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The secrets to great skin and hair

By Ilana Blitzer, Health.com
updated 7:47 AM EST, Wed February 8, 2012
Reduce oil on your skin with a foaming face wash in the morning.
Reduce oil on your skin with a foaming face wash in the morning.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Using a foaming face wash in the morning can help control oil during the day
  • Spending time outside and working out can lead to breakouts on your chest or back
  • Oil-reducing shampoo will prevent build-up on your hair and scalp

(Health.com) -- "I'm having an oil crisis -- on my face."

Cleansing Rx: When the seasons change, it can seem like your skin has multiple personalities (dry one day, oily the next). Interestingly, your skin doesn't actually pump out more oil this time of year, but the oil on your face becomes more fluid so you see and feel it more, says Leslie Baumann, M.D., a dermatologist in Miami Beach, Florida.

"If you were using a milky or creamy cleanser all winter, now's the time to switch to a foaming or gel-based wash -- something that has a bit of oil control to it," Baumann says.

One to try: Benefit Foamingly Clean Facial Wash. Overdo the cleansing, though, and you could end up stripping healthy fatty acids that protect the skin's surface. A good guideline: If you're very oily, use an oil-controlling wash twice a day. But if you're only somewhat oily, switch to a foaming wash in the morning (to curb daytime shine), and use your creamy cleanser at night (to keep your skin soft).

Health.com: Get flawless skin naturally

"My hair looks flat and dull."

Cleansing Rx: Winter may be history, but its effects can linger. "Dry heat can mess with your scalp, leaving you with buildup and lifeless hair," says Jeannette Graf, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

To find out if residue is wrecking your locks, rub one of your fingernails against your scalp. If you find greasy or waxy residue, your hair may be weighed down by emollients from conditioners and stylers and/or a buildup of dry skin.

Give your strands a boost by switching up your routine. Once a month, lift impurities from roots to tips with Redken Nature Rescue Refining Sea Polish, a pumice-enriched exfoliator that restores shine. Apply it to clean strands so it (gently!) scrubs your hair's surface. Leave it on for a minute, then rinse. Once a week, wash with a clarifying shampoo (the cleaner your hair, the better your blow-dry will look). We like John Freida Luxurious Volume Clarifying Shampoo.

Finally, consider switching up your go-to shampoo and conditioner. "Over time, hair does become immune to products," says Alan Gold, creative director of The Haig & Co. Salon in Philadelphia. A change can make your strands look shinier and healthier.

Health.com: Get gorgeous hair with conditioner

"Suddenly, I have breakouts on my back and chest."

Cleansing Rx: Aside from your face, your back and chest have the most oil glands on your body. And two common spring habits -- spending time outside and working out -- can trigger these flare-ups. Why? An increase in UV exposure can exacerbate acne, Baumann explains. (It causes the skin to produce more sebum, which can lead to acne in the first place.) So folks who use the sun to "treat" blemishes can end up with a double whammy of sun damage and worsening acne.

And logging extra hours at the gym increases the amount you perspire, which can also bring on breakouts. To head them off, try an anti-inflammatory, salicylic acid--based body wash, such as Peter Thomas Roth Blemish Buffing Beads Body Wash. Apply your body cleanser to a long-handled scrub brush to help reach the contours of your back.

Exfoliating your breakout zones a few times a week with lactic acid-based pads like Philosophy The Micro-Delivery Multi-Use Peel Pads can also help, Baumann says. Finally, remember to always shower off well after rinsing conditioner out of your hair, so pore-clogging oils and emollients don't sit on your skin.

Health.com: 8 steps to healthy skin at every age

"A few hours after I wash my hair, it feels greasy again!"

Cleansing Rx: All those shampoo sessions may be sending your oil glands into overdrive, Gold says. Baby-step your way out of the problem by sudsing up with an oil-reducing shampoo like Nioxin Intensive Therapy Clean Control. Use it every other day; two or three washes with it should get you back on track.

On a regular basis, wash with a shampoo that's free of sulfates (chemicals that cause shampoos to foam up but can cause irritation). We like Frederic Fekkai Au Naturel Gentle Shampoo, made with plant-derived ingredients. Make sure you use enough: Apply a quarter-size dollop to your hands, then distribute it all the way through strands, beginning at the roots, where hair is dirtiest.

To prevent oiliness post-washing, use Philip Kingsley Scalp Toner, a leave-in treatment that cleanses and neutralizes the scalp. Prefer an all-natural scalp soother? Just brew some chamomile tea, let it cool, and rinse it through wet strands, Gold says.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

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