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Archive for the ‘face’ Category

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I’ve had requests from readers to write a post about how to get ride of acne, cure whiteheads and prevent blackheads, and generally promote even-toned, pimple-free skin. If you’ve struggled with acne, like many of us have, you know it’s a frustrating, mind-boggling, and seemingly never-ending process.

Bumps and zits are not just a problem for puberty-stricken teenagers– they’re following us from our teens into our twenties, thirties and beyond. While there is no magic cure for everyone, there are a number of potential causes and useful cures you should be aware of if you are fighting breakouts.

Buckle up and let’s go for an anti-acne ride!

image courtesy google imagesHormones: By my estimate, it’s more than likely your acne is caused by hormonal imbalances. A great option to consider for re-balancing your hormone levels is low-dose birth control pills (e.g. ortho tricyclin). You’ll need to talk to your doctor about this, but hormonal birth control is a very common treatment for mild to moderate acne. I highly recommend considering this option, as it can be a very effective solution. Additional benefits of the pill include milder, less painful periods and plumper breasts; possible negative side effects include depressive symptoms in the first few months of use and possible water retention or weight gain.

image courtesy gourmet sleuth

Soy: Soy can be an unsuspected culprit behind your greatest skin woes. My recommendation, after having both positive and very negative experiences with soy milk consumption over the course of many years, is to avoid soy. I do not recommend consuming soy products (e.g. soy milk, tofu, veggie burgers) if you have acne– particularly if you find that you are sensitive to the estrogenic effects of soy. Hormonal swings related to soy consumption lead to breakouts and/or painful, heavy periods. The idea is to keep your hormones at a normal, regulated level (which can be done with the help of hormonal birth control); consuming estrogenic foods (soy) will cause your hormone levels to be inconsistent from one day to the next, which can result in acne.

Unfortunately for us, soy crops up even in the least-suspected of places (chewing gum, chocolate, salad dressings, hair detangling sprays, and more), so if you’re trying to be extra cautious, you’re going to have to start reading ingredient labels. I put conscious avoidance of soy so high on this list because it is a primary suspect in the “acne is a modern disease” argument. Our ancestors didn’t have to dodge estrogenic soy lecithin in their chewing gum. Our ancestors didn’t have chewing gum. Just a thought.

image courtesy google images

Diet and exercise: This one is a no-brainer and has already been discussed in great detail on Jolie Asie. Eat healthily, consume as little sugar and alcohol as you reasonably can, exercise in moderation, drink plenty of water. Consume a daily multivitamin and fish oil capsules (rich in Omega-3). Make sure that none of the foods you are consuming are giving you an allergic reaction in the form of acne (i.e. do you have a gluten allergy? Or a dairy allergy?). The manifestation of acne is a way for your largest organ– your skin– to tell you that something internal’s maybe not quite right.

Also, building on the previous point, avoid dairy and meat products that have been produced from animals that are being fed growth hormones. If you are trying to minimize traces of hormones in your cow’s milk, choose skim milk over full-fat milk (hormones reside in fat).

image courtesy google images

Skincare products: I think we tend to place too much importance on the impact our skin care products will have (for better or for worse) on our skin. Seek skin health from within, not from without. However– be sure that you’re not using products that are causing or aggravating your skin problems. Be wary of allergens (e.g. essential oils), overly drying ingredients or formulations (e.g. bar soaps, alcohol-based toners), and unnecessary chemicals (e.g. fragrances). Opt for physical sunblocks (with zinc oxide) as opposed to chemical sunscreens. Also avoid parabens, phthalates, and sulfates when possible. And of course, wash your skin thoroughly morning and night, taking care to remove all traces of makeup every time.

image courtesy google imagesFor those with blocked or clogged pores, an over-the-counter product with a small dosage of retinol (Vitamin A), benozyl peroxide, or a BHA (a beta-hydroxy acid like salicylic acid) may help with healthy cell regeneration and exfoliation. Exfoliate your body regularly with an exfoliating scrub or loofah to prevent a buildup of dead skin cells (which can lead to bacne, or dark spots on the upper back).

