This is default featured slide 1 title
This is default featured slide 2 title
This is default featured slide 3 title
This is default featured slide 4 title
 

Category Archives: Beauty

Ways to Use an Eyelash Curler

Eyeliner, eye shadow, and mascara are standard tools in any makeup kit. But makeup pros know that using an eyelash curler can further enhance your eyes by making them look wider and brighter. Inexpensive and easy to use, an eyelash curler is also safe if used properly. Read on for information about types of eyelash curlers and step-by-step instructions.

Eyelash Curler Options

There are two types of eyelash curlers — the conventional clamp-down kind and the newer heated eyelash curler. “Although manual or heated curlers can be used to curl the lashes, the effects are only temporary, from day to day,” notes lash stylist Twanna Smith, owner of Glam Eyelash and Brow Bar Salon in Duluth, GA.

Traditional eyelash curler.

This curler is metal and has the same kind of handles you’d find on a pair of scissors. The handles open and close a clamp that, when squeezed tight for a few seconds, produces the curl. The curling end has a rubber pad to protect delicate eyelashes from the metal clamp. The curler works by crimping your lashes up toward your brow, making them look longer and more pronounced. “Look for an eyelash curler that’s curved, not straight,” advises Candice Torres of Younique. “The curved base conforms well to the natural shape of the eye and can get closer to your lash line without pinching.” Be sure to choose a model with a good-sized pad to press against your lashes as well as a natural shaped handle, which will be easier to hold, she suggests. To avoid possible infection, you’ll want to replace the pad on the curler every two months. An eyelash curler typically costs between $5 and $25, depending on the brand and the store. Consider buying a replacement pack of the rubber pads at the same time.

Heated eyelash curlers.

Heated eyelash curlers are another option. Some use a small heated brush rather than a clamp to curl the eyelashes. You run the heated brush from the base of the lashes to the tip, working from the center of the eye out to the edges. Heated eyelash curlers cost from $10 to $20.

Step-by-Step Advice From the Pros

If you have one of the newer, heated curlers, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If you prefer the traditional, inexpensive model, follow these tips to get the best curl.

Start with clean lashes.

For the best results, make sure to remove any old mascara from your eyelashes before you curl them. Old mascara can clog your curler or cause your lashes to clump, Torres explains, so it’s important to remove it. Use a gentle, oil-free eye makeup remover; any oil on the lashes would cause your new application of mascara to smudge. “The mascara will go on so much easier when your lashes are curled and more easily accessible,” Torres says. “I have naturally stick-straight lashes, so it’s hard to reach every little hair unless I curl them first.”

Next, do your eyelid makeup.

“Put your eyeshadow and liner on first, then curl your lashes and add your favorite mascara,” Torres says.

Clamp with care.

“Open the eyelash curler — and your eyes — and place your upper lashes between the padded base and the top,” Torres says. “Wiggle the eyelash curler into place, trying to get as close to your upper lash line/eyelid without pinching the skin. Don’t be scared — just go slowly if it’s your first time. “Close the clamp with the handle and gently squeeze in place for 10 to 15 seconds.”

To avoid a sharp bend and to create a natural curled look, gently release the curler and move it up the lash, away from the lid, by one or two millimeters, and again clamp the lashes for five to 10 seconds. Gently release the curler and repeat the process one or two more times, moving the curler up the lashes, closer to the end of the lashes each time.

You can repeat the process if you feel that your eyelashes are not sufficiently curled. Once you’re satisfied, add mascara. “In order to maintain the most curl, try to find a formula that’s not too wet or heavy,” Torres says.

You might need a little practice — to learn how to maneuver eyelashes through the clamp, how to comfortably clamp down, and how to use mascara to maintain that curl. But in very little time, you’ll create beautiful, long lashes with almost no effort.

Take Care of Your Lashes

You might have the best curler and mascara on the market, but it won’t help you if you don’t care for your lashes.

“The main problem with lashes is people tend to unconsciously fiddle with them, which can lead to shedding,” cautions dermatologist Lisa M. Donofrio, MD, associate clinical professor in the department of dermatology at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, CT, and spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology. ” Side sleepers may also repeatedly crush their lashes, which can lead to lash loss over time.”

Dr. Donofrio recommends talking to your dermatologist if your lashes seem sparse — you may be able to use a prescription or over-the-counter serum to spur lusher lash growth. Or, when a curler isn’t enough, eyelash extensions may be option, Smith suggests. These individual lashes, applied along your own lash line, can last for up to six weeks with the right care.

