Good skin care — including sun protection and gentle cleansing — can keep your skin healthy and glowing for years to come.
Don’t have time for intensive skin care? Pamper yourself with the basics. Good skin care and healthy lifestyle choices can help delay the natural aging process and prevent many skin problems. Get started with these five no-nonsense tips.
1. Protect yourself from the sun
The most important way to take care of your skin is to protect it from the sun. A lifetime of sun exposure can cause wrinkles, freckles, age spots and rough, dry skin. Sun exposure can also cause more-serious problems, such as skin cancer. For the most complete sun protection:
* Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
* Wear protective clothing. Cover your skin with tightly woven long-sleeved shirts, long pants and wide-brimmed hats. You might also opt for special sun-protective clothing, which is specifically designed to block ultraviolet rays while keeping you cool and comfortable.
* Use sunscreen when you’re in the sun. Apply generous amounts of broad-spectrum sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every two hours, after heavy sweating or after being in water.
2. Don’t smoke
Smoking makes your skin look older and contributes to wrinkles. Smoking narrows the tiny blood vessels in the outermost layers of skin, which decreases blood flow. This depletes the skin of oxygen and nutrients, such as vitamin A, that are important to skin health. Smoking also damages collagen and elastin — fibers that give your skin its strength and elasticity. In addition, the repetitive facial expressions you make when smoking — such as pursing your lips when inhaling and squinting your eyes to keep out smoke — may contribute to wrinkles.
If you smoke, the best way to protect your skin is to quit. Ask your doctor for tips or treatments to help you stop smoking.
3. Treat your skin gently
Daily cleansing and shaving can take a toll on your skin, so keep it gentle:
* Limit bath time. Hot water and long showers or baths remove oils from your skin. Limit your bath or shower time, and use warm — rather than hot — water.
* Avoid strong soaps. Strong soaps can strip oil from your skin. Instead, choose mild cleansers.
* Shave carefully. To protect and lubricate your skin, apply shaving cream, lotion or gel before shaving. For the closest shave, use a clean, sharp razor. Shave in the direction the hair grows, not against it.
* Pat dry. After washing or bathing, gently pat or blot your skin dry with a towel so that some moisture remains on your skin.
* Moisturize dry skin. Find a moisturizer that fits your skin type and makes your skin look and feel soft.
4. Eat a healthy diet
A healthy diet can help you look and feel your best. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. The association between diet and acne isn’t clear — but research suggests that a diet rich in vitamin C and low in fats and carbohydrates may promote younger looking skin.
5. Manage stress
Uncontrolled stress can make your skin more sensitive and trigger acne breakouts and other skin problems. To encourage healthy skin — and a healthy state of mind — takes steps to manage your stress. Set reasonable limits, scale back your to-do list and make time to do the things you enjoy. The results may be more dramatic than you expect.