Skin care: 5 tips for healthy skin

Good skin care — including sun protection and gentle cleansing — can keep your skin healthy and glowing for years to come. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Don't have time for intensive skin care? Pamper yourself with the basics. Good skin care and healthy lifestyle choices can help delay the natural aging process and prevent various skin problems. Get started with these five no-nonsense tips.

1. Protect yourself from the sun

One of the most important ways to take care of your skin is to protect it from the sun. A lifetime of sun exposure can cause wrinkles, age spots and other skin problems — as well as increase the risk of skin cancer.

For the most complete sun protection:

  • Use sunscreen. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. When you're outdoors, reapply sunscreen every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or perspiring.
  • Seek shade. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest.
  • Wear protective clothing. Cover your skin with tightly woven long-sleeved shirts, long pants and wide-brimmed hats. Also consider laundry additives, which give clothing an additional layer of ultraviolet protection for a certain number of washings, or special sun-protective clothing — which is specifically designed to block ultraviolet rays.

2. Don't smoke

Smoking makes your skin look older and contributes to wrinkles. Smoking narrows the tiny blood vessels in the outermost layers of skin, which decreases blood flow. This depletes the skin of oxygen and nutrients that are important to skin health. Smoking also damages collagen and elastin — the fibers that give your skin its strength and elasticity. In addition, the repetitive facial expressions you make when smoking — such as pursing your lips when inhaling and squinting your eyes to keep out smoke — can contribute to wrinkles.

If you smoke, the best way to protect your skin is to quit. Ask your doctor for tips or treatments to help you stop smoking.

Dec. 06, 2011 See more In-depth