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Dermatologist makeup advice


Beauty buzzwords can comprise big business, including product adjectives such as regenerating, anti-wrinkle, hydrating, dermatologist approved.

So, what do they really mean?

Dr. Oanh Lauring, a dermatologist at Baltimore's Mercy Medical Center, helped explain the meaning behind the over-the-counter cosmetic descriptions.

If you've ever noticed the words "dermatologist recommended" on the label, Lauring said that's probably based on a product survey.

"It could be one dermatologist, could be 90 percent of them, it has very little meaning," Lauring said. "There's no governing body requiring (cosmetics makers) to show any kind of data, whether one dermatologist tested it or a bunch of them tested it, or how it was tested."

What about the phrase "skin organics?"

"Most people would think that it comes from some kind of natural product that hasn't been messed around with ... but it really doesn't have a whole lot of meaning," Lauring said.

Does "hydrating" mean products will add moisture to your skin?

"All they do is protect the amount of water that's already in your skin and prevent that from being lost," Lauring said.

Hypoallergenic is a word often seen on many products, but if you think it's allergy-free, Lauring said: "There's no such thing as a topical that's not going to give people allergies."

Lauring said that's because each person's skin reacts differently to products, and if you're wondering about "fragrance free" cosmetics, she said: "Fragrance free just means that you can't smell it. They can put other things in there that can mask the fragrance."

As for skin products that claim they are "regenerating," Lauring said, "It seems like they're suggesting that by using this product, it somehow increases your skin's ability to replenish the top skin layer, and as far as I know, skin layers pretty much replenish on their cycle."

Lauring said there's nothing that can make your skin regenerate faster, with the exception of some prescription medications.

As for products that say "antiwrinkle," Lauring said it depends on the ingredients. Otherwise, it's just another buzzword to get you to buy.

"I do like the antiwrinkle line, you know, you don't know if it's going to work, but you hope that it does," said Rachel Moses, a consumer.

When asked about the word "firming," Lauring said, "I have no idea ... It says 'noticeably firmer in two weeks.' I am not aware of anything topically that can firm your skin up in two weeks, so that's a pretty bold claim."

Instead of buzzwords, Lauring said consumers should read the product's ingredients, which are listed in descending order -- ingredients in the greatest amounts are listed first and the smallest amounts are last.

"The two things I would invest money in is a really good sunscreen and, No. 2, a product that has some kind of retinol ingredient in it," Lauring said.

Lauring said consumers should not expect products to work instantly; give it a month or two.

Eyelashes Need Moisturizing?

Moving from skin-care products to cosmetics, like mascara, consumers can find some that claim to be "nourishing" -- so, do your eyelashes need to be nourished?

"Eyelashes, in general, aren't dried out like you think of with hair," Lauring said. "We get split ends, but eyelashes, we tend to not do that."

What is important is to use waterproof mascara because, Lauring said, it tends to be less irritating and causes fewer infections.