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Common Shaving Mistakes

Here are the most common mistakes dermatologists see women make—and how to never screw up again.

# You Don’t Lather Up

Dry shaving—ouch. Even though it saves time, it almost always causes little red bumps that last for days. “Shaving cream and gel were designed to help your razor glide gently across your skin without tugging or pulling,” says Joel Schlessinger, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and RealSelf advisor. “Without them, you’re most certainly left with razor burn, cuts, skin damage, and irritation.” Desperate? Even using water is better than nothing at all.

# You Use Your Disposable Razor for More Than a Week

Yes, we’re serious—you need to toss it once a week if you’re shaving every single day. “Dull blades are more likely to cause razor bumps, irritation, nicks, and cuts, and old blades can harbor bacteria, which can lead to infections,” says Schlessinger. If you want a closer shave with the least amount of irritation, pay close attention to how many days your current razor’s racking up. “A good rule of thumb is if you feel like it’s tugging at your hair or skin, toss it—it’s most definitely a ticking time bomb waiting to irritate,” says Dendy Engelman, M.D., a dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery in New York City.

# You Shave in the Opposite Direction of Your Hair Growth

True, it might help you get a slightly closer shave, but it’ll also cause pain. Plus, the blunt-tipped end of the hairs can grow back into the skin rather than up and out. Holy ingrown hairs. “Especially for those with sensitive skin, it’s better to shave only in the same direction that your hair grows,” says Schlessinger. “If you’re prone to razor burn and ingrown hairs, apply a gel or serum like PFB Vanish, which relieves irritations caused by hair removal techniques like shaving.”

# You Do It as Fast as You Possibly Can

“You’re more likely to nick yourself, irritate your skin, or miss spots when you’re trying to shave too quickly,” says Engelman. “Instead, you want to carefully use smooth, even strokes to prevent any skin troubles.” If you do slice yourself—even slightly—you’ll probably bleed more than you’d expect, so the best thing to do is place pressure on the area until the bleeding stops. “If you’re running out the door and don’t have time, put a little astringent on it to halt blood flow and rub some antiperspirant on the area,” says Engelman.

# You Apply Too Much Pressure

When it comes to how hard you should be pressing the razor blade down on your skin, always remember less is more. “The harder you bear down, the more uneven the skin surface becomes, because you are essentially creating dimples where the blade falls,” says Engelman. Many multi-bladed razors shave below the skin, causing ingrown hairs and infections when you press too hard.

# You Don’t Exfoliate Beforehand

To avoid razor bumps, you should use an exfoliator before whipping out that razor. That’s because it removes dead skin cells, allowing your razor to glide over areas easier. “I always recommend First Aid Beauty Cleansing Body Polish to all my patients with shaving complaints,” says Engelman. “It not only exfoliates, but it also cleanses and helps moisturize the skin.”

# You Skip Moisturizing Afterwards

“It’s best to moisturize your skin as soon as you step out of the shower,” says Schlessinger, since applying moisturizer while your skin is still damp helps lock everything in. If you skip this step, the top layers of your skin can quickly become dry and dehydrated from the combo of exfoliating and shaving. Engelman also recommends dabbing a hydrating body oil over the area to reduce inflammation and redness.

Home Remedies for Skin Problems

banana-and-honey-maskHow often do we wake up with less-than-perfect skin? These everyday problems, including redness, dryness, and overnight blemishes, may only take hours to form, but they take days to treat. While a salon facial may be just what you’d like to give your skin, your wallet doesn’t always cooperate. And unfortunately, over-the-counter products don’t have the same effect. “Many of these [OTC] treatments contain harsh chemicals that could be doing you and your skin more harm than good,” says New York-based dermatologist David Bank, M.D. “Studies have shown that you can take care of your skin with natural ingredients found at home.” Solve all of your skincare needs with these DIY fixes.



“Excess oil on the face leads to blemishes and pimples,” says Bank. “Banana contains zinc and vitamin C, which help fight and treat acne and control your skin’s natural oils.” The mask serves as the perfect acne prevention.

Try it: Mash one fully ripe banana, two tablespoons honey, and a few drops lemon juice together in a bowl. Apply to the face, and leave on for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove with a warm washcloth, and pat dry.


“[This] mask is an amazing way to gently exfoliate your skin,” says Kimberly Smith, an aesthetician at Rejuvena Health and Aesthetics in Scottsdale, Arizona. Because raw honey has anti-inflammatory benefits, it calms inflamed blemishes.

Try it: Mix one tablespoon organic canned pumpkin (not to be confused with pumpkin pie filling), a half-teaspoon organic full-fat cream or buttermilk, and one teaspoon raw honey. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes, and then rinse with warm water.