A note on prescription medications from dermatologists: it’s my personal opinion that these medicines are too harsh on the skin and do not actually address the “cause” of acne, only the “symptoms”. They may provide an outwardly visible cure,  if you’re lucky, but I’m skeptical about the reasoning behind them and have some concerns about potential side effects, the least of which would be very dry skin and increased sun sensitivity. However! If all else has failed you and you trust your dermatologist to make the right decision for your skin, there’s no reason you shouldn’t consider this route as a viable option.

image courtesy beauty ology

Makeup products: Same rules apply for makeup. Additionally, wash your makeup brushes often with a makeup brush cleanser or baby shampoo. Be aware of whether or not your makeup has chemical sunscreens and/or fragrances in it, as these can cause breakouts in some. When possible, choose makeup that is hygienically packaged (i.e. in a squeeze or pump bottle as opposed to a pot).

image courtesy web md

Be aware of what’s coming in contact with your skin: Don’t. Touch. Your. Face. Like ever. The dirt, oil, and bacteria on your hands will be getting rubbed onto your skin.

Another important one, often forgotten or overlooked: wash your pillow case frequently. I like to rotate my pillow every night so as to use a fresh corner of the pillow when I sleep. Dead skin cells and grease can accumulate on the pillow case, and you could end up smooshing your face into all that for eight hours every night. Keep it clean!

Same goes for your hair– wash it regularly and (like the rule for skincare and makeup products) be sure your shampoo does not contain skin-irritating ingredients. Evidence your hair products may be breaking you out are pimples along the forehead (hairline) or jawline.

image courtesy google imagesConsider environmental factors: If you live in a very dry or cold climate, use a humidifier in your bedroom at night to prevent your skin from becoming too dry. Try and avoid taking too hot showers, as these can also dry out your skin. Be sure to select a cleanser that is not too drying and a moisturizer that can stand up to harsh winter weather or arid summers.

On the flipside, if you tend to have oily skin or live in a humid climate, do not try and dry out your skin too thoroughly, or else you might exacerbate the problem. Use a light, oil-free moisturizer– don’t skip out on it. Combination skin can be oily in the T-zone and dry around the corners of the mouth. Dry skin can bring on acne because the skin starts to overproduce sebum to make up for the dryness, which can lead to clogged pores.

image courtesy google images

Keep calm and carry on: Don’t freak out about your skin condition. Stress will only make it worse. Try and solve the problem in a meditated, well-paced, and thoughtful way. It’s tempting to grab your blackhead extractor and go crazy with it on a late night. Believe me, girls. I’ve been there. It doesn’t help. Relax, go through each of these steps, and do what you can to keep the stress levels low and the hormone levels in balance. “Do no harm” to your skin by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping your skin clean.

image courtesy google imagesAlso– don’t spend another dejected and envious minute starting at photos of celebrities and their impossibly perfect skin. Don’t forget these celebs are wearing professionally-applied makeup and that the movies they’re in are filmed in very careful lighting, and the photos they appear in are usually Photoshopped!

In general, cameras have a way of glazing over blemishes and imperfections– most photos and videos simply do not pick up on things that can be seen with the naked eye, so don’t trust what you see in the media (or on Facebook!) as being a 100% accurate representation of reality, no matter how close the camera is to the woman’s face.

Most importantly, stay positive! It will get better with time and care! In the meantime– a good concealer is your best friend. 🙂 Good luck!

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Dad’s ashy makeup problem solved with Indy’s HG cleanser.

A product is known as a “Holy Grail” when it embodies all the glorious beautifying qualities a consumer has long been searching for. It is often elusive, and has always been yearned for. Everyone’s Holy Grail is different.

It can be hard to choose the right face wash for you. After all, there’s so much to get right. Here’s my checklist of qualities to look for in a good cleanser:

