly gets how awesome this is.

Halfsies

For a more obvious look that is still not in “Rainbow Brite” territory, try swiping your top lashes with black mascara and putting color mascara on just your bottom lashes. This can be fun to try with gently varying shades, say, black on top and navy on bottom, or add a cobalt on the bottom for a little more oomph. This works especially well with blue shades, because they’ll make the whites of your eyes look brighter, the same way blue-based red lipsticks will make your skin tone look cooler. “You look different! But…why?” – Everyone at work.

Let’s Blend

Your black mascara is about to get a facelift. Sweep on a coat of black mascara, and then do a second coat of a vibrant color mascara of your choice (what about purple? or burgundy?) Look at that! Is it black mascara? No. Is it color mascara? No….or is it? Adding a coat of color mascara to black makes the black appear multifaceted and a bit more interesting, without making you commit to Krazy Kolor Lashes all the way.

Body Wash, Shower Gel, or Bar Soap?

Standing in the skin and beauty aisle at the drugstore store can seem overwhelming. Bar soaps, body washes, and shower gels all compete for your attention and your dollars. How can you find the best soap for your skin?

What you buy is largely a matter of which type of product you like best — with a few exceptions, says Jami Miller, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the department of dermatology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

Dr. Miller cautions against falling for the advertising that surrounds body washes, bar soaps, and shower gels. Most of the messages in these ads are misleading. Instead, you should consider your skin type, specifically whether your skin tends to besensitive and dry, or oily. Your bathing habits may actually be more important than the product that you choose: it’s best to use warm instead of hot water when taking a bath and to moisturize immediately after toweling off.

Whether you choose a bar or a bottle, many body cleansers may all have the same effect. These products remove dirt, bacteria, and — unfortunately — some or all of your natural body oils.

“Most soaps and body washes remove the oils that keep skin soft and naturally moisturized. Removing that oil makes your skin dryer,” says Miller. One solution is to look for products that state that they are moisturizing. “Many body washes leave a layer of moisturizer on the skin that helps to replenish the oils removed.”

In a Lather Over Lather

Despite what many bath product commercials may suggest, you do not need a lot of foam to get clean. In fact, avoiding lather might be your best bet, especially if you are worried about dry skin.

“The non-soap cleansers that also do not foam tend to leave more of your natural oils behind and thus are less drying,” explains Miller. “Most people can avoid over-drying their skin by selecting a soap for sensitive skin such as Dove, Aveeno, Cetaphil, or CeraVe, and applying a body lotion to still-damp skin after bathing. This seals the moisture back into your skin and replenishes the oils you removed.”

A Conversation About Film

Miller explains the term “film” can have several different meanings, but we usually think of it as a thin layer of oil deposited by bar soap or body wash. It forms a barrier to seal in moisture and, as long as this doesn’t lead to a breakout or make you feel greasy, it’s perfectly fine. Both soap and body wash can leave a film, she says, adding to beware of soaps that leave no film. Soaps that strip off all your oil, making you feel squeaky clean but leaving no moisture barrier, are harsher than those that leave a film.

If a film bothers you, Miller suggests trying newer formulations of soap, shower gel, body wash, and moisturizers. These “more closely approximate the skin’s natural lipids and still leave moisture in the skin, but feel less greasy, so you do not feel a film left behind,” she says.

The Facts About Bar Soap

Many people believe that a simple bar soap is the best body cleanser. However, bar soaps may be unpleasantly drying, says Miller. The most important step you can take is to check the ingredients for lye.

“Deodorant soaps and lye soaps tend to strip the skin’s oils and do not replace them. If your skin is really oily, then that is not a problem,” says Miller. “If you use these relatively harsh soaps and your skin becomes dry, you will need to moisturize afterwards.”

If you like using a bar soap, it’s better to choose a beauty bar, which tends to be more moisturizing that regular bar soaps.

The Best Body Cleanser for You

Though oily skin can withstand the effects of most body wash products, all skin typescan benefit from these tips:

  • Choose a mild cleanser that does not contain lye.
  • Use cool or warm water when bathing, never hot.
  • Use a moisturizer immediately after drying off.
  • Don’t over-cleanse — this can lead to dryness.
  • Watch out for signs of dryness, including redness, itching, and flaking.

