Living 50 Plus

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Easy ways to get more youthful-looking skin

Few people would pass up the opportunity to look younger. But men and women who want to look a little more like their younger selves without resorting to surgery can still have younger, healthier-looking skin without going under the knife. The following are a handful of natural ways to keep skin vibrant and youthful.

• Quit smoking. Quitting smoking can add years to your life and improve your appearance. Smoking damages collagen and elastin in the skin, which are the substances that help keep skin flexible and firm. Also, smoking decreases blood flow to the skin and makes it difficult for it to receive enough oxygen to stay healthy. The act of smoking also can contribute to older-looking skin. Pursing the lips to draw on a cigarette, as well as squinting to avoid smoke in the eyes can lead to the formation of wrinkles on the face.

• Steer clear of the sun. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet light damages the skin and can cause it to age prematurely. Also, inadvertent UV exposure, which can happen when running errands or sitting in front of an open window, also can affect the skin. Sun exposure is the top cause of uneven skin tone and dark spots. Always wear sunscreen to protect the skin from the sun. Applying sunscreen should become as automatic as brushing your teeth each day.

• Drink more water. A dehydrated body will divert water to the organs that need it the most, including the liver and heart. When that happens, skin pays the price by not receiving adequate hydration for skin cell renewal. By drinking the recommended six to eight glasses of water per day, you can ensure your body is getting the fluids it needs to fuel natural functions, including skin cell production.

• Exercise. By working out you'll promote good cardiovascular health, which in turn will deliver blood flow and nutrients to the surface of your skin. Skin cells are pushed to the surface of the skin, helping to create a younger appearance and glow. Exercise also can help banish stress, which can contribute to an older appearance and frown.

• Avoid alcohol. Drinking alcohol in excess can damage blood vessels over time. This can cause burst capillaries at the surface of the skin, which are highly visible. Drinking also may lead to flushing, which can affect appearance. People who have damaged their livers from drinking too much or abusing medication may develop jaundice, a medical condition characterized by a yellowing of the skin.

• Avoid stressful situations. It's impossible to avoid all the stressors in life, but taking steps to reduce stress can improve your psychological outlook and appearance. Stress can lessen your body's ability to function properly, and that can affect the appearance of your skin. Stress-related insomnia can lead to undereye bags and a tired appearance. And according to the Archives of Dermatology, stress can increase your risk of skin diseases and may cause wounds to take longer to heal.

• Eat a healthy diet. Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it makes sense that healthy foods will benefit the skin. Omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts, flax and fish oil are important for skin health because they support healthy cell membranes. Antioxidants like vitamins A and C also are beneficial because they fight the effects of cell oxidation and combat free radicals that can lead to illness.

• Take care of your skin at night. Moisturizers and serums with concentrated blends of vitamins, antioxidants and botanicals are most effective at night. That's because, when applied at night, such products are in contact with the skin for several hours without being wiped off. Just be sure to apply any products to clean skin for maximum effect. A dermatologist can recommend the right products for your skin type.

There are various ways to get more youthful-looking skin, many of which can benefit the rest of your body as well.