Most experts say skin condition is based on a simple formula.
"About half of skin quality is genetic, and the other half is lifestyle and environmental factors," said Palos Verdes Peninsula [Ca.] cosmetologist Sandy Ormsby. "Healthy skin is beautiful skin. The goal, then, becomes to acquire healthy skin."
But knowing which skin-care products to use -- and when -- can seem like a mystery. Between the drugstore, the department store and the dermatologist's office lie thousands of eye-catching packages promising youthful, glowing skin.
And month after month, magazine covers trumpet the discovery of a new skin-care miracle.
Skin Care vs. Beauty
Some skin-care specialists are quick to draw distinctions between skin care and beauty. Among them is Jane Wurwand, founder of the skin-care company Dermalogica.
"We are not part of the beauty business," writes Wurwand on the company's Web site. "Skin care is not about beauty, nor is it about pampering, luxury or glamour. Taking care of your skin is like taking care of your teeth. It is a health necessity."
Good Skin Health
For starters, experts generally agree that people with oily skin are the only ones who need to wash their faces in the morning. Others can splash with warm water and pat dry gently.
A foaming cleanser is recommended for oily skin. Try Neutrogena's Pure Glow Daily Cleansing Cushions. The single-use disks gently exfoliate while they cleanse.
Alternatively, Dermalogica makes a Daily Microfoliant, a rice-based powder that smooths, brightens and evens out the complexion.
According to Annet King, Dermalogica's director of training and development, the product is popular with men and women who want extra cleansing without stripping the skin. It can be used once a day after washing the face.
Sunscreen Is Imperative
Next, apply facial moisturizer and sunscreen. Allure's winning facial moisturizers -- Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 and Olay Complete All Day UV Defense Moisture Lotion SPF 15 -- are among the many products that perform double duty.
"Nothing will protect your skin more than the application of a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (preferably 30). Every day. For the rest of your life," writes Allure editor Linda Wells in her book, Confessions of a Beauty Editor (Bulfinch Press, 2006).
A broad-spectrum sunscreen is defined as one with ingredients that block UVA rays (which penetrate the skin, causing cellular breakdown and wrinkles) and UVB rays (which cause sunburns and skin cancer).
Sunscreen is not just for the face, but arms, neck and anywhere else that is exposed to the sun. In Confessions, Wells relays leading dermatologists' advice to apply sunscreen to the back of the hands every day. The hands' "paper-thin skin is one of the first places to show signs of aging."
Neutrogena's Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock SPF 55 with Helioplex was singled out as Allure's best sunscreen and a "breakthrough of the year" for its unprecedented formula of maximal sun protection.
Anti-Aging Skin Care
Anti-aging products are popular when choosing moisturizers and sunscreen. According to Dermalogica, more than 300 anti-agers are introduced annually, with projected sales of over $29 billion by the end of this year, 2007.
Dermalogica spent three years developing its anti-aging heavy artillery. The result was Power Rich, a pharmaceutical-grade cream that King calls "our Mercedes-Benz of product."
Its ingredients are derived from three groups: botanicals to help restructure skin, a non-acid exfoliator to stimulate cell renewal, and skin-regenerating vitamins. When used daily for 30 days, skin becomes more firm, toned and luminous and brown spots are faded, according to King.
Allure editors' choice for daytime anti-aging moisturizer is Elizabeth Arden/Allergan Dermatology Prevage Anti-Aging Treatment. Allure also favored Dermalogica's Multi-Vitamin Power Firm for Eye and Lip Area, a nongreasy gel that treats fine lines.
Allure readers voted for Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum in the under $24 category. Over $24, the readers' choice was Avon Anew Clinical Line and Wrinkle Corrector.
"This product works from the inside out to smooth lines and wrinkles," said Avon representative Stephanie Tellez of Rancho Palos Verdes, Ca. "It helps skin to rebuild and regain elasticity and firmness."
Readers also voted Avon Anew Clinical Eye Lift a breakthrough of the year.
"Eye Lift is the first-of-its-kind treatment for both the lid and the undereye area," said Avon representative Jennie Andersen of Torrance, Ca. "The gel tightens and firms the upper eye. The cream reduces dark circles, shadows and puffiness under the eye."
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