Thursday, April 16, 2009

Top Tips for Clear Skin

Clear Skin: Step by Step

Blemishes or pimples often appear on your face, neck, chest, back, and shoulders -- where skin has the greatest amount of oil glands. Few of us are immune to breakouts, but you can prevent or get rid of most acne. For a clear complexion, view the slides ahead to see some surprising dos and don'ts.

Don't Dry Out Your Skin

Avoid rubbing alcohol or alcohol-based astringents and toners, even if you have oily skin. These products can strip your skin of its natural, protective moisture. This can irritate skin and make acne worse. These products may also make it more difficult to tolerate prescription acne medications.

Do Use Oil-Free Moisturizer

Healthy skin is moist. Choose an oil-free moisturizer that says "noncomedogenic" on the label. This means it won’t clog your pores or cause whiteheads or blackheads. You may hesitate to apply moisturizer to acne-prone skin, but a good moisturizer can actually help calm your skin and keep acne at bay.

Don't Avoid Favorite Foods

It's a myth that oily foods or chocolate cause pimples. Acne is caused by overactive oil glands in the skin. If certain foods seem to cause you to break out, try to avoid them. But you don't need to shun pizza or chocolate for clear skin.

Do Drink Plenty of Water

Drink water throughout the day to keep your skin well hydrated. Also, eat a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin A and vitamin E, two vitamins known to benefit your skin. Green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli are rich in vitamin E. Vitamin A is found in colorful fruits and vegetables such as carrots, cantaloupe, peaches, and peppers.

Don't Use Heavy Cosmetics

Avoid oil-based cosmetics. How can you tell? Follow this simple guideline: Creamy foundation or blush generally can clog pores. Bare mineral cosmetics, which are light and powdery, are less likely to do so.

Do Use an Oil-Free Foundation

Do use oil-free foundation if you wear makeup. Splash your face with cold water before applying your foundation. Cold water helps close your pores. No matter how tired you are, wash your makeup off before bed.

Don't Sunbathe or Tan

It's a myth that tanning clears up your skin. It's a fact that UV rays put you at risk for skin cancer, premature aging, and wrinkles. Don't lie in the sun or use a tanning booth. Also, some commonly prescribed acne medications, including topical retinoids, can make you more sensitive to damage from the UV rays.

Do Use Oil-Free Sunscreen

Wear an oil-free sunscreen or moisturizer with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher that provides broad-spectrum protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Look for products labeled noncomedogenic that won't clog your pores. Reapply every two hours.

Don't Use Greasy Hair Products

Products such as pomades or gels can clog your pores when your hair brushes against your face. Keep your hair clean using an oil-free, acnegenic or noncomedogenic shampoo. If you have oily hair, shampoo daily. Shield your face when applying any sprays and gels on your hair.

Do Keep Hair Off Your Face

Pull long hair back when you sleep so it doesn't aggravate your skin. Try to keep your hair away from your face during the day as well. Remember, hair contains oils that can cause breakouts -- even if you don't use hair products .

Don't Touch Your Face

Touching or rubbing your face worsens acne. Also, don't lean your face on your hands. And try to keep your cell phone away from your face. Our hands and phones may carry oils and germs that can irritate blemishes. Tight-fitting hats can also cause or worsen acne, especially if you sweat.

Do Apply Cream With Applicators

Use cotton balls, Q-tips, or applicators when applying creams or makeup to your skin. If you use your hands, apply these products only with your fingertips. Our hands carry oils and germs that can worsen acne and blemishes.

Don't Overwash Your Face

Dirty skin does not lead to acne or blemishes. Frequent and vigorous washing can irritate your skin and make acne worse. So can scrubs and soaps with harsh chemicals. Instead, wash acne-prone areas twice daily with a mild soap and warm water.

Do Choose Oil-Free Soap

Oil-free soaps won't clog your pores or cause blackheads, acne, and whiteheads. Choose products that are labeled "oil free," "nonacnegenic," or "noncomedogenic." Apply the soap and wash with your fingertips. Washcloths, mesh sponges, or other products can irritate the skin and cause breakouts.

Don't Pop Your Pimples

Squeezing pimples or blemishes just creates more problems. Resist the temptation. It will only delay healing and increase the risk of scarring. Squeezing pimples may also push infected material into the skin, where it can cause additional inflammation and scarring

Do Use Acne Medicine as Directed

Acne medication doesn't work overnight. Most treatments take up to eight weeks of daily use before you see an improvement. It may take as long as six months for your skin to totally clear up. Sometimes your doctor will recommend using the acne medicine even when your skin clears. Be sure to follow your doctor's directions. Overuse of medicine such as Retin-A can irritate skin, while underuse is not effective.

Look Into All Acne Treatments

Don't just live with acne, blackheads, and blemishes. If the first cream you try doesn't work, see your doctor or dermatologist to discuss other treatments. There are many types of medicines to help clear your skin. Some are available only from a doctor.

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