This week we are unveiling the best skincare strategies for different stages in your life. Today, we focus on the stressful family years. Check back tomorrow for tips on how to tackle your skin during retirement.
Fluctuating hormones, stress and not enough shut-eye can do a real number on your complexion—right when you have zero time to deal with it. Here are some quick and effective ways to get your skin to behave.
PREGNANCY Nearly 50 percent of pregnant women develop melasma, a form of hyperpigmentation (usually on the forehead, cheeks, upper lips and chin) caused by a one-two punch of sun exposure and hormonal fluctuations. Usually, the “mask of pregnancy” resolves on its own, but in some cases it can become a chronic condition, especially for women of color. Avoid direct sunlight and protect your skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 every day, advises New York City dermatologist Francesca Fusco, M.D. Once you stop breast-feeding, a combination of tretonoin (like Retin-A) and prescription-strength hydroquinone helps even out skin. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can also trigger acne, which can be treated safely with azaleic acid like Azelex, a prescription anti-bacterial cream.
SKIN CHANGES Having a child can trigger major changes to the skin you’re in. “It’s pretty amazing: You can suddenly develop adult acne or find your problem skin clears up permanently,” says Joel Schlessinger, M.D., an Omaha dermatologist and founder of Lovelyskin.com. Pay attention to any skin changes and adjust your cleanser and moisturizer accordingly. If you notice a sudden change for the worse, head to a dermatologist for a professional evaluation and a new treatment strategy.
SLEEPLESS NIGHTS Nabbing beauty sleep often goes out the window when you’re up every two hours each night taking care of your baby and then having to log in a full day at work. (While the jury’s still out on whether skin does in fact repair itself at night, there is some evidence that lack of sleep can damage its protective barrier, which can cause anything from dry to sensitive skin.) According to Leslie Baumann, M.D., CEO of the Baumann Cosmetic and Research Institute in Miami, and author of “The Skin Type Solution,” sleep deprivation can exacerbate under-eye circles and cause puffiness by restricting blood flow. While there’s little you can do to eliminate darkness (a combination of retinol and vitamin K creams may help), eye cream made with caffeine will deflate some of the swelling. An enzyme scrub, which dissolves dead skin, will give you a healthy glow.
FAMILY VACATIONS While you’re chasing down your kids with sunblock, don’t forget yourself: “A week of intense tanning can cause as much damage as a year of incidental sunlight,” says Dr. Schlessinger. Follow your own advice and wear a broad-spectrum sunblock with SPF 30. To correct past damage, prescription retinoids like Retin-A and hydroquinone will even out fine lines and hyperpigmentation. But they’re no match for deep wrinkles. “If you’re bothered by lines on your forehead, now is the time to consider Botox,” he recommends. “It’s great for busy mothers since it’s safe to use even if you’re breast-feeding and, unlike a chemical peel, there’s virtually no downtime.”
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