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Beauty Questions? Ask Dr. Irwin
- Oil Seed Problems


Reader’s Question

Hey Dr Irwin! I have had severe oil seed problems on my face and was wondering if there are any products or to take any special care or attention while cleansing? or exfoliating? I have a combination face and and i have large pores around my inner cheeks and nose. Hope you can give me some advice ! I am deprived of help!


Dr. Irwin’s Answer

Yes – excess oil is a problem for many women. Our oil production is controlled mostly by our hormones so it’s a tough problem to fix! Here are some hints. Try some of the products for teens that are drying and contain salicylic acid like the washes and light lotions with 2% sal acid. (Risa – can you add product links?) Also, the vitamin a gels like Retin A/tretinoin gel will help keep the pores clean and be somewhat drying. Be sure you’re not putting any oil back onto your face with products. Try the SkinCeuticals Vitamin B5 gel if you need moisture. Check all your products – they should say noncomedogenic on them. Also, stick with the powder makeups and blotting papers (Shiseido makes a good one). Link to my favorite oil control products:

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Skin Care Information & Anti-Aging Tips with Dr. Irwin


Stress & Sleepless Night Are Bad For Your Health & Skin


Stress = Aging

Giving your skin a break

Learning how to keep stress under control contributes to your skin’s good health. While the human body is equipped to deal with a certain level of stress, when stress levels are pushed beyond where they should be, and if they stay elevated for a period of time, virtually every bodily system is compromised. This includes your skin, which is part of your immune system. It’s no wonder that skin conditions like rosacea and eczema flare during times of high stress. Unfortunately, these conditions often hang around even after life returns to a more normal state. Because of this, the skin stays inflamed, which is the breeding ground for free radical activity.


Stress and how to manage it

When stressed, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that causes a spike in your insulin level, which then triggers mood swings and sugar cravings.

No skincare system will work on the outside unless you’re willing to work on the inside as well.

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The Pros & Cons Of Having Darker Skin



If you have dark skin, you can be thankful because:

1. You will wrinkle less as a result of the inherent sun protection you receive from skin pigment (unless, of course, you are reckless in the sun)

2. Darker skins tend to be thicker, another reason why you will wrinkle less and age better, in general.


1. Darker skins are more sensitive to potentially irritating ingredients such as prescription-strength tretinoins (Retin A, Renova) and high percentage AHA/BHA acids. If you overirritate dark skin, it will hyperpigment (turn darker) in places of irritation. Thankfully, in most cases, the darkening is temporary.

2. Dark skin is less tolerant of professional resurfacing procedures. For instance, a doctor has to be much more careful in performing an acid peel or aggressive microdermabrasion on dark skin because the patient may develop temporary (or possibly permanent) hyperpigmentation.


For darker skins, hyperpigmentary changes is the most important factor that distinguishes a young face from an older one. Dark skin becomes darker in certain parts over the years. Around the mouth area – an area of a lot of movement – the skin becomes invariably darker. The forehead becomes darker, sometimes not evenly, but in blotches. The eye area stays relatively light. The cheek become darker in blotches, especially if the person suffered from acne.


One of the most important things you can do if you have dark skin is avoid the sun, use significant sunblock every day of the year, and avoid acne outbreaks as much as possible, because the dark aftermath of acne outbreaks is very long-lasting in dark skin. Seek a doctor’s help for acne as soon as possible.


What To Do If Skincare Products Cause Allergic Reaction And What Are The Ingredients To Avoid


Occasionally, many of us will experience some kind of allergic reaction from cosmetics which calmly disappear, never to return. Most of these reactions are mild, and many are actually sensitivities rather than true allergies. The most common reaction symptoms are burning or stinging. Some products, such as glycolic acid, also known as AHA, are supposed to cause a mild burning sensation. Most of the time these minor sensations quickly dissipate.

Red, rashy, swollen skin, however, is not normal. Severe burning and stinging are not normal.

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Skin Care Ingredients To Reduce Skin Inflammation

Inflammation a major cause of free radical formation, is BAD for skin. Free radicals lead the attack on lipids in the cell walls, which leads to water loss.

Free radicals are both a by-product of inflammation and a source of inflammation.

Countering inflammation is most important when you’re young, because this is when the inflammatory response is most active. Not only are your cells most vigilant at this time, but there are many years ahead of you during which the damage will accumulate.

Protecting yourself from the sun is the most obvious step in reducing inflammation. And you can also interfere with inflammation by shopping for these skin soothers below.


