Wear Sunscreen - And Other Tips for Healthier Skin

Many of us spend hundreds of dollars a year to douse our faces in “product,” various moisturizers, creams and unguents which we hope will keep our skin looking young. But the best way to preserve your skin is to first protect it.

Most of the changes we see in aging skin, the ones we go to great lengths to cover up or perhaps even “pull up,” are caused by a lifetime of exposure to the sun. The ultraviolet rays of our nearby star affect the elastin of the skin, causing wrinkles to form, as well as blotchy pigmentation and an overall leathery look.  Not to mention, UV exposure also increases your chance of contracting skin cancer.

Another often overlooked cause of bad skin? Alcohol consumption. As if you needed yet another reason to limit your drinking, alcohol can dehydrate your skin – and the rest of your body. This leaves your skin looking tired and old. If you must drink alcohol, pace yourself and supplement the alcoholic drinks with water or some other non-alcoholic beverage to keep yourself from drying out.

And if your do have too much to drink, have the presence of mind not to fall asleep with your makeup on – which is, believe it or not, indicative of another major source of unhealthy skin. A 2008 British Skin Foundation survey revealed that fully half of the people in the UK do not remove their makeup before hitting the hay! Cleansing your skin removes dirt and bacteria that can have long term deleterious effects on your epidermis. Use warm (not hot) water and avoid stripping the essential oils from your skin by limiting your time in the shower to 15 minutes.

If you really want to care of your skin, get to sleep. Lack of shuteye will put bags under your eyes, and make your skin look tired and old. Avoid eating heavily and drinking anything, especially anything caffeinated, near bedtime. Take a warm bath before bed if you chronically have difficulty falling and staying asleep.

Take care when shaving. Soften your stubble pre-shave with a warm shower or bath, or at least through the application of a warm towel. Always use a sharp razor, and don't shave “against the grain.”

Moisturize your skin, but don't break the bank. You can find very inexpensive moisturizers that will do just as good a job as their pricey counterparts advertised in the glossy magazines. Use water-based products if you have oily skin, and avoid alcohol-based moisturizers if you have dry skin.

But most importantly? Wear sunscreen, or avoid the sun as best you can altogether.