Get Clear, Healthy Skin: 11 Secrets Your Skin Wants to Tell You

These tips for showering, moisturizing, and even eating will help you get the complexion you want.

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Don’t rub your eyes

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I’m thinnest here. At only about 0.05 mm thick—half the thickness of computer paper—I get tiny tears in capillaries from all that manhandling, making me look discolored and older. Give these skin care tips that dermatologists use a try.

Try not to scratch!

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During cooler months, the dry air sucks moisture out through my top layer, which makes me irritated. Literally. Dryness triggers an inflammatory response: Immune cells as well as pro-inflammatory proteins and other enzymes go wild, activating itch receptors that send signals to your brain. I know it feels good for a second—scratching may engage pleasure and reward centers in the brain. But if you keep at it, I’ll get even more inflamed, which will cause those itch receptors to refire. And a vicious circle continues. All. Winter. Long. These are surprising signs of disease that your skin can reveal.

Take shorter showers

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Especially in winter. Long, hot showers strip away my natural oils, as do soapy cleansers. Avoid these other showering mistakes as well.

Don’t wash your face in the morning

iStock/Drazen Lovric

If I could make a PSA for this, I would: Ladies, you don’t need to wash your face twice a day (especially if you have dry skin). One cleansing at night gets rid of the debris that can clog my pores and contribute to acne. Scrubbing again in the morning may remove too much oil.

Make sure your moisturizer has ceramides

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These lipids occur naturally in my top layer, but this time of year, I welcome an extra dose. They trap water molecules to help me stay smooth and dewy.

I’m a huge part of your immune system

iStock/Djura Topalov

Did you know I’m your first line of defense against germs? All three of my layers—my outer epidermis, thickest middle dermis, and bottom fatty layer—protect against invading bacteria, fungi, and other undesirables. That’s why moisturizing is so key. If my outer layer gets too dry, tiny cracks can develop, which leaves me looking scaly—and you more prone to skin infections and inflammation.

Love thick, wooly sweaters? Layer up

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Wool is a little abrasive. It can even trigger a rash if I’m feeling particularly sensitive.

Wear SPF. All year round. Please.

iStock/Nicolas McComber

Even applying a face powder with SPF would be better than nothing. Maybe you don’t realize that as long as it’s daylight, those ultraviolet rays are around, regardless of the weather. In winter, there can be up to twice as many UVA rays as UVB. These penetrate deep into me and contribute to cancer and most of the problems you see in your skin: the wrinkles that make you cringe, the dark spots on your hands, and the saggy neck you hate in photos. It makes me, well, crawl when you don’t use sunscreen religiously.

Salmon makes me smile

iStock/sangfoto

The fish is packed with omega-3s, which can help replenish my natural oils as well as fight inflammation. Even better? Add broccoli. It has loads of vitamin C, which my cells require to make collagen, a protein that makes me firm and supple.

Sugar doesn't

iStock/YelenaYemchuk

You know it’s not good for your waist or teeth, but it also takes a toll on my complexion. Sugar molecules bind to my proteins, which compromises the fibers that keep me taut. (Translation: wrinkles.)

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