Are you guilty of these beauty crimes?
If you've committed a beauty crime, your skin, nails and hair have to do the time. Not sure how to break out of old habits? The pros share their expertise for getting out of lockdown and reversing damage from your past.
Nervy nail biting down to the cuticle and acrylic nail technicians with an aggressive streak and a high-speed drill file. Also blame middle age — during menopause, hormonal changes can make nails drier too.
SENTENCING A dynamic dysfunctional duo of brittle and weak nails that frequently break and peel or are ridged and uneven.
REHAB A hydrated nail is flexible and able to resist breaks, cracks, splitting and peeling, so keep a tube of vitamin E-based hand cream nearby and wear gloves for gardening or washing dishes.
You’ll have to be patient to see an improvement. Dana Caruso, New York-based global beauty expert for Sally Hansen, says it can take up to six months to grow a new nail, especially since growth slows as you age.
If you can’t live without your acrylic nails, scale back on the removal method, says Caruso. “After years of wearing acrylics, removal should be done by gently submerging your nails in acetone — no drill!” She believes acetone is safe for nail removal, but still recommends keeping exposure low. “A 30-minute removal should be no problem.”
PAROLE Do you want your polish to last longer? Soaking is never good for nails, especially during a manicure. “Nails are very porous; by putting them in water, they swell up like a sponge and you don’t have a hard surface to apply polish,” Caruso explains. “When the nail bed dries out and contracts, you’re left with exposed nail around the edge and that’s what leads to polish chips.”
Lazy summer days spent wearing little more than a toe ring and a splash of SPF-nada tanning oil. Or not using sunscreen every single day.
SENTENCING Weathered, worn skin, premature wrinkles, broken blood vessels and discoloration or uneven skin tone. Not to mention a greater risk of skin cancer.
REHAB Jaggi Rao, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Alberta, recommends a multi-faceted approach to treating sun-damaged skin, including lasers to bring skin’s texture out of its reptilian state and reduce brown spots, discoloration and redness. Chemical peels and microdermabrasion can also help. Looking for low effort? Rao says there is a slew of topical preparations available both over the counter and by prescription. “Of all the creams you can put on your skin, prescriptions of topical retinoids (for example, tretinoin, adapalene and tazarotene) have an outstanding ability to treat and prevent the effects of UV light.”
PAROLE Buy a cute sun hat and splurge on a nice pair of sunglasses. Don’t forget to protect parts of the body commonly exposed to the sun’s rays, such as the hands, chest and ears, and always use an SPF 30 as your bare minimum coverage.
Excessive seek-and-destroy colour missions to rid hair of the smallest glimpse of natural roots.
SENTENCING Over-processed hair so brittle it could be baled and stored in a silo. For dedicated dyers, having visible roots is a no go. But re-highlighting areas already colour treated or raging hard against Mother Nature (if you’re a dark brunette wearing super-blond hair for years at a time) is too much. Combine excessive colouring with heat tools and your hair simply can’t recover.
REHAB It’s not more hair colour, that’s for sure. Sometimes, if tresses are truly in need of TLC, Toronto-based colourist Luis Pacheco will send a client away with nothing more than some kind words and conditioner. “You don’t want to do any further damage,” he explains. “You need to take some time out to repair your hair.” That doesn’t necessarily mean you can slap on a few hydrating masks and be done with it. Pacheco says it’s not always a lack of moisture that’s the problem — it can be a protein deficiency. It’s important to seek advice from a professional on whether you need protein (broken down due to excessive colouring) or moisture (depleted by the combo of colouring, heat tools and weather conditions).
PAROLE Once hair is healthier, you can move forward. A more approachable colour is easier to achieve without causing damage and is more flattering to your skin tone, says Pacheco. Try to stick to within two shades of your natural hue. “The only person noticing your two millimetres of roots is you. Give it six to eight weeks for highlights and four to six weeks for colour.” Your stylist (and your hair) will thank you.
Those great, big, heavy earrings you used to wear, love to wear and may still be wearing right now.
SENTENCING Snoopy-size earlobes and oversize, elongated holes. “Basically, the hole stretches down and becomes elongated and then can split,” says Montreal plastic surgeon Arie Benchetrit. “Think of the skin as a wet Kleenex — once you start the tear, it will eventually rip very easily.”
REHAB This fix requires surgical intervention — no cream is going to heal skin that’s been stretched this much. Benchetrit says a simple procedure, in which the area is anesthetized, the enlarged area removed and the remaining skin closed up, keeps the earlobe intact. “You can expect stitches and a little tape for 10 days, and we suggest you wear clip-on earrings for about three months to help with any scar tissue.” Then you can have your ears re-pierced — just leave the giant hoops to J.Lo.
PAROLE If wrinkled earlobes are more your concern, dermal fillers can be used to plump up skin and create a fuller, more youthful lobe.
It’s a mystery as perplexing as Justin Bieber’s haircut. Why is it so difficult to leave a pimple alone? What did it ever do to you (besides maybe ruin your hot date/important meeting)?
SENTENCING Pockmarked, pitted skin and scarring. “When you pick at pimples, you’re causing inflammation in the skin; the scar is the body’s inflammatory response,” says Frances Jang, a cosmetic dermatologist in Vancouver. “Depressed scars are caused when collagen in the skin has been damaged by this inflammation.”
REHAB Depending on the type of skin her patient has, Jang may treat pigmented scarring with a light-based treatment called Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) that can lighten pigmentation and give skin a healthy glow. IPL is suitable only for patients with light to medium skin tones. She also recommends using vitamin C serum for its anti-red properties or hydroquinone to help fade brown spots. (Both of these products should be used under a dermatologist’s supervision as they can cause irritation.)
According to Jang, the gold standard in treatment for depressed acne scarring is Fraxel Re:store. “It stimulates your body’s natural collagen production to smooth the scars, but you need to have a series of treatments for optimum results.”
Depending on the type of depressed scar, it may also be possible to inject it with a dermal filler to smooth it out.
PAROLE Although you can’t control the hormones causing Vesuvius to appear on your chin, you can take steps to keep acne-prone skin clear. Use a product with one to two per cent salicylic acid (a type of beta hydroxy acid), which is able to penetrate and exfoliate oil-clogged pores.
A smoking habit.
SENTENCING Perma-pucker — heavy vertical wrinkles around the mouth area. “Lines around the mouth are so common in smokers because nicotine robs your skin of oxygen,” explains Benchetrit. “Think of your blood vessels as a garden hose — nicotine compresses the hose, limiting the flow of nutrients to your cells. This leads to premature aging since your skin isn’t getting the oxygen it needs and becomes much more delicate.” Another cause of mouth wrinkles is muscle movement — that repetitive puckering action used to smoke continually pleats the skin.
REHAB This is an obvious one: Quit. “The chemicals rob the skin of moisture, break down collagen and elastin at an accelerated rate, and possibly deplete vitamin C from the skin,” says professor Rao.
Once you’re nicotine-free, there are remedies. “Strategically placed dermal fillers can smooth the lines and help to plump up the skin,” says Rao. For deep-lined skin, he recommends using ablative lasers, which stimulate collagen production and create new, firmer skin upon healing.
PAROLE Filler doesn’t have to equal duck lips. Think of wanting to create a frame for the lips, not increase their size. One added benefit of filler treatment is that a smoother line around the mouth helps stop lipstick from bleeding.