The worsening of environmental problems such as reduced atmospheric protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation and increased levels of air pollutants have negatively impacted our skin on a daily basis. This is truer today than it has been even a decade ago. These conditions can result in an increased risk to the aging of our skin.

Another concern is that – on average – human animals are living longer than ever before. People now want to be kept youthful, healthy and even sexy year after year, even while the calendar tells them they are getting older. While the fountain of youth may remain out of reach, most of us want to do whatever we can to preside youthful, vibrant skin. We are moving into an era where the age of our bodies does not need to correlate to the way our skin looks. Science and medicine are giving the average person a fighting chance to protect and nourish their skin in increasingly effective, affordable ways.

Here are 7 tips for protecting your skin against the effects of aging and for having healthier, more vibrant skin – no matter what your age.

Tip 1: Wash your face every morning: When you wake up each morning, your skin is covered with layers of dead skin cells, oil, dirt, and dust. To clean your skin of these impurities, part of your morning ritual should include washing your face. You may also periodically use a mild exfoliant, which can remove layers of dead skin cells that collect overnight to reveal the healthy skin underneath.

Tip 2: Get plenty of rest: Nowadays, people are working longer hours and packing more activities into each hour of the day, increasing the potential for more stressful lives. Stress releases hormones within your body which some studies show may diminish your cells' ability to regenerate. One excellent way to combat the effects of stress is to get a good night's sleep. Getting at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night is good for your mind and for your skin.

Tip 3: Avoid cigarette smoke: Whenever possible, you need to reduce your exposure to smoke and other pollutants. Pay particular attention if you smoke cigarettes or live / work around people who do. Cigarette smoke is absolutely detrimental to healthy skin. Smoke fills your blood with carbon monoxide, which then bridges out the life-giving oxygen that your cells need. Smoke also uses up the vitamin C in your blood, which is important for the preservation of collagen in your skin (see below).

Tip 4: Use sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days: You have probably heard this before, but it remains as true now as ever: use sunscreen every day. How many times have you seen a nice-looking 40, 50, or 60-year old person whose face and neck have become weathered and wrinkled while the skin on other parts of their body still looks young and taut? If what we know about the positive effects of sunscreen were known 30 or 40 years ago, these folks would have much more, more beautiful skin today. Do yourself a favor and take advantage of what science has proven: sunscreen helps fight the effects of aging skin – even on cloudy days.

Tip 5: Wear a hat when going out into the sun for extended periods: If you find that you will be going out into the sun for extended periods of 30 minutes or more, be sure to wear a hat. This provides an added layer of protection beyond sunscreen. Even one or two serious sunburns can have harmful negative effects on the health of your skin.

Tip 6: Get plenty of vitamin A: Our skin has a complicated relationship with sunlight. On the one hand, skin needs sunlight in order to produce enough vitamin D, which is essential for the proper absorption and use of calcium. On the other hand, too much sun can damage the skin and can also contribute to premature aging of the skin and wrinkles. Fortunately, recent studies have confirmed that applying cream containing vitamin A directly to the skin appears to remove wrinkles associated with natural aging (Archives of Dermatology, May 2007).

Tip 7: Apply vitamin C to your skin : Collagen is a natural component of your skin which helps to naturally smooth out wrinkles. Collagen production in the skin can be hurt by the natural process of oxidation, a process where the free radicals in oxygen break down cell tissues. Applying vitamin C – a natural antioxidant – to the skin can help stimulate collagen production and thereby smooth out wrinkles in the skin.

Maintaining healthy skin requires daily attention, but the good news is that there are many things you can do to stay looking healthy. Even if you have been neglecting your skin for months or years because you have been too busy, it is never too late. Try these tips for a few weeks and you should notice a marked improvement in the beauty, glow and health of your skin.