Skin cream

Illustration: Jessica Hische

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Don't Overdo Skin Treatments
How do you know if a new cleanser, lotion, cream, scrub, or peel is working? It's simple: Your skin looks better, not worse. "I see many women who think that if a product makes their skin pink or flaky, that means it's doing its job," says Jeffrey Dover, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine and author of The Youth Equation. "But a red, peeling complexion means that skin is inflamed." And inflamed skin has a hard time retaining moisture and fighting off free-radical damage. Dover recommends using a scrub (whether physical, which uses tiny beads to exfoliate the skin, or chemical, which contains a skin-sloughing alpha or beta hydroxy acid) no more than once a week. And if your prescription retinoid has your skin in a constant state of irritation, cut back to every other day. When even a basic cleanser or lotion leaves your cheeks rosy, you might have an allergy, most commonly to fragrance; so look for products labeled "fragrance-free." 

— Jenny Bailly