I am in my 40s and would love to get rid of my wrinkles. I have read a lot about Vitamin A acid. Would purchasing Vitamin A in a bottle and applying it to the skin have the same results as the prescription?

Vitamin A in capsule form is a fish-liver oil and it will not have the same effect on the skin. Vitamin A acid is available in Canada by prescription as an acne cream. It has been on the market for about 10 years as a treatment cream – it causes skin to shed dead skin cells at a higher rate than normal skin does. It works by irritating the skin or slightly burning it so that it sheds. It could increase the skin’s sensitivity or its sensitivity to the sun. It makes the skin quite red and irritated-looking and the shedding process begins. Also a person using the treatment should not go into the sun at all – this means putting on very strong sun-screening agents at all times – even for your daily walk from the house to the car. As for removing wrinkles, studies are still being conducted. Wrinkles are a result of loss of elastin and collagen in the skin, which cannot be replaced – skin can only be improved by plastic surgery or injections. The vitamin acid cream does make improvements – skin is smoother, softer and the fine dehydrated lines are removed. But there are many cosmetic products which exfoliate, peel, scrub or desincrust the surface layers of the skin which will also improve the skin’s texture.

Should I wash my hair twice at each shampooing? I wash my hair every day and again after swimming.

Depending upon your hair type, probably one wash is enough, but if you use hair spray, gel, mousse, etc. it may not be enough and two washings are needed. Make sure you use the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair type to help protect and moisturize your hair.

I have recently become pregnant and want to prevent stretch marks, if that is possible. Is there a product or treatment for this?

When the skin is stretched for long periods of time over distended areas, this can cause small ruptures and leave damaged tissue or “stretch marks.” This may happen in rapid growth in adolescence, rapid weight gain or loss, or pregnancy. During pregnancy, the additional high level of hormones also plays a large part. If your skin is easily scarred and very susceptible to the extra hormones, the stretch marks will develop rapidly and some will stay. Other skins will not have the stretch marks or they will be less noticeable. They are more likely to appear in areas such as abdomen, thighs, breasts and hips where the skin is subject to repeated pulling or expansion. I do not know of anything that can be done to totally prevent them or to eliminate them, topically or internally. There are products that may help to minimize them. Massaging with stimulating oils or creams can increase the blood circulation to the areas, keeping skin in better condition. There are also tissue-building or regenerating ampoules to strengthen the skin. Keep your over-all weight gain within the limit set by your doctor, support your breasts with a good bra, rest your feet often to take the pressure off the abdominal area. After the baby is born, most stretch marks will fade away.

My teeth are slightly yellowish and my skin is olive in color. The new fashion colors of peach, violet or frost don’t do a thing for me. Which color should I use?

To give the illusion of whiter teeth, try using rose, bright pinks or corals, true reds, etc. Do avoid the real orange tones or the pearlized, light colors. Here are some additional tips: Avoid shades lighter than your own lips: they steal color from the skin. Choose brighter – not darker – shades for night lights. Pale shades of lipstick can make the eyes look more noticeable if makeup on the eyes is softened; Dark lipstick will de-emphasize the eyes, unless you strengthen the eye shadow colors. Types of lipstick include: Cream type – color without shine; Glosses – colored or clear, shiny base and usually worn over a cream lipstick to provide gleam and extra protection. They may also be worn alone; Frosted – has color and iridescent sparkle. Worn alone or over cream lipsticks. Lipstick should harmonize with your cheek and foundation shades.