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Patricia Dates O'Brien
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Ask Trish - March 2003 - Skin Stuff

by Patricia Dates O'Brien
March 1, 2003

Ask Trish - March 2003

Skin Stuff

Dear Trish;

Please help me decode all the products out there for problem skin! I don't have really bad skin or anything, but I always seem to break out whenever I am getting ready to compete! Arrgghh! What's the best zit-zapper? How can I prevent????


Hi Skin-

I have taken the time to compile a list of the most effective zit-zappers. The reason there are so many is because everybody's different, so unfortunately, you'll have to see what works best for you. My Great-Aunt Millie, for example, swears by nightly cotton-ball swipings of Listerine on her face. However, as my loyal readers may recall, she is also legally blind, so for all I know she might really want to swipe her face with witch hazel, but because she is blind she ended up one night with Listerine, and has been too prideful ever since to change. Anyway.

1. The ever-popular teen creme Benzoyl Peroxide. Found in Oxy5, Oxy10, etcetera, etcetera, Benzoyl works on most people, but be careful with how much you use and how often, because it really can dry out your skin, causing flaky patches and redness.

2. Salicylic acid is another popular product, found in Stridex, Neutrogena, and Prescriptives skin care products, to name just a few. Its less drying and less irritating than benzoyl peroxide, but many people find it to be less effective. The most salicylic acid that can be allowed in over the counter products is 2 percent, while some benzoyl peroxide products contain up to 10 percent.

3. Alpha hydroxy acids are fruit acids that clear up skin by exfoliating the top layer of your skin. The fewer dead skin cells lying around on your skin, the less likely they will clog your pores and cause breakouts. Alpha hydroxy acids have been known to cause redness and irritation in some people; consequently, most use them at night. Beta hydroxy acids are a slightly different mix, but work in the same manner. Alpha-beta hydroxy combo products are very popular right now. My personal favorite, by the way, is Dr. Dennis Gross's Alpha Peel Pads, which I have sung the praises of many times in this column! I use them every night and my skin
has never looked better. (www.mdskincare.com, $65 for a one month supply.)

4. Retinol is also a great exfoliator, and—added bonus—is also a good wrinkle-preventor! Retinol is the over the counter version of Retin-A, available only by prescription for acne. Look for Retinol in products like Neutrogena Pore Refining Cream ($11.99 at drugstores everywhere.)

5. Sulfur, although smelly, is an antibacterial agent and dries pimples quickly. Its strong, so use it only as a spot treatment. Look for Murad's Acne Management Formula (about $13, 1-800-33-MURAD), or Sonya Dakar's Drying Potion (1-877-72-SONYA.)

6. Tea Tree Oil is a natural antibacterial. It also heals cuts and scrapes quicker, and I like to use it as a cuticle moisturizer! Look for tea tree oil in lotions, creams, liquid, chap sticks, even toothpicks, at your local health foods store.

7. Ok, many swear by toothpaste, and maybe it really does work (I can see the emails flying into my mailbox now), but I have tried it—more than once—-and I don't really notice a difference. Except that my face smells morning-fresh minty when I wake up.

8. Cortisone Shots are super-effective, but can only be administered by a dermatologist. Cortisone shots are popular with supermodels and brides-to-be. Applying cortisone cream to a pimple will not give you the same result, by the way. I tried.

Now, as far as prevention, do like your mom always told you and wash your face every night before you go to bed! Allow your pores to breathe and oxygenate overnight, and get a rest from the daily makeup grind. During the day, keep your hands away from your face, as any bacteria on your hands can lead to breakouts on your face. Once a week, use a mask to draw out any potential zits. Don't go crazy with a cleaning regime, though—you need a little bit of naturally-occuring oil on your face to protect it from the elements. If you clean your face too much, you dry out your skin, which can also lead to irritation and breakouts!

That's all for now folks! See you next month!

Patricia Dates O'Brien is a Dancesport competitor and makeup know-it-all. She does makeup and hair styles for dancers at most major dance competitions, and can give makeup and hair consultations by appointment. To make an appointment, ask a question, or for more information, email Trish at TrishDatesOBrien@aol.com.

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