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Discover the new you: 10 great tips for healthy skin, hair and nails

4/15/2011, 3:44 p.m.

(ARA) - As we all look forward to spending more time outdoors, it's important to remember that the foundation of beauty is good health. Here are 10 tips to keep you healthy looking from head to toe - from dermatologists, the medical doctors who have extensive training, experience and passion for keeping skin, hair, and nails healthy throughout a person's lifetime.

Protect yourself from the sun. Help prevent signs of aging, such as age spots and fine lines, as well as significantly decrease your risk of developing skin cancer by using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing (a long-sleeved shirt, pants, wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses) and seeking shade when appropriate. Choose a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 and broad-spectrum protection (protects against ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays).

Do not use tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look like you've been in the sun, consider using a sunless self-tanning product (such as a lotion, foam or spray), but continue to use sunscreen with it.

Perform a skin self-exam. Examining your skin for suspicious moles and other lesions could save your life. Use the American Academy of Dermatology's body mole map, located at www.melanomamonday.org, to record your moles and learn how to perform a proper skin exam. If you find a suspicious lesion, make an appointment to see a dermatologist.

Don't skip the hair conditioner. Dermatologists recommend using a conditioner after every shampoo. While a conditioner cannot repair hair, it can increase shine, decrease static electricity, improve strength, and offer some protection from harmful UV rays.

Eat a healthy diet. A diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and other healthy foods can lead to healthier skin. Be sure to include some lean protein in your diet. Our skin is made of protein, so some protein is necessary for healthy skin.

If your skin feels dry, moisturize. After bathing is the best time to moisturize so that you can trap water in the skin. If your skin still feels dry with regular moisturizing after bathing, apply moisturizer a few times throughout the day.

Stop smoking. People who smoke expose their skin to toxins that accelerate the aging of their skin. And, the repeat puckering to inhale can cause deep lines around the lips. Frequent squinting to avoid getting smoke in one's eyes can cause noticeable crow's feet.

Manage stress. To keep your skin looking its best, it is important to effectively manage stress. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your skin, hair and nails. It can worsen many skin conditions, including psoriasis, acne and rosacea, cause brittle nails and ridging of the nails, and lead to hair loss.

Don't bite your fingernails. You can transfer infectious organisms between your fingers and mouth. Also, nail biting can damage the skin around your fingers, allowing infections to enter.

If you have acne, do not pick, pop or squeeze the blemishes. People mistakenly believe that picking and popping pimples will get rid of them quickly. The truth is doing any of these can irritate the skin, make acne worse, and increase the risk of scarring.

For more healthy skin, hair and nail tips, visit the American Academy of Dermatology's website at www.aad.org.