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7 easy steps to popping your own pimples (courtesy of Acne.org.)

1. Take a warm shower or bath to soften your skin.

2. Wash your face and remove all makeup.

3. Wash your hands to prevent spreading germs and infecting the pimple.

4. Sterilize a needle… (a dirty needle will cause an infection and maybe a bigger pimple).

5. Gently prick the tip of the pimple with the needle.

74 - Beauty Biology

6. Take a clean tissue or piece of toilet paper and wrap it around your index fingers.

7. Gently apply pressure to the sides of the pimple to ease out the pus. Stop when blood or clear fluid comes out.

The Red-faced Regret of Rosacea

Katy has cause for concern:

I have clusters of dry, red raised bumps on either side of my chin. I’ve been using hydrocortisone that helps but doesn’t cure them. I also have a flush to my cheeks and am prone to blushing, which are two characteristics of Rosacea. Does this sound like Rosacea and do you know of any better remedies Hydrocortisone?

The Right Brain rambles on Rosacea:

Katy, based on your description you might have a form of Rosacea but you really should really check with a dermatologist for the best course of treatment. Your question prompted us to include Rosacea in our Cosmetic Diseases and Disorders Series so everyone gains a better understanding of this condition. Hopefully you’ll find this information helpful.

What is Rosacea Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition that causes the skin around your nose, cheeks, chin and eyes to become very red and flushed. Over 14 million Americans suffer from this neurovascular disorder, according to the National Rosacea Society. Why is this such a disturbing disorder? Because it’s more than just a simple case of being red-faced! The condition has psychological effects as well. The Society has done studies that show nearly 70 percent of Rosacea sufferers have lowered self-esteem, and 41 percent say that the condition causes them to avoid public contact or cancel social engagements.

What causes Rosacea?

No one knows for sure but there are several theories. It could be related to how facial blood vessels cope with being flushed and dilated. Or, it could be

–  –  –

How can you tell if you have Rosacea?

Again, you should consult your dermatologist to find out if your condition really is Rosacea. But here are some common symptoms you can look for.

The redness associated with Rosacea primarily occurs in the flushing zone, the nose, cheeks, chin and forehead. Besides the reddening, you may see dilated blood vessels and facial swelling. You may also feel a slight burning sensation on your face. Inflammatory papules and pustules (the red bumps you described?) may develop as well.

You should also note that Rosacea starts as mild episodes of facial blushing or flushing which can turn into a permanently red face over time.

There is a special type of Rosacea, known as Ocular Rosacea, that affects both the eye surface and eyelid. This condition can cause redness, dry eyes, redness, crusting and even loss of eyelashes.

What can you do about Rosacea?

We didn’t find any reference to using hydrocortisone to fight Rosacea, but there are other medications that are used to control the redness and reduce the number of papules and pustules.

The most commonly used drugs are oral antibiotics and topical metronidazole. Isotretinoin (Accutane) has also been shown to work against severe papopustular rosacea because it physically shrinks sebaceous glands and it has potent anti-inflammatory properties. And there has been some discussion that topical application of a drug called Finacea may be a promising treatment as well. You’ll need a prescription form your doctor for all of these though.

76 - Beauty Biology There are some things you can do without a prescription: according to the experts, you should use a gentle cleansing regime to avoid aggravating the condition. So make sure you’re using a mild facial cleanser and not scrubbing too much! You should also limit sun exposure by protecting your skin with a good non-irritating sunscreen everyday. You might find a product that uses physical sunblock ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide might be less aggravating than some of the reactive sunscreens.

For much, much more on this subject, visit the Rosacea Support Group.* What’s The Difference Between Antiperspirant And Deodorant?

Sarah V posts this perspiration puzzle:

What’s the difference between an antiperspirant and a deodorant? What gives?

The Right Brain responds:

Sara, thanks for probing this pithy perspiration poser! Here’s the real deal:

antiperspirants, as the name implies, stop you from perspiring, or sweating.

