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Skin 101

While everyone has a different skincare routine and product that they swear by, there are also a few key steps that any esthetician or skincare professional will tell you are important for maintaining clear, healthy skin. Cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing are three simple steps that should be a part of your a.m. and p.m. skincare routines. Keeping skin clean is important for clearing away dirt and oil that can layer on skin during the day. Exfoliating and sloughing away dry, dead skin is paramount prior to moisturizing, as skin cannot absorb hydrating products through the layer of dead skin. Whatever your product preference, if you can maintain a regular beauty regimen that includes these steps, and treat yourself to a facial once in a while, you"re on your way to clear, healthy skin.
What"s the Difference Between Dry and Dehydrated Skin?

Despite the tendency to use these terms somewhat interchangeably, it"s important to know that dry skin and dehydrated skin are not the same.

"Dry skin is an imbalance in the body that causes the skin to lack essential oils. It can be caused by the absence or malfunction of sweat or sebaceous glands," explains Scott-Vincent Borba, celebrity esthetician, in NewBeauty Magazine. "Dehydrated skin is skin that"s been stripped of moisture. It can be aggravated by an improper diet, a dry climate, sun, wind, and heat, not drinking enough water, certain medications, stripping skincare products, as well as the aging process."

To help prevent dehydration from within, drink plenty of water and avoid excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine. Also, strengthening your skin with restorative ingredients like antioxidants can bring back lost moisture and brighten skin. Topically, using moisturizer with SPF, antioxidants, and vitamins, like coenzyme Q10, will help give skin a hydration boost. It"s always helpful to consult an esthetician or dermatologist for help in deciding which products are best for you.

Getting Rid of Acne Scars

We all get blemishes from time to time, and while most fade away if kept clean and untouched, many of us have a hard time leaving those little buggers alone, which can lead to scarring. Even people who don"t pick at pimples can be prone to scarring. The good news is that while the marks left behind by pimples appear to be scars, they are actually just post-inflammatory pigmentation. Pink or brown discolorations in skin tone will improve on their own with time, says Jessica Krant, M.D., M.P.H., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York City.

"Acne scars are caused by inflammation in the dermis just beneath the surface of skin. This leads to scar formation after the inflammation recedes," Krant explains. The best way to prevent acne scarring is to prevent or treat the acne that causes it. Seeing a board-certified dermatologist is the first step.

"Many scars shrink or look a lot better with time, and there are some steps you can take to help the process along," says Rachel Herchenfeld, M.D., a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. "See a dermatologist and treat acne so that it doesn"t produce lesions severe enough to scar. Never pick at acne lesions because picking increases damage to the skin and the chance for scarring."

If scars are already present, here are a few tips on getting rid of them:
  • Use sunscreen regularly to protect skin as it heals.
  • Firm, raised scars can sometimes benefit from injections of steroids by a dermatologist.
  • For persistent scarring, topical retinoid creams can be prescribed to help remodel skin.
  • Performed by dermatologists, there are techniques involving needles that break up scarred collagen bundles to allow new collagen to lift indented scars.

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