Ways to Reduce Wrinkles

Are you tired of waging a war against wrinkles? Scott Gerrish, MD, of Gerrish and Associates, PC, a non-surgical skin care specialist with offices in Virginia and Maryland states, “Don’t give up yet. There are steps you can take to lessen and even reverse one of the biggest signs of aging: wrinkles.”

Steps to Reduce Wrinkles

    1. Avoid sun exposure. Try to wear white or light colors, and wear a hat when you’re outdoors. Also, don’t use tanning booths, which can be worse than the sun.
    2. Wear sunscreen. For the best anti-aging protection, Dr. Gerrish strongly recommends, “Apply sunscreen with at least an SPF 15 (sun protection factor) thirty minutes before sun exposure to protect your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Look for one with zinc or titanium oxide in the ingredient list.”
    3. Avoid environmental pollutants. Ozone, smoke, and gasoline fumes are just a few of the pollutants that can age skin and cause premature wrinkles.
    4. Start an anti-aging skin care program. June Breiner, MD, an internist in Maryland suggests, “Consult with a non-surgical skin care doctor. There are many products available that thicken your skin and reduce wrinkles.”
    5. Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke. Smoking takes away oxygen and nutrients, and it also increases the number of free radicals in your body’s cells, a main cause of skin aging. “The amount of cigarette consumption and the number of years you have smoked are correlated with an increase in premature wrinkles,” states Dr. Breiner.
    6. Wear sunglasses. Other than staying indoors and away from windows, sunglasses are the best way to protect the thin, sensitive skin around your eyes from UV radiation.
    7. Sleep on your back, if possible. Sleeping with your face pressed against the pillow can cause sleep lines, which can turn into wrinkles. Satin pillow cases can also help in the anti-wrinkle fight.
    8. Use moisturizer. A good moisturizer will keep skin hydrated and soften wrinkles.
    9. Exercise regularly. “It gets your cardiovascular system going, which is great for getting needed nutrients and oxygen to your skin,” Breiner explains. “You should get cardiovascular exercise for your heart and skin health, and weight strengthening exercises for muscle underlying your skin.”
    10. Eat a nutritious, anti-aging diet. Drink plenty of water and teas, and get eight to ten servings daily of fruits and vegetables. Eat fresh caught Atlantic salmon three times a week or another fish high in omega 3 fatty acids, such as herring, mackerel, trout, or tuna. Foods have a tremendous ability to fight the aging process as they are chock full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that your body needs to combat wrinkles, says Breiner.
    11. Avoid processed and refined foods and sugars. They contain chemicals that can cause your skin to age prematurely
    12. Try Retin-A or Renova. Gerrish recommends, “See your doctor for a prescription of Retin-A, a cream that has been proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and thicken thinning skin, which is part of the aging process.” If your skin is very dry, ask about Renova, a gentler formulation of the anti wrinkle cream.
    13. Avoid stress. When you’re stressed out, your body releases a powerful aging hormone, cortisol, into your blood stream. “If you have chronic stress, take yoga, write in a journal daily, sing, take a walk, meditate. Do whatever works for you to reduce stress,” suggests Gerrish.

Need a bit more motivation to implement this skin care plan? The best anti-aging advice is also great for your overall health, so get started today.

Step to Younger-Looking Skin

The right anti-aging products and treatments can turn back the clock by erasing signs of aging, fine lines and wrinkles, and other sun damage.

If you haven’t been protecting your skin, it can start to give away clues about your age. Fine lines and wrinkles begin to appear, along with brown spots and rough skin patches caused by sun exposure. Your skin might be producing less collagen, and dead skin cells don’t flake off imperceptibly anymore. If this sounds like your skin, it’s time to turn to anti-aging products and treatments to slow down, reduce, or even reverse the signs of aging and regain younger-looking skin.

Any skin that’s been regularly exposed to the elements can be expected to show its age and needs special care to maintain its youthful look, says Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, MD, CEO and medical director of Elite MD, Inc. Advanced Dermatology, Laser, and Plastic Surgery Institute in Danville, Calif.

Your Anti-Aging Action Plan

At-home and doctor’s office procedures can have a visible impact on your complexion, giving you back younger-looking skin.

