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August 29 2014

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Dependent Thinking: Can Your Skin Develop An Addiction?

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This column features weekly tips and advice from a revolving cast of industry leaders, on hand to discuss your beauty dilemmas, from blemishes to Botox. To submit a question, e-mail celia_ellenberg@condenast.com.

Is it possible for your skin to become dependent on a certain ingredient—chemical or otherwise—and then ostensibly go through withdrawal when deprived of it causing breakouts, etc.?

“Definitely. It is well documented that our skin becomes ‘used to’ alpha hydroxy acids and retinols, to name a few. That is why products start off with a lower level and slowly work their way up. Our skin becomes more accustomed to them, requiring a stronger dose for results and also less irritation, since our skin has adapted. Conversely, if you stop using these products, your body reverts back to the earlier stage. While it won’t cause breakouts if you stop using the ingredient, your initial skin concern could resurface—and when you restart the product, your skin may react to the change. But if done properly, it would be a minor reaction, if anything.

My favorite trick is to rotate serums with different ingredients. Use your AHA or other peel for a week; week two, use a higher level; week three, focus on a different ingredient, such as antioxidants to fight free radicals; then week four, deep hydration; then back to the beginning.”

With over 20 years of experience developing products for some of the most recognized brands in the skin care industry, David Pollock has become a strong voice in the “safe beauty” movement. Speaking out and educating consumers on the potentially harmful ingredients in personal care products via his own website, frequent radio appearances, and the informative book Just Stop The Lies, Pollock launched his first product line, PUR Attitude, this month.

Photo: Microzoa / Stone / Getty Images

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