The 5 Most Common Beauty Questions – and Some Helpful Solutions

From the WebMD Archives

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.

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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.

Q: Why do anti-oil shampoos seem to make my hair oilier?

A : The problem is known as "rebound" oil production - a condition that occurs when you strip so much oil from your hair that it sends a message to your sebaceous glands to produce more oil. The greatest offenders are harsh shampoos, some of which are formulated for oily hair. To combat the problem, choose a shampoo for "dry," "sensitive," or color treated hair. These products are designed to give the most thorough cleansing without stripping the hair. So not only will you effectively remove all the oils, you won't trigger the "oil alarm" when doing it.

This holds true for oily skin as well. Indeed, experts say the body's natural response to skin irritation is oil production. So, the harsher the cleanser - and the more oil you remove - the more oil your sebaceous glands will produce. So what type of cleansers should you use? Look for products marked "gentle," like those recommended for dry or sensitive skin. They will remove excess oil, while leaving the barrier of fatty acids in tact. This will protect skin and keep oil production under control.

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Q: How do I select the right moisturizer for my skin type?

A: It seems like there are zillions of moisturizer choices out there - and no way to know what will work best for you. But experts say if you use your skin type as a guide, you can substantially narrow down product choices.

Here's a quick guide that can help:

  • If your skin is dry and/or sensitive - meaning it is easily irritated - look for a moisturizer formulated for that skin type.

If your skin is oily and acne-prone, your moisturizer should be labeled "non-comedogenic".

  • If you wake up with your face feeling parched, then in addition to whatever daytime moisturizer you use, you also need a night moisturizer - one that is generally richer, thicker and heavier than a day cream.

Q: Why does my hair color fade, and what can I do about it?

A: As anyone who colors his or her hair can tell you, the shade you had when you left the salon may not be the same color you end up with 3 weeks later. This is particularly true for blonde hair, which tends to change color the most.

One cause of fading hair color is oxidation, a natural process that occurs when oxygen molecules in the air attach themselves to color molecules in your hair. The end result dulls and fades hair color. While there's not much you can about it, you do have power over one contributing factor: sun exposure. Indeed, the sun fades hair color much the same way it fades your living room drapes. Keeping your head covered will dramatically reduce the sun's fading power.

Shampoo and your water type can also influence color fading. Hard water that is mineral heavy (particularly well water) can leave deposits on hair that dull and fade color. This is exacerbated if you use a harsh or medicated shampoo, which can strip color as well. To reduce fading, choose a quality shampoo with gentle ingredients, and look for products for color treated or damaged/dry hair. You might also want to try a color enhancing shampoo, a temporary product that revitalizes hair and pumps up color between salon appointments. However, be sure to tell your colorist if try these shampoos. Some can impact the performance of permanent hair coloring.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Norman Levine, MD on February 01, 2007

Sources

SOURCES: Robin Ashinoff, MD, Medical Director of Dermatologic, Mohs, and Laser Surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, NJ; Doris J. Day, MD, dermatologist, NYU Medical Center, New York City; Joel Schlessinger, MD, president-elect, American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Esthetic Surgery, and director of LovelySkin.com, Omaha, Nebraska; Kyle White, Colorist, Oscar Blandi Salon for The Beauty Buyble by Paula Conaway (Regan Books); Old Vitamins Learn New Tricks, American Academy of Dermatology.

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