We’ve got the answers to all your tricky skin questions!! We took the 20 most frequently asked questions you submitted to the SB Dermalogica Skin Lounge and had the expert team at Dermalogica report back with the solutions to all your skin woes. And here they are…
Q. I sometimes get small white bumps on my face – mainly my cheeks, but they’re not pimples. What’s the cause of these and what’s the best way to get rid of them?
A. It sounds like they are milia. These form when our own skin oil (called sebum) is unable to flow out onto the surface of the skin and forms a small plug, because the oil is covered over by skin cells it doesn’t change colour as it does with a blackhead but instead stays white. They are often caused by using products that are too heavy or occlusive on your skin e.g. a moisturiser that is too rich, or they often appear around our eyes as a result of an eye cream that is too rich or even very coating eye shadows. Milia are not super easy to get rid of and sometimes need to be removed professionally by a qualified skin therapist. I suggest starting by making sure you have a really thorough cleansing and exfoliating routine happening. You could also look at using a microfoliant on the days you aren’t using an exfoliant at home. Also check the products that you use regularly on your cheeks (make up, sunscreen etc) – anything that is smudge proof or waterproof could be contributing to the milia simply because these products stick to your skin really well.
Q. Can you recommend anything to help treat dark circles under my eyes? I’ve heard that Hydrocortisone cream can lessen the darkness and help reduce – is this true?
A. I have not heard of hydrocortisone used to treat dark circles under eyes before – you would need to ask a pharmacist or Doctor about that. Sometimes dark circles are hereditary, in which case the only option is to use concealer to cover them. Dark circles can also be related to tiredness or even allergies like eczema and asthma. Another cause of dark circles is leaky capillaries and as the skin around our eyes is thinner than on the rest of our face, we can see the result of the breakdown of haemoglobin in our blood through the skin. Some ingredients to look for in eye creams are caffeine and Fraxinus bark extract as these both help strengthen your blood capillaries and are a source of anti oxidants, which prevent the breakdown of haemoglobin.
Q. I’ve been burnt by hair removal cream on my upper lip and it’s caused a dark scaring which I am embarrassed by – can you recommend ANYTHING at all that you think would help treat this to lessen the scaring it’s left?
A. It depends how deep the burn was to your skin and how long your skin was inflamed for. If it happened recently (i.e. within the last 12 weeks) and your skin was not severely burnt -(i.e. didn’t scab) - you might find it will lighten up again to normal skin colour quite easily. If it was longer than this then the hyperpigmentation could be deep, in which case it’s very difficult to lighten. The most important thing to make sure you are doing is to wear a spf 30 or more every day and reapply it when you are outside every 2 hours. Using products that contain ingredients like lactic acid and vitamin C can help lighten the pigmentation but it is important that you use them consistently. Go and see a qualified Skin Therapist or a Dermatologist for some professional advice.
Q. I have noticed small flat dark spots (slightly larger than a freckle) appearing on my face (I’ve been told by friends they are ‘sun spots’). Is there anything I can do to get rid of them or lighten them? Does dark spot corrector really work?
A. Sun spots (or Lentigines) are very common in New Zealand and most people will develop them somewhere on their exposed skin. They are due to sun exposure which causes the pigment producing cells to over produce pigment in isolated areas. They can be treated with IPL laser or you can try brightening products these will contain ingredients like vitamin C and lactic acid. I’m not familiar sorry with the dark spot corrector so can’t comment on that but it is unlikely that you will find a product to return the skin to its normal colour, more likely that it will lighten it for you so it is less noticeable. Remember to use an spf 30 plus each day to help reduce the appearance of more.
Q. Is there anything that could help reverse sunburn damage?
A. Sun burn damage to skin can manifest in many different ways. If there are any changes to skin in the form of lesions that don’t heal up or moles that appear, then you would need to have a doctor look at them. If the sun burn has caused skin aging then vitamin A has been shown in many studies to help normalize the skin cell behaviour and reverse skin aging.
