Go-to tips for healthier, brighter and more radiant–and younger looking-skin.
There’s no fountain of youth, but these tips come pretty close. There’s a lot you can do day-to-day to promote your skin’s inner radiance, boost natural collagen reserves and prevent new skin cell damage. Each tip in this list is backed by science, easy to add into your routine and will make you feel good too. So, what are you waiting for? Get ready to glow.
- Bank Your Beauty Sleep.
If you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter or stayed up too late binge watching TV (guilty!), you’ve noticed more than just the bags under your eyes in the morning.
Sleep is more than just ZZZs; it’s an essential recovery period for both your body and skin. When you snooze, you don’t lose. Instead, a solid 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night helps fuel vibrant, radiant and dewy skin. Not only that, it helps skin protect itself better against daily environmental stressors, pollution and sun damage. While you sleep, circulation and blood flow to the face are on a fast track so your skin can get busy making new collagen.
Want proof? One scientific study showed the link between lack of sleep and a more dull, tired appearance. In another study, those with fewer ZZZs exhibited more premature signs of facial aging.
If you want to take your sleep cycle to the next level and reduce under eye and facial puffiness, try propping up with a pillow at night and apply a creamy moisturizer before you drift off.
- Work Up a Sweat.
Ever notice that post-workout “glow” you get after you hit the gym? Whether you like to Zumba or run, exercising regularly improves your body’s circulation and increases blood flow to your skin (sound familiar?). This process signals nutrients and oxygen to your skin cells so collagen and new skin cells get a boost. When you sweat, you also rid your body of toxins that dull complexion and clog pores.
The CDC recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week to achieve health goals such as keeping your heart and lungs in shipshape order, building up bone density (something we lose as we age) and decreasing weight gain. Researchers at Harvard Medical School suggest a balance of stretching, lifting weights and cardio in intervals that feel manageable like 30 minutes at a time over 5-6 days a week.
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate.
Did you know that most supermodels drink a gallon of water a day? They typically start the day with a hefty glass and a slice of lemon to trigger the metabolism and ignite the body’s natural detox process. Think about it: The more water you drink throughout the day, the easier for your body to flush out toxins. This can instantly improve skin’s natural radiance and clarity.
While Victoria’s Secret models typically drink 5-6 pints of water a day during runway season, the Mayo Clinic suggests 15.5 (3.7 liters) cups of water per day for men and 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) per day for women. Cheers!
- Eat Right.
Did you know that what you eat and drink can actually protect your skin from cellular damage? Fruits and veggies contain antioxidants. Whether in the form of leafy, green vegetables, colorful peppers or even your mango-strawberry smoothie, antioxidants are powerhouses that help restore natural PH balance to your skin and kill off free radicals (think pollution, smoke, stress or anything that makes your skin more vulnerable to damage). Omega-3s, in the form of fish and some seeds and nuts, battle inflammation and can firm up your skin.
There are tons of other great ways to sneak in nutrients and vitamins so your diet keeps your face healthy. The Cleveland Clinic recommends many and says that even wine and chocolate in moderation can be skin rejuvenating.
- Just Say No to Smoking.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but the Centers for Disease Control estimates that a whopping 39.1 million adults in the U.S. still smoke. Not only does tobacco smoke pollute your lungs and the air around you, but it can do some serious long term damage to your skin. According to the FDA, there are thousands of chemicals and by-products in cigarettes and most of them destroy collagen and elastin (the building blocks of healthy skin and cell turnover). Smoking leads to sagging skin, more pronounced wrinkles, dull complexion, age spots, clogged pores and even facial discoloration.
If you need help quitting, the CDC has many resources.
- Book a Skin Cancer Screening.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. and worldwide. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. The American Cancer Society purports that 3.3 million Americans will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer in any given year. Early detection is crucial as skin cancer is one of the most easily treated and preventable diseases.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends you seek out a practicing dermatologist once a year for a routine, full body skin cancer check-up. You should go more often if you notice any new moles, freckles, changes to your skin or are in a higher risk group. More information can be found here.
- Cover Up.
Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses. Check. If you’re going to be outside–and even if it looks cloudy or you’re driving (the sun can still reach through the clouds and windows)–make sure you’re covering up. If you’ll be in direct sunlight for a prolonged period, wear UVA/UVB protection clothing. Many brands like L.L.Bean, Patagonia and Athleta carry them regularly. When possible, seek out shade or bring an umbrella to the beach.
As far as sunscreen goes, experts say it’s important to apply two tablespoons worth of sunscreen thirty minutes before going outside. Use a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher and try to find one that’s considered “Broad Spectrum” meaning it blocks both UVA (causes aging skin) and UVB (causes sunburns) rays. Slather on more sunscreen every two hours. And, always reapply immediately after swimming or sweating.
- Get Facials.
Dermatologists recommend you book a facial once every 28 days (skin’s natural turnover rate) or monthly. While this may seem difficult for most, any facial is beneficial to your skin and likely to reduce stress levels too. A typical facial includes time to steam, cleanse and open up your pores and might also feature extractions, a chemical peel, add-ons like LED (light energy) or oxygen therapy, masks and more.
No matter what bespoke treatment you choose, facials can stimulate new skin cells, collagen production and improve circulation to the face. Many include some form of massage to increase blood flow and aid in lymphatic drainage.
Note: If you can’t quite get behind twelve facials a year, experts say try going once a season change or four times a year.
- Use Your Tools.
There are a whopping array of beauty tools on the market these days, but you really only need a few to take your anti-aging routine from basic to next level. And while there’s not a ton of scientific research out yet on specific tools, we know a lot anecdotally and from dermatologists and aestheticians.
A jade roller, like this one from Sephora, can be inexpensive and, used correctly, helps with facial lymphatic drainage, detoxing, stress relief, circulation, depuffing and more. Use morning and night with a serum or moisturizer for best results. For a cool jolt, stick it in the fridge for a few minutes before use or buy one in rose quartz (which stays cold all the time).
Microneedling tools can be used a few times a week to up the ante on your skincare regimen. They work by using tiny little needles (don’t worry, they don’t hurt) to puncture the top layer of skin. This has multiple functions: facial products can sink in more deeply and get to business better and faster and all those tiny little wounds send a signal to your brain to start stimulating collagen and elastin production. According to Harvard Women’s Health Watch, this healing response has been shown to improve the look of scars, lines and wrinkles. Start small with needles no larger than 0.2 mm to 1 mm and go slow.
Want a few more tool ideas? For a morning pick-me-up, try using depuffing eye patches that you place in the fridge or freezer before use. Or, for a splurge, an at-home steamer can open up pores and make you feel like you’re at the spa.
- Keep Calm and Glow On.
Over the past 20 years, there’s more and more evidence–and even a new facet of medical research known as the “Brain-Skin Connection“–to suggest just how seriously stress can affect skin.
Chronic stress ignites all sorts of responses in your body from the immune to the neurological system and all of this makes your skin cells work harder at staying supple and stick-to-it-ive. It’s something humans have noted since ancient times when nomadic tribes lived weary, fight-or-flight lives and you could tell just how stressful their lives were by the sun spots, lines and wrinkles on their faces. Today, we showcase stress in acne, inflammation, rashes and premature aging skin.
Luckily, today we have many easy ways to manage everyday stressors and therefore treat the skin we’re in. From banking good sleep to eating well and exercising or even talking to a mental health professional, you can and should do what you need to do to decrease stress in your life.
If you need help getting calm, the Hope for Healing Foundation has many resources and even help for those with depression and anxiety.