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WebMD health-e head2toe: skin care today

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The Truth About Skincare for Your Face


The skin on your face is constantly exposed to air and pollutants that rob skin of moisture. Old-fashioned petroleum jelly has been used for decades as an inexpensive moisturizer. It works by sealing in moisture, but it’s greasy and heavy.

Moisturizers with emollients and humectants hydrate the skin without the greasy effect. Humectants help retain moisture while emollients help soften and soothe skin. Together, they can temporarily minimize fine lines around the eye or on the neck.

Many skincare products both moisturize and provide anti-aging benefits, dermatologist Doris Day, MD, says.

  • Look for creams that contain glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which plumps the skin temporarily, minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Exfoliating Scrubs and Lotions

Ingredients in moisturizers and serums must get through the the skin’s outermost layer to work effectively. Using an exfoliator twice a week will help slough off dead skin cells, allowing creams to penetrate. It also helps make skin appear smoother and less blotchy. Some all-in-one skin cleansers and exfoliators are gentle enough to be used every day.

For an effective but gentle exfoliator, look for products containing glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, or malic acid.

Antioxidant Creams

Many creams contain antioxidants, which help prevent free radicals from damaging cells. Some of the creams claim to diminish wrinkles, sallowness, and other signs of sun damage. But there are very few scientific studies that prove they really work as claimed.

If you want to try antioxidant face creams, look for products containing niacinamide, which is both an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, or the antioxidants coenzyme Q10, coffee berry extract, and soy extract. Dermatologist Robin Ashinoff, MD, says these ingredients may help reduce the signs of sun damage.

Skin Lightening

Ashinoff says over-the-counter creams containing licorice extract or kojic acid, a fungal ingredient, may lighten those unsightly “age spots” that crop up on the face and neck. But they won’t get rid of the spots completely. She recommends that women who want to lighten spots on their face look for a cream that contains hydroquinone which has been proven effective in lightening skin.

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