Clear, radiant skin is often one of the most enviable and illusive beauty traits for women. From acne to wrinkles to discoloration, a number of problems can plague skin and leave women feeling self-conscious and discouraged. However, making small changes to your daily beauty and lifestyle routines can markedly improve your skin’s appearance. Though “flawless” is a standard of perfection that can’t be promised and certainly can’t be achieved in a week, putting extra time, thought and effort into the health of your skin can help you see changes for the better over time.


Protect Your Skin

The best and most important thing you can do for your skin is use sunscreen. Even on days when you aren’t hitting the beach, slathering the skin on your face, neck, chest, arms and any other exposed area with at least SPF 30 is a must. Sunscreen not only prevents you from burning; it keeps your skin looking young by protecting it from sun damage and age spots. Many facial and body moisturizers now contain SPF, so you don’t even need to add an extra step to your skin care routine. However, remember that most sunscreens only last about two hours, so you’ll need to reapply periodically throughout the day. Carry a travel-sized sunscreen bottle in your purse so you’ll always be prepared.

Find the Right Skin Care Regimen

Not every product type will work for everyone’s skin, so you need to find the skin care regimen that works best for your skin. For example, exfoliators may be an effective way for some people to reduce blackheads and soften the skin, but for others they may irritate or chafe skin. Similarly, toner may restore the pH of certain people’s skin, but for others it may simply dry skin out.

No matter what your skin type, use a moisturizer to lock in moisture after showering or washing your face. If you have oily skin, find a lightweight moisturizer. If you have dry skin, you can use a heavy-duty lotion, or even petroleum jelly or cocoa butter for non-facial moisturizing.

Finally, unless you have extremely oily skin, you probably only need to wash your skin once a day. Washing with the correct type of cleanser for your skin type at night is usually sufficient.

Use Makeup Responsibly

Makeup is a good way to fake having flawless skin, but can also be a good way to keep yourself from actually having it. Caking on heavy foundations and powders can clog pores and irritate skin, so it’s important to find a brand and product that works for you. In general, try to use the lightest amount of foundation and powder possible to achieve the coverage you want.

Always test a makeup product on the underside of your forearm before applying it to your face to see if your skin has a reaction. If you develop a rash or acne from a certain product, stop using it and find another one that works for you. Also, clean your makeup brushes using soap or dish detergent about once every two weeks, or whenever the brush has cakey, visible makeup residue. Finally, make sure you take off your makeup every single night before bed — no excuses.

Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Your lifestyle choices, whether good or bad, are written all over your skin, so it’s important to make healthy choices each day. The most obvious skincare no-no is smoking, which causes wrinkles, discoloration and other premature signs of aging. Sleeping is another big one, as not sleeping enough can lower circulation and make your skin look dull and washed out. Get a solid eight hours a night for a fresh-faced glow.

Diet can also have a huge impact on skin’s overall health and appearance. Eating a lot of fat or carbohydrates can cause wrinkles, while foods like nuts with high-quality oils and omega-3 fatty acids can rejuvenate and restore skin, reports the article “30 Beauty Tips: Get Rid of Acne for Smooth Skin” on the Women’s Health Magazine website. Foods rich in zinc, antioxidants and vitamin C also increase the health and look of your skin. Drinking eight glasses of water per day is also key, as it increases skin’s elasticity and carries nutrients to the skin.