Cosmetics Magazine - September/October 2014
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Cosmetics Magazine - September/October 2014

The Outer Layer

by Emily MacCulloch

We go to great lengths to keep our faces spotless, but often the skin on our body gets overlooked. If you struggle with acne, cellulite or stretch marks, follow these tips to put an end to your body’s skin problems for good.

The Problem: CELLULITE
The Cause: If you’re part of the small percentage of women that doesn’t have cellulite, consider yourself lucky, as most women – around 90% according to statistics – have some degree of that telltale dimply skin. But what exactly are those small creases on your upper thigh? Cellulite forms depending on how the fat cells are distributed underneath the surface of the skin. When fat pushes against the connective tissue, it causes the skin to look textured. It generally tends to appear in areas that have more fat cells, such as the buttocks, upper thighs and stomach. There are many causes that play a role in having cellulite – hormones, genetics and lifestyle to name a few – and people of all sizes can suffer from it.
The Solution: “You can’t [eliminate] cellulite, but you can make it look better,” says dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett of DLK on Avenue, a dermatology and cosmetic laser clinic in Toronto. So while you’ll never completely get rid of it, there are a few ways to diminish its appearance. “We do synergie treatments to break up the fat,” says Dr. Kellett. “During these treatments, we use unique vacuum massage technology that slowly breaks up the cellulite cells so the skin is smoother.” Another way to reduce dimples is through topical creams, as they help to smooth and tighten the top layer of the skin. Many cellulite busters include ingredients like caffeine, which is said to temporarily reduce the thickness of fat cells in the skin, and salicylic acid and algae extracts, which help to even out texture and add firmness.

The Problem: CHEST AND BACK ACNE 
The Cause: Body acne can pop up anywhere but it’s most common on the chest and back, as these areas have a higher number of oil glands versus other parts of the body. The triggers are the same as facial acne – some include overactive oil glands, hormones and genetics – and often blemishes on the body can be large and irritated. Sometimes the culprit of a breakout can be a pore-clogging product, such as a moisturizer or sunscreen that leaves excess oils on the skin, or those hard to reach areas not getting cleansed properly.
The Solution: To treat body acne, “ I love using salicylic acid treatment pads because they’re easier to apply to these areas than a cream,” says dermatologist Dr. Kellett. Your chest and back can also benefit from a regular exfoliating routine to whisk away any dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. “I recommend using a gel-based exfoliator with beads once or twice a day and for people who exercise. I have them use it an extra time [post-workout].” Another potential culprit for breakouts could be your sunscreen. While it’s important to be protected from the sun, sometimes oily formulas can trigger blemishes. “I advise using alcohol-based sun protection spray in those acne-prone area to prevent breakouts, as it will evaporate quickly, leaving less residue on the skin.”

The Problem: STRETCH MARKS
The Cause: Just like cellulite, stretch marks affect a large percentage of the population. This is partially because you can get them throughout different stages in your life – most commonly during adolescence, pregnancy and any time there is rapid weight gain. “Stretch marks are the cause of an increase in size or girth over a short period of time; they occur in times when people grow quickly,” says Dr. Kellett. When underlying tissue expands, the elastic fibres under the surface of the skin break, leaving behind stretch marks. Hormone levels and genetics can play a role in the skin’s ability to withstand stretching and the most common areas where they appear are the stomach, hips, breasts, upper arms and thighs.
The Solution: Stretch marks are scars, which means once they appear, you’re stuck with them, and prevention can be difficult as it’s hard to prepare skin for expansion. One prevention tip is keeping your body hydrated, as proper hydration will help skin maintain its highest level of elasticity, minimizing scars. Drinking sufficient amounts of water will also strengthen the skin’s barrier, and applying product on the surface of the skin will keep it supple and nourished, allowing skin to stretch more easily. Dr. Kellett recommends using an alcohol-based gel product on the skin, especially if you’re prone to breakouts, to avoid irritation.

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