  1. Protect your skin. The first rule of thumb: Prevent the damage. “The best thing to do to protect your skin is prevention,” Dr. Badreshia-Bansal says. The sun is enemy number one, so you need to wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor, or SPF, of 30 or higher whenever you’re outside. You also should wear long-sleeved shirts and pants. Protect your face and neck with wide-brimmed hats, your eyes with sunglasses with UV coating. Dryness is enemy number two, making lines seem more noticeable, so choose a moisturizer made for your skin type and use it regularly to keep skin supple.
  2. Apply a vitamin A cream. Prescription-strength, vitamin A–based topical gels or creams known as retinoids can reduce wrinkles and produce younger-looking skin. “It helps to build collagen, which can prevent the development of fine lines and wrinkles, and to lighten dark spots,” Badreshia-Bansal says. “We also use it to treat acne, and it can help prevent precancerous growths.” Prescription retinoids include Retin-A and Renova (tretinoin), Differin (adapalene), and Avage (tazarotene).
  3. Bleach your brown spots. You can try lightening brown spots (also called age spots) with a bleaching cream that contains hydroquinone. “Hydroquinone helps inhibit an important enzyme in pigment synthesis,” Badreshia-Bansal explains.
  4. Pick up a pentapeptide anti-wrinkle cream. These anti-aging creams stimulate the skin’s production of collagen and elastin and are found in some drugstore or beauty counter products. “You’re helping to build back the support structure that’s been lost through aging and sun damage,” Badreshia-Bansal says.
  5. Peel to reveal fresher skin. Dermatologists use various methods to remove the top layer of skin and expose new skin. These procedures can help tighten the skin and diminish fine lines and brown spots. “By exfoliating that top layer, you’re allowing the moisturizers and other products we use to penetrate deeper and work better,” Badreshia-Bansal says. Procedures include:
    • Chemical peel solutions to loosen and slough away the top layer of skin
    • Laser skin resurfacing to vaporize the surface skin
    • Microdermabrasion that sprays tiny particles to strip away topmost skin cells
    • Plasma skin regeneration using a stream of ionized nitrogen gas to heat the skin and cause the top layer of cells to flake away
  6. Consider Botox. Injections of botulinum toxin have become tremendously popular as an anti-aging therapy. The injections relax the muscles under the skin and can eliminate deep lines and wrinkles around the face. Botox treatments also can help prevent new wrinkles from appearing.

You have many options available to create younger-looking skin. Factors including cost and the recovery time associated with procedures like peels will help you decide on your best course of action.

Ways Beat Dry Skin

Put a stop to dull, flaky skin with these simple rules for keeping your skin hydrated.

Dry, itchy skin is no joke. Because skin is the body’s largest organ (weighing about nine pounds), the frustration and discomfort that go along with dehydration can affect your daily existence, from your wardrobe to your social life. And if you happen to have a skin condition like eczema, you know from experience that flaky skin is no laughing matter.

However, you can fight flakiness and itchiness with a few important tips. Here, skin experts share their best advice for keeping your skin soft and supple.

Find the Right Exfoliator

Exfoliating can be beneficial for those who have dry skin because it helps the dead surface layers of skin cells to be shed, layers that can prevent moisturizers from being absorbed, says Doris Day, MD, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center.

The key is to find the exfoliator that works best for your skin. Scrubs and alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids are best for those who don’t have sensitive skin. Those with sensitive skin can exfoliate with a home remedy that consists of a paste made from baking soda and water. “It’s great for your face or for rough patches like your heels, and nobody breaks out from it,” says Mona Gohara, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University.

Note that if you have any skin conditions, it’s best to check with a dermatologist before trying anything new. And beware of exfoliating too often because it can cause irritation.

Don’t Wash Too Often

Like exfoliating too much, washing too often can lead to dryness. “I usually tell people to use soap only where they need it — underarms, groin, hands and feet,” says Rebecca Baxt, MD, a dermatologist in Paramus, New Jersey.

Take a Lukewarm Shower

“Hot showers can strip the skin of oil and leave skin dry,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Although hot showers are relaxing, fight the urge to parboil yourself and use lukewarm water instead. Also, limit the length of your showers to 10 minutes or less.

Moisturize Every Day

Using a moisturizer daily is crucial to combating dry, flaky skin. “When the skin is dry, it needs to be hydrated from the outside in — drinking eight glasses of water is not enough,” says Dr. Day.

For the most effective moisturizer, look for ingredients, including ceramides, that help support and replenish lipids in the skin. Hyaluronic acid and glycerin, both humectants, help the skin attract water and hold in moisture. Additionally, Dr. Zeichner recommends that, to help seal in moisture, you apply moisturizer to damp skin after showering.

