The Road to a Glowing Complexion

Beauty is only skin-deep, but the importance of skin goes a lot deeper. Learn to care for your largest organ so you can put your best skin forward.

The Road to a Glowing Complexion

Stop Steaming

Skip the long, steamy showers and opt for shorter, cooler sprays. Long, hot showers strip skin of its moisture and wash away protective oils, says Andrea Lynn Cambio, M.D., a New York City dermatologist. So limit showers to ten minutes and keep the water cool.

Sip on Soy

Take 160 milligrams of soy isoflavones per day or pour soy milk over your cereal. Soy consumption may support skin health by supplying high-quality protein needed for building and maintaining collagen, the material essential to connective tissues.

Keep it Simple

Keep your beauty products clean and simple, particularly if you have sensitive skin. Stay away from products with color, fragrance, or those that produce bubbles or have “antibacterial” on the label, says Dr. Cambio. These can all irritate skin.

Drizzle with Olive Oil

Smooth a couple of drops of olive oil over your face, elbows, knees, and the backs of your arms every evening. The oil contains monounsaturated fat, which refreshes and hydrates skin without leaving a greasy residue.

Pick a Good Moisturizer

Select a moisturizer that contains skin-repairing humectants. Is that a new word for you? Humectants attract water when applied to your skin and improve its hydration. Good ones include glycerin, propylene glycol, and urea. Also look for skin products that contain alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), compounds that help reduce wrinkles and improve dry skin, acne, and age spots. AHAs, which naturally occur in grapes, apples, citrus, and sour milk (think buttermilk or yogurt), work by speeding up the turnover of old skin cells, making skin look younger.

Lather Up With a Loofah

Use a loofah daily to keep ingrown hairs and scaly skin under control. While in the shower, gently scrub bumpy or scaly skin with a circular motion to remove dead cells. For extra-smooth skin, sprinkle a few drops of an alpha-hydroxy product on the loofah before scrubbing.

Smell the Roses

Take rose hips every morning to help build collagen. Rich in vitamin C, rose hips (available at drugstores) can help keep skin smooth and youthful. Follow label directions.

Pop Vitamin Pills

Take a high-potency multivitamin every day. Many nutrients are vital to healthy skin, including vitamins C, A, and B. The most reliable way to get them all every day is to eat well, as well as take a daily supplement.

Baby Yourself

Use unscented baby powder to keep areas where skin meets skin—like the inner thighs, underarms, beneath large breasts—clean and dry. This is important to prevent a common skin condition called intertrigo, which occurs when such areas remain moist, fostering the growth of bacteria or fungi.

Flash Freeze

Apply ice wrapped in a towel to dry, itchy skin. A few minutes on, a few minutes off. Allow the moist cold to relieve your skin and draw warming blood to it, but don’t let your skin get so cold as to sting or hurt.

Drink Tea

Brew a pot of tea, chill, then store in the fridge and drink throughout the day. Tea, as you probably know, is a great source of antioxidants, molecules that fight the free-radical damage caused by sun exposure and cigarette smoking. One Arizona study, for instance, found that the more tea people drank (particularly tea with lemon) the less likely they were to develop squamous cell skin cancer.

Follow the Seasons

Switch moisturizers every time the seasons change. Your skin needs more moisture in the winter than in the summer. So the same day you bring those sweaters down from the attic for the winter, buy a heavier moisturizer. When you trade in the sweaters for shorts, switch to a lighter one.

Sneak in a Secret Ingredient

Add a teaspoon of grapeseed oil to your toner. The oil acts as an anti-aging serum by helping your skin cells repair and rejuvenate themselves, suggests Gina Michele Bisignano, a model and beauty expert in Los Angeles.

Spritz it On

Use a spritzer with rose, sandalwood, or bergamot essential oils mixed with water. These oils are great for hydrating the skin, says Melinda Minton, spa consultant and health and beauty expert in Fort Collins, Colorado. To create an herbal spritzer, mix a few drops of essential oil with water in a small spray bottle and spritz on your face whenever your skin needs a little boost. Your skin is more pliable when it’s hydrated, so a spray helps stave off frown lines and general movement wrinkles. The hydrator also keeps pollutants out and keeps your skin’s natural lubricants in. An added bonus: Your makeup will stay on longer and look more natural.

Keep it in the Family

Use a single family of skin-care products. If you buy and use lots of different skin-care products, there’s a good chance some contain the same ingredients, thus making them redundant, says Cara DeCenso, an aesthetician at Ajune in Manhattan. And some brands just aren’t very compatible with others, though you’d have no way of knowing that until you already paid for and opened them.