If you try several products, moisturize after bathing, and continue to feel dry and uncomfortable, you may need to see a dermatologist for prescription skin care rather than switching to another body cleanser.

How to Find Skin Cream That Works

Most skin creams with a rich texture will soothe dryness, but there are many that say they can reverse the signs of aging — and that’s where you need to be careful. Fortunately, some skin creams do what they promise and deliver that healthy, youthful glow everyone wants.

But with so many to choose from, how do you know that you’re picking the best cream for your needs? Before you start shopping, learn more about the ingredients that you should be looking for on the labels.

Common Skin Cream Ingredients

  • Retin-A and Renova. Some of the more popular beauty-counter skin creams include an ingredient called retinol, a form of Vitamin A. However, the only form of Vitamin A that has been proven to be effective as an anti-wrinkle agent is called tretinoin, and it’s only available as a prescription. It comes in two formulas: Retin-A and Renova.Scott Gerrish, MD, founder and CEO of Gerrish & Associates, PC, describes collagen as “the skin fibers that give your skin support and its plump, youthful look.” Retin-A and its sister formula Renova actually stimulate collagen growth, plus increase the thickness of your skin, skin-cell turnover, and the flow of blood to your skin.

    First used to treat acne more than 30 years ago, Retin-A was created by dermatologist Albert M. Kligman, MD, professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Dr. Kligman’s older acne patients reported that their skin was not only clear, but more youthful after using it — an amazing side effect of the formula.

    Because Retin-A was aimed at people with oily skin and breakouts, it was drying to older complexions. Renova was developed in the 1990s to deliver the same anti-aging effects in a cream base without the side effect of dryness.

    A physician has to prescribe the right formula for your skin type and give you careful instructions for proper use. Either version can costs over $100 for a tube, but because only a pea-sized amount is used at a time, it lasts for months and, unlike some skin creams that cost hundreds more, it’s a skin care treatment that works. Dr. Gerrish adds this caution when using either Retin-A or Renova, “Make sure you use a sunscreen daily as it will make your skin more sensitive to the sun.”

  • Vitamin C. Skin creams treat and affect the epidermis, which is the thin, outer layer of the skin that protects the underlying dermis, where your body makes collagen. “Skin creams with a high level of vitamin C help your skin produce collagen and can make your skin look brighter,” says Gerrish. “But in order to penetrate the epidermis and affect the dermis, the vitamin C has to be formulated as magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, or MAP.” Look for products with MAP on the label, such as Isomers Vitamin C Serum MAP + E.
  • Hydroxy acid formulas. Skin creams that contain one of the alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), or poly hydroxy acids (PHAs) offer exfoliation and moisturizing benefits. Says Gerrish, “The glycolic acid family, one of the AHAs, has been further studied and aside from its beneficial effects on the epidermis, with a high concentration of 25 percent, glycolic acids improve the quality of collagen and elastic fibers, improving the dermis and brightening your skin, too.” Over-the-counter concentrations are not quite that strong, but Glytone Rejuvenate Facial Cream 3 and Neostrata Face Cream Plus – AHA 15 are two to consider.
  • Peptides. The latest skin cream on the horizon packs peptides inside. “Collagen cannot penetrate the epidermis; however, peptides are small pieces of collagen that can penetrate it and reach the dermis, the layer where collagen is actually produced.” Peptide creams now available on the market contain Matrixyl or the Argireline molecule. “Another positive of Argireline is its relaxing effect on facial muscles, which reduces wrinkles,” states Gerrish. Faitox-25 contains both Matrixyl and Argireline, and Peptide 6 Wrinkle Cream has Argireline.

“All people can benefit from a good skin cream,” says Gerrish. To help you choose between over-the-counter options, he sums it up this way: “Those with dry skinbenefit from the moisture-preserving Vitamin C creams. If your skin is oily, look toward the retinol and glycolic acid creams, which have a beneficial exfoliating and acne-preventing effect. Young people can also benefit from the Vitamin C creams, which preserve moisture in the skin. And everyone should wear a good sunscreen daily.”

A number of skin creams have been proven to help keep your skin looking younger. While none can totally eliminate the aging process, the most effective ones can slow it down and help you look your best.

