Nothing creates the impression of natural beauty more than a radiant complexion, but unfortunately very few of us are born with flawless, poreless-looking skin. However, having great skin isn't just aesthetically pleasing – it also tends to indicate generally good health, inside and out. Here, in part one of our two-part guide to great skin, we'll give you five of the best expert tips to help you get a healthy, beautiful complexion.
Exposure to sunlight is one of the biggest factors in skin damage, which is why it is so important that you wear sunscreen all year round, even if it's a cloudy day. If you think you'll struggle to get into the habit of applying sunscreen every day there are plenty of moisturisers with SPF, so you can easily make it part of your routine. The NHS recommends using sunscreen with no lower than SPF 15 and looking out for products that also protect against UVA and UVB rays.
As well as the many health risks that come with smoking, it is one of the main factors in premature skin ageing. Experts believe that smoking reduces the skin's natural elasticity by breaking down collagen – this is a process that occurs naturally as we age but smoking can make it happen much sooner. The results are wrinkles, a leathery complexion and those tell-tale wrinkles around the mouth – certainly not a recipe for beautiful skin. If you need help or advice on quitting smoking, you can visit the NHS Stop Smoking site.
As with smoking, drinking too much alcohol can do serious damage to your skin. The reason for this is that alcohol dehydrates your body, leaving your skin looking older and more tired. Moderate your intake of alcohol and ensure you drink within the recommended limits. It's also a good idea to alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks like water and fruit juice, as this will help to keep your body hydrated.
We're bombarded with skincare brands and products, each promising to provide us with the magic solution for perfect skin. Unfortunately, most of these brands overstate the impact their products can have, and while they might not do you any harm physically, the higher-priced products can certainly make a dent in your wallet while giving you very little in return. Health experts advise sticking to a simple skincare routine, cleansing your face daily with a mild facial soap then applying a small amount of moisturiser – you can read more detailed skincare advice here.
While it is important to keep your skin clean you should also remember that washing your face too often or using harsh soaps and cleansers can strip away the natural oils that are designed to keep your skin healthy.
No one likes being told that they look tired, and we all know that the biggest giveaway of burning the candle at both ends is tired-looking skin. Dark shadows under the eyes and generally dull, lacklustre skin are both caused by a lack of sleep, and the reverse – glowing, youthful-looking skin – is the result of a good night's sleep. Experts advise that the average adult should get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, so try to get in the habit of sleeping for at least seven hours every night.