Ways Find the right Skin Moisturizer

Feel overwhelmed when you want to buy skin moisturizer for your dry skin? That’s no surprise, as there are dozens to choose from at the drugstore and hundreds more at high-end cosmetics and department stores — creams, lotions, ointments, some with sunscreen, others with an exfoliant. Choices range from the basic $1.50 jar of petroleum jelly to a $500 five-ounce tub of designer skin moisturizer. And all the options in between can make your head spin.

While choosing the right skin moisturizer may seem confusing, it’s actually very simple if you follow a few guidelines, says dermatologist Monica Halem, MD, of ColumbiaDoctors Eastside in New York City. Dr. Halem’s first rule of thumb? Don’t spend too much money.

How a Skin Moisturizer Works

Cleansers and moisturizers are the most important skin products, particularly for softening dry skin. A skin moisturizer works by sealing moisture into the outer layer of the skin and by pulling moisture from the inner layers of skin to the outer layer.

Key ingredients that seal in moisture are petrolatum, mineral oil, lanolin, and dimethicone. Glycerin, propylene glycol, proteins, urea, and vitamins help attract water into the outer layer of the skin.

Some skin moisturizers also contain an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), which exfoliates dead skin, says Francesca Fusco, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and a spokeswoman for the Skin Cancer Foundation. AHAs are a good choice if you have very dry skin.

Finding the Skin Moisturizer For You

It may take some trial and error, Halem says, so be patient. Follow these guidelines as you shop and, if you’re not getting the results you want, try a new one the next time:

  • Note the first five ingredients. Look for common active ingredients, such as lanolin, glycerin, or petrolatum, Dr. Fusco says. Glycerin is less likely than lanolin to cause an allergic reaction, she says. She also recommends picking a moisturizer that’s made by a reputable company.
  • Go for added sunscreen. Protecting your skin from harmful sun damage is one of the best things you can do to keep your skin looking young, so buy a moisturizer with a sun protection factor of at least 30. You’ll have to do some searching, but more companies are offering face and body moisturizers with sunscreen, Halem says.
  • Make it skin-type appropriate. The skin on your face is thinner and more sensitive, so it’s a good idea to use a different moisturizer on your face than you do on your body, Fusco says and recommends buying one that’s labeled “non-comedogenic” because it won’t clog your pores. Of course, choose one that’s right for your skin type. If you know you have sensitive skin, it’s always a good idea to look for a moisturizer labeled hypoallergenic. If you have oily skin, go with a light, oil-free moisturizer. If you have dry skin, get something richer. And if you have combination skin, go with a lighter moisturizer for your whole face and dot drier areas with a heavier cream, Fusco says. Keep in mind that you may need a lighter lotion in the summer, and a cream or ointment in the winter.
  • Consider using a moisturizer with retinol before bed. Retinol is vitamin A for your skin, Halem says. It works by increasing the speed at which your skin cells turn over. You can find it over the counter or by prescription, but use it carefully as it may cause a skin irritation, red skin, or dry skin.

Relief by Prescription

If your skin is very dry, consider a prescription moisturizer. Prescription moisturizers contain the AHA lactic acid, which softens the top layer of your skin and can do a better job if over-the-counter moisturizers aren’t working for you, Fusco says. AHAs such as lactic acid and glycolic acid can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Tell your doctor if you experience burning, irritation, red skin, itching, or a rash.

Another prescription option is a barrier cream, which contains humectants that hold on to moisture longer, Fusco says. Barrier creams penetrate a little deeper than standard moisturizers, she adds.

When to Moisturize

Once you find the right product, moisturize every day and you’ll go a long way toward preventing dry skin and even camouflaging wrinkles. While a skin moisturizer can’t get rid of wrinkles — because wrinkles begin much deeper in the skin due to collagen loss — it can plump up the skin and minimize their appearance, Halem says.

Whichever moisturizer you choose, it will work better if you apply it to damp skin. Think about a sponge that’s dried out, Fusco says. If you put moisturizer on it, it won’t go anywhere. But if you soak the sponge in water and coat it with moisturizer, the sponge will absorb it. Your skin works the same way, happily lapping it up.

Tips to Help You Manage Chronic Hives

Whether it’s applying a soothing lotion or trying a vitamin D supplement, there are steps you can take to manage chronic hives. Start here.