Q. What’s the best thing to help combat and reduce eczema on my face? My doctor has prescribed Hydrocortisone, but I really hate the thought of using such a strong product around the paper-thin skin that surrounds my eyes.
A. Barrier Repair products are needed to help the skin recover, these have ingredients like Evening Primrose oil. Look for serum concentrates that contain oat extracts and chamomile to help soothe the irritated skin plus lipid blends like Evening Primrose oil, avocado sterols and sunflower glycerides. Products that have been tested by a dermatologist like Dermalogica’s Ultra Calming segment will help you – start with Barrier Repair.
Q. What do you think is less harsh when defining eyebrows – waxing, tweezing or threading?
A. Each form of hair removal has its advantages; waxing leaves a very clean finish as it removes even fine microscopic hairs. The advantage with tweezing and threading is that the hairs are removed without the skin distension (stretching) that occurs with the removal of the wax. Threading is usually faster than tweezing and also tends to pick up very fine hairs that are not always easy to remove with tweezers. Personally I’m a bit of a threading fan.
Q. Is there one product that will effectively remove my makeup? I am sick of cleansing my face, toning and having to use a facecloth to remove my foundation thoroughly, only to still see remnants on my towel when I dry my face.
A. Many makeup products are now designed to stick to your skin really well which is what gives them their long lasting, water and smudge proof qualities. As you said the problem is that they become really difficult to remove from the skin. Look for cleansing oil like Dermalogica’s Pre Cleanse which uses a ‘like attracts like’ approach. The Pre Cleanse contains 5 different oils which bind to the oil in your makeup and sunscreen when applied to dry skin, then by adding water it becomes a milky emulsion (no longer oil) that can be wiped off your skin. This will remove the majority of your makeup and you then follow with your regular cleanser as a second cleanse to finish off. The end result is amazing clean fresh skin.
Q. I’m an expecting mum – are there any skincare products that I should be avoiding?
A. It is always best to discuss this with your Doctor or Midwife as they are the experts in that field. Ingredients that you should ask about are vitamin A (Retinol) and Salicylic acid especially when used in high concentrations as they are in professional products. It is also often recommended that while you are pregnant you avoid essential oils so it’s good to get some advice on those types of things from your health provider.
Q. I get ingrown hairs, yet I exfoliate and do all the so called ‘right things’. Can you recommend anything to help stop me getting these?
A. This is difficult as it does sound like you’re doing the things you should. Regarding the exfoliation try using a buffing cloth daily over the waxed area – just put your body wash onto the cloth first. Keep the skin moisturised so it’s easier for the new hairs to push through the surface of the skin and a lot of people get a great result from using post shave balm products that contain ingredients like vitamin B (Niacinamide), prickly pear extract and salicylic acid.
Q. I always get dry skin, especially my hands, at the change of any season. Why is this and what can I do to help reduce this happening. I drink loads of water!!
A. The water we drink mostly helps our internal body and has a small impact on our skin. The most likely cause of your dry hands is the hand wash you use. It sounds like your hand wash is too strong for your skin. Many hand washes contain ingredients that will strip out critical oils and leave our hands extremely dry. Artificial fragrance, s.d.alcohol and detergents are ingredients that can do this. Invest in a really good quality hand cream that doesn’t use artificial fragrance or s.d.alcohol and apply it often through the day. Finally our climate impacts on exposed skin so during winter wear gloves to protect your hands form extreme cold and wind.
Q. Should I be using face masques? My friends say they use them, but I just don’t have a lot of time. Is there one in particular you would recommend and how often should I be using them?
A. Face masques are problem solvers for skin and are generally products that perform a specific function. Examples are clay masques that will draw excess oil and impurities from your skin, or hydrating treatment masques that are like giving your skin an extra drink of water which goes deeper than moisturiser and the effects last longer. Regarding whether you should use one or not… if you’re investing in good quality skin care then using a masque will enhance the action of your other products and improve your skin health. Time wise they are best on your skin for 10-15 minutes – this could be the time it takes for you to sort out your clothes after you get out of the shower.
