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
Feel overwhelmed when you want to buy skin moisturizer for your dry skin? That’s no surprise, as there are dozens to choose from at the drugstore and hundreds more at high-end cosmetics and department stores — creams, lotions, ointments, some with sunscreen, others with an exfoliant. Choices range from the basic $1.50 jar of petroleum jelly to a $500 five-ounce tub of designer skin moisturizer. And all the options in between can make your head spin.
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
Winters here and with it come the harsh winds of irritated skin. The routine of cold and dry outside and hot and dry inside is wreaking havoc on our precious skin. So, what’s a girl to do? Thankfully, a lot according to Dr. Doris Day, MD, FAAD, New York dermatologist and author of Forget the Facelift (Avery Books) and Dr. Loretta Ciraldo Miami dermatologist and author of Six Weeks to Sensational Skin (Rodale) who share their winter-protecting secrets.
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
Your skin is affected by everything from the sun to irritating laundry detergent and cigarette smoke.
And it can show — with anything from redness to wrinkles, and in some cases even skin cancer. But before you resign yourself to the effects of your environment on your skin, consider the five most common culprits of skin damage and find out what steps you can take to avoid them.
1. Sun exposure. The sun is the biggest cause of skin damage, says Faramarz Samie, MD, PhD, director of Mohs Surgery and vice chair of the department of dermatology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. The ultraviolet rays of the sun break down the various components of the skin such as collagen and elastin that help keep your skin looking smooth. These rays also affect melanocytes, which can lead to changes in your skin’s pigmentation. What’s more: The aging effects of the sun eventually show on your skin as wrinkles, age spots (patches of brown spots), and possibly skin cancer.
To avoid skin damage that can be caused by the sun, dermatologists advise staying out of the sun during the middle of the day when
If you haven’t been protecting your skin, it can start to give away clues about your age. Fine lines and wrinkles begin to appear, along with brown spots and rough skin patches caused by sun exposure. Your skin might be producing less collagen, and dead skin cells don’t flake off imperceptibly anymore. If this sounds like your skin, it’s time to turn to anti-aging products and treatments to slow down, reduce, or even reverse the signs of aging and regain younger-looking skin.
Any skin that’s been regularly exposed to the elements can be expected to show its age and needs special care to maintain its youthful look, says Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, MD, CEO and medical director of Elite MD, Inc. Advanced Dermatology, Laser, and Plastic Surgery Institute in Danville, Calif.
Your Anti-Aging Action Plan
At-home and doctor’s office procedures can have a visible impact on your complexion, giving you back younger-looking skin.
- Protect your skin. The first rule of thumb: Prevent the damage. “The best thing to do to protect your skin is prevention,” Dr. Badreshia-Bansal says. The sun is enemy number one, so you need to wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor,
You brush your teeth and hair every day, so why not your skin? Advocates of something called dry skin brushing — literally taking brush bristles to your birthday suit — enthusiastically say you should. “Dry skin brushing is a simple but effective way of not only improving health, but also beauty,” says Tracy Piper, founder and owner of the Piper Center for Internal Wellness, a holistic health care facility in New York City.
Dry skin brushing tones the skin, reduces the appearance of cellulite, opens pores to release toxins, gets rid of dead skin cells, and aids in the circulation of blood, Piper says.
Beyond healthy skin, “dry brushing stimulates the lymphatic system, which is also known as the broom of the body,” explains Jovanka Ciares, a holistic wellness coach and nutrition consultant practicing in New York City. “One of the lymphatic system’s primary functions is to clean toxins and debris out of your blood and help your body run more efficiently. It also helps your body absorb nutrients better, eliminate residues from the outer skin layers, help redistribute fat deposits, and push toxic matter into the colon” — a claim that has not been
A good night’s sleep can mean good skin health because when you’re sleep-deprived, your body makes more of the stress hormone cortisol. Elevated levels of cortisol can lead to increased stress and inflammation in the body, hurting your skin’s quality.