Chronic hives, also known as chronic urticaria, is an uncomfortable skin condition marked by itchy red welts that can appear anywhere on your body. “About 85 percent of the time, we don’t know what causes it,” says Miriam Anand, MD, an allergist with Allergy Associates and Asthma in Tempe, Arizona. When the cause of hives can’t be determined, the condition is known as chronic idiopathic urticaria. This poses a challenge when it comes to treating chronic hives, which by definition last longer than six weeks, and can sometimes come and go for years.

Besides causing discomfort, chronic hives can interfere with daily activities, but there are many ways to manage the condition — even if you don’t know its cause. Start with these steps to soothe or prevent the symptoms associated with chronic hives:

1. Avoid known triggers

One of the best ways to control hives is to avoid known triggers, according to a report published in the June 2015 issue of the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.  To determine which triggers may be affecting you, the first step is to see your allergist. “We do allergy testing to see if your body is reacting to one of the many allergens that can cause hives,” says Dr. Anand. Some of these allergens are:

  • Some foods, especially peanuts, eggs, nuts, shellfish, and some food additives
  • Certain pain medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen
  • Physical stimuli such as pressure, temperature, exercise, and sun exposure
  • Bacterial infections, including urinary tract infections
  • Viral infections, such as the common cold and hepatitis
  • Pet dander
  • Pollen

If one or more of these allergens is found to be the cause of your hives, says Anand, your doctor will work with you to figure out ways to avoid exposure. “If a trigger isn’t found after testing, your doctor will look for other causes of chronic hives,” she adds. One of those could be an autoimmune condition — almost half of all cases of chronic hives are due to an overactive immune system, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.  Treating an underlying medical condition, says Anand, can help rid you of thesymptoms of chronic hives.

2. Take your medications

Antihistamines are usually the first line of treatment for chronic hives. “I usually prescribe a long-acting antihistamine once a day first,” says Anand, “and if that doesn’t work, I’ll add a second one.” If antihistamines don’t help, your doctor may prescribe another medication. According to a study published in March 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine, omalizumab, an injectable medication commonly used to treat asthma, was found to be effective in treating most people who did not respond to antihistamines.  Other treatments your doctor might prescribe include corticosteroids (for short-term use only) or epinephrine injections (if you experience swelling in your lips or throat). To help boost the effectiveness of your treatment, always follow your doctor’s instructions when it comes to taking your medications, and don’t skip any doses. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your medication.

3. Soothe your skin

The drier your skin is, the itchier it feels, tempting you to scratch. But scratching is one of the worst things you can do, says Anand, because it can aggravate your hives. To calm the itching, keep your skin moisturized, she says. Taking frequent baths can also help reduce itching and scratching, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI).

In addition, cooling the affected area can feel soothing to your skin (as long as cold temperature isn’t one of your hive triggers). There are many ways to cool your skin, including:

  • Applying an anti-inflammatory medication or cream, as prescribed by your doctor
  • Positioning yourself in front of a fan
  • Applying a cold compress

4. Wear loose, light clothing

Constant friction and pressure on your skin can worsen your hives, according to the ACAAI. Avoid wearing constricting clothing, tight belts, and even ill-fitting shoes — hives can also appear on the soles of your feet. Choose loosely fitting clothing in soft fabrics instead.

5. Talk to your doctor about a vitamin D supplement

Adding a vitamin D supplement to your treatment plan may help reduce the symptoms of chronic hives, according to a small study published in January 2014 in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. In the two-year study, people with chronic hives who took a daily supplement of vitamin D3 along with their regular allergy medications experienced a decrease of 33 percent in their symptoms within the first week. More research is needed to confirm the benefits of vitamin D supplementation for chronic hives. Talk to your doctor about possibly adding a supplement to your treatment. 

6. Consider alternative therapies

Stress has been found to worsen hives, and techniques that promote relaxation, such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga, can be good ways to reduce stress, says Anand.  Some studies point to a potential link between acupuncture and a decrease in the symptoms of chronic hives, but more research is needed to confirm these findings.

7. Manage your emotions

When you have chronic hives, most of your efforts may naturally be directed toward managing visible symptoms. But don’t forget to address the condition’s invisible symptoms: Anxiety and depression often accompany chronic hives. “This stands to reason,” says Anand, “since living with a chronic condition can be challenging and uncomfortable.” Chronic hives has specifically been found to increase emotional distress, feelings of isolation, and fatigue. If these symptoms sound familiar, talking to a therapist may help you relieve some emotional pressure.

How To Protect Children From Sun

Making sure your kids avoid sunburn and reduce their future skin cancer can be easy and inexpensive. Here’s how.