“This face mask is meant specifically for treating pimples or for soothing the irritation caused by them,” says Bank.

Try it: Crush one to three aspirin pills (or more if you need more coverage) in a small dish, and mix in just enough water to turn the powder into a paste. Add a few drops of warmed honey. Apply the mixture to your face, and let it sit until it dries (about 10 minutes), then wash off.


“This mask is particularly good for acne-prone skin, but it will revitalize any skin type,” says Smith. “In addition to plum being a good source of vitamins A, C, E, K, and B complex, they are also rich in beta carotene, iron, potassium, and magnesium.” When applied topically, plums “protect our cells from inflammation caused by free radicals and decrease the loss of elasticity that makes skin sag. People who suffer from acne also benefit because it helps to normalize oil production and revitalize dull, uneven-looking skin.”

Try it: Puree three to four ripe plums, and mix with a half-teaspoon turmeric, one tablespoon raw honey, and one tablespoon organic Greek yogurt. Massage onto the skin, and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water.



“Avocados are filed with fatty acids and vitamins that hydrate the skin’s cells, lock in moisture, and heal dry and flaky skin,” says Bank. Aloe Vera is known for its soothing and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Try it: Mash half an avocado in a bowl. Mix in two tablespoons aloe vera gel, one tablespoon dry oatmeal, and one tablespoon warmed honey. Apply the mixture to clean, dry skin, and let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water and a warm washcloth.


“An easy thing to do is to add a little raw honey to any moisturizer,” says Smith. “It will make it hydrate better because honey is a natural humectant.” Humectants are key ingredients in many creams and cleansers because they hold onto moisture. “Do not add too much, or it can make it too sticky.”

Try it: Just mix a couple of drops of honey into your regular moisturizer before applying.



“These two ingredients can significantly reduce inflammation,” says Bank.

Try it: Mix together one cup cooked oatmeal with a finely chopped cucumber. Apply the mixture to your face for 20 minutes, and then rinse with a warm washcloth.


Fight Back Acne?, Here Its Tips

Backless outfits are in these days—but who wants to show off their backside if it’s covered in zits? This is one area on the body (like the face and chest) that has a hefty amount of oil glands. The friction forces a combo of surface sweat, dirt, and oils back into the pores, which clogs them and spurs those inflamed pesky bumps (known as bacne) that would make anyone want to cover up. Fortunately, there are a few ways to prevent pimples from erupting and to zap them goodbye if they do. Keep reading to find out just how to clear things up.

# Watch What You Wear

When you work out, opt for loose, white, 100 percent cotton T-shirts. Cotton will soak up all the sweat and oil produced on the back, trapping it in your clothes instead of your pores, says dermatologist David Bank, M.D., director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic, and Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, New York. Plus, the loose fit lets your skin breathe, while sticking to white reduces the risk of irritation from artificial dyes.

# Ditch The Dryer Sheets

Throwing fabric softener sheets into the dryer seems like a harmless way to freshen up a load of laundry, but these sheets can also leave behind chemicals that aggravate the skin. “The fibers [from the sheet] come off in the dryer,” says Bank. “Those microscopic little strands can stay in the clothing that’s been dried and then get re-deposited in the skin, especially if you’re sweating. They’ll be leeched out even more and clog the pores.” Go for a liquid fabric softener instead, and be sure to use an extra rinse cycle to minimize any chemical residue that could be left behind.

# Scope out Your Scalp

Although scalp breakouts aren’t super common, “it can still have an overgrowth microscopically of yeast and bacteria,” says Bank. If you’re sweating, all the bacteria can then travel down your neck and onto the upper back, one of the most common spots for bacne breakouts. Use an anti-dandruff shampoo, which also has bacteria-fighting properties that will leave your scalp squeaky clean.

# Rock a Ponytail

Styling products like mousse, gel, and hairspray can actually betray you if you’re not careful. So consider this your chance to show off your face in a pretty updo. “Getting the hair up and off the back so it’s not resting against the skin depositing those chemicals in that area is optimal,” says Bank.

# Rinse off Sooner

The shorter the time between exercising and showering, the better for your skin.  “Even if you don’t have the opportunity to shower right away, just changing from the wet sports bra into a dry bra or dry loose fitting T-shirt will decrease your chances of breaking out,” says Whitney Bowe, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City and Briarcliff Manor, New York. So get out of sweat-soaked clothing as soon as possible to minimize bacteria-to-skin contact.

# Curb Your Carb Intake

“Diet can affect all forms of acne,” says Bowe. You may want to consider avoiding carbs like white bread, pretzels, and potato chips, which all have a high glycemic index (or a high impact on your blood sugar). Studies have linked low-glycemic diets with reduced inflammation and activity of sebaceous (a.k.a. oil) glands, which can help minimize breakouts, says Bowe. Low-glycemic foods include beans, most fruits, sweet potatoes, and 100 percent whole wheat bread.

