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"Don't believe anything you've been told about skin care." That's the advice of most Dermatologists, who state that what we know as fact, is generally way off base. Unless you've worked extensively with a Dermatologist, odds are you've been led down the wrong path when it comes to caring for your skin.

Debunking the Myths

1. Acne is caused by food.
Wrong! Acne, in no way, shape or form has anything to do with the foods you consume. Forget that Mom told you too much chocolate would cause Blackheads. Simply can't happen. Ignore the advice to stay away from chips and fried foods because it causes pimples. Foods have nothing to do with the skin on your face.

2. Never pop a pimple.
While most Dermatologists probably cringe when they hear you've taken to performing minor surgery on your own face, there really isn't much damage you can do by popping a pimple, other than irritating already sensitive skin. Popping pimples will not cause scarring. However, there are times when popping a skin blemish can lead to more blemishes. Some pimples contain bacteria which your fingers will redeposit on other areas of your face. If you must squeeze, wash your hands thoroughly afterward to avoid spreading bacteria.

3. Alpha Hydroxy Acids are bad.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids are used to clear up dead skin cells. They are not bad for you. Somewhere along the way, a rumor was started that stated Alpha Hydroxy Acids would actually strip your skin of several layers and thin out your face. Not true. The only thing Alpha Hydroxy Acids can do is remove dead skin cells, and it does that very well.

4. Flaky skin means dry skin.
Not all areas of flaky skin mean that you're getting dry skin. Small, flaky patches around your nose, mouth or ears could signal an allergic reaction to soaps, dirt and germs on telephone receivers, laundry detergents or environmental toxins.

5. Wash Twice a day.
Washing dry skin twice a day is never recommended. If you suffer oily skin, washing twice a day is fine. Before scheduling this routine, be sure you know what type of skin you have first. Too much washing will strip skin of it's natural protective barriers.

6. Drink more water, have better skin.
Not true. While drinking at least eight glasses of water a day is healthy, it does nothing for your skin's health.


There are many forms of skin irritations, and most require special treatment. Here, we'll look at the most common skin irritations and how to determine which one you may have.

ACNE:
Acne is nothing but plugged pores. Left untreated, acne will scar. Acne generally takes the form of raised, red patches, most commonly seen on the forehead, chin and across the nose. Most acne sufferers are teenagers and women during their menstrual cycle.

BLACKHEADS:
The black you see in a blackhead is actually dried oil and skin cells. Black heads can be large or small and are identified by a raised area of skin, which has a black dot in it's center.

WHITEHEADS:
Also another form of acne, whiteheads can contain pus, bacteria and dead skin cells. Whiteheads are usually clear, puffy bumps and often, are in clusters around the nose and cheeks.

DRY SKIN:
Large areas of dry skin can turn flaky and white or dark and red. Dry skin is normally found around the jawbone area and across the upper cheeks, under your eyes.

OILY SKIN:
Oily skin will give a shine to your facial skin and sometimes, feel sticky and dirty.

What you can do
Now that you know what's ailing your skin, let's talk about how to treat it.

Lather UP
Most Dermatologists will tell you that buying expensive skin cleansers is not necessary. Mild soap and warm water, twice daily, is the most appropriate way to clean normal or oily skin. Don't wash your face more than twice a day or you will strip your skin of it's natural oils, which will cause more of a problem. If you suffer dry skin, wash one a day with a mild soap or glycerin bar. Be sure to rinse your face thoroughly. Detergents left behind from washing will clog pores. Whenever possible, use a chemical and dye free product.

Out with the OLD
Alpha Hydroxy Acids, herbal sand cleansers and almond scrubs work great for removing dead skin cells from your face. It isn't necessary to use these products more than once a week. If you suffer dry skin, use sparingly and only where needed. Alpha Hydroxy Acid skin patches can help to remove infected blemishes and old skin cells, too, but shouldn't be used often.

Alcohol?
Toners and liquid cleansers often contain a fair amount of rubbing alcohol. Unless you suffer from extremely oily skin, these products will do more damage than good. If you need a quick pick me up during the day, try spritzing your face with water instead.

Lay on the moisture
Dry skin will require rehydrating. Don't overdue it with heavily perfumed, thick oiled products, though. A scant application of cold cream before going to bed is perfect. You can rehydrate the top layer of skin during the day by splashing your face with water. During colder winter months, a second application of moisturizer before going out into the elements is often recommended.

Use a mask?
Cleansing masks are fine for occasional use. You should never get into the habit of using them daily (or even weekly), however. Chemical masks and peels help to remove dead skin cells, but can damage new skin when used more frequently.

Acne Products?
Severe acne can and often does require special attention. OTC medications work well for small outbreaks. Larger outbreaks that are forming scar tissue warrants the advice and treatment of a Dermatologist.

Let your face do the talking
When it comes to good skin care, the best way to know what you need is to look at your skin. Don't assume that just because you've had oily skin all your life, it will stay that way forever. Skin changes as it ages. Adjust your routine accordingly.