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My skin tends to break out occasionally, but I feel that anti-acne products dry out my skin too much. Should I just wait out the breakout? With simple fixes available at both the drugstore and through your dermatologist, there's no reason to endure an acne attack. Neil Sadick, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City, prescribes a nondrying acne treatment, such as Klaron lotion. Or try an over-the-counter cream, like Clearasil Vanishing Acne Treatment Cream ($4.49), and use every other night before bed.
Do I still need a moisturizer even if my skin doesn't feel dry? No. If your skin is already hydrated, it doesn't need additional moisturizer. Worried about wrinkles? Relax. "There's no evidence that not using a moisturizer will damage the skin or cause aging," says David E. Bank, MD, medical director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, in Mt. Kisco, New York.
I love to use face scrubs, but a friend says they can be too harsh on your skin. Is this true? Exfoliating face scrubs, which slough off dead skin cells, can definitely irritate skin -- especially drier complexions -- and should be used only once or twice a week in any event. Nonabrasive scrubs specially formulated for sensitive skin are best, like Therapy Systems Amazingly Gentle Scrub I ($32) with green tea, or Sonia Kashuk Exfoliant Wash ($9.99) with jojoba oil.
Is it really a big deal to go to bed without washing off my makeup? "If it's a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence, it's okay, but otherwise your pores will likely become blocked, and that's going to lead to breakouts," says Dr. Bank. To de-gunk pores after not washing your skin, Dr. Sadick advises using a toner or astringent first thing in the morning. If you constantly find yourself falling into bed with a layer of makeup on, consider keeping a packet of cleansing wipes (such as Olay Daily Facials Express Wipes, $4.99) next to your bed. Even a makeshift cleansing job is better than none at all!
Are night creams necessary? Definitely not if you have oily skin, says Dr. Sadick. "Night creams are usually richer than moisturizers that are worn during the day, making them too heavy for oily skin. They're more beneficial if you have dry or sensitive skin." If you can't bear to sleep without something on your face, water-based or lightweight moisturizers are your best bet. Look for formulations with either vitamins C and A, which help repair skin, or alpha-hydroxy acids, to smooth fine lines.
Shouldn't skin feel squeaky clean after using a cleanser? "That's definitely a myth," says Dr. Min-Wei Christine Lee, MDMPh, Cosmetic Dermatologic Surgeon and Director of East Bay Laser and Skin Care Center in Walnut Creek, California. After cleansing, your skin should feel refreshed, not tight. (Tight skin means you're in need of the natural oils that keep breakouts at bay.) Wash with warm water, and pick a gentle, soap-free cleanser like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($10.50).
Toner or not toner? What should I do? "If you're using a good cleanser that removes all traces of makeup, toner can be overkill, because it can strip the skin of moisture," says Dr. Lee. But if you like the purifying feeling of using a toner, try to avoid using one with a high alcohol content, which can be drying.
The skin around my eyes isn't wrinkled. Should I use an eye cream as a preventative measure? It's never too soon to incorporate an eye cream into your routine. "Start using an eye cream if you're over 30 years old," advises Dr. Bank. Choose one that moisturizes and is full of active, good-for-you ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, which moisturizes by holding water in skin, and kojic acid, to lighten pigmentation spots.