Kick Dry Skin to the Curb

Be on a hot bath boycott.

In certain parts of the country, it’s chillingly cold. And it is precisely those cold temperatures that may lead many to a huge dry skin culprit:hot, long, baths. “Hot showers strip away your body’s natural oils,” says Dr. Day, leaving your skin dry and tight. Instead Dr. Day recommends taking not-so-hot showers, and then patting dry rubbing totally dry after so your body is a bit damp. “It’s about water retention,” says Dr. Day.

Still using summer products? Aint gonna cut it.

Using a rich cream instead of a lotion will make a huge difference in your skin,” says Dr Day, as lotions are thinner and not as emollient as their thicker cream counterparts. Instead, Dr. Day suggests switching out your light warm weather lotion for a richer, more penetrating cream.

Don’t worry about wrinkles.

“Women often see an exaggeration of wrinkles in the winter,” says Dr. Ciraldo, “because of skins dryness.” So if you look in the mirror and see more fine lines around your eyes and mouth, don’t add more stress to your sensitive skin by freaking out. It is most likely a temporary thing. Instead, defend yourself with a hydrating night cream and a good night’s sleep.

Soak in it.

“It’s important to put moisture back in your body,” says Dr. Ciraldo, and she means literally. Dr. Ciraldo recommends relaxing in a bathtub of tepid water until your fingertips are wrinkled, however long that takes “Your skin has a great capacity for holding water,” says Dr. Ciraldo, “it’s important to get re-hydrated.”

Read ingredients.

Because our skin loses lipids in the winter (the barrier that keeps water in) it’s important to use products that contain lipids, like the ever-popular Ceramides. Dr. Ciraldo also recommends looking for products with Stearic Acid (an animal fat) and Glyco-Lipids, that can also help in preventing moisture loss.

Get oily.

This is a good time to get on the Flaxseed oil and Fish oil bandwagon. Besides, being high in good-for-you Omega-3’s, these oils help keep the skin supple. Fish oil and flax seed oil supplements can also help improve skin’s appearance and reduce the pain of stiff sore joints, caused by the winter cold and possible the increase of you staying indoors and couch surfing.

Avoid Soap.

“Many soaps are drying, so it’s important to wash with a liquid non-soap cleanser,” says Dr. Ciraldo. In addition, Dr. Ciraldo suggests looking for cleansers or moisturizers that are possess botanicals, plant extracts like chamomile and lavender which are naturally body replenishing. Botanicals are often soothing as well; ideal for wind chapped or exposed skin.

Tips to Hide a Cold Sore

Cold sores have a habit of breaking out when you have a cold, but they can be also caused by stress. That’s why you might discover a cold sore on your lip or around your mouth when you least want to deal with it.

Whether you’re going to a wedding or a big job interview, it’s hard to feel your best with a cold sore on your face. Using makeup such as concealer may help, but the timing can be tricky. “I wouldn’t recommend trying to cover a cold sore if it is not partially healed or scabbed over,” says Denise Gevaras, a professional makeup artist in Toms River, N.J. “Most cold sores will ooze in the beginning, and trying to put makeup on them will not only draw attention to them but can probably prevent them from healing properly.”

“It’s hard to conceal a cold sore when it has blistered and is still weeping,” agrees Danielle M. Miller, MD, a dermatologist at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass. “But you might be able to use a concealer safely when cold sores are in the healing stage. You also might be able to use an antiviral medication to prevent a cold sore from breaking out or to make it heal more quickly.”

Concealer to Hide a Cold Sore

Once your cold sore has begun healing, you can use makeup to lessen its appearance. “To cover a healing cold sore, I would recommend using a highly concentrated heavy concealer,” says Gevaras. “I have done this often in the past with clients having a breakout right before their wedding.”

Gevaras recommends these steps to best conceal a cold sore:

  • Use a concealer with a creamy texture, not a liquid. These concealers are usually sold in small jars, tubes, or compacts, and are very concentrated.
  • Only a small amount of a heavy concealer is needed — a little goes a very long way.
  • If you have a lot of redness, you may benefit from using concealer in two different shades: a yellow-based concealer to neutralize redness and a concealer that matches your skin tone.
  • Dab on the yellow concealer using a disposable makeup sponge. Start with a very small amount and build it up, if necessary, to avoid cakiness.
  • After the yellow concealer is applied, top it with a very light dusting of finishing powder. Pat it on lightly to avoid disturbing the concealer.
  • Next, gently dab on the concealer color that matches your skin tone and use a stipple motion to blend.
  • Apply another light dusting of finishing powder to set.

