For an Even Skin Tone:
I get red splotches on my skin at times, thanks to my combination skin and my fair complexion. Other people get brown spots, mostly from sun damage.
If you're like me, here are some hints for knocking out the red:
- Use plenty of sunscreen. No matter what--if the sun is out or not--apply sunscreen every day. Redness often comes from broken blood vessels that come from two things: sun exposure and rosacea. And rosacea itself is thought to be exacerbated by sun.
- Try anti-inflammatories. Redness from sensitive skin and rosacea is best brought down through skin-calming compounds that range from green tea to chamomile and feverfew.
- Go for more extreme measures, if necessary. No cream can treat broken capillaries. But laser treatments can. If you have redness and brown spots try a photofacial, often called Photoderm, which is designed to fix both problems.
- Avoid spicy foods, saunas, alcohol, and caffeine, all of which can aggravate your skin.
To hide brown spots:
- Start with a good defense: sunscreen every day. Increased pigment or melanin is almost always the result of UV exposure.
- Try retinoids. They help fade and prevent spots; they also allow lightening treatments to penetrate deeper.
- Go for a microderm. Light microdermabrasion and peels can also help prepare skin for lightening treatments, but be cautious: The irritation of a peel can trigger more pigment.
- Lightening products—the safest and most effective now are made with albatin and kojic or polyhydroxy acid—take time, but they do work.
To Shrink Pores and Stop Breakouts:
It's not fair. Pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and large pores should only afflict teenagers. We shouldn't have to deal with them when we pass the age of 21. But life's not fair and breakouts are a common annoyance that we all deal with from time to time. When it comes to dealing with these troubles, vigilance is key. Know what ingredients to look out for:
- Salicylic acid works to clear skin by unclogging pores and bringing down irritation. Dermatologists recommend using a combination of a salicylic acid cleanser followed with a retinoid. It's a one-two punch.
- Retinoids. You need the strongest your skin can tolerate to make a difference in pores. If you can't tolerate it every day, remember that even just a few applications a week can improve your skin.
- Benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, tea tree oil, and triclosan all kill the bacteria that cause acne and should be used in conjunction with salicylic acids and retinoids.
- At-home microdermabrasion or AHA peels once a week can truly step up your regimen. A peel makes your skin more able to absorb all your other treatments.
- A noncomedogenic sunscreen is extremely important. Sun exposure can aggravate breakouts and make pores bigger. I can't say it enough: sunscreen is an everyday must.
To Reduce Wrinkles:
We're all going to get them sooner or later: crow's feet, laugh lines, and other wrinkles. If you don't want to go down the Botox route, there are things you can do at home:
- Look for retinoids. Both prescription and OTC versions are proven to improve wrinkles. They smooth skin by increasing cell turnover and collagen production. The key is to stick with the program: It takes at least six weeks to see the effects on your skin.
- Peptides also smooth skin and spur collagen growth—and they can be used in conjunction with retinol for more powerful results. Use them together at night before going to bed.
- Antioxidants help protect skin from free radicals during the day. Many sunscreens are already packed with them, or you can layer them underneath your sun protection. Antioxidants also repair skin as you sleep, though some—like vitamin C—can be irritating if used at the same time as retinol.
- Sunscreen. The sun is the quickest ager there is. At the bare minimum, you need SPF in the morning under makeup Ideally, you should reapply every two hours—you can use sunscreen or high-SPF foundation.
- Sleep on your back (you're essentially ironing in wrinkles by crushing your face into a pillow), and don't smoke (it induces major wrinkling and deprives your skin of oxygen).
Great skin takes a little bit of effort on your part, but it's so worth it!