If you’re a parent, sun protection for your kids should be high on your priority list. Preventing sunburn with sunscreen and protective clothing are important when activities take you outdoors.

But a recent study released by the Colorado School of Public Health shows that many parents could be doing more to protect their children from sunburns — and skin cancer. Here, the dangers of sunburn and how to protect your family better.

UV Protection for Kids: Why It’s Important

Ahmet Altiner, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist, says that getting this message out to parents is critical as there’s more risk associated with a child’s sunburn than most people realize. “There is very good biological evidence that exposure to harmful UVA rays early on in life can lead to an increase in chances of melanoma in the future,” he says. “Therefore, sun protection is particularly important in children. For example, when I screen my patients for risk factors for melanoma, one of the questions I ask is, ‘Did you have a blistering sunburn when you were a child?’ This is an important gauge for me as to how much UVA damage they may have had as a child.”

Simple, Affordable Ways to Provide UV Protection

Providing sun protection to reduce the risk for melanoma and skin cancer in your kids as they grow up can be a simple matter and also one that doesn’t have to break your budget. There are a number of easy, cost-effective ways to reduce your kids’ risk for sunburn.

The first step is sunscreen, says Richard Bezozo, MD, president of MoleSafe, a melanoma screening company with clinics nationwide. Dr. Bezozo stresses that the sunscreen’s SPF — the number that indicates its sun protection factor — and the way you apply it is more critical than buying the most expensive one on the shelf. “Parents should use a sunscreen with at least a 30 SPF because anything less is not very useful,” he says. “The most important things to remember are to put the sunscreen on at least 30 minutes before going outside or going into the sun and to always reapply sunscreen after swimming, sweating, and rubbing with a towel. Even without swimming or sweating, reapply the sunscreen every couple of hours during a day in the sun. Apply enough sunscreen to the child’s body and be sure to cover the child’s entire body.”

If your kids are swimming, a waterproof sunscreen is a good choice, says Laura Speck, MD, of Westlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in Austin, Texas. “A few of the sunscreen brands I generally recommend are Neutrogena, Aveeno, and EltaMD,” she adds. “Products such as Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Spray are conveniently able to go directly onto wet skin, making reapplication quick and easy at the pool.”

In terms of protective clothing, a good rule of thumb is to choose long-sleeve shirts and wide-brimmed hats for outdoor outings. When swimming, invest in a long-sleeve swim shirt that your child can leave on while in the water. There are children’s clothes available with an added UV coating, but these can be expensive and might not be needed. “Unless a child is particularly sensitive to the sun, I do not believe any special type of UV clothing is necessary,” says Dr. Altiner. “Wearing long-sleeve shirts while in the water is a great way to promote sun protection.”

Finally, the best (and cheapest) way to protect your children from sunburn is to simply avoid the sun when it’s the strongest, generally from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on sunny days. Of course, sun exposure is still dangerous at other times and even on cloudy days, so the rules about sunscreen and clothing still apply. “One useful tip I give my patients is to check the UV index on Weather.com,” says Altiner. “This is a much better way to gauge how much sun they are getting than actually keeping to a specific time frame. It is important to remember that there can be cloudy days when the index is still high. So to avoid a false sense of security, don’t go by only what you see in the sky.”

6 Reasons Sleep for Skin Health

Get your beauty sleep! The ZZZs you catch every night can have a profound impact on your skin health. Here’s how.

A good night’s sleep can mean good skin health because when you’re sleep-deprived, your body makes more of the stress hormone cortisol. Elevated levels of cortisol can lead to increased stress and inflammation in the body, hurting your skin’s quality.

But the relationship between skin health and lack of quality sleep can be a vicious cycle, especially with conditions like atopic dermatitis or eczema, which can lead to scratching even through the night, recent research published in the journal Clinics in Dermatologyshowed.

“Poor sleep can lead to increased stress hormones in the body that increase the severity of inflammatory skin conditions such as acne or psoriasis,” explains Jessica Krant, MD, MPH, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and founder of Art of Dermatology in New York. This can result in increased itching, which can disrupt sleep. As the vicious cycle continues, skin conditions and sleep quality can increasingly worsen together. In contrast, skin conditions and sleep quality can also improve together. Getting a good night’s sleep will help to clear up skin, which allows sleep to improve and, in turn, will improve skin health.”

