Steps to Better Skin

Improve your skin complexion and texture with these tips from experts. Swapping out some daily habits and being more aware of other lifestyle factors that could be affecting you will help you figure out how to get better skin. Whether your main concern is anti-aging skincare or acne treatments, the 11 steps below will get your skin complexion to where you want it to be.

1. Consider Your Water

And tailor your skin-care products accordingly. “Soft water doesn’t remove soap well, so it can leave a residue on your skin,” says Susan H. Weinkle, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of South Florida, in Tampa. If your water is soft, use face and body cleansers sparingly (no more than a nickel- or quarter-size amount, respectively). Hard water, on the other hand, doesn’t allow washes to lather easily, prompting you to use even more cleanser, which can cause dryness. Gentle, nonsoap formulas, which aren’t meant to lather, can minimize this, says Carolyn Jacob, a dermatologist in Chicago. Experts suggest trying Avène Extremely Gentle Cleanser ($24; dermstore.com). To check the water quality in your area, log on to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website (epa.gov).

2. Drink Green Tea

“If your complexion is red or blotchy, this tea’s anti-inflammatory properties can be soothing,” says Andrea Cambio, a dermatologist in Cape Coral, Florida. “Iced is best because hot beverages can worsen redness and other symptoms of rosacea.” Another benefit: The epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in green tea may help prevent the collagen destruction that leads to wrinkles as well as sun-induced DNA damage in the skin (think lines and discoloration), according to some experts. Consider subbing tea for your morning mug of coffee.

3. Keep Stress in Check

It takes a toll on nearly every part of your body, including your skin. In a study conducted at Stanford University, researchers found that during exam time, students who felt stressed had more severe acne breakouts than did those under less pressure. That’s because stress increases the body’s production of hormones such as cortisol, which can make skin oilier and decrease its ability to fight off acne-causing bacteria, says Lisa Donofrio, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale University School of Medicine. To keep that frazzled feeling under control, regularly practice stress-management techniques, like yoga, deep breathing, and meditation. This “can help conditions such as acne, psoriasis, rosacea, and seborrhea,” Donofrio says.

4. Improve Your Air Quality

Avoiding smoky environments is smart since “just being around smoke can lead to the release of free radicals that damage skin and hasten aging,” says Diane S. Berson, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, in New York City. Other indoor pollutants can adversely affect skin, too. Change the air filter in your furnace regularly and, if you cook with oil, use the fan over your range. Also keep in mind that dry indoor air can dehydrate skin and make fine lines more noticeable. Run a humidifier (VicTsing Cool Mist Humidifier, $35; amazon.com) in your bedroom to minimize these problems.

5. Switch to Plain Toothpaste

Those with tartar-control ingredients or added flavors, like cinnamon, may contribute to a common skin condition called perioral dermatitis. It looks like pimples, redness, and scaling around the mouth, says Donofrio. Use a basic paste instead, like Crest Cavity Protection Toothpaste ($3; target.com). Note: If you suffer from this problem, see a dermatologist for antibiotics to clear it up.

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