You've consistently honored Ask Val with your most pressing beauty questions, from the straightforward (do I really need an SPF if I'm inside all day?) to the strange (though my skin is dry, my eyelids are oily—what's up with that?). Here are some of our favorite skincare dilemmas along with their bottom-line solutions.
Q: What can I do about large pores and acne scars besides cover them up? I want to go barefaced in the summer.
A: And by "barefaced" you mean wearing only sunscreen, right? The most effective treatment for large pores and acne scars, says Tina Alster, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at Georgetown University Medical Center, is fractionated laser skin resurfacing. The Fraxel re:pair and Dual lasers tighten pores and encourage collagen formation, which minimizes the divots of acne scars. You need a series of three to five monthly treatments; average cost is $750 to $2,000 each (but many doctors offer discounted packages).
Keep in mind: Fraxel treatments work on a wide range of skin tones but shouldn't be performed after recent sun exposure.
Q. Will I have better skin if I spring for regular facials?
A: If by "better" you mean "moisturized with a subtle glow," then yes. But you won't get more dramatic changes like improved skin tone, fewer breakouts, or smaller pores. "A classic facial—which usually includes steam, cleansing, and, sometimes, extractions—is good for mild benefits like unclogged pores and hydration," says Anne Chapas, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center. Be careful, though, about add-ons like a chemical peel, she says. A peel can improve the skin over four to six sessions, but Chapas has seen problems like scabbing from overly aggressive treatments.
Keep in mind: If a spa facial isn't in your future, an at-home peel (like Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant, $37; dermalogica.com) and a supermoisturizing mask (like SkinCeuticals Biocellulose Restorative Masque, $144 for six; skinceuticals.com) can give you similar results.