“Healthy skin is a result of being healthy. That includes a good diet. Junk food is really hard on the skin,” says esthetician Sienkiewicz. Sara Cowlan, M.S., R.D., a nutritionist and registered dietician in New York City, explains, “I believe there’s room in a healthful diet for any and all the foods you’re not allergic to, but too much junk food will not make anyone look or feel good! There may be chemicals and additives in junk food that create free radicals and inflammation that can damage our skin if we eat them in large quantities.”
Instead, the majority of your calories should come from whole foods, continues Cowlan. “Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that can help get rid of free radicals and decrease inflammation. In addition, make sure you take in Omega 3 fatty acids, which are not only heart healthy, but also keeps the outer layer of the skin intact and build collagen, which helps skin maintain elasticity and firmness. You might want to sip green tea, too, as it may help to protect against sun damage.”
Try it: Try to eat foods that are high in Vitamins A, C and E, as these antioxidants help skin to function optimally. Sweet potatoes, carrots and squash are all vitamin A heavyweights. Almonds, tomatoes, and peanut butter are good vitamin E choices. As for vitamin C, you’ll find the most in red peppers, kale, broccoli, and oranges. For Omega 3 fatty acids, try flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and salmon. Eating lean protein is also important since your body needs protein to produce collagen.
#7 Get a facial
“Ideally, everyone could have a facial once a month, says Sienkiewicz. “A good, professional facial is like a professional dental cleaning; it gets out dirt and oil that you just can’t get out by yourself,” she says. But if getting a regular facial doesn’t fit your budget and schedule, consider doing it at home. There are great recipes for homemade masks and scrubs online that use ingredients like oatmeal and honey, which soothe the skin; avocado or banana, which moisturize, and strawberries or blueberries, which have a fruit acid that exfoliates. “The basic rule is that if we can eat it, it’s safe for our skin,” Sienkiewicz says.
Try it: Click here for some great homemade mask recipes that can hydrate, brighten, and exfoliate your skin.“Making masks with grandkids can be fun, too! Just be careful,” Sienkiewicz cautions, “Remember that young skin tends to be more sensitive, so always patch test for sensitivity before you put a mask on a child.” Click here for some great grandkid-friendly beauty treatments. Of course, this is a good precaution for mature skin, too.
# 8 Exfoliate
Sloughing off dead skin cells with an exfoliating scrub or lotion once or twice a week can help rev up the skin cell turnover that makes for a glowing complexion.
Kathy Otzel shared an unusual skin hack that was recommended to her by a dermatologist. “I use an inexpensive cream that contains ammonium lactate. Usually, it’s recommended for rough skin on feet or elbows, but I’ve been using it on my face for more than two years and it makes my skin really soft” A lactate acid cream or lotion slowly exfoliates the skin, explains Dr. Dowd. “It might be too harsh for some people, and no one should ever use it on skin that’s chapped or irritated. But people with normal or oily skin will likely be fine using it.”
Retinol is another good ingredient to look for, especially for the skin around the eyes, suggest Dr. Dowd. It helps improve cell function and speeds up cell turnover. This means younger looking skin. Glycolic acid is another go-to ingredient. It loosens dead skin cells so they can be sloughed away to reveal the fresh skin beneath.
Try it. If you’re looking to try a retinol cream to get rid of fine lines, Dr. Dowd suggests RoC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Eye Cream. As for glycol acid, in low concentrations, it can safely be used every day by most women. But beware, cautions Sienkiewicz. “A low concentration of acid in a moisturizing cream is fine for most skins. But if you want to try a peel, go to a professional you know you can trust. Do-it-yourself glycolic acid kits can do a lot of damage—I’ve seen it time and time again.”
#9 Cover up
You may remember a time that ladies wore hats and gloves. Those ladies had the right idea. Putting a physical barrier between your skin and the elements is smart, whatever the season. Grandmother Jan Mohrman grew up near Austin, Minnesota and settled in Rochester, New York, where winter weather can sometimes be among the coldest in the country. “I walk almost every day, and I always protect my skin from the cold, to keep my skin from chapping or drying out,” she says.
Dr. Frew encourages her patients to use clothing to protect themselves from sun, too, since sun exposure can create wrinkles, as well as expose skin to harmful rays that can cause skin cancer. “Fabric designed to protect skin from the sun’s damaging rays is best, especially if you have fair skin,” she says. But even a regular long-sleeved shirt and a broad-brimmed hat will help. “Bottom line, if you’re going to be out between the hours of ten and two, you should cover up,” says Dr. Frew.
Try it: Always wear a hat if you’re going to be outside for long periods of time, and consider clothing that is made of UV-protection fabrics. Don’t forget sunglasses, too, which should be coated for UV protection.
#10 Get enough sleep
“Sleep is essential for good health overall,” Dr. Frew points out. “Your cells repair while you’re sleeping. This is the time your body uses to heal itself.” The problem is, most of us should be getting more sleep than we do. Marta Sienkiewicz puts it this way: “Sleep is a cure-all. If a client isn’t sleeping well, her skin will show it,” she says.
Try it: Sleep quality matters as as much as quantity. “You need deep sleep for your body to restore itself,” says Dr. Dowd. “Ideally, you should be getting six to eight hours of sleep a night. Hormonal changes that happen as we age, along with other factors, can affect how well we sleep. If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, talk to your doctor about possible solutions. Click here to learn about surprising factors that might be impacting your sleep.
#11 Have your skin checked
“Everyone should have a yearly skin check,” urges Dr. Frew, “and do a self-check once a month to look for anything unusual, like moles that bleed or have changed shape or color. If you see anything that concerns you, talk to your doctor. Also schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist once a year to check the pigment of your retinas, since they can also sustain sun damage.”
Try it: If you haven’t recently had your skin checked by a dermatologist, schedule an appointment today. Dr. Frew frequently participates in the SPOT me program that’s sponsored by the American Academy of Dermatology. “This program provides free skin cancer screenings. You can check the American Academy of Dermatology website to find the date and time of a screening in your area. If you don’t have a dermatologist of your own, this program can give you access to one,” she says.
#12 Boost your mood
Finally, we love the advice from Dawn Bartmess, a grandmother of two who lives in Colonial Beach, Virginia. “Probably the best thing I do for my skin is laugh with my grandbabies and cuddle them close. It makes me happy. And the happier you are, the better everything looks! Including your skin,” she says.
Emotions do have powerful effects on the skin. Worry and stress have been shown to alter hormone levels, and are linked to skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis. Stress also speeds up the aging process. “We don’t fully understand the mechanism yet,” says Dr. Dowd, “but we know stress causes rashes, hives—even hair loss. And it can definitely make you look older.”
Try it: Happiness and contentment can quite literally make skin radiant. You can’t bottle it or buy it, but love and laughter may be the best-kept beauty secrets of all. And that’s good news for grandmas, because most of them are naturals at both.
No one wants to look old. That’s probably why Americans spent over $2 billion on skincare products in 2013, and are projected to have spent the same in 2015. But even with all those lotions and serums and creams on the market, what actually workswhen trying to keep skin soft, smooth, and glowing? We asked grandmothers around the country for their best tried-and-true skin secrets. Read on for their real-life hacks, as well as some expert advice, to help you keep your skin looking its best, whatever your age.
Read more from Grandparents.com:
7 Easy Ways to Make Your Feet Look Better
6 Best Fixes for Yellow Teeth
6 Look-Younger Tips That Don’t Work