But the relationship between skin health and lack of quality sleep can be a vicious cycle, especially with conditions like atopic dermatitis or eczema, which can lead to scratching even through the night, recent research published in the journal Clinics in Dermatologyshowed.
“Poor sleep can lead to increased stress hormones in the body that increase the severity of inflammatory skin conditions such as acne or psoriasis,” explains Jessica Krant, MD, MPH, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and founder of Art of Dermatology in New York. This can result in increased itching, which can disrupt sleep. As the vicious cycle continues, skin conditions and sleep quality can increasingly worsen together. In contrast, skin conditions and sleep quality can also improve together. Getting a good night’s sleep will help to clear up skin, which allows sleep to improve and, in turn, will improve skin health.”
Need more convincing? Here are six
If you want a smoother, clearer complexion, Jessica Wu, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at USC Medical School and a dermatologist in Los Angeles, encourages you to toss all six of these fortifying Feed Your Face foods into your grocery cart.
Definitely one of your skin’s best defenses, tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. While studies have not yet been entirely conclusive, many suggest that lycopene may be responsible for helping to protect the skin against sun damage.
Lycopene is best absorbed by the body when it has been cooked or processed, so eating tomato sauce, tomato paste, and ketchup is likely to be more effective than just eating raw tomatoes when trying to safeguard your skin against harmful UV rays. Lycopene is also fat soluble, which means that it is absorbed more easily when consumed with fat, such as eggs, avocado, and olive oil.
Sometimes it gets a bad rap, and even though red meat does contain saturated fat and cholesterol, lean red meat is one of Dr. Wu’s favorite Feed Your Face foods because it’s so high in protein and zinc. In fact, recent studies
You may spoil your skin silly with facials, fancy products, and a skin care regimen that would make your dermatologist proud. But there are a few important (and surprisingly simple) steps that can make a huge difference in having healthy, glowing skin.Incorporate these five best skin care habits into your routine and you’ll have smoother, clearer skin in no time.
1. Wear sunblock 365 days of the year
In rain or shine, winter or summer, whether you have ivory white skin or a dark complexion, your skin is always susceptible to sun damage. “You’re consistently exposed to the sun’s rays during daylight hours, even when you don’t realize it,” warns Jeanine Downie, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and director of Image Dermatology in Montclair, New Jersey. “You should be wearing an SPF 30 every day, not only to protect against skin cancer but to prevent fine lines, wrinkles, large pores, and uneven skin tone.” In addition, it’s essential that you reapply your sunscreen every couple of hours, especially if you’re out and about — one morning slathering of SPF 100 won’t last you until sundown!
2. Refrigerate your eye cream
You can get more bang
Dry, itchy skin is no joke. Because skin is the body’s largest organ (weighing about nine pounds), the frustration and discomfort that go along with dehydration can affect your daily existence, from your wardrobe to your social life. And if you happen to have a skin condition like eczema, you know from experience that flaky skin is no laughing matter.
However, you can fight flakiness and itchiness with a few important tips. Here, skin experts share their best advice for keeping your skin soft and supple.
Find the Right Exfoliator
Exfoliating can be beneficial for those who have dry skin because it helps the dead surface layers of skin cells to be shed, layers that can prevent moisturizers from being absorbed, says Doris Day, MD, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center.
The key is to find the exfoliator that works best for your skin. Scrubs and alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids are best for those who don’t have sensitive skin. Those with sensitive skin can exfoliate with a home remedy that consists of a paste made from baking soda and water. “It’s great for your face or for rough
Seven months after receiving a full face transplant, Richard Norris is showing off his new look in photos released by his doctors.
“For the past 15 years I lived as a recluse hiding behind a surgical mask,” Norris said in a press release. “I am now able to walk past people and no one even gives me a second look.”
Norris lost his midface and jaw, and suffered extensive tissue damage, in a 1997 gun accident. The Virginia resident received a face transplant transplant in March, 2012, then spent two months in the hospital and another three months recovering at home under doctor surveillance.
Norris’s operation was performed by a surgical team from the University of Maryland in Baltimore, which claimed it was the most complex and extensive surgery of its kind ever performed.
