Tune in to your skin

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Section: Natural Beauty

look as good as you feel To treat inflamed, irritated or dry skin, look for causes on the inside and out, and try our fast fixes

Yes, your dry, blotchy, red skin is trying to tell you something (Just in case you were wondering). "Your skin is a reflection of what's going on internally," says Diane Madfes, M.D., associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. "When it acts up, that's your body's way of responding to its environment or telling you to slow down." In other words, whenever you get tired, stressed or sick, you may see these issues reflected in your skin. Instead of automatically grabbing the closest skin-care product you can find, try approaching the problem holistically. Think about your scaly skin or breakout as a response to what's going on with your body both inside and out, then choose gentle, natural skin-care products to help soothe the issues away.
If your skin is… Irritated

"Any changes, such as switching to a new cream or laundry detergent, or even eating a new food, can cause inflammation in your skin," says Madfes. Rosacea (red inflammation of the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin) is also common this time of year as people spend more time outdoors. Many rosacea triggers come from Mother Nature: A change in temperature, strong winds and UV rays can all cause a flare-up. To soothe general skin irritations, look for products with natural anti-inflammatory ingredients such as green tea and grapeseed extract.

Your new routine: (a) Jurlique Soothing Foaming Cleanser ($40; sephora.com) uses Chinese herbs to calm sensitive skin, (b) DDF Enhancing Sun Protection SPF 30 ($32; ddfskincare.com) contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to block harmful rays, (c) Korres Materia Herba Moisturising Cream Normal to Dry Skin ($59; korresusa.com) is free of potential irritants.

Expert tip: To protect yourself from the elements, apply sunblock that contains zinc daily, even if the sun is hiding.
If your skin is… Breaking out

Stress increases Cortisol, which in turn activates sebaceous glands that can trigger acne, explains Madfes. If your stress levels are skyrocketing, hit the gym. Additionally, as the weather gets warmer, swap your heavy winter cream for a light lotion to avoid clogging pores. For all breakouts, proper sleep and a healthy diet will help skin heal faster.

Your new routine: (a.) St. Ives Naturally Clear Blemish Fighting Apricot Cleanser ($4; drugstore .com) gently buffs skin, (b) Zeno Hot Spot ($40; myzeno.com), a handheld electronic device, applies heat directly to pimples to kill bacteria and speed healing time, (c) Burt's Bees Naturql Acne Solutions Daily Moisturizing' Lotion ($18; sephora .com) contains willow bark to keep breakouts at bay.

Expert tip: Any form of exercise, such as yoga or a brisk walk, can help you relax and relieve stress.
If your skin is… Dry

As the harsh winter weather lifts and you spend more time in the great outdoors, you expose your skin to brisk spring wind, which has a drying effect. "Dry air robs the skin's barrier of moisture," says Madfes. Internally, dry skin culprits can range from inadequate fluid intake and dietary insufficiencies to stress.

To protect your skin, use a moisturizing cleanser. "The natural oils your skin produces are your body's way of taking care of itself. Don't wash them away," Madfes advises. During the day, protect skin with a cream containing UV protection. At bedtime, use a rich night cream to soothe skin while your body regenerates cells and tissues.

Your new routine: (a,) Boscia Intensifying Moisture Pack + ($30; bosciaskincare.com) delivers hydration deep into pores while you sleep, (b) Clarins UV Plus Day Screen High Protection SPF 40 ($42, clarins.com) contains natural filters to block the sun's harmful rays. (c) Sukiface Moisture-Rich Cleansing Lotion ($27; sukipure.com) removes dirt without stripping skin.

Expert tip: Use gentle cleansers, which don't strip the skin, so the skin's moisture barrier stays intact, says Madfes.

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By Olessa Pindak

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