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Article: 3 ways to prevent a breakout (and 3 ways to cover up one)

Just thought I'd share.


Have you often coveted the smooth, glassy skin of celebrities and models? Many of these ladies would attribute their flawless faces to stress control. But from New York City dermatologists to Hollywood makeup artists, everyone says there's a lot more you can do to tame a skin tantrum.


At Home
: When you've got an oil spill, you tend to want to clean it up. But over-scrubbing just provokes the skin to break out more angrily—which is why you should wash gently and use a towel that you save only for your face, says dermatologist and psychiatrist Amy Wechsler, MD. The next temptation? To take that poor pimple out of its misery. You know you shouldn't, but maybe a little squeezing won't hurt, just this once? Honestly, not a good idea. "This is especially true for patients with darker skin, who often end up with dark brown spots at the sites of pimples—it's actually called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)," says Andrew Alexis, MD, MPH, director of the Skin of Color Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital. "PIH generally improves over time, but very slowly."

At the Drugstore: The two main over the counter remedies are salicylic acid, which helps slough off the dead sticky skin cells, and benzoyl peroxide (don't go above 2.5% on your face), which kills bacteria. "You can completely overdo it, dry out the skin, and break out more," says Wechsler. She recommends trying just two OTC products, together or alone, and if your skin doesn't improve in a few weeks, see a dermatologist.

At the Doctor: A number of prescription topical medications, oral drugs, and therapies—including retinoids, long-course antibiotics, blood pressure drugs, birth control, and Isolaz (a light and vacuum treatment)—can all be helpful depending on the type of acne.   "Accutane is the closest thing we have to a cure," says Pam Jakubowicz, MD, a dermatologist at Montefiore Medical Center. "If you have a risk of scarring, don't wait, because that can be permanent." 


Hollywood Makeup Artist:
For emergency blemishes, celebrity makeup artist Kerry Herta first uses a dab of Visine, followed by a color corrector to cancel the red. "A staple of my kit is Face Stockholm's blemish and capillary concealer," she says. The finale is a concealer—she likes Koh Gen Do—just a pat, with a little translucent powder on top to set it in place.

Magazine Beauty Director: Valerie Monroe, who's written countless Ask Val Columns on the topic for  O, the Oprah Magazine, says, "Some people recommend a green concealer to counteract the red, but I find that unless I blend it so hard it disappears, it looks... green." She suggests using a yellow-based under-eye type concealer. Don't go lighter in color than your skin, a common mistake. And avoid heaping on the translucent powder. "If you're broken out," she says, "the worst thing you can do is to look like you've tried to cover it up."

Dermatologists: Whatever makeup you use, Jakubowicz suggests sticking with products that are labeled "non-comedogenic," "won't clog pores," and "non-acne forming." The term "oil free" however can be misleading, she says, "because the product may contain mineral oil." She also advises avoiding cosmetics with isopropyl myristate, shea butter, and cocoa butter. What you should use, many skin specialists agree, is mineral-based makeup. "The minerals sit on the surface of the skin rather than being absorbed and clogging the pores," says Wechsler. "And they're inert, so they can't cause inflammation."

Once you've made sure you're treating your skin as well as you can, and concealed to your best ability, says Monroe, try to move on. "It's awful when you break out and that's all you can think about," she says. "Life is just too short."

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