What exactly is a blackhead? I have regular facials, but the blackheads seem to come back. How do you avoid them?

Blackheads form as a result of an accumulation of oil, dead skin cells, fatty acids and bacteria trapped within the hair follicle. This mass hardens and will gradually stretch the pore if it is not extracted. This can be one of the reasons for enlarged pores. Under normal circumstances, the “black” is not dirt, but, the color of pigment (melanin) produced in your skin cells and the resulting oxidation when it comes to the surface. Some blackheads extend well below the surface of the skin and, by the time they can be seen, will have enlarged the follicle. This may be one of the reasons why blackheads seem to come back. Because the pore in which the blackhead develops is open, a beauty-care specialist can squeeze out the contents gently; or by using proper cleansing routines, masks and stimulants, you can gradually soften and expel blackheads yourself. This daily routine can take as little as five to six weeks and up to four months before you see results. You cannot totally avoid blackheads, as the skin continuously produces oil and waste products but, with better beauty routines and diet, you can control them.

During my teen-age years, I plucked my eyebrows every day and had only a very thin line to show for it. Now I want to make them thicker. I haven’t plucked them for several months and not much is showing. Is there something I could put on to make them grow?

If you have plucked your eyebrows repeatedly for many years in an incorrect manner, it could result in damage to the follicle. If the papilla, where the hair germinates, is damaged, it is highly unlikely that hair will grow back.

There isn’t anything on the market that will help hair to grow, but you could gently massage the area to stimulate the circulation so that the existing hairs are strong and healthy. To make the eyebrows look thicker, you could apply a soft brown shade of eyeshadow along the eyebrow line and then feather it or brush it with an old toothbrush or eyebrow brush to make it look more natural.

I will be wearing braces for the next year. What lipstick should I wear to draw attention away from them?

Make sure you balance makeup colors on your eyes, cheeks and lips. Makeup application should complement each of these zones – don’t consider wearing makeup on the eyes and cheeks and leaving out the mouth area – it is better to apply co-ordinated makeup on all areas. Try lip colors such as pale peach/corals, pinks, or pinky beiges or a honey color. Don’t use the frosted lipsticks or fuchsia shades. On the cheeks, try soft pinks or corals, and on the eyes you could try shades of amethyst, apricot, celery green, rose brown, dove grey, etc.

How do you test for the correct color of foundation to match your skin? Is it done on the wrist or the neck? And what do you do about the color choice during the summer when skin is tanned?

Your foundation shades should be tested on the forehead, cheeks and jawline to determine which color is best in all three areas. Your wrist and your neck are not the same tone or texture as your face.

After you have applied foundation in the three areas, examine the color under natural light to determine the match and to see if the foundation changes color. This can happen on some oily skins, therefore you may have to change to a water-based product instead of a moisturizing foundation. Most women have two shades of foundation: one that matches the skin exactly and one a shade darker.

During the summer, if you have acquired some tan, you can use the darker one, and as the tan lightens, you can mix your lighter and darker foundations to get the right color.