Maybe it's true for some that age is a case of mind over matter — if you don't mind it doesn't matter, as Jack Benny's well-known quote goes. Easy for Benny to say, if there's any truth to another famous saying, from 19th-century English poet Mortimer Collins: "A man is as old as he's feeling, a woman as old as she looks." If it matters to you to look as youthful as you can, healthy skin's the ticket — skin's the thing that can either give away your age or belie it.
The skin is a cloak that shields our internal organs from the elements — it protects us from bacteria, chemicals and the sun's UV rays — while it regulates our body's heat and signals pain to protect us against injury. Three layers make up the skin — the top layer called the epidermis is where skin cells and pigment are made; the middle layer called the dermis contains the supportive collagen and the elastin that makes the skin snap back into place; and the cushiony bottom layer called the subcutis consists largely of fat cells, along with some blood vessels and nerve and muscle fibers.
Skin: A Pretty Important Body Part
Beyond the biological, the skin plays a second important role — the body's thin blanket is the wrap we show to the world, causing some to say that healthy skin is where beauty begins.
To keep your skin looking taut and smooth, take steps to help this outermost organ stand the test of time.
- Cleansing. Wash your skin the way that feels best — choose the products that feel pleasant and wash the number of times that makes your face feel fresh.
- Moisturizing. If it ain't dry, don't moisten it. But many skin types get dry and cracked if you skip this step.
- Sun protection. No two rays about it — for all skin types, and at every age, slathering on an SPF 15 or higher is a have-to habit, to protect against the UV rays that cause wrinkles as well as skin cancer.
- Eating — and drinking — right. In general, protein is a plus and carbohydrates can be bad. Water has been described as the elusive fountain of youth. Knowing what to eat — and why to avoid skin-damaging sugar — can restore life to a dull complexion.