My skin is extremely sensitive and my dermatologist has suggested I stick to hypo-allergenic products. I have used a very well-known brand that claims to be hypo-allergenic but I still reacted to it. What can I choose now?

Hypo-allergenic means that most of the well-known allergens and sensitizing ingredients have been left out of the product. Most such products have very little scent or none at all, but it does not mean that you won’t have a sensitivity to some of them. Whenever you can, test a product first, or ask the salesperson for a sample. If that is not possible, make sure you are able to return the product if it does cause a reaction. Most cosmetic companies have this policy. Since cosmetic companies are constantly changing their formulas, a product that you have been using for a period of time could suddenly cause a reaction. I suggest that you try several and keep a list of the products that you are comfortable with.

I would like to know if the cuticle should be cut during a manicure.

The nail is composed of a protein similar to the hair and the only living area is under the base of the nail plate (just under the cuticle area). This matrix area is where the nail is formed and starts to grow. The cuticle is a slightly hardened rim of skin which helps the skin cling to the nail and most importantly, keeps any foreign substances such as bacteria, caustic detergents and chemicals from working their way under the nail and possibly causing infection to set in.

Without the cuticle, the skin, which is fragile, will dry and tear and become ragged.

To repair this ragged edge, simply apply cuticle cream and gently massage the area to encourage better circulation and to help replace the lost moisture in the skin.

My hair is a little fine-textured, but its oil flow is normal. How often should I wash it?

You should shampoo your hair as often as you feel it’s necessary to keep it and your scalp clean. Use the proper shampoo and conditioner for your hair type. Most experts recommend washing approximately every two days.

My lips are very cracked and tend to peel, especially in winter. I have tried wearing lipstick to protect them, but they still crack and most lip balms are so waxy. Any suggestions?

Lip tissue is extremely thin and lips do not have any oil glands. They can become very dry and cracked as they lose moisture. A drop in the temperature will lessen the blood supply to the skin and heat will dehydrate them. A sunburn, emotional stress, an allergy to lipstick or toothpaste or a vitamin deficiency can also result in chapping. If you have a cold and cannot breathe through your nose and your intake of air is via the mouth, your lips will become dehydrated. You may have to try different products to get the results that you need. There are lip creams or lip balm and gloss that are not too waxy but are light. Choosing a lipstick that has lots of moisture in it can also help protect lips. If you are out in the winter or summer sun, use a lip product that contains sunscreen.