Deodorants simply get rid of odor. Ultimately, both products are trying to do the same thing: stop you from being stinky. But the way they do their deodorizing duty differs.

Why does sweat smell bad?

Before we explain how these products work, let’s talk a little bit about perspiration. It works like this: you sweat and bacteria grow in the moist, warm areas where the sweat collects. When the bacteria grow they eat some of the stuff in your sweat (primarily fatty acids) and they poop out stuff that smells bad. End result? B.O. (That’s the quick explanation if anyone’s interested in the long version, just let us know and we can dedicate a future post to a more detailed discussion on sweat. Or you can read all about it here.

And if you’re really interested, read this article about how women crave the smell of men’s sweat!) *http://rosacea-support.org/ Beauty Biology - 77 What do deodorants do?

So, antiperspirants and deodorants offer you two different approaches to fighting smelly bacterial poop. Deodorants contain an active ingredient (Triclosan is most commony used) that prevents the bacteria from growing and devouring your sweat. No bacteria = no body odor.

However, you still get Wet Pits (isn’t that Brad Pitt’s brother?) How do antiperspirants act?

Antiperspirants, on the other hand, fight the odor problem in a different way.

The active ingredients in antiperspirants, typically zinc salts, interact with your sweat glands to stop perspiration. No perspiration = no food for bacteria = no body odor.

Is it bad to plug your pores?

Okay, we know what you’re thinking, isn’t it bad for you to plug up your sweat glands like that? Don’t sweat it. (Ha, that’s a pun, get it?) But seriously, it’s not something you need to worry about. You’re only affecting a small portion of your body’s sweat glands so you’re not interfering with your body’s natural cooling mechanism.

We should also note that antiperspirants do also have some mild antibacterial properties, so if you do still sweat little bit not much bacteria will grow. Oh, and by the way, both antiperspirants and deodorants also contain fragrance to cover up any odor that does sneak through.

Wet or dry, how do you decide?

So there you have it two different approaches to solving the same problem.

Which one should you use? That’s really up to you. Are your arm pits sensitive from shaving? You might want to use a deodorant because some antiperspirants can irritate freshly shaved skin. Do you really, really, really sweat a lot? Then you might need an antiperspirant to avoid dripping. Do you wear black dresses that get white stains from antiperspirants? A clear deodorant might be the way to go.

78 - Beauty Biology The Reason Armpit Hair Doesn’t Grow Down To Your Knees

Li Longs To Learn:

How does hair know when to grow? When you shave your legs, it grows back but it stops growing after a certain length. If you shave it again, it will grow back to that length. What’s up with that???

The Left Brain Leads Her:

Li, actually your question is easy to answer once you understand two things:

the different stages of hair growth and the different kinds of hair your body grows.

Stages of hair growth

The first thing to know is that hair goes through 3 different stages as it grows:

Anagen, Catagen and Telogen phases. The Anagen stage (that’s Anagen, not Anakin!) is the stage where the hair grows like crazy. This stage can last a up to 4 to 6 years and can produce scalp hairs that grow to be almost 3 feet in length! (that’s 100 cm for our international readers). And if you think 3 feet is impressive, you ain’t seen nothin’! Human scalp hair longer than 5 feet has been reported! Yikes! We’d hate to see the bill from her stylist!

The Catagen stage follows the Anagen stage. This is basically a transitional stage which means the follicle is slowing down production of the hair, not much happens here.

The third stage is the Telogen, or resting, stage. The hair stops growing and just sits there in the follicle. When the cycle starts all over again with Anagen phase, the old hair is pushed out by the new hair. That’s one of the reasons you normally shed about 100 or so hairs each day - the old ones are getting replaced by the new ones.

Beauty Biology - 79 Types of hairs

The second thing to understand is that there are two different types of hairs:

Terminal and Vellus. Terminal are long hairs (the 3 footers we mentioned) and are thicker and have a longer growing cycle (growing season like flowers) 6 to 8 years. Meaning most of the time they are in Anagen phase. These are found on the scalp, mostly. Terminal hairs are the kind you have to cut because they get too long.