“Because cold sores are contagious, to avoid contaminating makeup products, use only disposable sponges and brushes, even if the cold sore is scabbed over,” warns Gevaras. “Never ‘double dip’ in the concealer or powder with the same makeup sponge or brush.”

Getting Rid of Cold Sores Sooner

While there is nothing you can do about an active, oozing cold sore, you might be able to shorten the life of the cold sore or even keep it from showing up.

“In many cases, symptoms of numbness and burning around your mouth or lip are early warning signs of a cold sore,” explains Dr. Miller. “Taking medication at this stage may suppress the blistering phase and shorten the duration of cold sores.”

Tips to Use Concealer

 LESS IS MORE

You can camouflage an imperfection with concealer before layering a fuller coverage product onto the skin. But if you are not subtle with it, the concealer can feel heavy and look cakey. How do you prevent this? Apply foundation first to see how much of the dark circles, blemishes and spots that the foundation can cover on its own. Then, if you need more coverage, go back in with a thin layer of concealer directly on the area. You will be amazed at how little product you actually need.

UNDER THE EYES

When choosing under-eye concealer, choose a color that is one or two shades lighter than your skin tone. You always want your foundation to match the skin but with concealer a shade lighter will help give a lifting effect. A big mistake many people make is choosing the wrong shade.

FOR PUFFINESS

When trying to hide puffiness under the eyes, you must remember that make up does not hide texture. You can’t completely cover up puffiness. But, you can use concealer to make it less noticeable. My favorite method is to use a luminizing pen concealer that has a highlighting property, and then apply this only where you see puffiness. The liquid formula is easy to use and adds lift and light. Once applied, use your ring finger to softly tap the highlighter into the crease to give the effect of perfectly smooth skin.

FOR DARK DISCOLORATION

When deciding what product to purchase for concealing, dark spots need something that is close to the shade of your foundation. To eradicate the dark pigment, I suggest the fuller coverage of a cream concealer. Cream concealer has a fuller texture but will need to be set with powder so it will last longer. I recommend applying the concealer with a soft shadow brush only where there is darkness, and then setting it with an invisible powder.

FOR BLEMISHES

Most blemishes tend to have a hint of red discoloration. They also have texture and are raised from the skin. My preference for blemish concealer is to use a camouflage pencil directly on the blemish and on the surrounding area. Then use your ring finger to blend it in. Set with powder, and you are good to go.

EXTREME COVER FOR BIRTHMARKS OR TATTOOS

For covering tattoos or birthmarks, choose a full-cover cream that is one or two shades lighter than the area directly onto the tattoo/birthmark. The lighter shade will add lift and allow you to make the coverage look like skin. Next, apply a thin layer of foundation and build it up until you have the coverage required. Set it all into place with a translucent powder.

How to Use a Skin Exfoliant

Our skin is constantly renewing itself, growing new skin cells to replace the surface skin cells that grow old, die, and fall, or slough, off. Every minute of every day, between 30,000 and 40,000 dead skin cells flake away.

Factors like age and dry skin can mean that dead skin cells don’t fall away as easily as they should. When these cells build up, they can make the complexion look rough and pasty and can also contribute to the clogged pores that lead to adult acne. The regular yet careful use of a skin exfoliant can help slough off dead skin cells and uncover fresh, more youthful skin.

There are two main types of skin exfoliants: mechanical exfoliants and chemical exfoliants. Both are commonly available, and both have pros and cons regarding their use and the types of skin conditions for which they are most appropriate.

Mechanical Skin Exfoliants

Mechanical exfoliants work by sanding off dead skin cells using mildly abrasive substances. These skin exfoliants typically are facial scrubs, creamy cleansers with tiny, rough particles. As you gently massage the exfoliant over the surface of your face and skin, the friction works to loosen the old skin cells.

Mechanical skin exfoliants are readily available in drugstores and easy to use. They are particularly good for people with oily skin or acne, as they remove skin cells and debris that clog pores, but only if you don’t scrub too hard as this can cause further irritation.