Skin soothers – ingredients to reduce skin inflammation

- Aloe vera                     - Licochalone 
- Arnica                          - Mallow  
- Allantoin                      - Niacinamide
Perilla leaf extract        - Arctium lappa (burdock root)
- Basil                            - Pycnogenol (a pine bark extract) 
Boswellia serrata          - Red algae
Calendula                    - Rose water          
Chamomile                   - Salicylic acid (beta hydroxy acid or BHA)
Colloidal oatmeal          - Silymarin           
Cucumber                    - Sulfacetamide
Sulfur                          - Dexpanthenol (provitamin B5)
Evening primrose oil      - Thyme   
Tea tree oil                  - Epilobium angustifolium (willow herb)
Ginger                         - Trifolium pretense (red clover) 
- Zinc                            - Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice extract)


Dry Skin – A Step-by-step Skin Care Tips For Dry Skin


Dry skin is the most fragile of all the skin types. The lack of oil and structural lipids allows the moisture to escape into the environment. And the dryness and the compromised barrier function have made your skin vulnerable to irritants and inflammation. The emphasis of every step in every regimen is hydration, but delivering water-attracting and water-holding molecules to the skin is especially important to you. Avoiding anything that might irritate is crucial. In some cases where some mild irritation is unavoidable – such as with exfoliation – you need even more skin soothers in everything you use.

Cleanser and toner

Your cleanser must be very gentle and look for one with more hydrating ingredients than anything else. Some doctors even suggest that if your skin is very dry, at least one of the two times a day that you cleanse your face, you don’t rinse with water but tissue off the cleanser.

The toner you choose should not contain a drying type of alcohol but must be rich in hydrating and skin-soothing ingredients. 


Then, while the skin is still moist from the toner, give it a boost of antioxidants to combat the free radicals in the environment. Give the antioxidant treatment a few minutes to seep into your skin, and then seal in all those powerful free radical-fighting ingredients with a light, vitamin-enriched moisturizer.

Sun protection

If you need extra sun protection, choose a sunscreen with chemicals that absorb light as well as micronized titanium to block ultraviolet radiation. You also want your sunscreen to contain soothing botanicals and structural lipids. An oil-free sunblock may be too drying for your skin.

Day and night

If your skin begins to feel dry and tight during the day, try a moisturizing serum that is primarily structural lipids. You can use one that contains only structural lipids or one that also includes skin-soothing botanical extracts. Or you can use both and alternate between them.

In the morning you’ll take your multivitamin, calcium, fatty acids, and antioxidant and collagen-building supplements. To boost the power of your sunblock, take a pomegranate supplement as well.

In the evening, after cleansing and toning, you’ll treat your skin with an exfoliating product that also contains the least irritating collagen builder, retinyl palmitate. Follow the treat-and-repair step with a very emollient moisturizer.

In the evening, take fatty acids and antioxidant and collagen-building supplements.

Special treatments

You may want to vary your program with a bit more exfoliation if your skin can tolerate it. You may want to use a higher concentration of hydroxy acids for your evening treatment or alternate the usual cleanser with one that contains hydroxy acids every two or three days.

Every week, give yourself a special vitamin C infusion treatment to saturate your skin with antioxidants. And if you can, have a professional vitamin C infusion at least once every 2 months.

Howard Murad, M.D. – Wrinkle-Free Forever


How To Manage Rosacea


Rosacea is a skin problem that causes redness and swelling on the face. Rosacea may include acne-like outbreaks on occasion, but the key feature that describes rosacea is dilated red visible capillaries that actually gave the name rosacea (rosa for red).

Rosacea may first manifest itself as a tendency to flush easily. After a while it progresses to persistent redness in the centre of the face. It may gradually involve the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin. As the disease progresses, the redness becomes more severe and persistent. The small, superficial blood vessels, acne-like outbreaks and red nodules become permanently visible.

Managing Rosacea

- Sun exposure is the worst culprit in causing rosacea flares. Sun must be avoided at all times. Besides ultraviolet rays, sun also radiates infrared heat, a known cause of flares.

- It is a must to wear broad-spectrum sunscreen everyday, especially for people with rosacea.

- Avoid heat as must as possible. Any sudden blood flushing of the face can cause a flare. Be careful in hot kitchens and when opening hot ovens or dishwashers. Allow hot cars to air out before getting in.

- Avoid saunas and steambaths.

- Hot water should be avoided on the face. Extremely cold water can also aggravate rosacea.

- It is best to avoid spicy foods, wine (red especially) and other alcoholic beverages. Caffeine and hot beverages are included too.

