Slept with a face full of makeup on? Picked that zit? Skipped SPF…again? When it comes to making major skin mistakes, you're not alone! We found seven women who are ready to admit their skin sins and fix them once and for all. Read on as our experts solve readers' most pressing complexion dilemmas.
Sabina Ptacin, 32, entrepreneur
Skin sin: "I never sleep enough, so I get dark circles underneath my eyes and puffiness. I have also been known to fall asleep once in awhile without taking off my makeup–I KNOW–I just get exhausted!"Quick fix: That pesky darkness you're seeing is caused by blood vessels that enlarge under the eyes when the body doesn't receive enough zzz's. "Look for an eye cream with caffeine to shrink vessels, and one that has a roller applicator to help massage away extra fluid under the eyes," says Anne Chapas, MD, a New York City dermatologist.
Yun Yu, 24, publicist
Skin sin:"I have this extraction 'stick' that I got at an Asian beauty store. When I'm stressed, I start poking, prodding and pushing. It gives me immense joy when out comes a white or blackhead. I am vicious and leave scars that sometimes scab and look like pores turned inside out!"Quick fix: "Be gentle to those pores, because once they are traumatized and stretched, they may not close up again," warns Washington, D.C. dermatologist, Elizabeth Tanzi, MD. Instead of using what sounds like a comedone extractor that should only be wielded by a pro, try incorporating a salicylic acid cleanser and retinol-based night cream into your routine to prevent pores from clogging in the first place, advises Dr. Chapas. And if you need to redirect that compulsive behavior, use pore strips on your nose once a week to unclog any lingering gunk, suggests celebrity makeup artist Andrew Sotomayor.
Tanya Sharma, age 33, writer
Skin sin: "I've heard over-exfoliating can be harmful, but my skin is dry and I can't help but go overboard."Quick fix: Use a Clarisonic face cleansing brush, which you can pair with a milky cleanser for added comfort while you wash daily. Immediately after cleansing, softly pat on an essential oil product to cocoon your skin in hydration and balance moisture levels, says Dr. Chapas. Stay away from abrasive scrubs and retinols, which may exacerbate dryness and cause irritation and flaking.
Nicole Gordon Levine, age 42, VP of sales & marketing
Skin sin:"I've been going through a hormonal change, and am breaking out along my jaw line. I've reverted to being seventeen again, and try to pop the spots." Quick fix: Hormonal acne can be a stubborn beast that usually won't respond to traditional acne treatments, since the inflammation is caused by hormonal fluctuations inside the body. Birth control pills, hormone replacement and a medication called spironolactone can stop breakouts that stem from hormonal changes in your 40s, though they all require a dermatologist's care, says Dr. Tanzi. To find relief and treat the lesions ASAP, first apply a warm compress to soothe and open pores. Then, dab benzoyl peroxide directly to the spots to eat up the bacteria causing the eruption and redness, says Dr. Chapas.
Jane Negrin, age 57, preschool assistant director
Skin sin: "Sun spots from skipping SPF! I can no longer successfully hide them with makeup. Help!"Quick fix: Most importantly, make sure you're wearing a daily sunscreen of at least SPF 30 to prevent those stubborn spots from darkening and multiplying. Then try a lightening cream that contains kojic acid or hydroquinone 2%, though you'll need a dose of patience, as these kinds of creams could take months to kick in, says Dr. Chapas. If it's immediate and dramatic results you're after, lasers can significantly improve spots in just one to two treatments, according to Dr. Tanzi.
Melissa Hall, age 31, event producer
Skin sin: "For several years now, I've banked on the premise that woman of color don't age. So, in my busy schedule of long days and sleepless nights, I forget to moisturize and don't have a consistent regime."Quick fix: While it's true that deeper skin tones don't wrinkle as quickly or as much as fairer complexions, dark skin often experiences aging by way of pigmentation spots, blotchiness and an overall ashy tone that is most commonly a result of sun exposure. If you add only one consistent product to your routine, make it daily lotion with SPF 30. Not only will this help prevent future aging, but it'll allow skin the protection needed to heal damage that may have already occurred. And if you're feeling adventurous, go on and add a cleanser or night serum with glycolic acid to brighten your complexion, says Dr. Tanzi. You can also rev skin up with some handy makeup tricks. "The best philosophy for anti-aging makeup is to make your face glow with color and light," says Sotomayor. L'Oréal Colour Riche Le Gloss is ideal to dab on the center bottom lip for a sexy, pouty look that illuminates the face, recommends Sotomayor.
Roopali Pense, age 24, student
Skin sin: "Each time I get a new scar somewhere on my body – like from shaving or falling down – I always forget to apply a scar cream."
Quick fix: Laser treatments are basically the one effective route left, though you first have to figure out what kind of scars you have. "Hypertrophic scars are thick and red, hyperpigmentation scars are dark brown, hypopigmented scars are white, and keloids have a continued risk of growth," says Dr. Tanzi. While new scars respond best to lasers, it's fortunately never too late to see some improvement after a treatment. To cleverly cover body scars without obvious caking, Sotomayor suggests using under eye concealer and powder. Tap loose powder onto the area first, and then go in and focus on the scar with your concealer. Set with another light tap of powder. Build up as many layers as necessary for full coverage.