Which Facial Is Right For Me?

portrait of a young woman getting a facial(BlackDoctor.org) — When the schedule’s packed and a latte feels like a splurge, a facial probably falls off the to-do list. But it’s a crucial anti-aging tool, dermatologists say. Read on to find the right one for your skin needs. Plus, are you skin-care savvy? Take our quiz and find out…

Even if you don’t usually treat yourself to a spa facial, now’s the time. Regular treatments – if you can afford it, with follow-up care at home – can yield long-term benefits, like warding off wrinkles and keeping skin hydrated.

Besides removing blackheads and exfoliating dry, flaky skin, facials help fade dark spots from long-term damage and bad habits.

“Almost 90% of premature aging is attributed to sun damage and smoking,” says Susan Evans, M.D., a dermatologist with Skincare Physicians of Beverly Hills, Calif.

But skin needs change as we get older, so it’s important to get the best facial for your age. A glycolic peel that’s perfect for a 40-year-old could irritate a 20-something.

Here’s what experts say you should look for in a spa facial and how to follow up at home:

In your 20s: Start good skin-care habits
At this age, you’re probably not worrying about your skin or beauty routine. You’re too busy working, staying out late with friends and having fun in the sun.

In your 20s, however, you should lay the groundwork for maintaining that youthful glow later in life.

“Prevention and maintenance, with an effective skin-care regimen, [are] keys to long-term healthy skin,” Evans says.

Neglect is cumulative, says Debra Jaliman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Not exfoliating dead skin cells, for example, prevents healthy, new cells from coming to the surface, leaving skin dull and lifeless.

Ignoring skin at this age may also lead to “premature wrinkling, dehydration of skin cells and the potential for an increased incidence of skin cancer from [sun] damage,” Evans says.

At the spa: Deep-cleansing facials with masks of clay or kaolin (also known as china or white clay) draw out impurities – including dirt and excess oils – from skin.

Fine clay particles also exfoliate, unclog pores and stimulate circulation, which nourishes cells with nutrients.

If skin is dry or sensitive, a mask with botanical extracts of chamomile or aloe will soothe it.

At home: Good skin care should be as mindless as brushing your teeth.

Make a habit of a four-step daily regimen: cleanser, exfoliant, moisturizer and sunscreen with a protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more. Look for zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as active ingredients that physically block the sun’s rays.

Also, keep your face clean – and never sleep with makeup on.

In your 30s: Bust blemishes
Hormones rule in this decade. And that can mean breakouts – from your period, pregnancy or stress. All can push oil glands into overdrive. In fact, adult acne affects 1 in 5 women between 25 and 40 years old.

The thick lotions that kept younger skin moisturized can now clog pores – trapping oil and dead cells that mix with bacteria to create blackheads and blemishes. Even if you never had breakouts as a teen, you may get them now.

Cycling hormones and stress can also trigger eczema (a chronic condition causing red, cracked patches), as well as blotchy, itchy skin and other types of inflammation.

You may also see signs of aging, such as crow’s feet, smile lines and irregular pigmentation.

“In their 30s, people usually notice fine lines, especially around the eyes,” Jaliman says. “This area is extremely thin and sensitive.”

To ward off these signs of aging, Jaliman recommends daily use of sunscreen and antioxidant supplements, such as vitamins E, C and A, as well as beta-carotene and quercetin.

“It’s also important to eat well and exercise regularly,” she says.

At the spa: “Acne-prone skin will only worsen if not treated,” Jaliman says. If you’re prone to breakouts, facials can help prevent them.

An esthetician can do extractions to remove sebum (oily, fatty secretions associated with acne) from clogged pores. Don’t do this on your own; it can cause scarring if done incorrectly.

Look for facials described as “clarifying” or “purifying.” They have active ingredients made from exfoliating fruit acids like papaya, cranberry, pumpkin, cherries and berries. These can help clear up congested skin and remove excess oil and dry, flaky skin.

