What you don't know -- or think you do know -- about your skin can sap its youthful luster. One particularly dangerous misconception: After a certain point, the damage is done -- and can't be erased. Here are a few of the top habits that can keep you from the radiant skin you want.
Taking tightness as a sign of clean. If your skin doesn't feel fresh and supple, you're probably washing with a cleanser that's too harsh. Daily cleansing banishes blemish-causing bacteria and removes radiance robbers such as makeup, oil, and dead cells. However, harsh detergents and overwashing can increase the appearance of fine lines and can often trigger breakouts, too, as oil production kicks into overdrive to compensate for a lack of moisture. Switch to a creamy cleanser with hydrators.
Growing out of sunscreen. Even by age 40, your skin has seen only about half its lifetime sun exposure. So don't put away the SPF -- there's still plenty of time to ward off sun-induced aging. Bonus: Protecting your skin on a daily basis allows it to repair itself from past assaults. Surprisingly, most of the damage isn't from baking on the beach -- it's the result of cumulative, incidental UV exposure from, say, a quick drive to the supermarket or a midday walk. Besides damaging skin directly, UV rays trigger free radicals, destructive molecules that act like little darts, poking holes in skin's support structure that lead to lines and sagging. To fully safeguard your skin, wear a separate sunscreen over your face cream.
Giving up too soon. Okay, so you try a new anti-aging product and get frustrated when you don’t see an instant turnaround. Your reaction isn’t unusual, but it's crucial to stick to a regimen long enough to see what works for your skin and what doesn't. Wait 8 to 10 weeks before you abandon a product and try the next thing. And keep in mind that not everyone's skin will respond the same way to an anti-ager. Most active ingredients do work on everyone -- just to varying degrees. In fact, most anti-aging lines contain the same ingredients -- scientifically proven anti-agers such as retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids, peptides, and antioxidants (like vitamin C and green tea). Your skin accepts any apologies, so make a promise to start treating it right today.