All the answers to your skin care questions are on this page.
Quick answers, actionable tips and the make-a-difference details you need for great skin, let’s go!
This page is divided into categories for easy navigation. If you want to jump to a specific section of questions you can click on it below:
Skin Care Questions Table of Contents:
A FEW Quick points to start:
- Some questions are quoted word for word, others are combined or reworded since a lot of questions are similar.
- They are divided into categories based on concerns/skin types to make it easier for you to find the answers you are looking for (see navigation menu below).
- Questions are answered straight out on this page and/or linked to an article for more information if it requires a lot of detail.
- I add to these constantly – so make sure you bookmark this page and come back often!
*IMPORTANT: I am unable to answer specific/personal skin care questions over the internet. The answers on this page are detailed but general advice only. If you are concerned about your skin and need more than general answers or tips, please see a dermatologist 🙂
ACNE and PIMPLE Questions
Q. I feel like I’ve tried everything to deal with my acne but nothing is working. It really effects my self esteem. Please help.
Acne has common ‘surface’ causes such as over-production of oil, dead skin cells, inflammation etc…. basically unbalanced skin. It is what causes these surface symptoms that can differ so much – and is the reason why a treatment that worked for your friend may not work for you.
Important: your acne can be helped. It’s simply a matter of finding out what will work for you. In general, most acne conditions can be successfully treated once you can get an idea of the main cause:
- It could be internal (hormones, stress, diet, environment, health, food allergies/sensitivities). Have a think and try the diary/journal approach – jot down how your skin is on a daily basis along with food intake, important events etc (example: ‘pimple forming on chin’, ‘exams start in one week’). After a month you may start to see a pattern which can give you clues to what is causing your breakouts.
- It could also be external – the wrong products (too oily, rich, allergies – especially true with makeup). Not cleansing properly, touching your face constantly, etc. Keep your towels and pillow case clean. Also see this article for the right products.
- See your doctor if you truly feel you have tried everything – or even if you haven’t – sometimes just getting a doctor’s help asap is well worth it, saving months or years of suffering and possible scarring. Don’t be afraid of trying medications if she/he suggests them, they work (just ask questions and be well informed).
- Keep reading the questions on this page for more help.
Q. I always get those deep painful pimples that can never be squeezed and take forever to go away.
Ah the ‘blind’ pimple. Yes they are painful, and yes they tend to stick around for a long time. Luckily, there are ways to deal with them properly – see this article for everything you need >
Q. I am 37 years old and still getting pimples. What gives?
You might be surprised at how common this question is. Whether you are 24 or 42, dealing with pimples/acne at this age is not at all unusual.
Of course, you have a double problem – you are usually dealing with aging concerns as well as acne. Let’s look quickly at why it may be happening, and what you can do about it:
- Acne and pimples are often hormone related, and just because you are through the teenage years doesn’t mean they aren’t still ‘raging’, or least out of balance (unfair huh?).
- Skin changes – you could be using the same product for years, and suddenly your skin no longer agrees with it and starts breaking out. Or, if you’ve recently added a new product and it seems to tie in with the acne breakout(s), stop using it for at least a week and see what happens (maybe it is too rich or irritating, causing skin to react with inflammation)
What to do about it:
- Keep a ‘skin diary’ as above – don’t underestimate the importance of this, the insights can be life changing! Jot down how your skin is daily. This information is golden to look through after about a month, to see if there is a cycle to your skin breakouts. And, there often is. Also note ‘events’, food, sleep etc, until you see the pattern.
- See your doctor if you are concerned, it may be something simple enough like a low count of a particular nutrient, and the doctor may suggest supplements. They can also check for allergies, or anything else going on.
- What’s up with your digestive system? Yes it is directly related to skin, and if it’s not working optimally there is a good chance it will show on your face. Again, see your doctor. Also consider using probiotics, cleaning up your diet or watching for food intolerances.
- PRODUCTS: It becomes vitally important to use a high quality, consistent exfoliation product now. This is what deals with that double whammy of pimples/acne and aging concerns such as dry, uneven skin and fine lines. Our Glycolic Daily Exfoliator 7.5% is the exact percentage you need to unblock skin, control oil, get rid of blackheads and smooth, tone and clarify. Check out reviews and details here >
Q. I always break out in the same place on my chin, why does this happen?
Ah the ‘recurring pimple’. Those spots that just keep turning up without being invited. See this article for everything you need to know about why they happen and what to do about them….
