“Tanning isn’t sexy anymore! The current melanoma epidemic is attributed to both intermittent doses of high sun exposure – which is the kind you might receive while on vacation – and chronic sun exposure. If you decide to opt for sun exposure over the more healthy spray tanning, then you should restrict it to morning hours before 10 a.m. and afternoon hours after 4 p.m. when UV radiation is lowest. Any time you plan to be in the sun, you should also apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outdoors.”
Klaus Sellheyer, MD, FAAD
Skin Cancer & Cosmetic Dermatology Center
#1. Stay out of the sun. This may be the most important way to take care of your skin. Not only will a lifetime of exposure cause wrinkles and age spots, but it will dramatically increase your risk of skin cancer.
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 before you go outside – every single day. Remember: there is no such thing as a healthy tan. If you’re desperate for a tan, go with a self-tanning product.
#2. If you drink in excess or smoke, quit. It’s common knowledge that smoking can cause a slew of cancers, from lip to lung, but this bad habit can also wreak havoc on the appearance of your skin. Time and time again, it has been shown to accelerate the aging of skin and contribute to wrinkles.
Alcohol can also have numerous damaging effects to your skin. The oil glands and blood vessels of chronic drinkers become larger, causing oversized, unsightly pores. If drinking progresses to liver disease, skin color can take on a yellow appearance.
#3. Monitor stress. Too much stress can harm the skin by dehydrating it and triggering or worsening conditions such as acne, psoriasis, rosacea, and fever blisters. One of the best ways to counter this? Get more sleep. Not only can sleep help regulate hormones that can lead to skin problems, but it works to restore your skin by giving it a chance to grow new cells to replace older cells.
#4. Watch what you eat. A poor diet can make you gain unwanted pounds, and it can also determine the appearance of your complexion. Drinking coffee, tea, or soda can dehydrate your skin, but water flushes your system for a fresh, healthy glow. In addition, foods with excess processed carbs can irritate skin, clog pores, and cause acne.
#5. Check your skin. Even if you’ve been vigilant about protecting your skin since the time you were a kid, it’s still important to see a physician every year for a professional skin exam. Dermatologists also recommend doing monthly self-checks of the skin to look for early signs of sun damage, including an increase in moles, freckles, brown spots, broken blood vessels, and skin roughness. If you notice anything on your skin changing, itching, or bleeding, see a dermatologist immediately.