Need more convincing? Here are six reasons why not getting enough sleep detracts from skin health and your health in general:

  1. Not enough sleep worsens existing skin conditions. Increased inflammatory response shows up as increased acne breakouts, increased skin sensitivity, increased allergic contact dermatitis reactions, and increased irritant dermatitis — and more severe conditions mean more treatment and skin care.
  2. Not enough sleep detracts from your skin’s natural beauty. Increased inflammatory cells in the body lead to an increase in the breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid, the molecules that give the skin its glow, bounce, and translucency.
  3. Not enough sleep makes immune-related skin problems worse. Increased inflammation in the body throws off the body’s ability to regulate the immune system, which leads not only to getting sick more often, but also to flares of immune-related skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema. Psoriasis is not just a skin disease; it’s also an indicator of body inflammation. “Many people with severe psoriasis actually have an increased risk for heart attacks, which is even more reason to keep stress low and get good quality sleep,” Dr. Krant says.
  4. Not enough sleep results in less beauty. While you’re sleeping, the body’s hydration rebalances. Skin is able to recover moisture, while excess water in general in the body is processed for removal. Not getting enough sleep results in poor water balance, leading to puffy bags under your eyes and under-eye circles, as well as dryness and more visible wrinkles.
  5. Not enough sleep accelerates the aging process. During deep sleep, the rise in growth hormones allows damaged cells to become repaired. Without the deeper phases of sleep, this won’t occur, allowing daily small breakdowns to accumulate instead of being reversed overnight. This results in more noticeable signs of aging.
  6. Not enough sleep contributes to weight gain. Sleep also helps with weight management, which is good for your skin. Sleep makes you feel less hungry, Krant explains — recent studies have linked sleep deprivation to excess snacking and calorie consumption.

Ways to Ease Itch of Chronic Hives

1. Itch Relief Made Easier

They’re itchy, red, and raised and often appear at the worst possible times. About 20 percent of the population will get them at least once in their lives, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. They’re hives. And hives that last more than six weeks are considered chronic (persistent or recurring). For some people, these hives are a result of allergies, but for others there’s no discernible cause. Chronic hives with no known cause are called chronic idiopathic urticaria (hives).

The itching associated with these hives, which stems from the release of natural chemicals called histamines by your body’s immune system, can dramatically affect your quality of life. This is among the main findings of a study published in August 2015 in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Still, there’s a lot you can do to ease the itch of chronic hives.

2. Avoid Triggers

“Allergy testing is typically the first step when someone develops hives,” says Gary Goldenberg, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. “Even if your blood work comes back negative, meaning the cause of the hives can’t be found, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any triggers.” Keeping a diary can help you identify your potential triggers. “Pay attention to what precipitates your hives and itching,” Dr. Goldenberg says. “If you go out for Italian food and eat tomato sauce and have a flare, you may want to avoid tomato sauce.”

3. Don’t Scratch

Yes, the itch can drive you crazy, but scratching hives may cause them to spread and become even more inflamed, says Neeta Ogden, MD, an allergist in private practice in Englewood, New Jersey, and a spokesperson for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. “Cold compresses may help soothe the itch without aggravating the hives,” she says.

4. Take an Antihistamine

Non-drowsy, over-the-counter antihistamines can combat itching and help break the hive cycle by blocking the symptom-producing release of histamine. “The key is to take the antihistamine every day at the exact same time,” Goldenberg says. “Antihistamines don’t treat the hives you have, but they can help prevent new ones from occurring in the next 24 hours.” Antihistamine creams can also stop the itch in its tracks, he says. Ask your doctor about what type of antihistamine is most likely to help relieve your itching.

5. Chill Out

Stress makes everything worse. “Everything is amplified when you’re feeling stressed out,” Goldenberg says. “If you have hives, they can get worse with stress.” The best thing to do is to find ways to de-stress. Meditation, deep breathing, or just taking a walk can help. The key is consistency. “Find something that relaxes you and do it often,” he says.

6. Consider Acupuncture

Acupuncture may play a role in relieving the itch associated with chronic hives, according to a study published in September 2015 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Locate a practitioner near you with the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture’s acupuncturist finder.

7. Take a Cold Shower

Hot showers or baths can make hives worse. “Heat can cause vasodilation, which essentially gives your hives more blood supply and a chance to spread,” Dr. Ogden says. Instead, take a cold shower or a cool bath to calm the itch. Always use soap and other products that are unscented and made for sensitive skin. “Products aren’t causing your hives, but you want whatever you use to be gentle enough not to make them worse,” she says.