Q. I have a new zit on my face and I need it gone by TOMORROW!
Don’t they always turn up right before a big event??
While it isn’t possible to make a pimple entirely disappear overnight, you can make a big enough difference that you will barely notice it anymore. If you reduce the inflammation (redness, pain, swelling), it is much easier to cover with concealor or simply forget about.
Dealing with the inflammation like this will also speed up healing, shortening its lifespan significantly.
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OILY SKIN CARE Questions
Q. My skin is dry and oily at the same time, so I have dry flaky skin and breakouts andpimples. How is that possible?
This is usually due to an oily skin ‘type’ that is dehydrated, or at least in severe need of good exfoliation.
Often this can be misdiagnosed as a dry skin type, which is then followed by applications of rich hydrating products and inadequate cleansing/exfoliating – which only increases the problem.
It will usually look greasy, dull and uneven. It can especially be ‘bumpy’ on the forehead. If you have what seems like tiny bumps all over your forehead that can’t be squeezed like normal pimples, or that don’t seem to go away on their own, this is likely your problem.
What can you do about this oily-dry-skin combination?
Deal with the layer of dead skin cells that is causing the dullness and blockages. And deal with the dehydration/imbalance that contributed to it in the first place. And keep your skin clear and healthy in the future.
That sounds like a lot, but it is fairly simple:
- Most important is proper exfoliation – grainy scrubs will not do the job. Use an active chemical exfoliation which will dissolve those dead skin cells, unclog pores, control oil and refresh your entire complexion. And keep using it, consistent exfoliation like this is the best way to maintain clear, even skin, and will keep improving it. See our Glycolic Daily Exfoliator 7.5% here for an easy way to achieve this.
- The exfoliation above will also help with the dehydration issues, as removing dead skin cells will ensure the newer, fresher layer of cells underneath benefits from your moisturizer.
- Check your other products – cleansers that are too harsh (leave a ‘stripped’ feeling on the skin or irritate), will contribute to the problem.
- Oils are surprisingly good for this type of skin – especially jojoba oil which is light and hydrating, but won’t clog pores (be sure to use cold pressed, available from Amazon* or most pharmacies). Use it as your moisturizer, also works as a makeup remover.
- Those little forehead ‘bumps’? They will go away with consistent exfoliation and the right moisturizer. It will take at least a week, most likely longer, to see a difference. The skin has to be gradually sloughed off and the pores unclogged. It works!
You might be surprised at the true state of your skin! Following the above steps will freshen, brighten and clarify your whole complexion.
Q. My face/nose is shiny by mid morning, no matter what cleanser or moisturizer I use.
Depending on where you live or what type of environment you work in, it can be very hard to control oil, even if you are doing everything right skin care routine-wise. Here are a couple of quick tips that deal simply with preventing the oil-slick:
- Milk of Magnesia works as a simple, cheap mattifier to help keep your skin shine free. Apply a thin layer with a cotton ball to dry skin, after cleansing, to the oily areas and allow to dry. If any whiteness remains wet it very slightly. Can be used under make up as a great primer. (Available from most pharmacies and drug stores).
- Make your own ‘shine spritz’ to use throughout the day. In a small spray bottle mix filtered water with 1tsp of lemon juice. Spray as necessary (avoid your eyes!). The lemon acts as an astringent and works well.
- I love glycolic acid and think everyone should use it – one way to ensure oil is controlled all day is to use your Glycolic Daily Exfoliator 7.5% as a morning de-shine treatment. Apply a thin layer to the oily area (usually the nose), and leave on for up to 1minute depending on your skin. Neutralize with cool water then carry on with your usual routine. This helps to dissolve oil before it starts, refine pores, and remove any dead skin cells that may be blocking said pores to begin with.
Q. I have really oily skin and hate wearing moisturizer. Can I just not use it?
Skipping moisturizer isn’t recommended. This will unbalance your skin and ultimately make it more oily in the long run. Plus, looking after your oily skin will ensure it ages well – oil acts as a lubricant against wrinkles!
