Skin health: get the glow without going broke

Healthy radiant skin - if you've got it, you were likely born with. While good skin is closely tied to good genes, there are simple everyday steps you can take to get your skin looking its best, without breaking the bank.

This week health news website WebMD revealed its top tips from experts in the field. Topping the list? You guessed it: stop smoking and get out of the sun.

A team of experts helmed by plastic surgeon Bahman Guyuron, MD, of Case Western Reserve University analyzed photographs of the faces of 186 pairs of identical twins in the US. The siblings who smoked and spent time outdoors without sunscreen "looked years older," with "more fine lines, deeper and more plentiful wrinkles, and their skin was more mottled," noted WebMD.

So no matter what skin type you inherited from your parents, you can avoid premature aging by wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of 30 or higher, even on cloudy days, and reapply every two to three hours when you are outdoors.

Experts also advise against overusing beauty products containing multiple active ingredients such as vitamin C, hydroquinone, or retinol. Also consider adjusting your beauty routine seasonally by, for example, swapping out your heavy wintertime moisturizer for something lighter or oil-free in the summer.

While over-the-counter creams can come at a cost, many dermatologists suggest your best bet is to invest in a prescription-strength retinoid, or vitamin A derivative, to help unclog pores, clear up blemishes, and boost the production of collagen, notes WebMD.

Other keys to glowing skin include adopting a healthy, balanced lifestyle, and that means eating a healthy diet, getting regular sleep, exercising, and reducing stress. Good sleep optimizes the natural secretion of human growth hormone to promote cell turnover, noted WebMD, while exercise increases circulation and the flow of nutrients to your skin.

Stress hormones have been linked to acne, eczema, and rosacea, and research has associated nerve-soothing activities such as yoga and meditation with skin improvements in people with psoriasis.

Also don't forget to properly wash your face every night before bed and give your makeup applicators a good scrub weekly. Brushes and makeup applicators can be breeding grounds for bacteria, which can lead to acne, clogged pores, and other not-so-pretty impurities on your skin.

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