Should my feet really be that smelly? And what's with the beard I seem to be growing? We asked professionals about our biggest beauty insecurities. And got answers.
The quick solution for camoflaging your blemishes
What causes foot odor?
When normal bacteria on your feet interact with moisture trapped in your socks and shoes, the result is stinky byproducts, says Doris J. Day, M.D., an assistant professor of dermatology at New York University.
The fix: Wear absorbent cotton socks with shoes made from breathable materials, like canvas and leather, and sprinkle Zeasorb (an over-the-counter drying powder) into your shoes every morning. It's also important to slough off dead skin and keep your feet hydrated.
Even stars get embarrassed. See what happened to Jada Pinkett Smith.
Why does my breath smell despite brushing?
Although brushing will help prevent cavities, it can only mask bad breath, since the problem really lies within your throat and tongue. When the bacteria in your mouth lose access to oxygen (which can happen when you use alcohol-based mouthwashes, take certain prescription medications, or sit with your mouth shut for a long time), they emit smelly sulfur compounds, says Harold Katz, D.D.S., founder of The California Breath Clinic in Los Angeles.
The fix: Contrary to popular belief, a tongue scraper won't banish bad breath. Instead, keep your mouth oxygenated by drinking water throughout the day and using an over-the-counter oral rinse with chlorine dioxide. (Try TheraBreath Oral Rinse.) Chewing on oxygen-rich vegetables, like parsley and celery, can also diminish odors. If these tricks don't work, see your dentist.
Try these ultra-fresh beauty products.
I've started sweating through my blouses. Should I be worried?
Most likely there's nothing to fear, says Joseph L. Jorizzo, M.D., chairperson of dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. You probably just have a benign, hereditary tendency toward excessive sweating that can crop up at any age.
The fix: Before bed, towel-dry your armpits and apply the prescription antiperspirant solution Drysol (it contains a higher percentage of aluminum chloride, a drying agent). Wash the solution off in the A.M. and don't reapply any deodorant. Repeat nightly. Beat the heat with these five sweat stoppers.
Freshen up with an easy, relaxing, at-home facial.
Are the bumps on my butt and on the backs of my arms pimples?
No. They're called keratosis pilaris -- the cause is unknown, but some claim that it's a hereditary condition.
The fix: You can help slough off bumps by rubbing them with a mixture of equal parts petroleum jelly and either water or cold cream. If that doesn't work, try prescription LactiCare-HC Lotion 2 1/2%, which contains lactic acid to dissolve dead skin cells and hydrocortisone to soothe any acid-induced irritation. Rub lotion onto bumps twice a day until they clear up. Try this cheat sheet to great skin.
Banish under eye circles.
Why do my teeth look so dingy?
Smoking and excessive consumption of dark beverages (coffee, tea, and red wine) are the main causes of stained teeth, says Lana Rozenberg, D.D.S., founder of the Rozenberg Dental Day Spa in New York City.
The fix: As with clothing stains, the longer discolorations remain on your teeth, the harder they are to remove -- so keep up those twice-a-year dental visits. You can lighten your teeth several shades with a whitening toothpaste that contains carbamide peroxide, but use it only once a day to avoid drying out gum tissue. Floss treated with the whitening agent silica has also been proven to polish away stains, which often form between teeth. For more dramatic results, your dentist can bleach your teeth up to eight shades brighter. (Though drugstore bleaching kits are much less expensive, they aren't quite as effective.)
We've got answers to your biggest oral health complaints.
Could there be a serious underlying cause for excess facial hair?
If you fight your follicles on a daily basis or sprout lots of hairs on your chin, see your doctor. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (a disorder characterized by high levels of male hormones) or an adrenal gland problem could be to blame. If you're moderately hairy, you've probably just got your genes to thank.
The fix: Vaniqa -- a new, odorless prescription cream-- has recently been approved by the FDA to decrease light to heavy hair growth anywhere on the face ($50 for a two-month supply). The cream blocks one of the enzymes responsible for hair growth, gradually slowing it as long as you continue to use it. For those who don't respond to Vaniqa, six laser hair treatments ($150 each) can significantly decrease hair growth for months. A monthly electrolysis session for up to a year ($60 to $100 each) can remove hair permanently.
Facial hair you do want: here's how to maximize your lashes.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.