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All About BLACKHEADS
Blackheads are the most common skin complaint I get. And for good reason – they are stubborn, persistent and just plain annoying. They can also exist on an otherwise ‘clear’ face – nobody is immune!
The answers below will help, and be sure to check out the links at the end for all the blackheads details, treatments and tips you need.
Q. Why are the blackheads on my NOSE so much harder to get rid of, even when the rest of my face is clear?
The nose generally has larger pores than the rest of the face, and is in the middle of the ‘T Zone’.
Nose blackheads are usually more obvious due to the shape of the nose (in other words, blackheads on the chin can be ‘hidden’ and only seen if you stretch/jut your chin out). Whereas black dots on the end of your nose are hard to avoid 🙁
It also has nooks and crannies – the sides being perfect gathering areas for oil and dead skin cells to build up and block pores.
Blackheads may also be more common on the nose because of subtle reasons like wearing glasses, sweating, and touching your nose frequently out of habit or allergy-necessity.
All of the above make nose blackheads harder to deal with.
Q. How can I get rid of the blackheads in my ears?
Ahhh those sneaky ear blackheads… It’s hard enough even realizing they are there to start with! They are tricky but can be treated successfully. See this article on exactly how to do that specifically >
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ANTI AGING Skin Care Questions
Q. I have fine lines around my eyes but no where else (yet), how can i deal with them and stop them from getting worse?
The eye area is usually the first to show fine lines, since the skin here is so much thinner than the rest of the face, and it also lacks the oil glands that work as anti-wrinkle lubricants.
Of course the obvious: ‘use a good eye cream’. Its main job should be hydration so any sort of cream here is fine, no need for the expensive types (although if you have a higher budget, my favorite is Clarins Super Restorative* eye cream).
Also consider simply bringing up your usual moisturizer just over the eye bone (orbital bone). Use an eye cream as well for a double whammy, or not…. Your normal moisturizer by itself is adequate, especially if you use a good active face cream like our Complete Retinol Cream. This will deal with those fine lines very nicely.
More quick tips for fine lines around the eyes:
- Do you do a lot of work on the computer? Watch a lot of tv or read on an iPad?Consider ‘computer glasses’, which are tinted to reflect back the glare of screens to protect your eyes. Less squinting, less eye strain, less pain, equals less wrinkles! (See some here on Amazon*)
- Use self massage/tapping to relax the area – a major cause of eye-fine-lines and wrinkles is tension in the area. Use your ring fingers to gentle massage at least once a day – before bed is the perfect time to ensure your eyes are relaxed while you sleep, instead of forming wrinkles! See this article for a fantastic, simple routine to follow (video included).
- It goes without saying that sunglasses will help, but also make sure to bring your sunscreen right up and over the orbital bone. This will help prevent sun damage which causes dry, rough, weaker skin.
- Are you a stomach sleeper? This is an overlooked cause of not only eye wrinkles but puffy eyes and dark circles. It is a hard habit to break, but see if you can for one or two nights and notice the difference!
- Mashed up cucumbers are a simple, cheap and refreshing way to relax this area. Simply mash/slice/chop and apply in a semi circle under your eyes (this is better than slices, since a cucumber mash can be applied right onto skin). Bonus – this also temporarily tightens and clarifies.
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DRY SKIN CARE Questions
Q. My skin always feels dry and tight no matter how much moisturizer I apply. What’s wrong with it?
Has your skin always been ‘dry’? Are your pores visible? These questions determine if you have an actual dry skin type, or if your skin is actually dehydrated (oily or normal skin can be dehydrated). Which one it is will determine your skin care routine.
Either way, the following tips will help with dry or dehydrated skin:
- Has it gotten worse lately? Can you pinpoint what happened? For example, a move to a drier area. Working in an air conditioned environment. Hot showers. A change in skin care products. Illness.
- One way to really help skin hydration and plumpness is by taking Omega 3/Fish Oil supplements. Patience is required since they take from 4 to 8 weeks to really show a noticeable difference. But it is well worth it.