  • Dermatologist-recommended: Self-explanatory.
  • Hypoallergenic: It does not contain ingredients that can cause an allergic reaction. Unfortunately, many “natural” or “green” skincare products contain essential oils and plant extracts that can cause allergic reactions in unsuspecting users. Keep this in mind when opting for “organic” skincare. A safe bet is to choose “oil-free” cleansers.
  • Suitable for sensitive skin: Same idea as above. I like to look for skincare and haircare products that advertise that they are “gentle as water” or are safe for babies and children. Means it’s going to be safe for me and you too!
  • Non-comedogenic: This one’s an important one for those who are acne-prone. This simply means that the product will NOT clog your pores. Clogged pores can lead to pimples (blackheads and whiteheads).
  • Fragrance-free and dye-free: Fragrances (perfumes, often listed as “parfum” on ingredient lists) and dyes are typically chemically-derived and have no place in cleansers; why expose your skin to unnecessary chemicals? But because these two are nearly impossible to escape in beauty products, it’s forgivable…
  • Paraben-free: Parabens are preservatives that have been shown to have estrogenic effects on girls and women; there is controversy around their usage, with cosmetic safety advocates pointing to studies showing parabens being found in breast cancer tissue; parabens may also be linked to early onset puberty in girls. While there is not enough known yet about these concerns for parabens to have been eliminated from beauty products, it’s worth being cognizant of them.
  • Soap-free: An ingredient in bar soaps that make them “soap” is actually comedogenic (clogs pores), and can dry your skin out immensely. I promise “using soap” is not a synonym for “cleaning”– soap-free cleansers will clean your skin as well or better!
  • Gimmick-free: Try to resist the temptation to fall for bells and whistles– unnecessary ingredients in your face wash, like salicylic acid (you’re washing it off right away anyway!). Special ingredients should be reserved for toners, serums, and/or moisturizers– products that will be on your skin for longer than a minute.
  • It has to be able to remove dirt, oil and makeup from your skin: It has to do the job you bought it to do, right? And if it can function as a sunscreen and makeup remover while it’s at it… super!
  • It should leave your skin feeling fresh

Whew! That’s a lot to ask for. Luckily I’ve found a cleanser that fits my criteria: Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash (available for less than $10 at your local drugstore). I found Purpose after cruising MakeupAlley.com, a product review website which you MUST visit if you haven’t already– I use MakeupAlley.com before buying any beauty product (they have reviews for just about every product, makeup, haircare and skincare, that you could think of). Purpose is one of the highest-rated and most-reviewed products under Cleansers on MakeupAlley, with 900 reviews and a 4.1/5 rating. I knew I had to check it out!

I have tried every type of cleanser, from bar soaps (including Dove) to schmancy cream cleansers from Sephora, to Shu Uemura cleansing oils, to Cetaphil (which I didn’t like at all, by the way– it now functions only as an in-shower shaving cream). Go for whatever type works best for you and leaves you feeling the most clean. I personally prefer that squeaky-clean feeling– and Purpose gives you that.

Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash comes in a very hygienic pump bottle; it’s a liquid-y gel that foams when you lather it between your hands. All you need to do is wet your face, lather, massage it in, and rinse thoroughly! I’ve found, to my surprise, that Purpose is able to remove my zinc oxide sunscreen, eye-makeup, and foundation without a struggle. If you need more hard-core sunblock/makeup removal, I recommend starting with an oil cleanser like MAC Cleanse Off Oil then following it up with Purpose (this is called the double-cleanse method, which I talk more about here).

I use Purpose morning and night. It hasn’t dried out my typically crocodile winter skin, nor has it caused me to break out. If you’re shopping for a no-fuss, do-no-harm face wash, this might be the one for you! Let me know what you think!

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Do a search on “how to apply blush” and you’ll find folks telling you to apply it to the “apples of your cheeks”. By this, they mean the highest and roundest point on your cheeks, usually some distance directly under the center of your eyes. I too say “apples of your cheeks” in makeup breakdowns to indicate the natural blushing area of the cheeks.

But not necessarily the apples!

Everyone is different, and everyone blushes differently. I look awful when I apply blush to the apples of my cheeks (see below, left) because, well, it’s simply not a flattering part of my face to be drawing attention to. It is also NOT where I tend to blush! (I blush lower than the center of my cheeks and towards the nostrils, see below, right.)

What they tell you to do might not be what works best for you!

If you want to apply blush in a way that flatters YOU, know your face. If you don’t know where you blush naturally, pull out a mirror after you have been exercising or out in the cold. The pinker spots on your cheeks will show you where you should start applying blush if you want to mimic that look.

