Health Watch -- Younger Skin

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

There are all sorts of creams and potions available to make your skin look younger, but there's one nearly surefire trick for keeping your skin young-looking.

When you're shopping for skincare products, be sure to stop by the sunblock aisle. That's where dermatologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say you'll find one of the most effective anti-wrinkle treatments. Much of the skin's aging is caused by sun damage, when the sun's ultraviolet radiation damages the collagen that supports the skin. Wrinkles are the result.

If you start protecting your skin from the sun when you're young, you're likely to stay younger-looking for a longer time. If your skin is already sun-damaged, you can prevent further damage with sunblock.

Your skin is damaged by the sun whenever you're exposed to it, not just when you're at the beach or pool. It's best to make a habit out of putting on sunblock whenever you go outdoors. All the bits of sun you get when walking to your car, when sun comes through your car window or when you walk in and out of stores really do add up. Of course, when you'll be exposed to the sun for a long stretch of time, like at the beach, you need to take extra precautions, such as wearing a hat and reapplying sunblock frequently.

But doesn't a tan make you look young and healthy? It might, for a while, but you'll pay for that down the line when you don't look so young. Tanning beds aren't really a safe alternative. If you feel you must be tan to look good, use a self-tanner -- and then put on sunblock.