I never use soap on my face, just water. Is this acceptable and what are the alternatives if it isn’t?

One of the functions of the skin is to produce oil (sebum) that provides an oily, slightly acid film. The function of this acid mantle is to resist bacterial invasion, to prevent the penetration of poisonous substances and to prevent moisture loss. But skin gets dirty and the dirt and oil need to be removed. You need a substance that will make oil and water work together. Some soaps do a good cleansing job on the surface but they can strip the natural oils and upset the acid mantle. Since we are subjected to extremes of temperature and other harsh elements in our environment, our skins will benefit from some of the improved and specially formulated cleansing products.

Cleansers are designed to dissolve dust, dirt, etc. without destroying the acid mantle. It is preferable to choose a water-soluble product that is geared to your skin type. Dampen the face first, apply the cleansing product and gently massage it into the skin. Wash it off with a facial cleansing sponge or a baby’s face cloth with lots of lukewarm water, or splash your face with water at least 20 times.

Those cleaners that are tissued off are not water soluble and usually have waxes in them.They are excellent for removing makeup or theatrical makeup. They leave a greasy residue on the skin which contains some of the dirt and pollutants that you are trying to take off so you must have a cleansing product to remove that film. Also, the facial tissues used to remove this cleanser may contain tiny wood particles which can scratch the skin. In choosing a cleansing product, try some of the samples that companies have before making a purchase or ask an esthetican or skin specialist who has analysed your skin to determine the type of product you need.

I am 18 and I have problems with acne. I have seen a dermatologist and I take antibiotics. I just wondered if eating certain foods or taking extra vitamins will make the acne go away?

There is no one food or nutrient which can clear up acne. The role of diet and supplements is to build and repair body cells and tissues, sustain the processes necessary for life, keep your system free of bacterial invasion and illnesses. There is some connection between acne and diet, especially in regard to high intake of fats or some proteins, dairy products or shellfish.

Other categories of food that could cause problems are refined sugars, sodium, soft drinks, etc. Some people are sensitive to the above food groups and may break out in acne-type of blemishes, but others will not. But on the positive side, a sensible diet can only help strengthen your resistance to the development of acne and allow you to cope with it better. Along with a sensible diet, get enough sleep, avoid or reduce stressful situations. Regular exercise is a good idea.

My hands look very rough and dry and though I have tried several hand lotions, none seem to work. I wear gloves in the winter, rubber gloves when doing housework.

There may be other things that have contributed to your problem. Do you frequently have your hands in strong solvents? Do you use harsh soaps or scrubs? Did you at one time or do you still get a tan on your hands? Is there a medical condition contributing to the roughness, such as psoriasis or eczema, etc? If not, then have a professional hand treatment at a skin- care salon. During this treatment, a gentle peeling agent to remove the surface dead-skin cells will be used. A cosmetician will apply a deep pentrating hand cream or a specialized serum to help strengthen the tissues. Your hands will be treated with warm parafin wax or hot mitts (which look like oven mitts with a built-in heater). Both will help to improve blood circulation in the hands and increase the absorption of the ingredients in the cream or serum. In the beginning, you may need more than one or two treatments, but good home care will prolong the effects of the salon treatment.

Apply hand cream several times a day if necessary. Creams will hold the moisture better than lotions. Do apply sunscreens to your hands in the summer or when outdoor in winter. This way you will also help to avoid the brown markings known as age spots or liver spots.