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.
Watch Sun Exposure Indoors
Yes, you read it right: UV rays (in particular UVA rays) can penetrate the windows in your home and office and cause wrinkling and brown spots. The same goes for car windows: Studies have found higher rates of skin cancers on the left side of the face and upper body than on the right, since that side is more exposed when you’re driving. Cancers aside, “many people have more wrinkles and sun damage on the left side of their faces, too,” notes Donofrio.
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.
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.
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..
Sleep a Full Night
While you’re snoozing, the skin’s repair mechanisms swing into action, says McBurney. Being sleep-deprived, by contrast, puts stress on the body, causing it to release more adrenaline and cortisol, which can trigger breakouts and other skin problems, says Barbara R. Reed, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado, Denver. (And research from China found that insufficient sleep was a significant risk factor for acne among adolescents.) Make getting seven to eight hours of shut-eye your last good-skin move of each day.