My body skin is constantly dry and somewhat itchy, both in summer and winter. The summers seem worse, perhaps because I shower at least three to four times a day. I do use a hand and body lotion after the shower. What product is best? (By the way, I am only 33 years old.) There are too many products on the market to name them all, but I will suggest some guidelines.

Excessive bathing (tub or shower), especially with soaps, deodorant soaps or detergents, can dry the skin because you are washing off the skin’s surface protection oil. Without this protective barrier, the skin’s hydration – the water in your skin – will evaporate. The use of hot water will also deplete the barrier. The drier the air, the more it will cause the skin to lose its moisture; in the winter, the heating will increase the dry air and in the summer, the air conditioner will cause the air to be very dry and dehydrate the skin.

You may also try a cream instead of a lotion, always applying the product onto a damp skin. Some agents that help seal in the moisture or increase the abilty of the skin to retain water are urea, lactic acid, glycerine and collagen. There are also several body shampoos or bath gels that have moisturizing elements in them. They are usually water-based and can be used instead of a soap. Consider showering less (using lukewarm water), and check your diet to ensure you consume enough fats – salad oils, fish, chicken, etc. – to lubricate the skin.

Is Vitamin E in a cream or a capsule good for healing scars?

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and is composed of a group of compounds called tocopherols. If taken internally (raw seeds, nuts, soybeans or cold-pressed vegetable oils – safflower), it may be effective in the prevention of elevated scar formation on the body’s surface and within the body. But, it greatly depends upon the person – some will get good results and another will notice no change or have a sensitivity to it that causes a rash. Depending upon where the scar is, how old or new, you could try it topically, but also discuss it with your doctor.

In doing manicures for myself, what type of dish detergent should I use?

Don’t use any dish detergents or soap to soak your nails. The detergents are formulated to cut grease and grime on the dishes and to dissolve it; it will also take away or dissolve the protective oils or proteins in the hands and fingernails. Use a nail conditioner in the water, or soak in plain lukewarm water for a couple of minutes. After soaking your hands to soften the cuticle, dry the hands and then apply a cuticle or nail cream to help seal in the moisture. Try not to use anything that will take away this valuable moisture.

I have just started using foundation and have recently purchased a wedge sponge to apply it. Do you wet the sponge or use it dry? And which side do you use? It has a sponge side and a very smooth one.

Using the sponge to apply the foundation, you can try it wet or dry, depending upon the coverage you want. The wetter the sponge, the more transparent your makeup will be. The dry sponge allows for more coverage and thicker application. It also blends better than your fingers, absorbing more of the excess. I usually wet the sponge, squeeze the excess water in a towel, then stipple on the foundation with the sponge side and then smooth it down with the non-porous side.

My husband puts cologne on the face, as an aftershave. Is that harmful?

The cologne should be sprayed or applied on the body at the pulse points – wrists, neck, chest etc. If applied to the face, he will not get the full benefit of fragrance because it needs body heat to have the fragrance be noticed. On the face, it cools down and evaporates too quickly. He could try a soothing aftershave or balm in the same fragrance.

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