How to Get a Beautiful Complexion

Five Parts:Making Lifestyle ChangesWashing Your Skin EffectivelyExfoliating Your SkinUsing Anti-aging TreatmentsDealing with Blemishes

The skin is the largest organ in the human body.[1] During the course of the day, your skin encounters all kinds of irritants and damaging substances that can leave your skin looking dry, patchy, oily, or wrinkled. However, there are many steps you can take in order to keep your skin looking bright, even, and healthy. Your skin does a great job of protecting you from the world: now it is your job to protect your skin.

Part 1
Making Lifestyle Changes

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    Eat a balanced diet. Some studies indicate that a balanced, vitamin-rich diet that is low in processed carbohydrates, fats, and sugars can help promote a healthy complexion.[2] Avoid crash or fad diets.[3] Stay away from sugary drinks or junk foods. Instead look for foods that are rich in fiber, water content, protein, healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamins. These foods are essential to overall health as well as skin health.[4] Such foods include:
    • Almonds
    • Avocadoes
    • Berries
    • Dark, leafy greens
    • Fish
    • Tomatoes
    • Broccoli
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    Stay hydrated. Dehydration can make your skin look and feel dry and saggy. Be sure that you drink at least 8 glasses of water each day. Steer clear of drinking too much alcohol or caffeine: these can dehydrate you and your skin.[5]
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    Sleep on your back. Sleeping on your side or stomach can lead to the development of lines and wrinkles over time. If you sleep on your back, you will avoid putting consistent pressure on your face, minimizing skin damage over the long term.[6]
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    Use sunscreen daily. Sun damage and sunburn is bad for your health and for your complexion. Always wear sunscreen, even if you are not planning on being outdoors for long. Look for an SPF 15 sunscreen or higher. Reapply as necessary throughout the day.[7] Use at least 1 oz. of sunscreen, and don't forget your feet, hands, and ears. Take special care to apply sunscreen when you are near water or other substances that reflect the sun such as snow or sand.
    • If your skin is prone to acne or blemishes, look for a noncomedogenic (or non-oil based) sunscreen to minimize the clogging of your pores.[8]
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    Avoid peak sun times. The sun is at its strongest and most damaging between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Take care not to be exposed to the sun during these times. If you must be outside, make sure you are wearing sunscreen, protective clothing (such as a hat and sunglasses), and stick to the shade as much as possible.[9]
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    Get a good night's sleep. Beauty rest is not a myth: it is a fact.[10] The more you sleep, the more your skin will be able to repair itself and look more youthful. Sleeplessness can cause your skin to appear patchy, baggy, or uneven in skin tone. Be sure that you get at least 8 hours of sleep each night to ensure that your skin looks youthful and rejuvenated.
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    Exercise regularly. It has been known for a long time that regular exercise can help improve overall appearance by increasing muscle tone, which makes your skin seem more elastic and youthful. However, recent studies show that exercise might also make your skin healthier and younger.[11] Exercise also increases blood flow to your skin, which helps nutrients reach your skin cells. Be sure that you engage in at least 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 times per week. Try running, biking, or swimming.
    • If you choose to exercise outdoors, be sure that you are protecting your skin from the sun.[12]
    • Wear athletic clothing that wicks moisture to prevent skin irritation, rashes, or blemishes.[13]
    • Wash your athletic clothing and towels after each use to prevent skin conditions common to athletes such as athlete's foot, fungus, or infection.[14]
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    Quit smoking. Smoking makes your skin less elastic, leading to more wrinkles. Smoking also harms your blood vessels, meaning your skin is deprived of key nutrients it needs to repair itself. Many smokers also get unsightly wrinkles around their mouths from where they purse their lips. Quit smoking in order to allow your skin to repair itself, and to encourage your complexion to be as youthful and healthy as possible.[15]
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    Relax. Stress can lead to acne breakouts, sleeplessness, and other skin-damaging behaviors. Minimize stress in your life in order the minimize stress on your complexion.[16] Try deep breathing techniques, meditation, or visualization exercises to keep yourself calm. Exercise is another great way to keep yourself relaxed.