Q. How often should I be using an exfoliator on my face?
A. Most exfoliants are able to be used 2 times per week although it will vary a bit depending on what type of exfoliant it is and on your skin tolerance. A good gauge is to see how your skin is after the exfoliation; it should feel very clean, smooth and soft. If you experience stinging or redness then it is best to get some professional advice on a more suitable exfoliant for your skin.
Q. Is there any way that I can stop the fine little red veins that have been appearing on my face lately? They mainly show up around my nose?
A. They are tiny broken capillaries. Some people are more susceptible than others to developing them - you basically inherit a genetic tendency for them. Those that develop around your nose are often caused by the trauma of blowing your nose. In terms of stopping them it is important to treat your skin gently – don’t use abrasive scrubs etc on your skin. You can also get them treated with IPL to remove them.
Q. I’ve heard that even drinking loads of water doesn’t necessarily mean I’m keeping my skin well hydrated. What’s the best product for me to use (whole body) to keep my skin hydrated?
A. You need to use products that contain ingredients known as humectants. These are ingredients that have an ability to bind water to them, so they can retain the moisture and hydration in your skin and keep it supple and plump. For your face look for a good quality moisturiser with humectant ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid and hydrators like Cucumber and Aloe Vera. Also look at putting a hydrating serum underneath for intense hydration benefits. For your body look for ingredients like Evening Primrose Oil, Glycolipids and Vitamin E in your moisturiser and be sure to apply it within 3 minutes of getting out of the bath or shower for the best results.
Q. How do I stop getting really dry elbows – I think it looks ugly and it kinda hurts so I’d love to know the best product to treat this.
A. Firstly use a body exfoliant like a scrub regularly in the shower to remove the dry skin – and then use a rich moisturiser with ingredients like Shea butter and vitamin E 2x daily. Also try not to lean on your elbows through the day.
Q. Is there any way to fade or diminish freckles?
A. Freckles are genetic and are stimulated to appear by UV rays. The best way to reduce the appearance of freckles is to minimize your UV exposure by wearing an spf 30 or higher each day plus a hat. Including some vitamin C in your skin care can help brighten your skin.
Q. My face always feels quite tight after I’ve washed/cleansed by face. Why is this? Am I supposed to lather on moisturiser straight after washing my face?
A. It sounds like your cleanser might be too strong for your skin. Cleansers contain ingredients that will lift excess oil off our skin, plus make up sunscreen and pollutants, and they will be formulated in different strengths. If your skin is oily and you notice an oily shine through the day then you could use a cleanser formulated for oily skin with stronger active surface cleansing agents in it, in contrast if your skin is not oily and you use a cleanser like that it will remove critical lipids and oils from your skin and leave a tight feeling or even flaking skin. Go and see a professional skin therapist for advice on the type of cleanser best for you i.e. milky or gel based. It is always best though to apply your moisturiser while your skin is still a little damp – preferably after you have used a toner.
Q. My skin always looks really dull and some girls skin just seems to glow – how do I achieve glowing skin?
A. There are some great skin care ingredients for brightening your skin and giving your complexion a fresh healthy glow. My favourite brightening ingredients are vitamin C, lactic acid and rice bran. You will find these types of ingredients in products like exfoliants or a microfoliant (which is a very gentle daily use skin smoothing products). Vitamin C is also often used in a serum which can go underneath your moisturiser.
Q. Is there any way to avoid stretch marks? A lot of my family members have stretch marks on their thighs and I really want to avoid getting them too, so I want to know if there is something I can do now to help ward off stretch marks.
A. As you have close family members with stretch marks you might be more at risk of developing them, but not necessarily. Stretch marks occur when there are small tears in the connective tissue. The best precautions against stretch marks is to keep your skin supple and moisturised, look for a good quality body moisturiser which preferably contains a vitamin blend including vitamin E and essential oils. Make sure you apply it within 3 minutes of getting out of the bath or shower.
Thanks to everyone that sent in their skin queries and a SPECIAL THANK YOU to our friends at Dermalogica for handing out all this amazing expert advice.