Don't have time for intensive skin care? You can
still pamper yourself by acing the basics. Good
skin care and healthy lifestyle choices can help
delay natural aging and prevent various skin
problems. Get started with these five no-nonsense
tips.

1. Protect yourself from the sun
One of the most important ways to take care of
your skin is to protect it from the sun. A lifetime of
sun exposure can cause wrinkles, age spots and
other skin problems — as well as increase the risk
of skin cancer.

For the most complete sun protection:
Use sunscreen. Use a broad-spectrum
sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply
sunscreen generously, and reapply every two
hours — or more often if you're swimming or
perspiring.

Seek shade. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m.
and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest.
Wear protective clothing. Cover your skin with
tightly woven long-sleeved shirts, long pants
and wide-brimmed hats. 

Also consider laundry
additives, which give clothing an additional
layer of ultraviolet protection for a certain
number of washings, or special sun-protective
clothing — which is specifically designed to
block ultraviolet rays.

2. Don't smoke
Smoking makes your skin look older and
contributes to wrinkles. Smoking narrows the tiny
blood vessels in the outermost layers of skin,
which decreases blood flow and makes skin paler.
This also depletes the skin of oxygen and nutrients
that are important to skin health.

Smoking also damages collagen and elastin — the
fibers that give your skin strength and elasticity. In
addition, the repetitive facial expressions you make
when smoking — such as pursing your lips when
inhaling and squinting your eyes to keep out
smoke — can contribute to wrinkles.

In addition, smoking increases your risk of
squamous cell skin cancer. If you smoke, the best
way to protect your skin is to quit. 

Ask your doctor
for tips or treatments to help you stop smoking.
3. Treat your skin gently
Daily cleansing and shaving can take a toll on your
skin. To keep it gentle
Limit bath time. Hot water and long showers
or baths remove oils from your skin. Limit
your bath or shower time, and use warm —
rather than hot — water.

Avoid strong soaps. Strong soaps and
detergents can strip oil from your skin.
Instead, choose mild cleansers.

Shave carefully. To protect and lubricate your
skin, apply shaving cream, lotion or gel before
shaving. For the closest shave, use a clean,
sharp razor. Shave in the direction the hair
grows, not against it.

Pat dry. After washing or bathing, gently pat or
blot your skin dry with a towel so that some
moisture remains on your skin.

Moisturize dry skin. If your skin is dry, use a
moisturizer that fits your skin type. For daily
use, consider a moisturizer that contains SPF.
4. Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet can help you look and feel your
best. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains
and lean proteins. The association between diet
and acne isn't clear — but some research suggests
that a diet rich in fish oil or fish oil supplements
and low in unhealthy fats and processed or refined
carbohydrates might promote younger looking skin.
Drinking plenty of water helps keep your skin
hydrated.

5. Manage stress
Uncontrolled stress can make your skin more
sensitive and trigger acne breakouts and other skin
problems. To encourage healthy skin — and a
healthy state of mind — take steps to manage your
stress. Get enough sleep, set reasonable limits,
scale back your to-do list and make time to do the
things you enjoy. The results might be more
dramatic than you expect.