November is National Healthy Skin Month, which is a reminder to all of us that maintaining good health also means spending part of the day going only skin deep with some of that care. Keeping our skin fresh, hydrated, and healthy year-round takes a 365-day-a-year commitment, and it's not something women or men can ignore until they are in their 30s or 40s. Responsible skin care should begin at an early age because factors such as too much sun, oily skin or bad diets don't care what year you were born. Not smoking and avoiding the sun starting in your teen years can pay off later in life, so spread the word and keep the moisturizer handy. "Since prevention plays a big role in skin aging, the sooner you start the better," says Mark G. Rubin, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of San Diego, quoted in webmd.com. "By the time you see changes you don't like in your skin, a lot of damage has already been done." Ironically, while younger people are drawn to spending hours under the sun working on their tans, many folks 40 and older are careful about spending just a few minutes at a time in the sun. They know excessive sun exposure can lead to wrinkles—as can smoking, even years after you quit. By the way, just because it's November with temps dropping around most of the country, too much sun can still be too much of a problem. Another thing to keep in mind about proper skin care, diet can play a role, good or bad, just as it can in about any other facet of your health care. Following are some guidelines to follow in taking care of your skin. Note: this is as much for men as it is for women:
- Use sunscreen. An SPF of 30 or higher is recommended. Plus, this should be a year-round proposition, including overcast days. Apply to all exposed portions of your skin. That includes the ears, nose, face and neck.
- Eat a proper diet. Start with the old reliables—fruits and vegetables, as well as some lean proteins. Also look to add Omega 3s, whole grains and B vitamins, says healthyskinportal.com.
- Avoid stress. We know; easier said than done. Stress, which can lead to acne and wrinkles, can hit us with a flick of a switch, but getting rid of it is a process. Think lifestyle change, and start by building more down time into your weekly work schedule—and that doesn't necessarily mean lying down. Regular exercise mixed with a bubble bath and reading a book, for example, go a long way.
- Moisturize. Yep, this can work for the guys as well. Why not? Keeping your skin hydrated helps keep that youthful glow.
- Check your skin regularly. Be on the lookout for moles or anything else on your skin that is suspicious looking. Skin cancer is 99 percent treatable if caught early, says health.com.
- Avoid strong soaps. These, as well as strong detergents, can strip oil from your skin, says mayoclinic.org. Choose mild cleansers instead.
- Consider retinoids. These are available only with a prescription, but consider this: according to webmd.com, retinoids can unplug pores, help get rid of acne, reduce fine lines, boost collagen production, lighten brown spots and freckles, and improve skin texture. They might even help stave off precancerous lesions.
- Visit a dermatologist. This will probably take a referral from your personal physician, but, hey, maybe you can get a prescription for retinoids out of this. At the least, get your skin questions and concerns addressed.