Common Foundation Mistakes

foundation-mistakeNailing your foundation is key to pulling off any makeup look, yet this first essential step can be the trickiest of all to master. So we asked Sandy Linter, celebrity makeup artist at New York City’s Rita Hazan Salon and Lancôme beauty expert, where we most often go wrong, as well as how to make it right. Here, five ways you may be messing up :

#  Using the Wrong Consistency
Whatever kind you use, foundation should seamlessly blend into skin when you apply it, says Linter. That way, you get coverage without heaviness, and the finish appears natural. For dry types, powder formulations can settle into pores and lines, while liquids can look too wet on oily skin. Linter finds that creamy textures often hit the right note of providing flattering coverage with a natural finish on most. This takes some experimentation to find out what looks best on your skin type.

# Matching Color Exactly
“Many women get color matched right to skin tone and are unhappy with the results, since it can end up looking too washed out,” says Linter. In these cases, going for a bit warmer of a tone (one that has yellow or golden undertones)—especially if you’re very pale or have aging skin concerns—can actually look more natural and flattering. Topping with a warm shade of blush will also help with tone correction here. If you’re tan or deeper toned, stay away from pinkish hues that can look obvious on skin in natural light.

# Concealing with Heavy Coverage
Whether it’s discoloration, blemishes, or fine lines that you want to cover, heaping on heavy foundation will actually draw attention to the difference in skin texture. “Foundation is really meant to enhance what you have or to moderately even out your complexion,” says Linter. Instead, use primers and highlighters to improve the look of discoloration and fine lines, and spot-blend concealer on blemishes instead of caking on the cover-up all over.

# Applying Everything, Everywhere
The sure way to look like you’re wearing makeup is to apply a blanket of foundation and powder to the face and to over-conceal. Linter recommends working on foundation as needed, and then going into specific areas, like the under-eye and blemishes, with concealer. Blending with the warmth of your finger marries concealer more naturally into skin. Finish with powder only in the center of the face, where it’s truly needed; overdoing it can kill your whole look.

# Thinking Foundation Looks Aging
“Foundation has a bad rap because it’s been used incorrectly by so many, but don’t be afraid to wear it,” says Linter. The right formula evens out aging issues, like discoloration and pore size, to actually make you appear younger. Plus, other cosmetic helpers you apply—like blush, bronzer, and concealer—can blotch up and appear obvious without a good foundation as a base. The trick is to find a formula that applies smoothly and doesn’t settle into lines and pores.


Common Deodorant Mistakes

By now, you’d probably like to think you’ve mastered proper hygiene, especially something as simple as applying deodorant. But if you’re dealing with smelly or itchy pits, you’re probably doing something wrong. One common misconception: Deodorants don’t actually block sweat, says Mark Malek M.D., a cosmetic surgeon based in Arizona. Ready to get your pits back in fighting shape? Start by avoiding these common mistakes:

# You’re Using the Wrong Product
Like we said, deodorant and antiperspirant are two different products. If you’re just concerned about odor, deodorant is the way to go. The distinguishing difference between deodorants and antiperspirants is that the latter contains aluminum chloride, an ingredient used to block sweat, says Delphine Lee, M.D., Ph.D., a dermatologist and director of the Dermatological Center for Skin Health at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. “I think if you’re a heavy sweater, using antiperspirants is better way to go,” says Malek.

# You’re Not Putting on Enough
Sometimes a single swipe isn’t going to cut it. To avoid an unexpected sweat sesh (like, when you’re in the middle of a meeting), apply a generous amount of antiperspirant to your entire underarm area to ensure all sweat ducts are covered. “You have to cover the sweat glands thoroughly,” says Malek.

# You’re Using a Scented Stick
Got itchy pits? Women with eczema or other sensitivities should stay away from heavily-scented deodorants because they can irritate the skin, says Malek. Before using it under your arms, test the product on your wrist, says Lee. Or, try a fragrance-free deodorant.

# You’re Applying It at the Wrong Time
“Deodorant can be applied at any time during the day, but the evening time is usually best for antiperspirants, when you’re not sweating as much,” says Malek. While it’s not a set rule, this will allow it to bind better to your skin before you reach peak sweat levels during the day, he says.

# You’ve Been Using the Same Product Since Middle School
If you feel like you apply religiously and your pits still feel sweaty, it might be time to switch to a different stick. “It may be that your sweat glands have adapted,” says Lee. Your body can develop a resistance to antiperspirant, and if you’re not able to stop perspiration, you’re going to be left with moisture. And that leads to the growth of microbes, which contribute to unwanted odor, says Lee.