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Day 5: A Guilty-Pleasure Soak

I know soaking in hot water strips skin of natural oils, but I can't help but crave a long bath to relieve stress after a hectic week. To make matters worse, I'm not one to moisturize religiously—I can't get over the sticky feeling that heavy creams and lotions leave behind. But all the knowledge that spending too much time in the tub is wrong doesn't help my dry, itchy legs.

The fix: If you're going to take a hot (not tepid) bath or shower, get your fix in less than 15 minutes, says Heidi Waldorf, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Use a replenishing cleanser (like Dove Deep Moisture Nourishing Body Wash, $9), not a body wash that is primarily soap (products that are billed as deodorizing or blemish-fighting can be drying when used all over). After you get out of the bath, pat dry with a towel—rubbing overly exfoliates the skin. And despite my aversion to moisturizers, Waldorf says it's a must if I don't plan to kick my hot-water habit. She recommends lotions that contain glycerin (which pulls in moisture) and dimethicone (a conditioning agent), like nourishing Avène TriXera Plus Selectiose Emollient Cream, $29, which calms eczema and atopic dermatitis.

Day 6: Eyeshadow Fallout

Saturday night was my time to put aside my usual routine of mascara and taupe eyeshadow and to finally try out the steel gray eyeshadow that's been buried at the bottom of my makeup bag. Unfortunately, I left my smoky eyes for last and wound up with charcoal-colored flecks on top of my freshly applied undereye concealer.

The fix: Always apply dark shadow before foundation or concealer; that way you can clean up any pigment that falls onto your undereye area with moisturizer or makeup remover, says makeup artist Sandy Linter. Use a primer or concealer on your eyes to provide an adhesive base for pigment to grip onto, or apply shadows with a damp brush to help color stick to your lids.

Day 7: The Too-Speedy Shower

To treat recurring breakouts on my back and shoulders, I thought I was doing everything right: I stripped off my sports bra and damp tank as soon as I got home from the gym and showered using a body wash containing salicylic acid (which helps shed dry skin cells that lead to clogged pores). But even after sticking to this routine all week, the blemishes didn't seem to go away any faster. By Wednesday, I was craning my neck to try to see my back in the mirror, and muttering, "What gives?!"

The fix: Let the body wash sit on your back and shoulders for at least a minute before rinsing it off, says Waldorf. (I was merely soaping up under running water and immediately washing it off—not giving the salicylic acid ample time to penetrate the skin.) Then apply moisturizer and layer on a spot treatment. The best preventative measure after a workout is to quickly run a baby wipe over your chest, back and shoulders (or an oil-free makeup remover pad on your face) and wear fabrics designed to wick away moisture (like these eight tops) to prevent sweat and bacteria from settling into skin.


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