“Should I do microdermabrasion at home?” Yes
From creams to machines, many supereffective home microdermabrasion systems are on the market, such as Philosophy Microdelivery Peel Kit ($140, meccacosmetica.com.au).
“Creams with very fine, powdery granules, which are medical-grade aluminum oxide, are safest,” says dermatologist Dr Patricia Wexler.
“This type of granule tends to drag the moisturiser into your skin, so you’re hydrating and exfoliating at the same time.” Most important: If your skin is sensitive or you have rosacea, do a patch test before using. And no matter what your skin type, don’t do microdermabrasion too often (twice a week is a safe bet).
“Should I get a professional hair-straightening treatment?” Yes
For women fed up fighting their unruly frizz on a daily basis, the prospect of permanently straight locks is appealing. While treatments vary from salon to salon, overall it’s “perfectly safe” if performed by an expert, according to Dr Cathy Reid, dermatologist and Honorary Secretary of the Australasian College of Dermatologists. “It will only cause potential damage to the scalp or hair if it’s used improperly or overused.” (around twice a year is best) The newer techniques on the market are particularly risk-free, such as ionic straightening (or Japanese thermal reconditioning); and Global Keratin treatment – which infuses natural keratin deep into the hair’s cuticle. “The keratin technique is actually like having a treatment and has wonderful conditioning properties,” says Sydney hair technician Christine Pratten. And if you do take the plunge, it’s important to follow up by using a good sulfate-free shampoo or conditioner.
“Should I dye my eyelashes?” No
Having lush lashes is nice, but not worth potentially blinding yourself – fortunately this is only a remote risk of eyelash tinting. “The main chemical component is PPD, the same as that used in most hair dyes and dark-coloured cosmetics, and only causes allergic contact dermatitis in very rare cases,” says Dr Reid. “Plus, there is also the alternative of natural vegetable dyes.” Experts recommend having it done in a professional salon, but if you do opt for a home tinting kit be sure to give yourself a patch test beforehand, to ensure you don’t have a reaction or sensitivity to the product.
However, the safest option if you want darker, fuller-looking lashes, says Soul Lee, lash expert for Shu Uemura, suggests a safe is a technique called “minking”: Layer brown mascara at the base of your lashes and apply black mascara at the tips.
“Should I use a retinoid on my face every day?” Yes
Decades of research and countless dermatologists stand behind retinoids’ efficacy as sunspot-fading, collagen-building, anti-aging wonders. “When you’re older or acne prone, your skin is actually slower to turn over anyway, so this helps normalise it,” says US-based dermatologist with advanced training in cosmetic laser surgery, Dr Ellen Marmur. Use only a pea-size amount and apply it to a dry face at night to avoid sun sensitivity, suggests Dr Reid. “Start gently and slowly at first, using every second night for two weeks so your skin develops a tolerance, then move on to a daily application.
“Should I cut my cuticles?” No
Nail technicians always want to snip away your cuticles. Don’t allow it! “The eponychium, commonly referred to as the cuticle, is living tissue that protects the nail root,” says Roxanne Valinoti, education training manager at nail-products company CND. “If you cut it, you open the seal and expose yourself to possible infection, which can lead to nail-plate damage and even loss of the nail itself.” Instead, just ask the manicurist to push your cuticles back.
Also, don’t let her razor off foot calluses: they should be smoothed down with a foot file or a pumice stone after soaking, when the skin is soft. “Calluses protect the underlying living tissue from repeated friction or pressure,” says Valinoti. “Removing them can cause skin blisters or an infection.”
Adds Reid: “There are also lots of great heel balms on the market that contain moisturiser and help keep thick scales at bay.”