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Don’t look 40 at 30: Save your skin with tips from a pro

Your skin is sacred – it’s the key to looking young and staying beautiful even as your biological clock ticks on. When it comes to your health, prevention is always preferable to reaction, and the same is true for your skin care.

Aging woman looking in mirror

A few key products can ward off wrinkles, preserve elasticity and help you maintain a bright, youthful complexion even as your friends fall victim to signs of aging. Read on for my tried-and-true tricks of the trade.

Sunscreen: The defensive rock

It’s as true now as it’s ever been (especially in the height of summer): Sunscreen is the single most important measure you can take to protect your skin from environmental damage and premature aging.

The sun emits energy in the form of many different wavelengths of light, and while we’re most familiar with the visible spectrum, the most dangerous form is actually invisible to our eyes. Commonly known as “UV,” these wavelengths harm our skin on a cellular level, and can cause precancerous lesions like melanoma. Sunscreen works by absorbing or deflecting these dangerous rays. When choosing a brand, read packaging carefully and look for broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) coverage.

I recommend: Wearing sunscreen every day, under makeup and clothes, no matter the season. Keep a tube in your car and purse so you can reapply on the go.

Retinol: The age defier

Retinol is an active form of vitamin A with many different applications, one of which is topical skin care. As we age, cellular turnover in our skin slows, which means damage (think age spots, sun spots and oversized pores) accumulates in the epidermis.

Vitamin A’s molecular structure is small enough to let it penetrate the outer layers of the skin and help promote healing and new skin growth in the deeper layers of your epidermis. Regular use of a retinol serum (or its synthetic sister, tretinoin) will keep your skin soft and your face fresh.

I recommend: Applying only at night, as retinol can make your skin extra sensitive to sunlight – making sunscreen a must.

Vitamin C: The citric staple

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, receives a lot of praise for its antioxidant properties, and when it comes to skin care, much of it is well deserved. Ascorbic acid plays a key role in the production of collagen, which gives skin its firmness and helps the skin repair itself.

Recent studies show that the benefits of vitamin C are more than skin deep. Beyond slowing the rate of damage caused by free radicals, it may even penetrate cells and reverse DNA damage. Let the citrus revolution begin!

I recommend: Looking for a pure topical serum or a high-end moisturizer with a strong concentration of ascorbic acid.

Fruit acid peels: The aspirant

Chemical peels are longstanding members of any plastic surgeon or dermatologist’s portfolio. Traditional, deep peels use a harsh chemical known as phenol, which strips away the outer layers of the skin, resulting in dramatic results – and a long recovery period for the patient.

The latest craze in peels is more preventative in nature, meaning that the chemicals are less intense and the results are more subtle. When performed regularly as part of comprehensive skin care regimen, fruit acid peels – most commonly glycolic acid – can gradually improve the tone and texture of treated skin.

I recommend: Undergoing peels every six months to a year. An easy way to remember is to schedule them along with your regular dental check-ups!

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