Fix Your 5 Biggest Facial Flaws

Facing the mirror in the morning can be a challenge when you notice a pimple, dark spots, those little lines around your eyes, or other common skin flaws. But there’s nothing you can do other than cover them up with makeup, right?

Think again! The correct products and preventive measures can give you the lovely complexion you’ve always wanted, says Dr. Jeannette Graf, assistant professor of clinical dermatology at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Here’s how to give your skin a boost to fix these five key facial flaws.

Flaw: Dry Patches
If your skin feels dry and tight all over -- a problem that often occurs in winter, when there’s less moisture in the air -- you may need a richer moisturizer. “Look for products that contain hyaluronic acids and glycerines to draw in the moisture, and ceramides to seal it into your skin,” says Graf.

But if your dryness occurs only in certain areas, that could be a sign of a skin condition such as seborrheic dermatitis. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream usually does the trick for rough dry patches; if it doesn’t, see your doctor. Putting a humidifier in your bedroom this winter will also help keep your skin moist.

Flaw: Oily Patches
Many women experience the opposite problem: patches that are either oily all over or in strategic areas such as the T-zone of the forehead and nose. “Women with oily skin need a lighter moisturizer,” says Graf. “You may need two different moisturizers: one for the T-zone and a richer one for your cheeks.” She recommends products that contain salicylic acids, an anti-inflammatory agent that also draws the oil out of your skin.

Flaw: Fine Lines
No one likes to see those first little wrinkles appear around the eyes and mouth, but they’re just a part of life. The key to keeping them under control is daily skin care, no matter what your age.

“If you’re noticing fine lines, you should be using retinol -- that’s the very first thing you need,” says Graf. “The vitamin A in retinol products helps repair the skin on a molecular level.” The other defense against lines is daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVB rays and the UVA rays that penetrate the skin on a deeper level. Simply using a foundation with SPF protection isn’t enough; you need sunblock underneath, says Graf. “When you add the two together, that’s great.” Depending on how deep or visible the lines are, you may also want to use a cream that contains wrinkle-fighting peptides.

Flaw: Age Spots

Although those tiny dark patches can occur with age, they’re more often caused by too much sun exposure. Again, daily sunscreen is a must, along with retinol, which helps even out skin tone. “Then top it off with mineral-based makeup,” says Graf. “Look for products that contain ingredients like vitamin C, niacinamide, kojic acid, mulberry or licorice extract, all of which contain lightening qualities.” If your spots are stubborn, talk to your doctor or dermatologist about getting a prescription cream that contains hydroquinone.

Flaw: Blemishes
Unfortunately, pimples aren’t just a problem in your teen years; they can appear at any age. But scrubbing your face with a strong soap isn’t the answer. “Harsh cleansers can make the skin worse,” says Graf. “You don’t want to confuse clean skin with dry skin.”

Instead, use a gentle soap that contains salicylic or lactic acid for cleaning, and then apply an anti-acne product with a low percentage of benzoyl peroxide. If you have sensitive skin, a cream or gel with lipo hydroxy acids will help. Finally, don’t skip the moisturizer! Keeping your skin hydrated will help prevent new blemishes from forming.

by Shana Aborn