When it comes to skin care goals, the word “glowing” seems to universally rank top of mind. So in the pursuit of a healthy, radiant complexion, we scoured the research, tapped experts, and looked to time-tested rituals to find the best-of-the-best advice: This list only includes things that work with a Capital-W.
Here, 24 proven—and natural—ways to maintain glowing skin:
1. Use a safe, mineral-based sunscreen daily.
A clean, mineral-based SPF should be applied daily, all year round. “Ultraviolet radiation is unequivocally carcinogenic,” explains board-certified dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, M.D. “If you don’t care about that, think vanity—UV rays are the primary cause of the texture and color changes of skin aging.” To protect your skin, Waldorf recommends using a mineral-based sunscreen (look for active ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) that is SPF 30 or higher and applying it as the final step in your skin care routine every morning. Because mineral sunscreen is a physical barrier, it should be applied as the last step before makeup: Any skin care actives you try to apply after won’t penetrate.
Additionally—smart sun care goes well beyond SPF. Always be mindful of how much time you spend in the sun (read: don’t sunbathe for sport) as well as wear hats and other protective clothing.
These general skin care tips from dermatologists can benefit just about everyone.
Apply sunscreen every day before you go outdoors. Sunscreen is the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth. It really can slow down skin aging. It can also help prevent skin cancer. Look for a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, SPF 30 (or higher), and water resistance.
While it’s important to protect infants’ skin from the sun, the AAD recommends applying sunscreen ONLY to children who are 6 months and older.
Don’t smoke. Smoking speeds up how quickly your skin ages. If you smoke, your wounds will also take longer to heal. And research shows that smoking worsens some skin diseases, including psoriasis and hidradenitis suppurativa.
Check your skin for skin cancer. Skin self-exams can help you find skin cancer early when it’s highly treatable. If you notice a spot that differs from the others, or one that changes, itches, or bleeds, make an appointment to see a dermatologist.
Use a self-tanner if you like looking tanned. Anytime you tan indoors or outside, you prematurely age your skin. You also increase your risk of getting skin cancer. A self-tanner can give you the look you want without the risks. To keep your skin healthy, you want to protect it from the sun even when using a self-tanner.
Use skin care products that match your skin’s needs. What’s your skin type — oily, dry, normal, combination, or sensitive? Do you have a skin condition? Using products formulated for your skin’s needs will help your skin look and feel its best.
Resist the urge to scrub your skin clean. If you’ve been sweating heavily or have a serious acne flare, it may seem natural to scrub your skin. Don’t! Scrubbing irritates your skin, which can worsen any skin condition, including acne.
Wash your face when waking, before bed, and after sweating. Washing when you wake up removes the dirt and bacteria that settle on your face while sleeping. Before bed, you want to remove makeup and grime, such as smog, smoke, or dirt, which may have landed on your skin.
Gently wash your face. Gentle cleansing helps skin look its best. To gently cleanse your face, wet it with lukewarm water. Then apply a mild cleanser, gently applying the cleanser in a circular motion with your fingertips. Finish by completely rinsing off the cleanser and gently patting your face dry with a clean towel.
Stress less. Finding healthy ways to manage stress can help your skin, too. Some skin diseases like psoriasis and atopic dermatitis (eczema) often appear for the first time when someone feels really stressed. Stress can also cause flare-ups of many skin conditions, including acne, eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea.
See a board-certified dermatologist if you dislike something about your skin. When it comes to our skin, dermatologists are the experts. These doctors diagnose and treat thousands of different skin diseases. They also have the expertise needed to help people safely rejuvenate and care for their skin.
Related AAD resources
Alikhan A, Lynch PJ, et al. “Hidradenitis suppurativa: A comprehensive review.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2009;60(4):539-61.
Chien AL, Qi J, et al. “Perioral wrinkles are associated with female gender, aging, and smoking: Development of a gender-specific photonumeric scale.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016;74:924-30.
van de Kerkhof PCM and Schlkwijk J. (2008) “Psoriasis.” In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, et al. editors. Dermatology, 2 nd ed. Spain, Mosby Elsevier: p. 115.
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The American Academy of Dermatology gratefully acknowledges the support from DermStore.
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You don’t need fancy treatments or a perfect diet. Get better skin in 2022 with these tips from a dermatologist.
Mercey Livingston is a health and wellness writer and certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She’s written about fitness and wellness for Well+Good, Women’s Health, Business Insider, and Prevention.com among others. When not writing, she enjoys reading and trying out workout classes all over New York City.
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Taking care of your skin can feel intimidating. There’s an overwhelming amount of products and treatments out there, not to mention an endless stream of (sometimes conflicting) advice.
