Healthy Habits for Naturally Beautiful Skin

It's easy to look at someone with great skin and think it must be good genes that keeps her skin looking so healthy and youthful. The truth is, like much else in life, great skin is a product of consistent work and making good choices regarding your skincare and lifestyle.

These 10 tips will show you what it truly takes to have and maintain great skin.

1. They Work to Stay Stress-Free

While you can't always avoid stressful situations, if you want to keep the wrinkles at bay, being as stress-free as possible is a must. Stress causes cortisol levels to increase. Cortisol, the stress hormone, degrades collagen; wrinkles occur because of "a weakening and lessening of collagen and elastin fibers in the skin's dermis." The more prolonged stress you have, the more likely you are to cause your skin to wrinkle. If stress is a big issue for you, try some of these 20 scientifically proven ways to de-stress.

2. They Eat a Healthy Diet

All that sugar is not just bad for your waistline. Too much sugar in your diet can also damage your skin. The damage is caused by a process called glycation "in which the sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins to form harmful new molecules called advanced glycation end products (or, appropriately, AGEs for short)." The more sugar you eat, the more AGEs form and, similar to cortisol, they weaken and damage the collagen and elastin fibers that keep your skin firm. So, if you haven't already, it's time to rethink that sweet tooth and add more healthy snacks to your diet.

3. They Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking plenty of water won't reverse wrinkles or skin damage. However, keeping your skin properly hydrated gives the appearance of plumper, firmer skin and helps to decrease the appearance of wrinkles and other blemishes. It's recommended that you drink eight to 10 eight-ounce glasses of water a day to keep the water-related benefits flowing.

4. They Exercise Regularly

Weight loss and stress relief aren't the only reasons you should exercise regularly. Recent research has shown that exercise may not only contribute to keeping skin healthy, but also in reversing the aging process altogether. Ontario Researchers at McMaster University discovered that older people who previously rarely exercised saw a huge reversal in their skin's aging when they begin a regular exercise routine. According to lead researcher Mark Tarnopolsky, their skin looked like that of a much younger person when viewed under the microscope, with exercise being the only thing they had done differently. Try getting the recommended 30 minutes of exercise five days a week to keep your skin looking as healthy and fresh as possible.

5. They Get Plenty of Sleep

Turns out beauty sleep is an actual thing. It's hard to keep a beautiful, youthful appearance when you're sleep deprived. Those dark circles that appear under your eyes when you haven't had the necessary seven hours of sleep are known as periorbital hyperpigmentation, or "raccoon eyes." A lack of sleep is a major contributor to their existence. Also, a Swedish study from 2010 showed that participants who got eight hours of sleep were rated as being more attractive than those who hadn't gotten enough sleep.

6. They Wash Their Makeup Brushes

Simply cleaning your face every night goes a long way to keeping your skin healthy and clear. Dirt, debris and other pollutants can weaken and infect your skin. It is equally important to clean your makeup brushes, as they can also cause infection and clog your pores. Here's a simple cleaning routine and method you can use to keep your brushes fresh and ready to use.

7. They Moisturize Regularly

Keeping your skin hydrated is important to keeping your skin healthy. Moisturizers lock in moisture, preventing your skin from drying out in the heat, cold or wind. When it comes to choosing a moisturizer, make sure you understand your skin type. What kind of moisturizer you need if you have oily skin is very different from what someone would need if they have dry skin. Choosing the wrong moisturizer can cause unwanted and potentially irreparable damage to your skin. If you are unsure of your skin type, here are some tips to help you figure it out and determine the best type of moisturizers to use.

8. They Wear Sunscreen 365 Days of the Year

While it can be likened to beating a dead horse, one can't overstate the importance of using sunscreen regularly and liberally all year long. Sun exposure causes horrible damage to the skin and is the leading cause of most skin cancers. It is recommended that you use a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 year round. And if you use one that has a built-in moisturizer, you can kill two birds with one stone.

9. They Don't Smoke

Similar to sun exposure, knowing that smoking can severely damage the skin is old news; however, it bears repeating for those who are still finding it difficult to quit. Smoking speeds up the normal aging process. The nicotine in cigarettes causes the blood vessels in your skin to narrow. This narrowing impairs blood flow, causing your skin to be deprived of oxygen and other important nutrients, leading to dry skin and wrinkles. If you're still struggling with smoking, here are some resources to help you quit.

10. They Treat Their Skin Gently

You don't have to scrub your face hard to keep it clean. Too many products, excessive exfoliating and keeping your hands on your face can lead to infection, clogged pores and inflammation. While exfoliating is important, keep it to once a week so you don't overwork your skin. Try these exfoliating techniques to get all of the amazing benefits of exfoliating, while still being gentle with your skin.