Life & Beauty Weekly: Beautiful You

Fix Your 5 Biggest Facial Flaws

By Shana Aborn for Life & Beauty Weekly

Fix Your 5 Biggest Facial Flaws

Facing the mirror in the morning can be a challenge when you notice a pimple, dark spots, those little lines around your eyes or other common skin flaws. But there’s nothing you can do other than cover them up with makeup, right?       

Think again! The correct products and preventive measures can give you the lovely complexion you’ve always wanted, says Dr. Julia Carroll, Toronto dermatologist, director of dermatology at the Medcan Clinic and associate at Bay Dermatology Centre.  Here’s how to give your skin a boost to fix these five key facial flaws.

Flaw: Dry Patches
If your skin feels dry and tight all over — a problem that often occurs in winter, when there’s less moisture in the air — you may need a richer moisturizer. “Stay away from creams with heavy scents or multiple plant extracts,” says Carroll. “With the skin’s barrier already damaged, these types of ingredients can cause irritation and even lead to allergies.”

But if your dryness occurs only in certain areas, that could be a sign of a skin condition such as seborrheic dermatitis. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream usually does the trick for rough dry patches; if it doesn’t, see your doctor. Putting a humidifier in your bedroom this winter will also help keep your skin moist.

Flaw: Oily Patches
Many women experience the opposite problem: patches that are either oily all over or in strategic areas such as the T-zone of the forehead and nose. “Some women with oily skin may not need a moisturizer at all,” says Carroll. “If they do use one then it should be an oil-free or mattifying moisturizer to avoid acne.”

Flaw: Fine Lines
No one likes to see those first little wrinkles appear around the eyes and mouth, but they’re just a part of life. The key to keeping them under control is daily skin care, no matter what your age.

“If you’re noticing fine lines, retinol is good, but I would suggest glycolic acid tretinoin over retinol,” says Carroll. “Tretinoin, which is a vitamin A derivative, is much more powerful than over-the-counter retinol. It increases collagen production and also acts as a chemical exfoliant.”

The other defence against lines is daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVB rays and the UVA rays that penetrate the skin on a deeper level. “Foundation with SPF will help, but the quality of sunscreen ingredients and thickness of application are sometimes lacking,” says Dr. Ben Barankin, Toronto dermatologist and medical director of Toronto Dermatology Centre. “Ideally, you want a sunscreen with zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and/or Mexoryl or avobenzone.” Depending on how deep or visible the lines are, you may also want to use a cream that contains wrinkle-fighting peptides, says Barankin.

Flaw: Age Spots

Although those tiny dark patches can occur with age, they’re more often caused by too much sun exposure. Again, daily sunscreen is a must, along with retinol, which helps even out skin tone. “Then top it off with mineral-based makeup,” says Barankin. “Mineral makeup is less likely to plug up the pores, reducing acne and also has less potential for irritation or allergic reactions.” If your spots are stubborn, talk to your doctor or dermatologist about getting a prescription cream that contains hydroquinone.

Flaw: Blemishes
Unfortunately, pimples aren’t just a problem in your teen years; they can appear at any age. But scrubbing your face with a strong soap isn’t the answer. “Any trauma to the skin, including scrubbing and picking or popping pimples, can cause increased redness and possible scarring,” says Carroll. “And if you over-wash with harsh soaps, your skin will try to protect itself by making more oil.”

Instead, use a gentle soap that contains salicylic or lactic acid for cleaning and then apply an anti-acne product with a low percentage of benzoyl peroxide. If you have sensitive skin, a cream or gel with lipo hydroxy acids will help. Finally, don’t skip the moisturizer! Keeping your skin hydrated will help prevent new blemishes from forming.

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