Skin-Sational: Break Bad Skincare Habits

By Patricia Reynoso

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Fernando Milani

Dull Complexion

Q. My skin looks really dull. What's causing this and how can I correct it?

This complaint can be traced to a traffic jam of dead cells piled up unevenly on the surface of the skin. (Other major culprits are sun exposure and smoking.) As a result, older skin no longer reflects light the way newer skin does, so it looks less radiant and also feels rougher. The solution, say the experts, is to exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate!

Your next question might be, "Well, how do I exfoliate?" There are many options available today but they can be divided into two camps: mechanical (scrubs or at-home microdermabrasion kits) or chemical (ingredients such as glycolic acid). The first type works by literally lifting this pileup up and away from the skin, while the second type cleans out each pore. There's no right or wrong way to exfoliate, says New York City dermatologist Fredric Brandt. It really depends on how your skin reacts to skincare products. Dr. Brandt also recommends being careful about how often you exfoliate. "Start every other day and increase slowly to once a day at most," he advises. And remember that no skincare routine works overnight, so give it at least four weeks to make a difference.

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