I hate to admit it, but for 20 years I had battled with adult acne. I tried every product, every remedy I could think of with mostly disappointing results. I have learned a lot in the process of rejuvenating my skin, which is the largest organ in your body, weighing as much as eight pounds and covering an area of two square meters. Given that it’s also the most visible part of you, ensuring that it remains as youthful as possible is a fantastic investment for your future health.

In a previous article, I looked at ways to keep your skin looking young during winter. This time, I want to examine five further ways to keep this all-important organ in tip-top shape!

1. Look into Retinoid Treatments

I am TOTALLY into retinoids and have figured out a way for my whole body and face can take advantage of it. Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives that increase the production of fresh collagen, smooth out skin pigmentation and reduce wrinkles. I recently met with Dr. Rosalind Hudson from the Aesthetics Center of Marin who confirmed the amazing influence retinoids have on DNA repair. They first appeared in 1971 as a means of fighting acne, but their numerous benefits quickly made them a staple in dermatologists’ offices. I remember using retinoids for my acne, only to have my mom steal my prescriptions! What she knew was that this was was going to preserve the youth of her skin.

Retinoids aren’t a panacea for every skin condition and don’t treat every symptom of aging. Their effect also takes a while to set in – as long as three months on average. However, they’re relatively safe and simple to use and have very clear effects once they finally start working. A retinoid cream applied just once a day, can visibly reverse the signs of aging on your face over that three month period.

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2. Remove Makeup Before you go to bed

After coming home from a stressful day, the long and boring process of removing makeup can feel like an unnecessary chore. However, leaving your makeup on overnight can result in a dry, moisture-robbed face, deeper wrinkles, clogged pores and reddening that will all contribute to a terribly aged look. Remember to make it a point to wash your makeup off before going to sleep, no matter how tired you feel. You can also opt to use micellar water to remove your makeup quickly without having to use the bathroom, or you can hit two birds with one stone through a moisturizing cleanser that will both take your makeup off and restore moisture lost to the day.

3. Always Exfoliate

Your skin will regenerate itself completely every 27 days. In between regeneration cycles, skin can take on an aged, lackluster look as dead skin cells accumulate. The best way to keep your skin looking healthy and fresh is by exfoliating regularly. This allows you to remove the blemished and damaged dry skin, and stops oil from clogging pores. Keep up this exfoliation habit and you’ll always have smooth, youthful skin.

4. Maintain a Skin Friendly diet

It’s not just what you put on your face, but also what you put in your body that determines how well your skin will age. Foods like sugar and trans fats contribute to chronic inflammation, which accelerates the aging of your skin, and may result in early wrinkles. Cut these out of your diet to slow down the aging process. For me, it was sugar that was most difficult to give up. I had to slowly wean myself off the stuff. If you can go cold turkey, go for it! If not, gradually reduce the amount of sugar you get in your diet such as adding one teaspoon of sugar instead of two in your coffee until you can drink it without sugar at all.

A diet that promotes youthful skin will be heavy in antioxidants, which help prevent your cells from breaking down. Examples of antioxidant-rich foods include fruits and vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, carrots and blueberries. If you know me or follow me on Instagram, you will always see me enjoying salads and vegetables that include all the colors of the rainbow. It’s not only fun to look at, but seriously tasty to eat! You should also load up on citrus fruits like lemons and oranges that are heavy in vitamin C, which can improve your skin’s appearance through induced collagen formation. Other great nutrients that can suppress the aging process include vitamins A, E and D3.

5. Stop Popping Pimples

I admit, I am the first one tempted to pop those zits! Now that I am older and wiser, I try my best to resist. Pimple popping seems satisfying in the short-term – that ugly zit won’t be bothering you anymore, right? Instead, what really happens when you pop a pimple is that you’re allowing the dirt and bacteria inside to spread out and land on other pores! It may be gone now, but chances are it will multiply and return in the form of even more pimples. Popping pimples can lead to scars, and as you push the toxic contents of a pimple ever deeper, further infection of the pore can occur.

Rather than pop pimples, keep anti-acne cream at the ready whenever the need arises. You can try to suppress the pimple popping urge by having a stress ball handy. Resist the urge!