13 Golden Rules For Beautiful Skin

How Pregnancy Changes Your Skin
Stretch marks — 90% of pregnant women get them. They should fade after delivery. Moisturizers can improve the appearance of stretch marks. Prescription vitamin A creams or laser therapy can help, too. Acne is another common skin problem, caused by the extra hormones in your body. Your best bet for avoiding breakouts is to wash your face twice a day and use an oil-free moisturizer. Ask your doctor before using any acne products.

Avoiding Melasma
Some women develop dark patches — melasma — on their faces when they’re pregnant or taking birth control pills. An increase in melanin, the substance that gives skin its color, is responsible for these dark patches. Melasma usually fades after delivery or when you stop taking the pill. Prevent pigment changes by wearing sunscreen at all times and avoiding the sun. Melasma can also be treated with chemical peels or topical prescriptions of hydroquinone, retinoids, azeleic acid, kojic acid, or hydroxyacids that lighten the patches. But strict avoidance of sunlight is required.

How to Care for Aging Skin
As you age, your skin changes. Your body doesn’t produce as much collagen, and the elastin that allows skin to spring back into place gets weaker. You also don’t create or lose skin cells as fast. To boost aging skin, exfoliate to remove dead skin, use a nondrying soap, and moisturize often. Use over-the-counter retinoids or vitamin C creams to reduce fine wrinkles, or ask your doctor about a prescription version. Most of all, stay out of the sun.

Cut Yourself Off
Too much alcohol is bad for your skin as well as your body. Alcohol is a diuretic; it causes the body to lose water. That can contribute to dry skin. It also dilates blood vessels. That’s why drinkers often have red, flushed faces. Over time, these blood vessels can become permanently damaged, so that skin stays red. Alcohol, especially red wine, can also trigger rosacea flare-ups.

Just Quit It!
Simply put, smoking is bad for your skin: It’s second only to the sun in causing premature wrinkles and dry skin. In fact, under a microscope you can see wrinkles in smokers as young as 20. Smoking reduces blood flow to the skin and contributes to the breakdown of collagen. Less collagen means more wrinkling. And yes, pursing your lips repeatedly encourages wrinkles, too. You can’t reverse the damage, but you can stop it by quitting smoking.

Wash the Day Away
Every day, your skin comes in contact with pollution — cigarette smoke, car exhaust, or smoggy air. Keep skin healthy by keeping it clean. Depending on the needs of your skin, you can cleanse your face with a gentle soap or wash, or exfoliate nightly with gentle scrubs and toners to remove dead skin cells, and then apply a retinoid cream and moisturizer. (Oily skin still needs moisturizer; look for oil-free products.)

Inside and Out in Winter
Cold weather and wind bring on dry, flaky skin and can make eczema and rosacea worse. It’s not just the weather outside — dry heat indoors is harsh on skin, too. Fight back by using a humidifier at home, drinking lots of water, and applying moisturizer throughout the day. Remember the sunscreen when you go out.

Tips for Skin Care in the Air
It doesn’t take long on a plane for skin to start feeling dry and tight, thanks to low humidity in the recirculated air. Have a travel plan for your skin that includes drinking water — not coffee or alcohol — and moisturizing before, during, and after your flight. Don’t wear makeup on the flight if you can help it. Keep a 3-ounce travel-size lotion to put in the clear plastic zip-top bag with your other carry-on items.

Get Ready for Your Close-up
Hollywood lives by it: Changing the lighting can change the way you look. Fluorescent lighting can make skin tone appear more red or yellow, while incandescent lighting softens colors and imperfections. Use mirrors with varied lighting to view your skin and makeup under different conditions. That way you won’t look overdone or sallow as lighting changes. Go more dramatic at night, when lighting is lower.