Look after your skin

Your skin works hard to keep you healthy, and you can return the favour by taking care of it. Here are some tips to help you keep your skin looking and feeling good.

Sun care

Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) rays, which are the main cause of skin ageing and can cause skin cancer. 

Sunburn can significantly increase the risk of skin cancer, so it's important to protect skin against sun damage at any age, but take special care with babies, children and young people.

To help protect yourself:

  • spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm
  • cover up with clothes, a hat and sunglasses
  • use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15

You need to spend some time in sunlight so your body can make vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones.

To find out more about balancing the need for getting vitamin D and protecting your skin from sun damage, see how to get vitamin D from sunlight.

Find out more about sunscreen and sun safety.


Smoking is linked to early ageing of the skin. It's thought smoking reduces the skin's natural elasticity by causing the breakdown of collagen and reducing collagen production. Collagen is a protein that supports skin strength.

It also reduces blood flow to your skin, so your skin gets fewer nutrients and less oxygen.

Get help to stop smoking.


When you drink alcohol, your body and skin can become dehydrated, leaving the skin looking older and tired. Drinking water can help your skin stay hydrated, preventing it drying out.

When you have alcohol, try to drink within the recommended limits, and have a non-alcoholic drink, such as soda water or fruit juice, between alcoholic drinks.

Washing your skin

Try to use mild soaps or bath oils – too much washing or using harsh soaps can wash away the natural oils that keep our skin healthy.

If you have dry skin, don't use harsh alcohol-based products as these can irritate skin and dry it out.

Moisturising can help prevent dry skin. If you have oily skin, avoid oil-based products and choose water-based ones instead.

How to apply sunscreen

An expert explains why it is important to protect your skin from sunburn to help avoid skin cancer. She also gives advice on how to apply sunscreen correctly and what to look out for when buying sun cream.

Media last reviewed: 03/05/2016

Next review due: 03/08/2018

Page last reviewed: 21/06/2016

Next review due: 21/06/2019


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