It’s perfectly acceptable to ask your friend or workmate about how they get their hair so shiny or what the colour of the dazzling lipstick they wear is. But there are some beauty questions that are a little harder to bring up.
Smelly feet, dandruff, hairy nipples -- most of the time when we suffer from these kinds of beauty problems, we keep them to ourselves and muddle through as best we can.
Well, it’s time to break the silence. We're tackling some of the most embarrassing beauty problems out there and are offering up some tips on how to kick them to the curb.
Your hot date is coming to a conclusion at his place, and you slip off your shoes for a little snuggling on the couch. But -- egads! -- your feet smell and it’s seriously ruining the mood. How can you keep your toesies smelling sweet, especially when the temperature starts to climb?
For tips on how to combat foot odour and more, take a look at the slideshow. Full story continues below.
Tip: Wash your feet daily with antibacterial soap. Wear cotton socks, or sandals preferably, and don't wear the same pair of shoes for more than two days consecutively. Dust your feet using cornstarch or foot powder. Still not happy with your foot odour? One home remedy you could try: soak your feet every day for a week for 30 minutes in black tea -- the tannic acid may kill bacteria and help close your pores.
You brush your teeth dutifully morning and night, but still you suspect you have "morning breath" all day and night -- and it's making you seriously paranoid. Believe it or not, your age could have something to do with it. The onset of menopause can cause a loss of estrogen, which can cause dry mouth (pregnancy can do it as well). A dry mouth is a breeding ground for germs, bacteria and bad breath (and that’s also why breath smells so bad the day after a booze binge).
Tip: First of all, ensure your oral health is up to par. Cavities, gum disease and gingivitis can cause bad breath, so brush and floss regularly and use an antibacterial rinse afterwards. Drink more water -- it will curtail dry mouth and prevent smelly oral bacteria. Stay away from garlic, onions and spicy foods and keep the alcohol consumption to a minimum. If things are still unpleasant in your mouth, see your doctor. Some health conditions can cause bad breath, like diabetes, chronic bronchitis, postnasal drip and acid reflux.
Sure, we're okay with them on a man, but is it normal to have hairs sticking out of your nipples if you’re a woman? Of course it is -- it’s actually quite common, despite the fact you aren’t likely to see hairy nipples in the next sexy blockbuster. Humans have hair everywhere, except our fingernails and eyeballs.
Tip: Cut or tweeze the hairs if they bother you. And if you have a large amount of hair growing around your nipples, you might want to consult your doctor to ensure your hormones aren't out of whack.
Dark Underarm Skin
Summer is fast approaching, and it will soon be time to get into tank tops and strappy sundresses. But you want to stay under wraps, because you’ve got dark underarm skin. Why does it happen? Darker skin underarms can be caused by inflammation because of too much shaving, friction against rough material or a buildup of dead skin cells.
Tip: To lighten underarm skin, try exfoliating to get rid of dead skin cells. If that doesn’t work, you can try using a depilatory or laser treatment instead of shaving (though note that harsh chemicals can also cause skin darkening). A lotion with hydroquinone might lighten the area, but you should consult with a dermatologist first if you have sensitive skin.
Red Bumps in Bikini Area
So you shave your bikini area in anticipation of a pool party, but the next day, you notice angry red bumps where you shaved -- not a good look to go with your new swimsuit. You’ve got ingrown hairs, which happens when the sharpened end of the hair grows back down into the hair follicle and becomes inflamed.
Tip: People with curly hair are more likely to encounter this annoying beauty problem, but there are ways to deal with it. Using an electric razor or depilatory instead of shaving can work -- the ends of the hairs won’t be so sharp. If you really prefer shaving, do it in the direction that the hair grows, not against it. As well, be sure to exfoliate, cleanse and moisturize the skin you’re going to be shaving, which will also help prevent ingrown hairs.
When you’re in front of a mirror, your cherry red lipstick looks perfect. But after a few minutes of talking and smiling, you notice the product is creeping outside your lipline in tiny, unattractive ways. And this makes you feel about 90 years old. Lipstick feathers because it is bleeding into the fine lines that radiate from your mouth, which get more pronounced as you age.
Tip: Apply foundation over your entire lip, then use a neutral or colourless lip pencil to line your lips before applying lipstick.
Sneezing During Tweezing
Some women find that tweezing their eyebrows causes them to sneeze -- weird, right? But there is a logical explanation -- the facial nerves (one in particular called the trigeminal) extend from the eyebrow down to the tip of the nose, so that when you’re plucking, those nerves gets stimulated.
Tip: To keep from achoo-ing during your tweezing session, press your finger against your eyebrow as you tweeze, which can short-circuit the reaction.
Excess Facial Hair
You have always had a bit of unwanted facial hair above your lip, which waxing took care of quite nicely. But lately it seems like the hair is more plentiful and coarser than ever before -- what gives? As we age, our facial hair will naturally change too. And unfortunately, that often means hair is thicker and more plentiful as we hit 40 and beyond.
Tip: There are many ways to get rid of excess hair: plucking, waxing, depilatories, electrolysis. All have their pros and cons, but if you really want to see it gone for good, you could try laser hair removal. If things seem really bushy up there, see your doc. There is a disorder called hirsutism that can cause excess facial hair, caused by underlying medical conditions like poly-cystic ovaries (it's usually accompanied by other symptoms such as a deepening voice and cessation of menstruation).
It’s something that you never imagined happening to your cascading mane: those tell-tale white flakes of dandruff. And it itches too! Dry skin, oily skin and sensitivity to styling products can all lead to dandruff, as can skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.
Tip: There are a number of dandruff-preventing products on the market, and it will likely be a matter of trial and error to find one that works for you. If conventional shampoos don’t work, you can talk to your dermatologist for a prescription product. As well, ease up on the styling products and sun exposure, which can also keep dandruff under control.
If worrying about the pimples on your face wasn’t enough, what about when it turns up on your back? Most of the time, body acne is caused by the same thing that causes facial acne: genetics. Your skin is prone to sebum production, which clogs pores and causes breakouts. So don’t feel guilty -- it’s not your fault!
Tip: Gently cleanse the skin, allow it to dry, then apply 10 per cent alpha hydroxy. Wear breathable, cotton clothing whenever you can. Don’t hang around in sweaty gym clothes that could irritate your bacne. And you might want to avoid fabric softener, which can leave a waxy buildup on clothes that can aggravate acne.