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You'll need more than cosmetics for great-looking skin and a lovely appearance. You'll need to understand the health and beauty connection.

Beauty truly does radiate from within. A healthy, vibrant woman defies age. As a testimony and reflection of our self-esteem, inner beauty and vibrancy, true beauty is the result of inner vitality, balance, health and happiness—not vanity.

Optimal nutrition, stress-relieving exercise and a positive frame of mind are requirements you must tote along on your continued journey toward complete balance. A balanced body and a beautiful spirit are better than the very best cosmetic application or surgery.

With proper nutrition, rest, relaxation and exercise, you can keep your body balanced, healthy and youthful throughout your entire life. Your skin can be wrinkle-free and elastic, your eyes can sparkle, your complexion can be smooth, and your face can be firm and tight.

When it comes to aging, there are two choices: you either embrace it, or you try to erase it with cosmetic procedures. However, you can begin feeling and looking better—and younger—if you're willing to make simple lifestyle changes and adjust your health and beauty regimen.

Skin Sins 

Your appearance will start changing for the better soon after you begin eliminating these harmful habits that are taking a toll on your skin and overall well-being:

Sun exposure. Nothing ages you faster and is more damaging to your skin than sun exposure. However, you can prevent sun damage by wearing sunscreen whenever you leave the house.

You should wear at least SPF-15. Wear SPF-30 if you are a golfer or if you spend time at the beach. Sunscreen not only protects you from future sun damage, it can also help reverse past damage because, with protection, your skin gets a chance to repair itself. If possible, stay covered or out of the sun completely between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Lack of sleep. I consider sleep to be the best beauty vitamin in the entire world. Nighttime is when your body repairs itself. This includes your skin. Collagen and elastin are replaced and new cells are built, thereby erasing the previous day's exposure to sun and environmental toxins.

Your skin is more absorbent and receptive at night, so it is a perfect time to moisturize and add topical vitamin treatments. Lack of sleep will cut these benefits, leaving you with dark circles, puffiness, sallowness and even pimples.

Stress increases the levels of adrenal hormones, such as testosterone, which can trigger acne. Stress hormones can also cause your blood flow to be directed away from your limbs and major organs, leaving your skin crying out for the nutrients it needs.

When you are stressed, it is harder to repair your complexion with skin care. Stressed skin simply does not respond to treatments as well as relaxed skin. Practice deep breathing, exercise and/or take a tub bath with lavender essential oils to help de-stress your body, mind and spirit.

Lack of exercise. Exercise boosts oxygen in your blood and in turn improves your skin tone. Exercise also increases your tolerance to stress and helps you sleep, which will boost your skin health as well. For optimal skin health, try to do three sets of 20 minutes of exercise each week. Try cycling, walking at a good pace, swimming and running, if your joints are healthy.

Caffeine. Every cup of coffee you drink needs three cups of water to process through your system. Caffeine is very dehydrating to the skin. In addition, it increases your level of stress hormones, which can lead to poor skin health.

Smoking is the second most damaging thing you can do to your skin, second only to sun exposure. The nicotine found in cigarettes constricts the blood vessels in your face, making your skin look gray or sallow.

A chemical in cigarettes, acetaldehyde, attacks the fiber in your skin that holds it together. Factor in the constant creasing and wrinkling of the eyes due to smoke irritation and the pursing of your lips, and you have all the ingredients for looking 10 years older than women who do not smoke. The good news is that quitting before the age of 30 returns your body to the level of a nonsmoker within 10 years—and that includes your skin.

Alcohol dilates blood vessels, leading to broken veins. Like cigarettes, alcohol also contains acetaldehyde, which attacks skin fibers and reduces elasticity and firmness. In addition, alcohol robs the body of vitamin C, a key nutrient for healthy skin.

More Than Meets the Eye 

In today's world, the skin care and cosmetic surgery industry is booming and has become one of the largest, most profitable industries in America. Like women before us, we are on a constant search for the latest and greatest botanical, liposomal, antioxidant, exfoliant or hydrator in the world to make us appear more beautiful with skin that is visibly younger and smoother.

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