6 Beauty Blunders That Harm Your Skin
6 Beauty Blunders That Harm Your Skin
WebMD Feature from "Shape" Magazine
By Theresa O’Rourke
These common mistakes can prevent you from making the most of your complexion. Correct them with this expert advice.
When skin acts up, we’re quick to slip into finger-pointing mode—it must be that time of the month, stress, those greasy fries we ate—when the truth is, there’s probably a simpler explanation. Chances are “you’ve been falling into the same product-related traps for years, either using the wrong ones or using the right ones in the wrong way,” says Katie Rodan, M.D., an adjunct clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Stanford University. But you can get a healthier complexion, say the pros, just by avoiding these skin-care pitfalls.
1. You’re stuck in a time warp
Back in 1992, a facialist said you had oily skin— and to this day, creamy cleansers scare you. The problem: “You never have one skin type for life,” says Francesca Fusco, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. “It changes due to age, hormones, and even weather.”
“Examine your face, and ask yourself what bothers you about your skin,” says Rodan. “Acne? Dullness? Fine lines?” This will help you set up a focused plan of attack. If you have dryness and wrinkles, for example, you’ll need a moisturizer with fine line–plumping peptides, like Dr. Brandt r3p Cream ($125; drbrandtskincare.com). For a more thorough evaluation, consult an expert. “All women should see a dermatologist annually to check for cancerous moles and to review their current skin-care regimen,” says Ariel Ostad, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City.
2. You hang on to all your products
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require that cosmetics include expiration dates. And those that have sell-by information often list it on the box—which we tend to toss—instead of on the bottle. “But the FDA does recommend that products with active ingredients, such as vitamin C, be used within a year,” says Howard Fein, M.D., an attending dermatologist at Harbor- UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. Any longer and the ingredients begin to break down.
If you’re not sure whether a product is still fresh, look for these signs that it has gone bad: discoloration or yellowing, separation of oil, or an acidic odor .Be particularly vigilant when using glycolic based washes and creams: Once they’ve expired, they actually become twice as potent—and more potentially irritating
3. You expect results yesterday
“We live in an instant gratification society,” says Ostad. Nearly half of women who have given up on a skin-care product have done so because results weren’t visible quickly enough, according to a study by Harris Interactive, a market-research firm in Rochester, New York. Yet constantly turning to new products can lead to redness and irritation.
The more a product has to fix or reverse, the more patient you need to be. Cleansers and scrubs, for example, remove makeup and dirt—a superficial task with an instant payoff. “But fine lines, wrinkles, and brown spots didn’t develop overnight, so it’s going to take at least a month to see improvement,” says Fusco. Still desperate for a quick fix? “Hydrating your skin will make it appear instantly plumper and firmer,” says Fein. A best bet: Kinerase lotion ($117; kinerase.com) with plant-based kinetin, which helps improve skin tone, suppleness, and fine lines.
4.You always buy into the next “big thing”
The bolder-faced the claim or the more mysterious the ingredient, the more we seem to want it. But not all ingredients have a proven track record, and more important, not every one is right for your skin.
If in doubt, ask your dermatologist before investing in a pricey, new wonder product. Or go with one that you’ve read about repeatedly in reputable papers and magazines (see the Shape of Beauty Awards), or one from a company whose products you’ve liked (many of the larger ones have extensive research and development departments that spend lots of money on testing and clinical trials). The Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association, a trade group that monitors the safety of all cosmetics, can also answer questions about particular ingredients (go to ctfa.org for more information). But perhaps the best advice? “If you’re happy with your skin, stick to whatever you’re using,” says Fusco.
5. You don’t exercise portion control
“Women tend to go overboard with wrinkle creams or any product that’s supposed to reverse damage,” says Fein. “It’s the ‘if a little’s good, a lot is better’ mentality.” Yet ironically, they often end up scrimping on sunscreen, the only product that truly does prevent photoaging. “Most studies show that people apply one-quarter of the recommended amount,” says Fein.
If a wrinkle serum calls for only a dime-size amount and you use a quarter’s worth, you’ll not only be wasting the product, you’ll be risking irritation, since most antiagers contain exfoliating acids that can be harsh on the skin when used to excess, says Fusco. Keep these guidelines in mind:
Eye creams and serums
Use less than the size of a pencil eraser.
Daily moisturizer with SPF
A teaspoonful is all you need for your face.
A shotglass’ worth should cover your entire body
6. You Spot-Treat Problems Away
Most of us tend to be reactive when caring for our skin. “Women will rush to treat the same pimples they get every month without considering how to stop them from forming in the first place,” says Rodan. This often leads to using more products than necessary.
Get proactive about your treatment plan—so that eventually you might be able to cut down on your product consumption altogether—with this simplified strategy:
Use a cleanser and a moisturizer to deliver preemptive care and a spot treatment to fix current damage (such as brown patches). Our favorite treatment trio: Guerlain’s Secret De Pureté Cleansing Foaming Cream ($43;Saks Fifth Avenue) with lotus extract; Avon Solutions Hydra- Radiance Moisturizing Day Lotion SPF 15 ($12; avon.com); and Murad Age Spot & Pigment Lightening Gel ($58; murad.com), which brightens with hydroquinone.
Support Lighthouse Preservation
It's Part Of Our Heritage