At home: Avoid petroleum-based products and compounds with synthetic fragrances, says Evans. These can clog pores and irritate skin.

Instead, use light gels, which are nonocclusive (meaning they won’t clog pores).

And “stick with natural compounds that are fruit and vitamin derivatives … and that will exfoliate and rebuild healthy skin cells,” Evans says.

Look for exfoliating ingredients like willowbark extract (a natural source of salicylic acid), beta-hydroxy acid and citrus extracts, as well as fruit enzyme peels, which help oily, blemished skin.

Apply a mask or peel once a week to keep skin clear.

In your 40s: Stop lines, wrinkles and spots
In our 20s, skin cells replenish every 28 days. But by the 40s, the effects of sun damage and environmental stress slows the process to 45-50 days, a delay that causes cells to build up, leaving skin dull and exaggerating fine lines and wrinkles.

Were you careless about sun protection in your youth? That damage may show up now as deeper lines and wrinkles.

“People [also] notice broken capillaries, irregular pigmentation and sun spots,” Jaliman says.

Skin also may become more sensitive or blotchy at this age from sun exposure and perimenopause, the years before your periods stop.

At the spa: A peel – glycolic, beta-hydroxy or enzyme – will remove the top layers of dead cells.

If skin is sensitive, skip the peel and get a facial that includes antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory ingredients like pomegranate, grapeseed or rose-hip extract, green tea or vitamin C, Jaliman advises.

Facials with skin-lightening ingredients like licorice extract (glycyrrhizinate), soy proteins or Indian gooseberry can reduce hyperpigmentation. And hydrating masks will help soften lines and wrinkles.

At home: Exfoliate at least three times per week – less often if skin is sensitive – to get a glow back. Not only does this slough off dead cells, moisturizers also penetrate better.

If skin is dry, add a weekly moisturizing mask and daily serum to your regimen. Serums contain highly concentrated antioxidant ingredients like retinol (vitamin A) to reverse sun damage, or rosehip oil (vitamin C) to moisturize.

Also, look for skin-care products with active ingredients such as peptides, retinol, vitamin C and antioxidants like green tea and resveratrol, says Jaliman. These increase blood flow to cells and collagen production, and protect against free-radical molecules that damage cells.

In your 50s: Maintain elasticity and tone

Because of estrogen loss in menopause, middle-age skin produces less collagen, which can leave it thinner and drier, with a lot less elasticity than in your youth.

“People find deep frown and smile lines, crow’s feet, thinning lips and hollowness under the eyes,” Jaliman says.

At the spa: Look for a “hydrating” or “firming” facial, with masks and botanical oils that deeply moisturize. Treatments with sea plants – like seaweed and algae – are rich in vitamins and trace minerals that firm and hydrate skin.

At home: Look for intensive moisturizing ingredients and nourishing oils (evening primrose, sea buckthorn, carrot seed, borage and geranium) to plump up and deliver antioxidant vitamins A and C to thin, dry skin. These kick-start the skin-renewal process and collagen and elastin production.

Firming creams with seaweed or algae-based ingredients also deliver nourishing vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and help prevent the breakdown of elastin fibers.

If your skin is papery-dry, apply serum first, then layer a moisturizing cream on top.

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Dieting Rules You Can Break…NOW!

plate with a measuring tape wrapped around it(BlackDoctor.org) — Losing weight can seem like nothing but rules.

Fortunately, breaking those rules has its advantages: disregarding strict food guidelines could be the secret to a successful slim-down. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that people with a flexible approach to eating-one that allows for sweets and other perceived slip-ups-had a better record of maintaining weight loss than dieters with an “all or nothing” strategy.

How can you do it? We got top nutrition pros to confess what rules they break, and why…

Eat Five Small Meals A Day

Who breaks it? Renee Melton, R. D., director of nutrition services for the mobile weight-loss program Sensei.