- Make sure you are really drinking enough water and drinking it the right way. You might be surprised at the difference you can make to the look and feel of your skin in as little as 3 days by dramatically increasing your water intake.
- If you take frequent hot showers at least try one not-so-hot and see if it helps your skin condition.
- An obvious tip – make sure you are not over cleansing and under moisturizing. If you feel like your skin is completely stripped after cleansing it is too much. If you feel like you need to continually add layers of your moisturizer it isn’t enough.
- To increase hydration of your skin overnight, apply a thin layer of Vaseline over your usual moisturizer before bed. This really helps. Wake up with softer skin!
- Use a humidifier at night. Seriously, this tip alone can change your skin. It can help make fine lines less visible (since these are often caused by dryness).
- Apply a thick layer of your moisturizer and leave it on for a few minutes, like a mask. Then massage any remaining cream into your skin. This is a great way to let it soak in and give your skin a boost, morning and/or night. No need for extra ‘hydrating’ mask products (unless you choose to use one).
SCARS, UNEVEN SKIN and PIGMENTATION
Q. What can I do about acne scars?
There are two general ‘types’ of acne scars. The first are the common red/dark marks left over from pimples. These are not pitted or raised in any way – and while they can last a while, if left alone they will eventually disappear since they only effect the top layer of skin.
The second type are the deeper acne scars – usually from cystic or severe acne (also sometimes from measles or boils). These scars are often pitted or dented, or may be raised. For this reason they require professional help. ‘Surface’ approaches like the above can help fade the color and make then slightly less noticeable, but can’t deal with the break in skin surface.
SKIN CARE PRODUCT Questions
Q. Can I use retinol and glycolic acid together? I’d also like to know if I should be using my retinol in combination with the glycolic exfoliant or if it’s all too much exfoliation for the skin?
These two powerful ingredients/products are amazing on their own, and together are a golden skin combination. They have different actions, briefly:
- Glycolic Acid – sloughs off dead skin cells for an even exfoliation. Instant results as well as long term.
- Retinol – strengthens skin. Takes at least 3 weeks to make a difference
Here’s my suggestion for using both – if you have been using retinol for a while (aka, your skin is fairly accustomed to it), you should be fine introducing the Glycolic Exfoliator as normal while continuing to use the retinol. Just keep an eye on your skin, and if it starts to peel (a little peeling is normal in the beginning, but not too much), or gets irritated, you can try one of the following:
- Assuming you use both in the evening, alternate nights using glycolic one night then retinol the next
- Use both together but only leave the glycolic exfoliator on for a few seconds before neutralizing with cool water, build up slowly to leaving it on longer
- You could also use the glycolic in the morning and retinol at night, just remember to wear a good sunscreen (which of course you need to anyway but extra care is needed with exfoliators in the morning…)
- Use your retinol everyday as usual, and only use the glycolic 3 or 4 times a week
I would first try using both together – the glycolic followed by the retinol, as they have the most bang together this way. Just take it easy and if you need, try one of the above methods until your skin becomes more accustomed.
Remember, after 2 or 3 months of use your skin can probably handle leaving the glycolic acid on for up to a minute – if not every night at least a couple of nights a week, just build up slowly to this.
Should I use a stronger cleanser in the evening and a more gentle cleanser in the morning?
As long as your cleanser is good at cleansing the skin (duh), then you can use the same one morning and night. As for strength this is personal preference.
If you are using an exfoliant like the Glycolic Exfoliator 7.5% or Salicylic Daily Exfoliator 2% that actually works as an extra deep cleanse…. so, as long as your cleanser is taking off makeup and giving a decent surface cleanse, it is fine. A strong cleanser may be too much with the exfoliant anyway, at least in the beginning.
It is a good idea to cleanse in the morning; some say you don’t need to but it makes a difference – whether you use a gentle or stronger one will depend on your skin and preference.
The main goal with cleanser in the morning is to set up skin to look ‘nice’ for the day, so as long as it doesn’t irritate and cause redness, and provides a good cleanse for a smooth fresh base… great!!
Can I use a glycolic acid peel AND a glycolic moisturizer?
