Skincare 101: 4 Common Problems Solved
Problem: Not-So-Cute Brown Spots
When your childhood freckles morph from a sweet sprinkling across the nose to uneven tan splotches, you've got sun-induced hyperpigmentation. "Commonly, one of the first signs of aging is sunspots on the face, back of hands, and chest," explains Reich, "especially if you play golf or tennis, or often wear V-necks or tank tops."
- Baby-step solution: Anyone who has come home from the beach sporting a splash of new freckles knows that sunscreen is most crucial to people prone to sunspots. "The sun exacerbates the pigmentation immediately," explains Brown. Layer on protection any chance you get - vitamin C serum under daily sunscreen and topped with mineral powder is a sweet trio. At night, help the fade with alpha hydroxy, beta hydroxy, or kojic acid.
- Serious fix: Ask your derm about mild acid peels to increase cell turnover and get rid of blotchy surface skin, or Intense Pulsed Light treatments, which target spots but are gentler than zappy lasers.
"When a teenager raises her eyebrows, horizontal lines appear across her forehead, but then disappear immediately when she relaxes the muscles," explains Reich. "As she heads into her early 30s, it takes increasingly more time for the lines to disappear." The same thing happens in between the eyebrows (stop furrowing!) and in the lines that go from the outside of the nose down to the corners of the mouth (from years of smiling and talking - but don't stop doing those). Expression lines result from a combo of UV damage and the skin's elastin wearing out from repetitive use.
- Baby-step solution: At home, use vitamin A derivatives like over-the-counter retinol or prescription retinoids like Retin-A Micro to "prevent and minimize fine lines by increasing collagen," says Reich. Gross' grassroots solution is this: "Retraining ourselves to not make some very basic facial expressions - like scowling - can make all the difference. Whenever you feel tense, consciously take a moment to breathe deeply, which will force you to relax your facial muscles."
- Serious fix: The only way to stop expression lines from forming is to refrain from making the expression, which requires Botox. But derms are divided over using preventive Botox. "Is Botox too much for a 25-year-old? It depends," explains Fields. "If you have an anatomically aggressive wrinkle, Botox at 20 makes sense. But if your skin goes back to smooth after making an expression - get out of here."