“My schedule doesn’t give me time to prepare healthy snacks, much less eat them, so I make sure I get what I need in three squares a day.”

Reasons to break the rule: The “graze, don’t gorge” philosophy is based on the premise that having frequent small meals keeps your blood sugar steady, your metabolism ramped up, and your appetite in check. But some studies show a link between obesity and eating more than three times a day, most notably in women. More frequent noshing means more opportunities to overeat. Plus, says Melton, having to constantly think about what you’re going to eat can be stressful, especially for emotional eaters.

Break it right: To keep hunger pangs from overriding your willpower throughout the day, eat fiber-rich foods at mealtimes—they make you feel fuller and take longer to digest. Shoot for 21 to 25 grams a day, starting with a high-fiber grain cereal like Kashi’s GoLean with low-fat milk and fruit. For lunch and dinner, Melton says, fill half your plate with produce, a quarter with carbs, and the other quarter with lean protein.

Avoid White Bread, Rice, and Pasta

Who breaks it? Christine Avanti, clinical sports nutritionist and author of Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salads. She was raised on homemade “white” pasta by her Italian immigrant grandparents.

Reasons to break the rule: Carb lovers have long been warned against highly processed products because they’re believed to cause a blood sugar spike. But research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that people on high-carb diets were slimmer than their pastaphobic counterparts even when they threw “bad” carbs like white bread into the mix of fiber-rich whole grains.

Break it right:
Follow the U. S. Department of Agriculture recommendation of six ounces of carbs each day, and make sure at least half come from whole grains. Then measure out a serving of refined carbs, such as a cup of cooked white pasta, and dig in guilt-free. If a single cup isn’t gonna do it for you, pair your pasta with filling protein, like a meaty red sauce made with extra-lean ground turkey.

Don’t Eat Late At Night

Who breaks it?
Ann G. Kulze, M. D., author of Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet: A Simple Plan for Permanent Weight Loss and Lifelong Vitality. She sits down to dinner every night at 9 p.m. or later.

Reasons to break the rule:
“A calorie consumed at 9 p. m. isn’t handled any differently by your body than one consumed at 9 a. m.,” Kulze says. It’s less about when you eat than how much you eat. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that obese women were more likely than svelte women to eat meals late at night, but they were also more likely to eat more, period. And a study by the USDA showed that your metabolism hums along at the same rate no matter how you time your meals. And delaying dinner does have one undisputed advantage: It helps eliminate late-night snacking, one of the worst diet busters.

Break it right: One reason you’re likely to stuff yourself late at night is that you’re ravenous from not having eaten since lunchtime. A healthy snack in the late afternoon (around four if you’re planning to eat at nine) can help you avoid this pitfall. Studies have found that the fat in nuts is particularly satisfying, so grab a 100-calorie pack of almonds when you’re on the go. When you finally find the time for dinner, actually sit at a table, and nix the distractions. Scarfing a meal in the car or in front of the TV means you usually aren’t paying attention to what—or how much—you’re eating.

Skip Dessert

Who breaks it? Judith S. Stern, Sc. D., a professor of nutrition and internal medicine at the University of California, Davis. She has a “few bites of something decadent” when she dines out.

Reasons to break the rule: We all discover a little more room beneath our waistbands when the dessert tray rolls by. Studies show that when you’re offered a variety of foods, you never achieve what’s known as taste-specific satiety; your appetite is stimulated anew as each novel flavor is introduced. Outsmart your taste buds by planning ahead. Stern’s trick: She looks at the dessert menu along with the main menu, and if she decides to end the meal with, say, a dark-chocolate tart, she’ll always choose a salad dressed in a little olive oil and vinegar to start and then have an appetizer as her entree.

Break it right: Desserts are unsurprisingly high in calories. Order off the kid’s menu or get something to share. Also consider sorbets and chocolate-dipped fruit, which satisfy a sweet tooth for fewer calories.