Part 2
Washing Your Skin Effectively

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    Wash your face twice a day. Wash your face every morning and every evening before bed to keep your skin clean and healthy. You should also wash your face after exercise or excessive sweating. Do not wash your face more than that, since that can strip your face of key oils and damage healthy skin cells.[17] Be sure that you use warm or lukewarm water when you wash: hot water can dry out and damage your skin.[18] Only use your hands and fingers to wash: do not use scratchy cloths, loofahs, or sponges.[19]
    • If you wear makeup, it is essential that you remove all products before bed. Leaving makeup on overnight can clog your pores and encourage the spread of unhealthy bacteria on your face.[20]
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    Use mild products for washing. Harsh cleansers and perfumes might dry out your skin. These products are also more likely to irritate sensitive skins.[21] Avoid products with alcohol in them, since that is a drying agent. And if you have oily skin, look for products that are noncomedogenic (or water-based instead of oil-based). Look for unscented products that are suitable for sensitive skins.
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    Dry your skin with a patting motion. Do not rub your skin after washing. Patting or blotting yourself dry will help keep your skin moisturized and healthy. Use soft towels--not harsh or scratchy cloths--to dry yourself.[22]
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    Moisturize after washing. It might seem counterintuitive, but moisturizing is necessary in order to prevent skin blemishes and conditions. When your skin is too dry, it actually increases your skin's oil production. By keeping your skin properly moisturized, you avoid the overproduction of oils that cause blemishes.[23] A moisturizer can also help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, though a moisturizer cannot prevent these lines from occurring.[24]
    • Look for a noncomedogenic moisturizer if you are prone to oily skin.[25]
    • By purchasing a moisturizer with SPF 15 or higher, you can kill two birds with one stone.[26]
    • Moisturizer is most effective when used on damp skin, fresh from washing or showering.[27]

Part 3
Exfoliating Your Skin

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    Determine whether you should exfoliate your skin. Many skin types benefit from exfoliating creams and scrubs. When you exfoliate, you are removing dead skin cells that clog pores and cause blemishes. Exfoliating can make your skin look and feel softer, younger, and healthier.[28] However, exfoliating can also be harsh on those with sensitive or dry skin, and exfoliation is harmful to those with acne. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist to determine whether exfoliation might help or harm your skin.[29]
    • Other conditions that can be exacerbated by exfoliation include rosacea and eczema. If you have these conditions, talk to a dermatologist about your skin care options.
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    Purchase an exfoliating scrub. Facial scrubs that exfoliate often have microbeads or small pieces of fruit pit or nut shell that can reach into your pores to clear out dead skin cells and oils. There are different kinds of exfoliating scrub for different skin types.[30]
    • In general, scrubs made with plastic microbeads are better for those with sensitive or dry skin. Scrubs made with fruit pit or nut shell are better for those with very oily skin that is not sensitive.[31]
    • Most people are better off using exfoliating scrubs that have a low acid concentration. Read the labels of all the products you buy, and ensure that the concentration of salicylic acid are lower than 2% and that the concentration of glycolic acid is less than 10%.[32]
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    Wash your face with an exfoliating scrub. Using warm--not hot--water, gently wet your face. Then apply the exfoliating scrub with your fingers and gently rub your skin for 60 seconds or so. Then rinse your face completely. Resist the temptation to over-scrub or to leave the scrub on your skin for more than a minute or so: a gentle touch is necessary to get the maximum benefit from an exfoliating scrub.
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    Exfoliate 1-2 times per week. Regular exfoliation will keep your dead skin cells from mixing with oil and dirt and clogging your pores.[33] However, over-scrubbing and exfoliating too often can dry out and harm your skin, leading to even more blemishes and clogged pores. Be sure that you limit your exfoliation to just 1-2 times per week to ensure that you benefit from exfoliation without harming your complexion.[34]

Part 4
Using Anti-aging Treatments

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    Set reasonable expectations. Many anti-aging treatments can work to minimize the appearance of wrinkles or age spots. However, there is no miracle cure for aging, and most anti-aging treatments are only temporary, cosmetic fixes.[35] Still, if you wish to have skin that looks more youthful, there are many products and treatments on the market that may give you a fresher, less wrinkled appearance.[36]
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    Purchase over-the-counter anti-aging creams. Because anti-aging creams are considered to be cosmetics and not medicine, they have not been as thoroughly tested as most prescription products. However, there are certain ingredients that can promote a more youthful complexion.[37] Be on the lookout for products that contain:[38]
    • Retinol
    • Vitamin C
    • Niacinamide
    • Coenzyme Q10
    • Hydroxy Acids
    • Anti-inflammatories such as tea extracts and grape seed extract
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    Steer clear of ingredients that clog pores or dry out skin. Many anti-aging treatments include petroleum jelly or sulfates. While these ingredients might have a small effect on the appearance of wrinkles, they also can lead to blemishes or dried-out skin. Avoid these ingredients if you want to benefit fully from an anti-aging cream.[39]

