Your Guide to Perfect Skin

Maybe you’re in your 20s or early 30s and you think you can’t possibly have (gulp) aging skin yet. Well, you’re wrong.

Your skin’s “youthfulness” has less to do with age than how it’s been treated. If exposed to excessive sun, smoke and stress, your skin can start “acting old,” losing its collagen, glow and elasticity. Lines may develop prematurely and your skin may look dull and “blah.”

It’s easier to prevent damage than to repair it, but the good news is you can put the brakes on premature aging and get your skin back in tip-top condition with these 10 tips and tricks.

Do Stop Smoking

Ever notice the skin of a lifelong smoker? It can appear as wrinkly as a squashed paper bag. I can spot a smoker by the lines above the mouth that tend to form from constant lip pursing. The lines always seem to point to the mouth as if saying, “insert cigarette here.”

Smoking is the 2nd biggest cause of skin damage after sun exposure. Why? Nicotine constricts blood vessels and decreases the flow of oxygen to the skin. Not good things.

Do Use a Retinoid

A daily application of a prescription retinoid lotion (such as Retin-A or Tazorac) can erase years from your face. In fact, dermatologists claim retinoids are the one anti-aging product that really works.

Do Get Facials or Give Yourself One

If you follow my Basic At-Home Facial every other week, I guarantee your skin will never look better. My facial takes only 30 minutes and includes cleansing, exfoliation via a facial scrub, a hydrating mask, a quick steam and moisturizer.

Do Wear Sunscreen, Rain or Shine

My NYC dermatologist recently told me I had great skin, especially “for someone who grew up in Texas.” It turns out he sees a lot of sun damage in his office. We decided the 8 years I spent in Seattle helped, as did the fact that I’ve worn SPF 40 sunscreen every day rain or shine for 10 years.

Do Shield Your Windows

The average commuter gets 200 hours of sun exposure each year and 80 percent of sun exposure is through car windows, according to Boston dermatologist Ranella Hirsch in Harper’s Bazaar. To protect your skin against sun damage (the leading cause of aging skin), invest in a window shield like Solar Gard. Shields with SPF 285 can block UVA and UVB rays by 99 percent.

Don’t Pull at Your Skin

Never pull and rub your skin. Aging skin has been under attack by UV rays, stress and carbon monoxide so don’t stress it more by pulling on it.

Don’t Skip Moisturizing

While it’s a myth that wrinkles are caused by dry skin, moisturizing can improve the appearance of lines by temporarily plumping them up. Also consider a good eye cream. Eye creams are controversial because some pros claim they don’t really do anything, but many women swear by them.

Don’t Ignore Your Neck and Check

The neck and chest are first to show the signs of aging (they have fewer oil glands than the rest of your body), yet most of us ignore them. Look for moisturizers that have age-fighting ingredients like vitamin A (retinols), kinetin, copper or vitamin C.

Don’t Tan

Even if wrinkles haven’t shown up yet, you need to stop tanning now because they will. Once signs of aging appears, you’ll be spending a lot of money to reverse it.

So if you do have sun damage? You can reverse the damage with photorejuvenation such as pulsed light treatments. Many spas and dermatologists provide these pricey fixes. If you do have brown spots, treat them with lemon juice diluted with water, according to NY dermatologist Jessica Krant in Harper’s Bazaar. Krant suggests applying the mixture with a Q-tip nightly, gradually increasing it twice daily until sun spots fade away.

Don’t Take Sporadic Care of Your Skin

It’s important to cleanse your face every night not only to avoid clogged pores, but also to wash away all the pollution your skin has been prone to.

As for anti-aging regimens, you need to keep it up for best effects. You may suffer redness and a bit of peeling at first, but this is normal. To get the full effects of acid peels, retinoids, AHAs, and moisturizers you have to keep at it. The initial benefits will go away if you stop using them.




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