One of the biggest things you can do to keep your skin healthy is to avoid the sun, or more specifically, the ultraviolet radiation given off by the sun. Although we often associate sunburns with warm-weather activities like swimming or playing sports, you can just as easily get a sunburn in the winter. In addition to using sunscreen, you can minimize sun damage, called photoaging, by wearing hats and cover-ups when outside for long periods of time. Extreme photoaging can also lead to skin cancer, which can be fatal.
While you're avoiding the sun (and tanning beds, too) you should put down your cigarette. The repetitive facial expressions that you make when you smoke -- pinching your lips around the cigarette, squinting when the smoke blows into your eyes -- cause wrinkles. In addition, nicotine damages the collagen and elastin in your skin and reduces the blood flow in the vessels near its surface.
In addition to stuff you shouldn't do, there are some things you should. Want to know why people say they need their "beauty sleep"? The sleep you're not getting can show up on your face. In addition to looking tired, you can end up with under-eye circles. Some dermatologists suggest that sleeping on your back is better for your skin, because the pillow puts wrinkles on your face.
A healthy diet in general can also keep your skin looking and feeling good. Staying hydrated, for example, improves blood circulation. A diet full of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables will also contribute to skin health, especially foods high in:
- Vitamin A - found in dairy products, carrots and sweet potatoes
- Vitamin C - found in citrus fruits and bell peppers
- Vitamin E - found in sunflower seeds, avocados and olive oil
- Selenium - found in tuna, walnuts, Brazil nuts and oatmeal
- Omega-3 fatty acids - found in oily fish (like salmon), flaxseed, pecans and hazelnuts
In the next section, we'll check out just a few of the ways that you can treat cosmetic conditions associated with aging.