New Year, New Beauty Routines

December 11, 2008

With a new year quickly approaching, many of us already have changes we want to make, resolutions to adhere to, etc. swirling around in our minds. When it comes to beauty, I personally can never get enough tips or ideas. Yes, this is why I am probably slightly addicted to the fashion and beauty glossies.

But here’s a start to get you WITs thinking, thanks to Natasha Singer & this New York Times piece.

Discard old, used beauty products.
Because people may transfer bacteria from their fingers to pots of face cream, possibly leading to the growth of micro-organisms, some dermatologists recommend discarding products one year after opening them. Because micro-organisms may also grow in mascara tubes, creating the risk of eye infection, experts recommend replacing mascara three months after opening it.

*The very thought of this grosses me out. Thank goodness this WIT clears out hear makeup and skincare stash on a regular basis!

Unhand those pimples.
For those who can’t help squeezing their pimples, think again. “People think they are squeezing something bad out, but they could actually be pushing bacteria deeper into their skin, creating an infection,” said Dr. Bradford R. Katchen, a dermatologist in Manhattan. Subsequent inflammation could cause pigmentary changes, or worse. “It could scar your face,” Dr. Katchen said. The same goes for your zit-popping beautician.

More sleep, Less stress.
Psychological stress may impair the skin’s barrier function, which keeps bacteria out and water in.

“Studies have shown that the skin of people under chronic stress — caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients or medical students during exam time — will heal more slowly,” said Dr. Ladan Mostaghimi, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Dr. Mostaghimi published a study in 2005 in the Journal of Sleep Research reporting that severely sleep-deprived lab rats developed lesions on their paws and tails while rested rats did not.

In humans, stress can contribute to flare-ups of alopecia areata, a form of hair loss, and skin diseases like psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema, Dr. Mostaghimi said.

Wear Sunscreen.
Clinical studies show that using sunscreen regularly can impede the development of squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer. Less conclusive evidence suggests that sunscreen might also hamper basal cell carcinoma and melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

But dermatologists encourage patients to make sunscreen a habit for another purpose: vanity. Sunscreen use may inhibit sun-induced changes to the skin’s pigment and texture. Look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or Mexoryl SX, ingredients that work against both the sun’s longer- and shorter-length rays.

*My fair Irish skin requires I do this, but I know it’s easy to forget. A surefire way to make sure your face, especially, is protected? Make sure your daily facial lotion has an SPF in it.

Simplify your beauty.

Some dermatologists advise their patients to restrict skin-care regimens to no more than three or four products daily.

“People use too many acidic things at once — vitamin A, lactic acid, ascorbic acid, salicylic acid — and then they wonder why their faces are inflamed,” Dr. Katchen said. “I am against poly-pharmacy at home because you can over-treat yourself, leading to irritation.”

Dr. Katchen’s prescription: a mild cleanser; a sunscreen or moisturizer containing sunscreen; a product that contains antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, pomegranate, soy and green tea; and an antiwrinkle product containing ingredients like retinoids, a form of vitamin A, or protein fragments called peptides.’

*Just like other things in life, too much can be damaging. Same goes for skincare, so streamline your process and you’ll be grateful you did years down the line.

Wash your face.
Doctors say that skin picks up environmental debris during the day. Washing off minute dirt particles, along with makeup, every evening gives the skin a rest from exposure to possible irritants. “As a general hygiene principle, it’s good to wash your face at night,” Dr. Sundaram said. “But if you apply a greasy night cream after that, it is just going to clog your pores.”

*Yes this can be difficult after a night spent out, but if you have the ability to drunkenly cook food when you arrive home, you can splash some water and cleanser on your face. Your complexion will thank you.

Rethink products that cost an upwards of $30.
The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates cosmetics, does not require beauty manufacturers to publish rigorous studies on the efficacy of their products. So consumers do not have a proven, objective method by which to determine whether more-expensive beauty products work better — or whether they simply look fancier and emit more exotic perfume — than less-expensive items containing similar ingredients.

“Your chances of achieving good skin are not directly proportional to the amount of money you spend,” Dr. Sundaram said. “All too often, what you are paying for is the packaging, the advertising and the celebrity endorsements.”

*Bring on the Walgreens cosmetics aisle.

photo courtesy of The New York Times

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