Vellus on the other hand are short hairs (a millimeter or less) they are very fine, and they have a very short life cycle, which means they spend most of the time in the Telogen phase. That also means they’ll never grow as long as scalp hair. These very fine hairs are found on “hairless” parts of the body like arms and legs. (Ok, those areas aren’t hairless, but they kind of look hairless because the hairs are so tiny and fine.) Soooo, to answer your question, that’s how hair knows when to grow it’s determined by the type of hair and the stage of growth it’s in. Which of course is determined by hormones. Isn’t everything?

80 - Beauty Biology Top 5 Causes of Darkened Armpits

Germaine Pie Is Puzzled By Her Pits:

What causes darkened armpits and what can we do to get rid of them?

They’re so embarrassing!

The Right Brain Raises Her From the Pit of Despair:

It’s not surprising that so many people have this problem - there are at least FIVE different reasons your pits could be darker than they should be.

1. Shaving When you shave you cut the hairs off at, or just below, the surface of the skin.

If your hairs are slightly darker than your skin color, they can give the appearance that your skin has a dark stain when it`s really just sub-surface hair.

What To Do About It:

Stop shaving and try waxing or plucking instead so you get rid of the hair below the skin surface. Since the hairs aren’t lurking so close to the top of your skin, they won’t be as visible.

2. Buildup of dead skin cells According to at least one dermatolgist, dark spots under your arms are the result of dead skin cells that are trapped in microscopic “hills and valleys” on your skin.

What To Do About It:

Exfoliate, preferably with a product containing lactic acid.

3. Antiperspirant and deodorant usage In theory, some ingredients in these products (perhaps the fragrance) could be reacting with the skin to cause discoloration. Practically speaking this seems unlikely but many people do claim that when they stop using APDs, the darkness goes away.

What To Do About It:

Try switching brands or using a deodorant instead of an antiperspirant. You may stink a bit more, but hey, the Left Brain lives for experiments like that!

4. A medical condition called acanthosis nigricans This condition causes light-brown-to-black markings on the neck, under the arms, or in the groin. It can be related to insulin production or to a glandular disorder and it typically occurs in people who are overweight.

- continued on next page

–  –  –

5. Hyper-pigmentation This condition causes your skin to produce excess melanin pigment. It doesn`t usually affect armpits, so it’s a less likely cause.

What To Do About It:

Use a skin bleaching cream to destroy the excess melanin. The Beauty Brains don’t recommend this unless you consult a dermatologist first. You can also try laser treatment to destroy the pigment.

How To Tell The Difference Between Skin Irritation and Skin Allergy

Grace is grumbling:

I have severe allergies to dust and pollen and it really bugs me when I hear my friends say they’re “allergic” to cosmetics. I don’t think they’re allergic, the cosmetics are probably just irritating their skin. Please tell me who’s right so I can make them shut up!

The Right Brain Has An Allergic Response:

Actually you AND your friends might be right. Certain cosmetic chemicals can cause negative reactions in some people. There are two basic types of reactions: irritation reaction (also known as Irritant Contact Dermatitis, or ICD) and allergic response (known as Allergic Contact Dermatitis or ACD).

In general terms, irritation occurs when your cells are attacked by harsh chemicals. An allergy occurs when your immune system develops antibodies in response to a chemical you’ve been exposed to. (Just like your hayfever.) It’s important to understand if you’re irritated or allergic because it will help your doctor determine the right course of treatment. Here’s how you can tell 82 - Beauty Biology the difference.

What They Do To Your Skin Irritation: Gives you redness with possible oozing sores. Your skin may develop a chapped, glazed or scaled appearance. You’ll feel burning, stinging, pain and soreness. You may also have some itchiness.


The skin appearance may be similar, but the main symptom is itchiness.

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