8. Moisturize

“Hives aren’t drying like other skin conditions, but if a moisturizer is soothing or cooling, it can be useful,” Ogden says. Some products also have an anti-itch component such as oatmeal that can help relieve the itch and soothe your skin. “But always do a patch test when trying something new,” she says. Wait 48 hours to see if there’s a reaction to the new ingredient. “If oatmeal proves helpful, consider a cool oatmeal bath when the itch of hives flares,” Ogden says.

9. Talk With Your Doctor

“Check with your doctor to make sure you’re doing all you can to prevent and stop the itch,” says Goldenberg. If antihistamines aren’t helping, your doctor may prescribe another treatment. These may include corticosteroids, antidepressants, leukotriene modifiers, immunosuppressants, and omalizumab, an asthma drug now approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat chronic hives. Light therapy may also provide some relief, Goldenberg says.

Ways use a Skin Exfoliant

Dead skin cells often need a little help to slough off. A skin exfoliant with ingredients like an alpha hydroxy acid or a beta hydroxy acid can leave you looking fresh and feeling smooth again.

Our skin is constantly renewing itself, growing new skin cells to replace the surface skin cells that grow old, die, and fall, or slough, off. Every minute of every day, between 30,000 and 40,000 dead skin cells flake away.

Factors like age and dry skin can mean that dead skin cells don’t fall away as easily as they should. When these cells build up, they can make the complexion look rough and pasty and can also contribute to the clogged pores that lead to adult acne. The regular yet careful use of a skin exfoliant can help slough off dead skin cells and uncover fresh, more youthful skin.

There are two main types of skin exfoliants: mechanical exfoliants and chemical exfoliants. Both are commonly available, and both have pros and cons regarding their use and the types of skin conditions for which they are most appropriate.

Mechanical Skin Exfoliants

Mechanical exfoliants work by sanding off dead skin cells using mildly abrasive substances. These skin exfoliants typically are facial scrubs, creamy cleansers with tiny, rough particles. As you gently massage the exfoliant over the surface of your face and skin, the friction works to loosen the old skin cells.

Mechanical skin exfoliants are readily available in drugstores and easy to use. They are particularly good for people with oily skin or acne, as they remove skin cells and debris that clog pores, but only if you don’t scrub too hard as this can cause further irritation.

However, mechanical exfoliants can be harsh. When you use them, you’re literally sanding away the outer layer of your skin. Some contain particles so jagged and rough that they could actually cut the skin. Because of this, dermatologists recommend using a gentle motion when using a skin exfoliant, and skipping them altogether if you have sensitive skin.

Chemical Skin Exfoliants

A chemical skin exfoliant uses gentle acids to dissolve whatever bonds are preventing the outer layer of dead skin cells from falling off your face and body. There are two main types of chemical skin exfoliants, those that include an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and those that include a beta hydroxy acid (BHA):

  • Alpha hydroxy acids are derived from different foods, from fruits, such as apples and grapes, to milk. Some of the most common AHAs to look for on product labels are glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, alpha-hydroxyoctanoic acid, and triple fruit acid. An alpha hydroxy acid is best for people with dry or thickened skin.
  • Beta hydroxy acids are the chemical cousins of alpha hydroxy acids, but are more oil-soluble and therefore better at exfoliating oily skin or acne-prone skin. The best known beta hydroxy acid is salicylic acid. On product labels, look for salicylate, sodium salicylate, beta hydroxybutanoic acid, or tropic acid.

Alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acid skin care products tend to be less harsh on the skin than mechanical exfoliants. They also help refresh the skin in ways a facial scrub can’t: They lower the skin’s pH level and help smooth small, shallow wrinkles, improving the look of skin that is dry or sun damaged.

Finding the right formulation for your skin involves some trial and error. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, you should choose alpha hydroxy acid-based chemical exfoliants with an alpha hydroxy acid concentration of 10 percent or less and a pH of 3.5 or more. Beta hydroxy acid-based exfoliants containing salicylic acid are effective at levels of 1.5 to 2 percent. Using stronger solutions can cause skin irritation.

Another caveat: These types of exfoliants increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun for as long as a week after each use. Before going out, always apply sunscreen — a skin-saving recommendation for everyone.

How and When to Use Exfoliants

You should not use an exfoliant every day. Your skin needs time to regenerate its topmost layer, which exfoliation strips away. People with dry skin should only exfoliate once or twice a week, while those with oily skin can exfoliate two to four times a week. Stop using an exfoliant if you find your skin becoming irritated or developing a rash. Remember to moisturize your skin after exfoliating, to soothe it and keep it from drying out.