Be sure to also do a smile check– does your blush make you look better or worse when you are smiling? If properly applied, blush can give you a sort of “cheek-lift”, making them look perkier and younger. A well-applied natural blush can almost make you look like you’re smiling… even when you’re not. 🙂

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My favorite new blush is Tarte Cheek Stain in Flush. I have mentioned before that the most important blush for any girl to have is one that mimics her natural blushing color– and this is it! Flush is described as a sheer berry, and goes on berry pink.

The cheek stain is free of synthetic fragrances, parabens, and chemical preservatives. It’s also oil-free and loaded with antioxidant superfruits (including goji and pomegranate).

Flush smells divine (think Fruit Roll-Ups) and is housed in the cutest packaging. Because it is not a powder, it doesn’t oxidize at all on my cheeks– the color stays true AND it lasts ALL day! This blush looks dewy and natural, as compared to powder blush, which can often look dry and cakey. I can honestly say I will not be buying a powder blush again after this!

The product is sheer and buildable, and at 1 oz, will last me forever, making it worth the hefty price tag ($30, Sephora). Perhaps most importantly, it’s very easy to apply and blend onto your cheeks. I simply use the tips of my fingers!

Have you tried a cheek stain before? Let us know what you thought!

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During my research for the How to Look Like Katrina Kaif post, I was baffled to learn how little makeup Kat actually wears. She swears by an illuminating concealer and a sheer loose powder. No foundation- powder, liquid, cream, or stick.

In an effort to get similarly fantastic skin, I followed her suit. I ditched my beloved MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation for Guerlain Meteorites (in #3 Teint Dore), a sheer, illuminating face powder (also a favorite Danqing’s).

Whoa.

What an amazing difference! I now have perfect, Katrina-worthy results! I am giving all of my makeup-wearing friends (that includes you, dear reader) this shocking advice: DITCH THE FOUNDATION! Concealer is your BFF!

Too many girls waste oodles money by using their foundation as a concealer. This is one of the worst makeup mistakes you can possibly make. It breaks my heart to see this because it is a total misuse of  the foundation– you lose precious product by asking it to do something it’s not meant to do! It’s like hiring a carpenter to fix your plumbing.

Why do most girls buy a foundation? To get flawless-looking skin. Unless you have uneven skin pigmentation or a dull complexion, concealer– and not foundation– is the key to flawlessness.

Foundations are meant to be sheer. Sheer products are not designed to cover blemishes effectively. If you are skipping concealer and going straight to foundation, you are almost certainly applying too much foundation to get that opaque concealer effect.

So try this: after you have applied your favorite opaque concealer (in the exact same color as your skin– not 2 shades lighter), dust a sheer powder over your skin to buff and blend the concealer in and mattify shine from your face cream.

If you have applied your concealer in the right places– over dark spots, redness, undereye circles, and acne– I promise you: you will feel no desire to smear foundation all over your face. Instead, your skin will breathe, will feel light, and look oh-so-natural.

Your glowing skin will thank you!

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The Secret to Fresh Breath

Remember when you were learning to brush your teeth? Did your mom or dad tell you to brush your tongue as well?

Brushing the tongue is the best way to make sure you have fresh breath (and a healthier mouth) all the time. No one likes smelly breath or a whitish, milk-stained tongue. The practice of scraping the tongue clean has been around since the ancient times of Ayurveda in India.

When you are brushing your teeth- morning and night– be sure to scrub your tongue as well. The best time to do this is after you’ve finished brushing. Rinse your mouth and reapply a little toothpaste to your toothbrush, and scrub away.

The tricky part is to prevent the gag reflex. Here’s where my tip comes in: don’t hold your breath. Keep breathing, through your mouth. Not the nose. If you keep breathing steadily and carefully through your open mouth as your scrub your tongue, you are much less likely to gag.

One more rinse with water, and you’re done and ready to face the world, squeaky-clean and minty-fresh.

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Bollywood’s Queen of Smiles, yesteryear actress and dancing sensation Madhuri Dixit, graced the cover of Vogue India’s August 2011 issue. In it she revealed her secret to staying young and looking gorgeous: “I think the best recipe for beauty is to be happy. I have two children, I have a husband, I have a house and I have a career. I am in good space and very content with what I’m doing.”

With Mads, it’s all about the positive attitude!

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