Wondering whether your daily coffee habit affects your skin? Unsure about the proper method of exfoliating, or want to get rid of those stubborn under-eye circles? Part 14 of our Skincare & Beauty FAQ Handbook can help. Learn the ins and outs of exfoliation, the truth about moisturizing and important facts about lifestyle choices and age-specific skincare.
SKINCARE ROUTINE & LIFESTYLE
“There are days I feel beautiful and days I don't, and when I don't, I do something about it.” – Cheryl Tiegs
Even with the best products and treatments, our skin still requires healthy habits to stay in top shape. First, learn the basics for an effective routine, like how often to exfoliate and how to conceal under-eye circles. Before you reach for that cup of coffee or cigarette, discover the truth behind the effects of caffeine and smoking on your skin. You’ll also find more specific tips on how to care for skin from your 20s through your 60s in this extensive FAQ guide.
Exfoliating & moisturizing
» Q: What’s the difference between mechanical and chemical exfoliation?
A: Mechanical exfoliation involves the use of scrubs that clear away dead skin cells by using jojoba beads, crystals such as magnesium oxide or even baking soda (found in some types of microdermabrasion creams). Mechanical exfoliants have a sand paper-like effect. On the other hand, chemical exfoliation “loosens the glue-like substance that holds the cells together,” according to About’s expert Anitra Brown. Examples include alpha hydroxy acids and retinoids. For a complete guide, read our article Exfoliation 101.
» Q: Can I exfoliate every day?
A: Daily exfoliation can do more harm than good. That's because, exfoliating every day might remove "too many living cells, increasing the chance of irritation and skin damage," according to Smart Skin Care. Instead, exfoliate one to three times a week (if your skin tends to be oily).
» Q: Does everyone need to use an exfoliant?
A: Exfoliating is a great way to remove dead skin cells, so it’s important for any routine; however, choose wisely depending on your skin type. If you have dry, sensitive skin, go with a gentle scrub.
» Q: If my skin naturally exfoliates itself, why do I need to use an exfoliator?
A: As we get older, the rate at which our skin exfoliates itself slows down. Using an exfoliator helps the skin perform this natural function, while improving circulation and refining the skin.
» Q: Is there a quality difference between moisturizers in different price ranges?
A: It really depends on the product and your preference. More expensive moisturizers may contain a higher concentration of active ingredients like antioxidants. They also might contain more of the product. They key is to check the ingredients label for the type of ingredients each product contains, and to go with what you like. For more info, see our article on tips for choosing and using moisturizer.
» Q: Why is it best to apply moisturizer to damp skin?
A: Just like a damp sponge absorbs more water than a dry one, damp skin actually absorbs (and holds) more moisture, so try to apply moisturizer within three minutes of washing or showering.
» Q: How are day creams different from night creams? If I use a day cream, do I still need a night cream?
A: Day creams are formulated to protect skin from damage (e.g., the sun), and they often have SPF for this reason. Night creams are designed to treat or correct skin damage and promote renewal. For optimal results, use a day cream for protection and a night cream to repair.
» Q: Some skincare products claim they penetrate to the hypodermis of the skin. Is this true?
A: No, over-the-counter cosmetic ingredients are chiefly concerned with treating the dermis, or top layer of skin. Only doctors may prescribe or use ingredients that work on deeper layers of the skin.
» Q: How can I cover up dark circles?
A: Beauty iVillage recommends buying a gold-based concealer that matches your skin color precisely, and applying it all around the eye area. Set it with translucent powder, and avoid any makeup on your lower lashes. To cover up the darkness around the inner corner of the eye (typically the darkest part), iVillage suggests applying a white or bluish pencil.
» Q: Do I really need to use a separate eye cream, or will my everyday moisturizer do?
A: You most likely need an eye cream. The eye area is so delicate that some ingredients in moisturizers are too harsh. Plus, eye creams typically contain specialized ingredients to address eye-related concerns, such as darkness and puffiness. For some suggestions, peruse our article on the top 10 eye creams.
» Q: I get plenty of sleep. So what’s causing the dark circles under my eyes?
A: According to Julyne Derrick of About, there are three triggers. First, dark circles are caused by hyperpigmentation, or darkening of skin, which is caused by sun damage or too much melanin production. Second, as we age, the delicate skin around the eyes becomes thinner, revealing the dark blue veins beneath. Third, dark circles can also be caused by poor circulation. Learn more about dark circles here.