Part 5
Dealing with Blemishes

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    Leave pimples alone. Do not pick at them.[40] Picking at a pimple can lead to infection, scarring, or the spread of pimple-causing bacteria.[41] If you want a beautiful complexion, you have to be willing to let your pimples clear up over time.
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    Wash affected areas twice a day. Using warm water and a gentle cleanser, wash any acne-prone areas every morning and evening.[42] Resist the urge to use hot water or to scrub harshly: a gentle touch is needed in order to see an improvement.
    • Shampooing every day or keeping your hair tied back can also help reduce the amount of oil that spreads from your hair to your face.[43]
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    Stay away from grease. Certain environments and professions that involve exposure to grease might exacerbate blemishes. If you are worried about blemishes or have blemish-prone skin, you might want to steer clear of jobs where you would work with grease, such as working in fast food.[44]
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    Keep your skin clear of objects. Items such as hats, stuffy clothing, headbands, and phones can make your skin produce more oil and can also spread acne-causing bacteria.[45] Try to keep any blemish-prone skin areas clear of objects that might spread oil and bacteria. Wear breathable, loose fabrics to help avoid clogged pores on your body.
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    Do not exfoliate acne-prone skin. It might be tempting to exfoliate skin that is particularly prone to blemishes. However, you must resist the urge to use harsh exfoliating treatments on this delicate skin. You risk damaging your skin, and exfoliating treatments will not improve the acne.
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    Purchase over-the-counter skin products with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. These are the most common ingredients in over-the-counter anti-acne topical treatments.[46] They will help reduce the amount of oil on your skin and will help prevent acne outbreaks. Follow the instructions carefully, and be on the lookout for possible allergic reactions to these products. However, it is normal to experience some initial redness or peeling in the first month of use.
    • Be aware that many over-the-counter topical treatments will make your skin even more susceptible to UV damage from the sun. Take especial care while using these medications that you use sunscreens and wear UV protective clothing.[47]
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    Make an appointment with a dermatologist. A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in the skin. If home remedies and over-the-counter treatments are not improving your skin condition after a month or two, a dermatologist might be able to provide some specialized advice on how to deal with blemishes properly.
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    Get a prescription for topical treatments. Your dermatologist might recommend that you use stronger topical treatments than are available over-the-counter. Many of these prescription products to treat acne include retinoids (which prevent your pores from clogging), antibiotics (which kill blemish-causing bacteria on the skin), and oil-clearing agents.[48] Be sure that you follow your doctor's instructions carefully, since some of these medications might cause side effects or allergic reactions.
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    Get a prescription for oral medications. There are other prescription medications available that can help prevent pimples. Many women report that oral antibiotics improve the quality of their skin. Oral antibiotics are another option to help keep the skin clear of acne-causing bacteria. In very severe cases, your dermatologist might also recommend harsher oral medications such as anti-androgen agents or isotretinoin--however, these medicines have much more severe side effects and should not be used casually.[49]
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    Talk to your doctor about dermatological therapies. If you are still experiencing unwanted blemishes after making lifestyle adjustments and using a variety of topical and oral treatments, there are a few other kinds of therapies that might help improve your complexion. Talk to your dermatologist about whether these might be a good fit for you. They often have side effects, and they might be more costly than other options. They also require a significant time investment, since most therapies must be done in the doctor's office.[50] Such therapies include:
    • Light therapy
    • Chemical peels
    • Steroid injections
    • Extraction of blemishes
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  • Try lifestyle changes and home remedies for a month or two. If you do not get desired results, make an appointment to see a dermatologist for more specialized skin care.
  • Take care of yourself to take care of your skin: emphasize overall health by getting a good night's sleep, relaxing, exercising, eating right, and drinking plenty of water.
  • Remember that everyone comes across unwanted skin conditions at one time or another, including dry skin, oily skin, or pimples. Do not beat up on yourself when problems with your complexion arise.
  • Keep in mind that there are no miracle cures for skin conditions. Maintain a healthy skin care routine, be patient, and let the positive results appear over time.


  • Remember that there are many skin conditions that require medical care. Cancers, allergies, eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea all require a visit to your doctor.
  • If you notice a mole begin to grow, change color, hurt, or spread asymmetrically, you should get a mole check immediately. This might be a sign of skin cancer.
  • If you use topical skin treatments, you might develop an increased sensitivity to the sun. Be extra careful to protect your skin while you use over-the-counter treatments.
  • Discontinue use of any product if you develop a rash or other allergic reaction. Talk to your doctor about finding a product that will not inflame your skin.

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Categories: Skin Care