- Nicotine affects blood flow and it is advisable to be avoided.

- Flares can be caused by heat from exercise. Try to exercise indoors in air-conditioning to avoid overheating the face. Swimming in a cool pool is an ideal choice, although chlorine is also a possible aggravating factor and the skin should be rinsed thoroughly after swimming.

- Products used especially for rosacea should be independently tested for irritation.

- It is best to avoid products with fragrance because fragrances can often cause reactions.

Rosacea Causes & Treatments


Rosacea is a condition of the skin in which the skin turns red very easily, known as flushing. It is similar to acne and is often confused with acne, but it has a different source and treatment. Even though rosacea causes acne-like pimples and pustules, the actual disorder is vascular, or blood vessel-related. It often involve the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin. 

Rosacea often affects persons between ages thirty and fifty and is most common in fair-skinned individuals. Rosacea may first appear as chronically red cheeks, or a chronically red nose. A client may notice reddening of the face when drinking wine or alcohol or eating spicy foods. Rosacea can also be exacerbated by sunlight, hot drinks, extremes of hot and cold temperature, and emotional stress.

Symptoms of Rosacea

Diffuse redness and distended capilla- ries, usually on cheeks, nose, chin or forehead.

Patches of redness in the cheek area, often accompanied by enlarged pore appearance.

Face turns red easily or redness after ingesting wine, other alcoholic bever- ages or spicy foods.

Flares of large, red and bumpy-looking papules and pustules in the cheeks, nose and chin.

Flares easily occur after exercising, which is caused by heat and increased blood flow to the face.

The skin may appear red, thick or swollen in the nose and cheeks, especially if is very dehydrated and flaking.

Treatment of Rosacea

No cure is known for rosacea, but it can be managed and kept under control. Dermatologist’s help may be required.

The medical therapy of rosacea includes oral and topical antibiotics.

Metronidazole, commercially known as MetroGel®, MetroCream® or Noritate®, an anti-yeast prescription medication is said to control rosacea and decrease inflammation. Flares may substantially reduce when it is used regularly.

Get an esthetician to help choosing products that will not cause stimulated blood flow, will treat the skin very gently, are non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic, prevent clogged pores or irritation.

Alpha hydroxy acids may work well on most people with rosacea. Make sure they are not over-used and do not have a pH lower than 3.5. Beware of overly acidic product which may cause irritation.

No doubt, topical or oral therapies may resolve the acnelike component of rosacea, however, they do not remove the redness or reduce the appearance of dilated blood vessels associated with rosacea.

However, vascular lasers and intense pulsed light source can successfully address the dilated blood vessels. They are successful in improving the appearance of redness in rosacea.

Oily Skin – Control And Care Tips


What is Oily?

Your pores are noticeable, your skin looks shiny most of the times, and it feels oily, especially along the nose and across the forehead and chin. Your overall skin tone is likely to be sallow. But when it comes to aging, you are lucky. You have far fewer lines than your friends with dry or even normal skin. 

Your skin tolerates cold and wind very well, but hot, humid weather may make it glisten with oil. Foundation disappears after about an hour or two, an moisturizing lotions and creams absorb slowly.

If you have oily skin, it is important to dissolve the sebaceous oil product promptly so it does not have a chance to clog the pores and follicles; give rise to blackheads, whiteheads, acne, or enlarged pores; or cause a generally red dish, inflammatory skin condition.

Although oily skin is perceived as being moist, it may actually lack sufficient structural lipids. So one of the main objectives of this regimen is to reduce the shine without removing too much of the skin’s natural moisturizers which help optimize the skin’s water content.


If you’re using harsh, detergent-based soaps and alcohol-laden astringents to dry up the oil, stop immediately. Over time, these products can damage your skin – and they may encourage already overactive oil glands to step up production. Try and oil-binding liquid or gel cleanser formulated for oily skin. And avoid ‘superfatted’ soaps that contain oily ingredients such as cocoa butter, cleansing cream or lanolin. You may want to work more exfoliation into your regimen by using a cleanser with alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) on alternate days or more often if your skin seems to respond well to it.

Antioxidants – Skin stimulating Ingredients

Then, while the skin is still moist from the toner, give it a boost of antioxidants to combat the free radicals in the environment. You may use some of the advanced, acid-based, thin serums that are rich in skin-stimulating ingredients and antioxidants, such as bioactive oligopeptides, vitamin C, carnosine, CoQ10, alpha lipoic acid and others. Allow the antioxidants treatment a few minutes to seep into your skin, then seal in all those powerful free radical-fighting ingredients with a light, vitamin-enriched moisturizer. 