» Q: What are the best ways to treat dark under-eye circles?
A: That depends on the cause, according to dermatologist Charles E. Crutchfield III, M.D., professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School. If your circles are caused by too much melanin or pigment build-up, try a lightening cream with hydroquinone or kojic acid. Peter Thomas Roth Power K Eye Rescue has kojic acid, vitamins and antioxidants. If the skin under your eyes is thin and veins are visible, opt for a vitamin K cream.
Skincare & lifestyle
“Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.” - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
» Q: Can a piercing develop sensitivity or allergies?
A: Yes, sensitivity or allergies often develop when ears are pierced with a needle or wire containing gold and nickel. Earrings made of gold and nickel can also cause irritation or allergy, like itching, burning, redness, bleeding or pus. To avoid these problems, have your piercings done by a trained professional under sterile conditions. Use surgical steel piercing instruments and jewelry. Afterwards, keep the skin around the piercing clean, typically with rubbing alcohol or a specialized solution. If you suspect your jewelry may be causing allergies, learn about solutions here.
» Q: Can smoking occasionally affect my skin?
A: The toxins involved in smoking just one cigarette can create noticeable effects on the skin almost immediately. As the bloodstream absorbs the chemicals from the cigarette, blood vessels start to constrict, making it harder for oxygen and nutrients to reach the skin. So the damage will add up over time.
» Q: How many cigarettes does a person have to smoke to see severe damage?
A: As it turns out, not that many. A 2002 study showed that although not yet visible, wrinkles in smokers as young as 20 were noticeable under a microscope. According to other research, visible damage such as leathery skin and deep wrinkles were noted particularly in those who had smoked 10 or more cigarettes a day for at least 10 years.
» Q: Will drinking coffee each day affect my skin?
A: Coffee is loaded with antioxidants that fight free radicals. However, this doesn't mean that it’s good to drink coffee in excess. Coffee is a diuretic and can cause the body to lose moisture, so if you have dry skin, avoid drinking more than one cup per day.
» Q: I’m going away to college for the first time, and there’s a checklist for dorm supplies, textbooks and everything in between. What products should I include on my back-to-school skin care list?
A: Include the following products in your back-to-school bathroom kit: face cleanser, scrub, daytime moisturizer with SPF, acne spot treatment, sunscreen and body lotion. Read up on college skincare here.
» Q: I’m in my early 20s. Is it too soon to start including anti-aging products in my skin care routine?
A: The most effective anti-aging skin care strategy for 20-somethings is to avoid outdoor tanning and tanning beds at all costs (they also boost risk for skin cancer). Plus, apply sunscreen regularly and start exfoliating weekly to maintain a bright, healthy complexion.
» Q: Now that I’m in my 60s, my skin has become dry and itchy. A moisturizing lotion doesn’t seem to be enough to relieve my scaly skin. Any suggestions?
A: Itchy, dry skin is a common complaint among older individuals. As skin ages, it naturally produces less oil. Also, skin becomes more sensitive and may start reacting to wool clothing and common household products, including fabric softeners, detergents and soaps. If you need help identifying the triggers of your itchy, dry skin or desire a more effective treatment, consult a dermatologist.
» Q: Is sunblock still necessary for people over 65 years old?
A: Absolutely! According to Oregon Health and Science University, mature skin is even more susceptible to sun damage. In fact, the older the skin, the less able it is to repair damage and heal a burn.
Healthy skin typically calls for more than just the right products. For a thorough and effective skincare routine, nurture yourself from head to toe with a specialized eye cream, body exfoliant and moisturizing lotion. And don’t underestimate the power of daily habits! Whether you’re concerned about the effects of smoking on your skin, how to care for body piercings or when to begin an anti-aging regimen, we’ve got answers to help you on your way to youthful, radiant skin.
Stay tuned for more installments of our complete Skincare & Beauty FAQ Handbook.
Skincare & Beauty FAQ Handbook – Part 13: Sun Protection
Skincare & Beauty FAQ Handbook – Part 12: Natural Skincare
Skincare & Beauty FAQ Handbook – Part 11: Men
Skincare & Beauty FAQ Handbook – Part 10: Makeup
Skincare & Beauty FAQ Handbook – Part 9: Ingredients