Skin care emergencies can be staved off with proper care
With the Academy Awards taking place Sunday night, a lot of primping and preening is going on in L.A. right now. The biggest stars would have been preparing for the big day since the nominations were announced last month; after all, there are gowns to try on, diamonds to borrow and forehead furrows to be smoothed into submission.
Even though our tribulations might never land us on any red carpet, most people want to look good on their wedding day, prom day, lunch date, etc. Some of us even care about giving good face at the office on a daily basis.
Meryl Streep on the red carpet in 2006.
Your red carpet moment
The Hawai'i International Film Festival will be rolling out the red carpet Sunday during the pre-Oscar celebration, "Oscar Night America." Guests will walk the red carpet and enjoy cocktails, dinner, a silent auction and view the Academy Awards ceremony in advance of the telecast.
$200 per person ($175 for HIFF members); table rates for $2,000 to $10,000
Cocktail/black tie optional
Kimi at 373-9911, or Dana at 520-4806
It's a good idea to try to put your best face forward anyway, because you never know where today's digital paparazzi will be lurking. Even if you're not the star of a blogger's snapshot, you could find yourself in the background of a digital posting from a restaurant or shopping mall, floating through cyberspace forever, zits and all.
With this in mind, we tapped some skin specialists for advice on how to prepare for those moments when we need to be ready for our close-ups.
The advice is simple: Maintain a daily regimen to cleanse your skin, exfoliate and use sun protection.
Living up to this advice is no easier than adhering to a proper diet. That's why medical procedures persist as a last-ditch effort for improving appearance. But it's possible to keep skin radiant with skin care alone.
"There's no miracle; it takes discipline," said Fernanda Dias, national esthetician for Natura Bisse.
Dias is not ashamed to share her age, 59, knowing that her skin looks several decades younger due to proper skin care that reflects her upbringing in Barcelona, Spain. In Europe, skin care focuses on prevention, while in this country, many assume there'll always be a cure tomorrow for neglect today.
Care starts in the teens and involves little more than nightly cleansing and daily sun protection, said Dias, who is in town this week to perform Diamond Facials, using the company's Diamond creams and serums on clients. It is the same treatment she will be performing on Hollywood A-listers just before the Academy Awards.
The treatment incorporates deep breathing and massage to oxygenate cells, for Dias says that celebrity skin is no better than that of the person on the street. It's just that the stars' problems are often masked by the best makeup artists money can buy.
Great makeup, however, does start with a blemish-free canvas, and quick fixes are available at dermatologist offices and salons.
Pimple emergencies call for a shot of cortisone at a dermatologist's office to suppress inflammation and speed the healing process.
Dennis Gross, the Manhattan dermatologist who created the MD Skincare line and author of "Your Future Face" (Viking, 2005), said via e-mail interview: "I typically get panicked patients who want one of two last-minute things: emergency cortisone shots for sudden blemishes, and emergency Alpha Beta Peels to minimize breakouts and get rid of dead skin cells for an immediate glow.
"Those who have experienced my Alpha Beta peels know there is no substitute for the amazing glow they are left with afterward. This treatment is not harsh and does not irritate the skin or cause redness or peeling, so it is a perfect way to boost the skin's radiance and shrink pores days before a big event.
"Celebrities do not want to see pores, uneven skin tone, fine lines and wrinkles, and of course they want a 'healthy glow' that at the same time doesn't look too fake or 'orange.'"
Even with a cortisone shot, a pimple needs at least a day to heal and can leave a temporary indentation noticeable in photos, according to Ampy's A Day Spa President Nicole Santiago-Vierra. At the spa, pimples are controlled with a combination of Yonka essential oils toner and a clay mask to reduce inflammation.
Even easier, she said, is to simply stop obsessing, go with the flow and turn that bump into a mole. (More of her quick fixes are at right.)
"Fortunately, mine have tended to be in places that are mole-able, not in the middle of my forehead or chin," she said. "I've tried. It doesn't look good."
For those who complain about skin that's sallow, dry and flaky, she recommends Ampy's $65 Hollywood Peel, using a combination of alpha and beta hydroxy acids.
"First, we brighten the skin to get rid of the layer of dead skin cells that lie on top. Since these cells have very little to no water content, they cannot reflect light. Once they are removed, your skin can glow.
"Second, we lighten the skin, because dead cells are darker and contain more concentrated pigment. Finally, we tighten the skin by activating collagen production. I call the treatment my 'BLT for skin TLC.'"
This treatment can be enhanced with the addition of the spa's Intense Hydradew Treatment, using a hyaluronic gel and vitamin C serum for dewy, "touch me" skin.
EXPERIENCING ONE emergency might convince some to stick to a regimen that would prevent repeat incidents, which is the aim of dermatologist Tuan Nguyen, who's seen so much skin abuse in his Beverly Hills practice that he's developed an easy-to-use line of skin-care products to help prevent such damage.
"If you don't eat right, don't drink enough water and don't get enough sleep, it'll show up on your skin," he said. "People keep on doing this, but it's only when they have a special occasion that they panic."
A daily regimen would go a long way toward staving off those last-minute panic attacks, and he's addressed typical skin problems in his line, Oriki Cosmeceuticals, available in Hawaii at DFS Galleria since last year.
Oriki Rejuvenating Cream is his best-selling product, he said, because it addresses individuals' three main concerns of firming, lifting and whitening. "You just put it on and go to sleep," he said.
The cream contains glycolic acid for sloughing off the dead skin cells that clog and enlarge pores, while vitamin C brightens and peptides stimulate regeneration of the skin's collagen and elastic fibers.
At a certain point, such "product" is required.
"A healthy lifestyle should never be devalued, but there comes a point when proper nutrition and sleep are not enough," said Gross. "I like to use the example of Vitamin C. Eating healthy is always good; however, one would have to consume 100 Vitamin C capsules at 250 mg each to get the same level of Vitamin C that could be applied topically in a 10 percent Vitamin C Gel. Of course, ingesting 100 Vitamin C capsules is toxic, so one could not do this, which is why what I call 'topical supplements' are extremely important."
The emergence of high-definition TV, which magnifies every imperfection, also has celebrities moving toward better skin care than more drastic procedures.
"High-definition TV is certainly one of the reasons that healthy skin supersedes masking flaws with makeup. Healthy skin is permanent, and guarantees that no matter what camera angle is on you, your skin will look great," Gross said. "Makeup is trickier because it all depends on application, durability and lighting. Even if flaws are hidden beneath makeup, the face can still appear cakey or overdone."
Consumer Reports conducted a study of various skin creams last year, determining that results varied among individuals. Stores such as DFS, Sephora and Neiman Marcus often offer in-store testers or sample packets that allow people to try products before committing. But even the best creams require your cooperation.
Nguyen said the chief culprits for premature aging are smoking and sun exposure, and in Hawaii, where he is a part-time resident, he sees sun-damaged skin everywhere, which is preventable by using sunscreen and wearing a hat.
He also advises people to "know your skin."
"There are people who, even if their skin is dry, still use a lot of (drying) toner, and a lot of people with oily skin who use moisturizer. But the real solution is so easy. If your skin is dry, wet it, use a moisturizer. And if it's wet, dry it with toner."
He has trained DFS beauty advisors accordingly. "I don't want them to sell unnecessary items, because if the client's skin doesn't look better, they won't come back."