Forget praying for younger-looking skin. These rules—handed down by the top dermatologists in the country—are guaranteed to deliver brighter skin and fewer lines.
1. WEAR SUNSCREEN—AND NOT JUST AT THE BEACH
Rain or shine, "liberally applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen that contains both UVA and UVB protection every day is the single most important thing you can do to prevent sun damage and skin cancer," says New York City dermatologist Doris Day.
2. QUIT SMOKING
In addition to causing cancer and bad breath, smoking cigarettes "destroys collagen and elastin and decreases levels of estrogen, which is necessary to keep skin firm," says New York City dermatologist Fredric Brandt.
3. USE A RETINOID
It's the best way to slow down the clock with a cream. "Retinoids minimize the appearance of existing age spots and fine lines and prevent new ones from forming," says New York City dermatologist Heidi Waldorf.
4. STAY HYDRATED
No, Diet Coke doesn't count. "The more hydrated your skin, the better your wrinkles will look," says Montclair, New Jersey, dermatologist Jeanine Downie. "Drink lots of water, cut back on coffee and soda, and moisturize regularly."
5. SLEEP WELL
The expression "beauty rest" actually has some science behind it. "Not only does your skin require downtime to repair itself, but sagging skin and puffiness around the eyes make wrinkles look much worse," says Great Neck, New York, dermatologist Jeanette Graf.
6. MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Not surprisingly, yo-yo dieting isn't great for your skin. "Skin loses elasticity over time," Waldorf says. "The more your weight fluctuates, the harder it is to snap back into shape."
7. EAT RIGHT
"Your skin receives nutrients not only from creams and treatments, but also from the food you eat," Waldorf says. "The more balanced your diet, the younger you'll look. And if you're not taking a multivitamin, start now." To keep skin happy, eat more fatty fish (such as salmon), dark green vegetables (like broccoli and spinach), almonds, and walnuts. Drink lots of antioxidant green tea. And lay off the refined sugar and booze—both cause aging inflammatory reactions in the skin.
8. GET MOVING
"Exercise increases blood flow to the skin and promotes a glowing, healthy-looking complexion," Downie says. "Working out for just 30 minutes four or five days a week can make a huge difference."
9. TRY TO RELAX
The mind-body connection is a powerful one. "Do whatever you need to do to decompress," Waldorf says. "Stress causes cells to age faster, which absolutely shows on the skin."
10. DON'T PICK
You got the same advice when you were a teenager. "Sun damage causes dark spots as you age, but so does picking at your blemishes," Waldorf says. "And since the skin takes a lot longer to repair itself as you age, the spots won't disappear right away.