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Aging skin’s worst enemies

Everybody’s skin loses elasticity as time goes by. Examining someone’s skin is the quickest way to determine their age. But are you doing things that make your skin look unnaturally older than it really is? There are skin enemies out there lurking, waiting to steal the youthful dew from your face. You can defeat them one at a time.


Public Enemy #1: The Sun

Nothing ages your skin faster than sunshine. Of course, you know to slather on some sunscreen before you hit the beach—but you might not be aware of the effect the sun’s rays have on your skin while you’re driving, running errands, or even walking to your parked car. You need to protect your skin from Public Enemy #1 by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF at least 30) or wearing clothing that covers or shades your skin. A wide-brimmed hat will do the trick for your face. To protect the skin on your arms and legs, long pants and long sleeves work well. Don’t forget to dab sunscreen on parts that are still exposed, such as your decolletage (cleavage) and the tops of your feet. Remember, wearing bronzer beats “getting a tan” by a lot, if you want healthy skin.


America’s Most Unwanted: The Vices

You might have already learned that everything fun is bad for you. This particularly applies to your skin. Alcohol is severely dehydrating, pulling moisture out of your body (and skin) as your liver struggles to clean itself. The less alcohol you drink, the better for your skin. Smoking is a double-whammy for your skin. Not only does tobacco constrict the blood vessels, making it harder for healthy, nourishing blood to reach your skin, but the act of smoking itself causes wrinkles. Smokers over age 50 will notice pucker lines around the mouth from repeatedly closing the lips over a cigarette filter.


Dangerous Accomplice: The Scowl

Remember how mama used to warn, don’t make that expression or your face will get stuck that way? She was just teasing, but there is a bit of truth to what she said: If you keep making the same facial expression, it will create lines in your face. Squinting into the sun is the prime cause of “crow’s feet,” those little wrinkles at the outer edge of the eyes. Worried eyebrows create those vertical lines above the nose. Scowling with disapproval—repeatedly, over half a lifetime—will leave you with both of the above and also those sad parentheses around your mouth. Lighten up to save your skin! Or at least, as an elderly friend told me: “Smile, so when you get old, all your wrinkles will be in the right places.”

Of course, you already know that you should eat right, exercise, and moisturize to keep your skin in top shape. Don’t let these three of your skin’s worst enemies age you! Stay in the shade, behave yourself, and smile to keep your skin looking young for a long, long time.

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