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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Prep Your Skin for Summer

Beach season is here, and you're suddenly plagued with a bikini rash and chicken skin on the backs of your arms. To get show-off skin by the first day of summer, try these six smart trouble-shooting solutions for summer skin care.

A Fresh, Healthy Glow
The problem: Dead-skin-cell backlog. "Nothing leaves skin more lackluster," says Lisa Donofrio, MD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University. "The pileup of cells dulls skin and keeps moisture from seeping in."

Speedy solution: Slough old cells from your body this summer with a skin care scrub made of dissolvable granules, such as sea salt or sugar. These gentle abrasives are less likely to inflame skin than scrubs made with crushed apricot pits or walnut shells. For your face, use a cleanser that contains a chemical exfoliator such as alpha or beta hydroxy acid. And always apply lotion afterward while skin is slightly damp; the added hydration helps seal in moisture. (Exfoliation is a habit you should adopt year-round..)

Smooth Skin
The problem: Plugged hair follicles (keratosis pilaris). You probably inherited those pesky little white bumps on the backs of your upper arms, butt, and thighs, reports the American Academy of Dermatology. And you're not alone: Up to 40% of people have them.

Speedy solution: Minimize the appearance of these bumps (there's no cure) by opening up the follicles and loosening the keratin plugs blocking them. Choose a lactic or glycolic acid lotion. Use it regularly, because once you stop, the bumps will reappear, says Wendy Roberts, MD, a dermatologist in Rancho Mirage, CA.

An Unblemished Back
The problem: The upper back is especially prone to perspiration, making it prime pimple territory.

Speedy solution: Change clothes after exercising, and wash with a break out-beating body cleanser. Ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid kill bacteria and unblock pores. (Don't scrub; it promotes inflammation.) And spot treat blemishes with a topical salicylic acid pad.

A Bump-Free Bikini Line
The problem: Using a razor on dry skin and going over the same area again and again irritates follicles, causing them to swell and trap hair, says Donofrio.

Speedy solution: Dislodge ingrowns by exfoliating with a washcloth, and quell inflammation by applying an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream twice a day. Ease razor glide by using a shave gel, and always shave in the shower. "The continuous flow of warm water plumps up hair, making it easier to cut," says Jillian Wright, an esthetician and owner of Glow Skin Spa in New York City.

Soft Heels
The problem: Cracked heels are unsightly. And when exposed to the environment the dryness may worsen, leading to painful inflammation.

Speedy solution: Treat yourself to a monthly pedicure. In between, soften heels in the shower by rubbing them with a pumice stone or foot file. Afterward, massage your heels with a rich foot cream.

Even Skin Tone
The problem: Dark spots often form when pigment-producing melanocytes are damaged or overstimulated by hormones and sun exposure.

Speedy solution: UV protection is your best defense this summer, and an OTC hydroquinone skin care cream helps fade mild discoloration that's already present. However, it may take months before you see improvement..

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