“The surgical team used their knowledge of vascularized composite allograft techniques with expertise in oral and maxillofacial surgery, dentistry, and plastic surgery to precisely transplant the entire face, including the midface, maxilla, mandible, teeth, tongue, and other facial soft tissue structures from the scalp to neck,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, dean of the university’s school of medicine in the release.
Forget over-the-counter acne potions and antibiotics. Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh and University of California, Los Angeles have just identified a type of virus that can infect and kill the bacterium that causes acne.
In a study published in the September 25 issue of mBio, researchers say the findings could help them develop a cream that contains the virus to more effectively ward off those pesky pimples.
There are many prescription antibiotic treatments on the market for acne, but antibiotic-resistant strains of acne-causing bacterium have emerged, highlighting the need for better therapies, the study authors wrote in a press release.
Researchers used over-the-counter pore-cleaning strips to peel off samples of phages — viruses that attack bacteria — from the noses of both pimply and unblemished study participants.
They found the viruses were genetically similar from patient to patient, sharing more than 85 percent of their DNA. The lack of genetic diversity suggests that resistance to phage-based antimicrobial therapy is less likely to develop, study authors said in a press release.
“We believe that these phages display numerous features that would make them ideal candidates for the development of a phage-based therapy for acne,”
People in the homes of children with skinand soft-tissue infections caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus have a higher rate of methicillin-resistant S. aureus colonization than the general population, a new study finds.
S. aureus infection often is referred to as Staph infection. Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) — a serious public-health issue — is a contagious, antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria that causes difficult-to-treat infections in humans.
This study included 183 children with S. aureus skin and tissue infections and colonization in the nose, armpit and/or groin area, and more than 600 of their household contacts, defined as people who spent more than half their time each week in the child’s home.
More than half of the household contacts were colonized with S. aureus, and 21 percent were colonized with MRSA, compared with an MRSA colonization rate of 0.8 percent to 1.5 percent in the general population, said Dr. Stephanie Fritz and colleagues at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Of the 183 patients, 61 percent were colonized with MRSA, 30 percent with methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA) and 9 percent with both forms. Of the household contacts, 53 percent were colonized with
“Fish pedicures” in health spas can expose recipients to a host of pathogens and bacterial infections, a team of researchers warns.
The practice of exposing your feet to live freshwater fish that eat away dead ordamaged skin for mainly cosmetic reasons has been banned in many (but not all) American states, but it is apparently a hot trend in Britain.
So much so that the British researchers sent their warning in a letter published in the June issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, a publication from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Officially known as “ichthyotherapy,” the procedure typically involves the importation of what are called “doctor fish,” a Eurasian river basin species known as “Garra rufa.” The fish are placed in a spa tub, the foot (or even whole body) joins it, and the nautical feeding on dead or unwanted skin begins.
The problem: such fish may play host to a wide array of organisms and disease, some of which can provoke invasive soft-tissue infection in exposed humans and many of which are antibiotic-resistant, according to the scientists from the Center for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) in Weymouth.
Nearly one in four people developshives at some time or another, and they can be triggered by hot summer weather.
Hives are itchy, red or white bumps, welts or patches on the skin. The condition can be acute or chronic, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
Acute hives, which can last less than a day or up to six weeks, are likely a reaction caused by contact with an allergen such as food, animal dander, insect bite, pollen or latex.
Other possible triggers included medications, heat, stress, exercise, chemicals or viral infection.
The academy says you should consult with your doctor to identify the cause of acute hives.
Most people with chronic hives have symptoms that last longer than a year. Allergies cause only a small percentage of chronic hives. In most cases of chronic hives, the exact cause can’t be identified. This means that routine testing such as general blood counts or screens are not cost-effective and don’t help in planning treatments to relieve symptoms, according to an academy news release.
Hives are not contagious, and most cases get better on their own. Doctors may advise
Do you want to get rid of those pesky wrinkles but can’t bear the thought of injections? Then we’ve got great news for you: Scientists have been working on a topically applied version of botulinum toxin, the main ingredient in Botox.