You’ll be happy to know that the basics of skin care are pretty simple. And if you’re a health-conscious person, chances are you’re already checking most of the boxes below.
So even though beauty bloggers and influencers may make you feel like you need all the things (like fancy lasers and light devices) to get better skin, there are a few simple, science-backed principles that can help you more than owning a bunch of products.
Keep reading for what science and a dermatologist say you should really care about when it comes to your skin.
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1. Use sunscreen every single day
“Your skin is your largest organ and should be taken care of,” dermatologist Dr. Amie Sessa told CNET. Her top tip for taking care of your skin? Sunscreen is nonnegotiable.
If you spend most of your time indoors or don’t live in a sunny place, it’s easy to neglect sunscreen, especially in the winter. But you still need sunscreen since your skin is exposed through the car or while walking on your commute, and you can still get sun damage in overcast weather. “Apply a daily moisturizer with SPF 30-plus to your face, neck and your chest every single day — make it a habit so you don’t have to think about it every day,” Sessa said.
2. Keep your skin moisturized
Apply a moisturizer soon after washing your skin to help seal in moisture.
It’s important to keep your skin moisturized in order for it to feel and look healthy. And even if you have oily skin or acne, your skin still needs moisture.
“Most people should apply a moisturizer immediately after bathing to seal the moisture in. My favorite over-the-counter moisturizers are Cerave cream and Eucerin Advanced repair,” Sessa said.
Equally as important as moisturizing is making sure you are cleansing your skin and removing makeup, especially before bed.
3. Get enough sleep
Sleep is important for overall health and your skin health.
It’s no question that getting enough sleep is essential for good health. And it’s no different for your skin.
Still not sold? One study found that sleep deprivation clearly affects skin appearance and increases the look of wrinkles, puffiness and dark circles, among other not-so-appealing signs.
“General good health tips apply to the skin, too — your skin will show if you are getting poor sleep or not enough of it,” Sessa said. Aiming for 7 to 8 hours minimum of uninterrupted sleep will pay off for your complexion.
4. Eat healthy foods
Just like getting enough sleep is important for your health, so is getting proper nutrition. Eating a balanced diet is key: You don’t have to restrict any foods, but eating mostly refined carbohydrates, heavily processed and fried foods takes a toll on your overall health, including your skin. Try to incorporate as many nutritious foods as you can, like fruits, veggies and whole grains.
Many experts agree that what you eat has a strong effect on your skin health, and research has shown that diet is important when it comes to things like acne, aging and even skin cancer.
Further, one of the most talked about topics in health lately is gut health — and the gut microbiome affects your skin, too. Scientists are studying the gut-skin axis and how the bacteria in your gut directly affects skin health. One of the biggest determiners of your gut microbiome is what you eat.
5. Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of water can help you feel better and get better skin.
Dehydration can cause a ton of unpleasant symptoms like fatigue and digestive issues, just to name a few issues. And since drinking more water can make you healthier , it’s also great for your skin. Like Sessa mentioned before, overall healthy habits pay off for your skin, too.
Although many people tout the benefits of drinking water for your skin, science isn’t clear on whether drinking water affects skin hydration levels (but it’s still good for your overall health, and therefore your skin). Besides using a good moisturizer, you can also add a humidifier to your routine, especially if the air in your home or office is really dry.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
This article was medically reviewed by Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD. Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil is a board certified Dermatologist, Dermatopathologist, and the Owner of Mudgil Dermatology, a state-of-the-art dermatology practice based in New York, New York. As one of the few dermatologists in the area to achieve board certification in both dermatology and dermatopathology, Dr. Mudgil specializes in all aspects of medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology. He received his Bachelor’s degree with Phi Beta Kappa honors from Emory University and earned his Doctor of Medicine (MD) with Alpha Omega Alpha honors from the Stony Brook University School of Medicine. In medical school, Dr. Mudgil was among a handful of students nationwide to receive a coveted Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellowship and Scholarship. He then completed his residency in dermatology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan, where he served as chief resident. Additionally, Dr. Mudgil went on to complete a fellowship at the prestigious Ackerman Academy of Dermatopathology. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, and the American Society of Dermatopathology. Dr. Mudgil is also a member of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine teaching faculty.
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Skin is extremely important for good health, since it is the largest organ and protects the rest of your body from germs and infectious agents. While many people want healthy skin because of the radiant appearance it provides, it can also be an indicator of overall health, and having healthy skin starts with having a healthy body. Skincare and anti-aging products are huge industries, but taking care of your skin has just as much to do with how you treat your body and what you put into it as it does what you put on it.