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Five habits to embrace for beautiful, healthy skin

November is National Healthy Skin Month. You may not realize it, but your skin reveals a lot about your overall health and can alert you to a health problem. Skin is the first layer of defense against the outside world and can signal issues from dehydration to cancer.

Here are some habits to adopt this November to keep your skin healthy and looking its best:


Sunscreen is one of the single most important things you can do for your skin. When applied correctly, sunscreen protects your skin against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, which cause sunburn, skin cancer and premature signs of aging like wrinkles and age spots.

For the best protection, apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all skin not covered by clothing, and reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating. Keep in mind that because no sunscreen can block 100 percent of the sun’s UV rays, it’s also important to seek shade and wear sun-protective clothing when outdoors, including a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection.

TIP: Use a daily facial moisturizing lotion with sunscreen on your face, upper chest and the backs of your hands anytime you are outside to protect your skin, even on cloudy days.


Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., affecting one in five Americans in their lifetime. Further, nearly 20 Americans die from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, daily. However, when detected early, skin cancer, including melanoma, is highly treatable. It is important to check your skin regularly for new spots, spots that are different from others on your body or moles that itch, bleed or change color, as these are often early warning signs of skin cancer. If you notice any suspicious spots, make an appointment to see a dermatologist.


Don’t underestimate the importance of a skin care routine. When you’re establishing a skin care routine, you must take your skin type and lifestyle into account. The best skin care routine includes a gentle cleanser, toner, moisturizer, sunscreen, exfoliant and serum. Understanding your skin type will help you learn how to care for your skin and select products that are right for you.


Whether you have dry, oily or combination skin, moisturizer is an excellent product to incorporate into your daily skin care routine. Moisturizer can help keep your skin hydrated, promote faster cell turnover and reduce the symptoms of inflammation. As we age, the oil glands that keep skin healthy begin to lose their power and create fewer oils. Moisturizing daily causes the glands to not have to work as hard to keep your skin healthy throughout your life. Putting a moisturizing product on your face and body (when needed) is a cornerstone of proper skin care.

TIP: Choosing an oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizer is a must for people with acne-prone, oily skin.


Whether we’re inside or outside, we expose our bodies to many pollutants every day. A comprehensive review of these pollutants shows that organic compounds, heavy metals, gaseous pollutants and components from the ozone layer directly impact the function of our skin barrier. These pollutants can worsen skin conditions such as aging, acne, hair loss, inflammatory diseases like eczema or psoriasis and even skin cancers. Make sure you wash your skin daily with a gentle cleanser and exfoliate a few times a week. In addition, using an antioxidant-based serum every day to protect against everyday aggressors from the environment is a great way to protect your skin.

During National Healthy Skin Month, and always, it’s important to take good care of your skin so your skin can keep taking good care of you.

Written by Dr. Dawn M. Hansen

Dr. Dawn M. Hansen, FACP, is a board-certified internal medicine specialist with Dermatology Specialists of Mississippi and has 25-plus years of dermatology experience. Reach her at (228) 207-5140.

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