The hair, nails and skin are the body’s protection against damaging effects of harsh environmental elements – the sun’s ultraviolet rays, heat, cold, dirt, and abrasive surfaces. Together, they present your physical self to the world, which is why most of us want to keep them in good working order and healthy, vibrant appearance.

Here is a list of daily habits that will keep your skin, nails and hair glowing and prevent signs of premature aging, from the nation’s top dermatologists:

  1. Don’t smoke – It’s certainly bad for your insides, but it’s also terrible for your outsides. Smoking causes deep wrinkles around the mouth and dulls the appearance of skin. Studies suggest that tobacco smoke exposure decreases capillary and arteriolar blood flow, damaging connective tissues that help maintain healthy skin. There is also evidence that tobacco smoke is phototoxic: It becomes more toxic in the presence of ultraviolet light (UV), and causes more damage to skin cells than either smoke or UV would cause on their own.
  2. Wear sunscreen – Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen everyday on your face and exposed areas. It should have a Sun Protection Factor of at least 15 (30 for the face).  Anyone over the age of 6 months should use a sunscreen daily, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Even those who work inside are exposed to ultraviolet radiation for brief periods throughout the day, especially if they work near windows, which generally filter out UVB (the rays that cause sunburn) but not UVA rays.
  3. Eat a balanced diet rich in vitamins A, B, C, E, K and antioxidants – Colorful veggies and fruits are your skin’s best friends. They will give your skin a healthy glow, and help to strengthen hair and nails.
  4.  Do as little as possible to the hair – You may think that coloring, perming, hot-curling, etc., will improve your appearance, but in the long run it will lead to breakage and cause the hair to lose its natural luster.
  5.  Use soap sparingly – Many dermatologists advise avoiding soap unless you are a teenager or have excessively oily skin. The exception is for certain parts of the body – use a mild soap to clean face, underarms, and groin area. For the rest of your body, pure water will do the job.
  6. Avoid tanning – Whether it’s under the sun or a tanning lamp, this practice will expose the skin to harmful UV rays that can bring on premature aging, uneven complexion, age spots or even skin cancer.
  7. Use moisturizer and lip balm – They help to trap water in the skin and protect against drying, scaling and cracking. Wind, cold temperatures and heated houses in the winter can all dehydrate the skin, which can cause eczema to flare up and make the skin itchy and dry. Prevention of this dryness by moisturizing is the single most important factor in protecting the skin from the elements.
  8. Use skin products with care – Avoid any products that sting or burn unless directed by your dermatologist. Use as directed and avoid applying too much, which can clog pores. And test products, even those labeled hypoallergenic. Dab a small amount on your inner forearm and check for a reaction before applying to larger areas. Don’t use too many different products at once, especially the “anti-aging” remedies. This can irritate the skin.

What is your favorite anti-aging tip for the care of skin, hair and nails?

Dermatologists' Tips to Reduce the Signs of Aging, Science Daily
Dermatologists Share Their Secrets For Maintaining Healthy Skin, Hair And Nails, Science Daily
About Sunscreen, Skin Cancer Foundation
5 Myths and Truths About Moisturizers, Best Health