The new needle-free gel formulation of botulinum toxin— called RT001 — was reported in the dermatology journal Skin & Allergy News. Up to 89 percent of 553 patients saw improvement in their lateral canthal lines (aka crow’s feet wrinkles), with no significant side effects in phase 2 clinical studies by California-based Revance Therapeutics. The results lasted for an average of 113 days.
“I think Revance is going to turn the neurotoxin market upside down,” Alastair Carruthers, MD, told attendants at a dermatology seminar held in Hawaii last week.
The more familiar needle-based form of botulinum toxin is a billion-dollar business: Nearly 6 million botulinum injections were done in 2011, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Doctors are excited by an alternative application that could widen the drug’s appeal and reach.
Topical Botulinum: How Does It Work?
Like injectable forms, topical botulinum toxin relaxes muscles by blocking the release of
Dry winter air can wreak havoc on your skin — leaving it dry, itchy, and irritated; but there are many simple ways to combat dry skin causes and help keep your skin feeling moist and supple all winter long. Here are 10 ways to get started.
Top 7 Tips for Healthy Winter Skin
1. Invest in a humidifier. Using a humidifier in your home or office will add moisture to dry winter air and help keep your skin hydrated. Run a humidifier in the rooms you spend the most time in, including your bedroom.
2. Lower the thermostat. When it’s chilly outside, what’s the first thing you want to do? Crank up the heat! But central heat can make the air in your house even drier. Try setting the thermostat at a cool, yet comfortable setting — 68°F to 72°F — to maintain healthy skin.
3. Skip hot showers. Although it may be tempting to warm up with a long, steamy shower, hot water dries out your skin by stripping it of its natural oils. Instead, take a 5- to 10-minute lukewarm shower (or bath). You should also avoid using excessively hot water
We all want healthy, hydrated skin, but the reality is that skin can become dry, flaky, and rough. Why? 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 Angela Lamb, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Dry skin tends to be flaky, red, and irritated. Your skin may also look dull or ashy (if you have dark skin), which can progress to skin being scaly or cracked. In the worst-case scenario, skin can become thick and leathery.
What Causes Dry Skin?
Dry skin often results when the 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. “Your skin is the primary barrier to the environment and prevents water from evaporating off the surface,” Dr. Lamb says. When humidity is low,
Skin is generally classified into one of four categories: normal, oily, dry, and combination, says Susan Van Dyke, MD, a dermatologist with Van Dyke Laser and Skin Care in Paradise Valley, Ariz. However, your skin type can change as you age, and other factors like genetics and even illness can play a part. “It’s multi-factorial,” Dr. Van Dyke says.
Normal skin, which has a good balance of moisture, small pores and an even tone, is the goal of most skin care regimens. Most people have normal skin, Van Dyke says, but to maintain its good condition, it’s important to minimize its exposure to the sun. A facial sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is ideal for preventing wrinkles and other sun damage.
“Put it by your toothpaste and use it,” Van Dyke says. “It doesn’t matter if it is snowing or raining — get in that habit so you always have it on. Incidental sun exposure is what gets you.”
Skin Care: Quieting Oily Skin
Oily skin is identified by an excess of oil (the technical term is sebum) on the face. Some people with oily skin begin to feel greasy
Your skin plays a vital role in protecting your body, so it’s important to take steps to promote skin health. Caring for your skin doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming, and can quickly become second nature, like brushing your teeth.
You can keep your skin looking and feeling great by guarding against a slew of skin woes, from chapped skin to premature aging to skin cancer. “We’re talking about things that happen over decades,” says dermatologist Samantha Conrad, MD, in practice at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
That’s why it is important to develop healthy skin habits —and it’s never too late to start. Here are five skin protection tips you can incorporate into your routine right away.
Limit Sun Exposure
You’ve heard the message a zillion times, but there’s good reason — ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun cause many types of skin damage, including:
- Skin cancer
- Age spots
- 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. Try these tips to help protect your skin from the sun:
- Use sunscreen every day and reapply regularly whenever you’re outdoors for extended periods.