This is overkill – literally. You are better off separating the functions/benefits of each:
Use a quality peel/exfoliant. Then use a quality moisturizer which can do what it is supposed to do – moisturize and hydrate. You will get better results from both.
The peel/exfoliant ensures all dead skin cells are removed so your moisturizer can ‘sink’ in deeper and do a better job. And the moisturizer will ensure your skin doesn’t get too dry from the peel.
Short answer: you can use a glycolic peel and a glycolic moisturizer of course, however this will likely irritate your skin. And you are much better off letting different products do what they do best.
Questions About SKIN CARE INGREDIENTS
Salicylic acid or glycolic acid? Which one should I use?
The simplest way to work out which one is best for you:
Salicylic acid is best for acne/oily skin since it is oil soluble. This ensures it gets deep into pores and is therefore particularly good for clearing up acne and breakouts. It also exfoliates and softens skin, so you will see a difference in texture, tone and appearance.
See this article for details: How to use salicylic acid >
Glycolic acid is great for all skin types (apart from sensitized). It also works for acne/breakouts, and is particularly good for blackheads, dull skin, pigmentation, aging concerns and general clarity. It works by dissolving the ‘glue’ between cells and sloughing them off – creating a soft, clear, glowing surface.
See this article for details: How to use glycolic acid >
Q. Are Vitamin C serums really a waste of time?
There are some good quality vitamin C products around, so to say they are a waste of time in general wouldn’t be fair… However because vitamin C is such a volatile molecule it requires not only the right extraction but the right handling and storage.
And like anything in skin care it requires a decent amount of potency to actually do anything – a lot of over-the-counter serums and moisturizers are nothing more than expensive hydrating products.
But, vitamin C does have excellent skin benefits, especially for anti aging as it brightens and tightens. So it can be very worthwhile to make your own serum, which ensures potency, quality and control (and is usually much less expensive).
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BODY SKIN CARE Questions
Q. How do I deal with acne and breakouts on my body? (Back, shoulders, chest, thighs etc)
Please see this article about treating back acne. More treatment areas coming soon!
Q. The skin on my body is rough and dry.
First, a bit of prevention is needed:
- If you have long hot showers, shorten them and turn down the temperature. At least try this once to see if it makes a difference to how your skin feels (you might be surprised).
Next, body skin care be treated much the same as face skin. It is thicker, with less oil glands, which makes it more likely to be rough and less likely to have acne (although body acne is certainly still common). Try the following for dry body skin:
- Exfoliate daily with a scrub or loafer. Even one of those $1 shower puffs with some moisturizing shower gel will work.
- Use a body cream after every shower. Get into this habit, it only takes a minute. Concentrate on elbows and knees.
- Consider your laundry detergent. Some people can be slightly allergic to certain brands, which can cause dry irritated skin. Consider switching to a ‘sensitive’ brand and see if that makes a difference.
- Use a body moisturizer with a small amount of salicylic acid – it will exfoliate and hydrate at the same time, and control any itchiness. CeraVe SA Lotion is one of the best body lotions available, and the price is good too (always important when using a body product!). Check out reviews and details here >*
OTHER Skin Concerns/Uncategorized Questions
How can I get glowing, soft skin?
Try one (or better yet, all) – of the tips below:
- Use a good, consistent, even exfoliating product such as our Glycolic Acid Daily Exfoliator 7.5%. This removes rough and dull skin, clears breakouts, evens tone and softens.
- Apply a thick layer of moisturizer at night, almost like a mask. Leave for 1 – 2 minutes then massage the rest into your skin. (A simple, inexpensive one like Eucerin Healing Lotion* works amazingly well).
- For a quick, instant glow – splash your face with hot water several times, followed by several splashes of cold water. Repeat until desired glow is accomplished.
- Vaseline or Almond/Jojoba/Your Favorite Oil – pat one of these over your entire face, or just to the areas you want a ‘glow’. For example the cheekbones. This works really well over makeup and will make your skin look stunning. Pat, do not rub!
- Want plump, hydrated, less wrinkled skin? Invest in a humidifier. Sleep with it on. Use a small one on your desk during the day… The difference this makes to your skin can be amazing. You can find good quality ones on Amazon.com such as this*
- Drink enough water and drink it properly. See this page for details >