However, mechanical exfoliants can be harsh. When you use them, you’re literally sanding away the outer layer of your skin. Some contain particles so jagged and rough that they could actually cut the skin. Because of this, dermatologists recommend using a gentle motion when using a skin exfoliant, and skipping them altogether if you have sensitive skin.

Chemical Skin Exfoliants

A chemical skin exfoliant uses gentle acids to dissolve whatever bonds are preventing the outer layer of dead skin cells from falling off your face and body. There are two main types of chemical skin exfoliants, those that include an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and those that include a beta hydroxy acid (BHA):

  • Alpha hydroxy acids are derived from different foods, from fruits, such as apples and grapes, to milk. Some of the most common AHAs to look for on product labels are glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, alpha-hydroxyoctanoic acid, and triple fruit acid. An alpha hydroxy acid is best for people with dry or thickened skin.
  • Beta hydroxy acids are the chemical cousins of alpha hydroxy acids, but are more oil-soluble and therefore better at exfoliating oily skin or acne-prone skin. The best known beta hydroxy acid is salicylic acid. On product labels, look for salicylate, sodium salicylate, beta hydroxybutanoic acid, or tropic acid.

Alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acid skin care products tend to be less harsh on the skin than mechanical exfoliants. They also help refresh the skin in ways a facial scrub can’t: They lower the skin’s pH level and help smooth small, shallow wrinkles, improving the look of skin that is dry or sun damaged.

Finding the right formulation for your skin involves some trial and error. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, you should choose alpha hydroxy acid-based chemical exfoliants with an alpha hydroxy acid concentration of 10 percent or less and a pH of 3.5 or more. Beta hydroxy acid-based exfoliants containing salicylic acid are effective at levels of 1.5 to 2 percent. Using stronger solutions can cause skin irritation.

Another caveat: These types of exfoliants increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun for as long as a week after each use. Before going out, always apply sunscreen — a skin-saving recommendation for everyone.

How and When to Use Exfoliants

You should not use an exfoliant every day. Your skin needs time to regenerate its topmost layer, which exfoliation strips away. People with dry skin should only exfoliate once or twice a week, while those with oily skin can exfoliate two to four times a week. Stop using an exfoliant if you find your skin becoming irritated or developing a rash. Remember to moisturize your skin after exfoliating, to soothe it and keep it from drying out.

Tips to Make Winged Eyeliner

The classic cat eye, though a popular makeup style that’s been around for decades, can be a huge pain to master. It seems so effortless—just finish off your eyeliner with a neat little wing for instantly bigger, brighter eyes. Easy, right? Not for those of us whose failed attempts at a flawless feline flick end with makeup remover and a lot of frustration.

Fortunately, there are products out there that make winged eyeliner much easier to get right. For the tutorial below, we ditched our tricky liquid liner in favor of Inglot Cosmetics AMC Eyeliner Gel, a richly pigmented gel liner that dries to a long-lasting matte finish. The creamy texture makes it easy to paint on a perfect cat eye in just a few minutes.

To get you started on your way to becoming a winged eyeliner pro, here’s a tutorial on how to use gel eyeliner to draw a classic cat eye.

Step 1
Start by using an angled eyeliner brush, such as Wayne Goss Brush 08, to line your upper lashes. Dip the brush into your Eyeliner Gel and draw a thin line that hugs the base of your lashline.

Step 2
Next, draw a slightly thicker line from the inner corner to the outer corner of your eye. This line should start out very thin and get slightly thicker as you continue towards your outermost eyelash.

Step 3
Draw a thin wing that points up and out from the outer corner of your eye. The wing’s tip should angle up towards the end of your eyebrow. Use a pointed cotton swab dipped in Bioderma Sensibio H2O to clean up any mistakes and carve out a crisp, sharp flick.

If you’re a beginner, you can also map out your cat eye with small dots before tracing over them with eyeliner.

Most importantly, keep practicing! Experiment with the thickness of your line and the angle of your wing to discover what looks best with your eye shape. Winged eyeliner can seem difficult at first, but it gets easier with time—especially if you start with a gel eyeliner, which tends to be more forgiving than liquid or pencil.