Depending on how oily your skin is, you may not need a moisturizer at all, especially the oiliest regions – the nose, the chin, and the forehead. Or you may only think you need one, because you’ve been using harsh cleansing products that have stripped the oil from your skin. But if you think you need one, go for moisturizers that contain humectants (ingredients that attract and hold water), such as glycerin and sodium pyrrolidonecarboxylic acid (PCA). These ingredients trap water in your skin without producing a greasy shine. Also choose a lotion. They’re lighter than creams and tend to contain less oil, so they won’t clog pores. For moisturizer, look for a lightweight and have minimal to no waxy or emollient ingredients of any kind listed near the beginning of the ingredient list, because emollients can theoretically clog pores.


Exfoliating helps to remove dead surface skin cells so as not to promote pore clogging. Exfoliating with glycolic acid or AHA-based acids is one of the key step. You may try using a glycolic acid or AHA/BHA-based cleansing pad, at least once, but more likely twice a day, as long as you can tolerate them well. It is considered the best solution to bring AHA/BHA into the skin. It is not recommended to use an exfoliating cream containing glycolic acid overnight. 

Sun Protection 

For sun protection, use an oil-free sunscreen. The micronized particles of titanium give your skin a matte finish that helps minimize the shine of oily skin. Many people with oily skin shy away from sunscreens, fearing that the oil they contain will trigger breakouts. With oil-free sunscreens available in the market, there is no excuse not to wear it. They can keep your skin safe from solar assault without adding extra shine.

Night Care  

In the evening, you’ll treat your skin to an overall acne treatment product that not only addresses the various factors that contribute to breakouts but contains collagen builders, such as retinol, along with exfoliating and hydrating ingredients. If you do have an occassional breakout, you can apply a more potent acne spot treatment. 

Special Care 

Prescription-strength tretinoic acid (Retin A, Differin) also serves a dual purpose by regulating the sebaceous glands and by acting as a powerful anti-aging agent for your skin. Do note that the prescription-strength, tretinoin-based products can dry the skin significantly, especially around the eyes and the corners of the mouth.

Non-invasive Treatments 

Oily skin also responds well to superficial chemical peels and microdermabrasion, but it does not respond well to traditional cleaning facials. The traditional idea of cleaning the skin pore by pore can cause more redness, breakouts, and irritation, especially in light of the fact that traditional facials were designed for dry, more mature skin, so all the cleansers, serums and creams that are part of the traditional facial protocol are not meant for the oily skin. Chemical peels and microdemabrasion, on the other hand, address all the pores at the same time and open those that are ready to be opened. These procedures need to be repeated a few times for best results.


Opt for oil-free and water-based foundations. They won’t add extra oil to an already oily complexion. Other options are oil-blotting foundations and powders, which delay shine by soaking up excess oil. Use powder rather than cream blushers.

Not Forgetting Your Eyes!

Even if you have oily skin, your eye area still needs to be treated as dry skin. Though you may try to control oil on your skin, but you need to keep the eye area well supplied with skin-identical lipids.

Inflammation Is Bad For Skin


Every women should know by now that free radicals are without question the main player in the aging process. But there is another natural aspect that affects aging – inflammation. Inflammation is shown to accelerate the destruction of the cell and the aging process by producing more free radicals. 

When you think of infammation, you may envision skin redness, swelling, or irritation. But don’t be surprise that the type of inflammation that contributes to much of aging is actually invisible to the naked eye. Most people probably not aware that inflammation regularly exists throughout the body in various forms and to various extremes.

Inflammation can be triggered by a wide variety of external factors such as the smoking, pollution, the presence of an infection, or excess exposure to ultraviolet radiation, which result in sunburn. It can cause the skin’s immune system becoming impaired, collagen breaking down and the skin of its outer protective barrier. Other cause of inflammations are skin-care products that contain irritating ingredients, using very hot water or over-scrubbing skin.

What is perhaps most shocking is that all of these damaging responses can be taking place underneath the skin and you wouldn’t even notice it on the surface, not until many years later. Unquestionably, one of the most obvious examples of the inflammatory process at work is unprotected sun exposure. Your don’t feel the penetration of these ultraviolet rays, but they are taking a toll on the skin nonetheless.

To have a healthy skin, it is very important to eliminate anything that unnecessarily irritates and inflames skin, and avoid at all cost on any products or skin-care routines that may cause irritation and inflammation.