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The 5 Most Common Beauty Questions – and Some Helpful Solutions

WebMD Feature

Q: What's the cause of under eye dark circles - and what treatments can help?

A: Occasional dark circles under the eyes can be caused by factors as simple as lack of sleep, dehydration or an allergy - particularly congestion in the central facial and nasal area. Dark circles can also be hereditary, and are more likely to occur in certain ethnic groups.

But for many folks, dark circles are simply a sign of the aging process at work. As we age, the fat pad under the eyethins, allowing blood vessels underneath to show through. Moreover, as we age, blood flow to the skin beneath the eye becomes sluggish, further increasing the darkness in this area.

While sometimes a skin-lightening product can help fade dark circles, the American Academy of Dermatology reports that creams containing a combination of Vitamin K and retinol have an even more powerful lightening effect. The vitamin K works directly on the blood vessels, while the retinal helps re-build collagen, potentially improving the appearance of dark circles. .

The best way to hide dark circles is with a cosmetic concealing product. However, it's important to choose one in a shade as close to your natural skin tone as possible.. Choosing a concealer that is too light, particularly white, will cause dark circles to appear gray and call more attention to the problem.

Q: If I use makeup with sunscreen, do I still have to apply sunscreen separately.

A: That all depends on the SPF (sun protection factor) rating of your make up. If it's 15 or more then it will likely be enough - as long as you apply it properly and in a thick enough layer to get maximum protection. If your makeup contains less than a 15 SPF, then you need a layer of sunscreen as well. But remember, SPF numbers are not cumulative. So, if your foundation has an SPF of 10 and your powder has an SPF of 8, the maximum protection you are getting is 10. Moreover, remember that sun exposure degrades sunscreen , so you have to reapply it every few hours. To avoid having to redo your make-up, check out mineral powders or mineral veils. These loose powders contain a natural sunscreen and can be dusted on top of make-up without getting that heavy, caked-on look.

Q: What's the best way to deal with age spots - and keep hands from aging?

A: These brown spots (also known as "age spots" or "liver spots") are actually the result of sun exposure. So one way to avoid them is to protect your hands from the sun. Doing so will not only reduce the risk of age spots, but also reduce collagen breakdown so your hands will wrinkle less.

Rarely found in those under 30, age spots areagerelated, so a lifetime of sun exposure will give away your birthdays! If you use sunscreen from early in life, you will reduce the risk of age spots in later years. But its never too late: using sunscreen after age spots develop will help prevent more from appearing.

While skin lightening products will help diminish some age spots, only permanent treatments, such as lasers or chemical peels, can remove them completely. One caveat: While these treatments are effective, skin on the backs of the hands contains fewer blood vessels than the face, so healing can take longer.

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