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Rehab Your Bad Habits Now

It's never too late to undo the damage from your former smoking, sunning, or couch-potato ways. Learn how to reverse the effects for a healthier future.
Woman in a pink hat and bathing suit The Crime: In high school you were tanner than Snooki.

If you spent the summers of your youth at the pool and winters in the tanning booth, you soaked up enough ultraviolet rays to weaken the collagen in your skin, promoting discoloration and wrinkles, and to lower your body's ability to repair the cell damage that causes skin cancer. "The skin never forgets what you did to it in high school or college," says Patricia Farris, MD, a dermatologist in Metairie, Louisiana. "But the damage is cumulative, so you often don't see it all until you're in your forties or fifties."

Your rehab plan: Choose cleansers and moisturizers containing vitamin C, peptides, and botanical antioxidants, ingredients that will help improve your skin's appearance, Dr. Farris says. Also add retinol, a form of vitamin A that repairs sun-damaged skin, to your arsenal. Drugstore products may not be powerful enough to make a difference, says Dr. Farris, who suggests seeing a dermatologist for a prescription cream such as Retin-A. While you're there, get a full-body skin cancer check so your doc can look for and examine any suspicious moles and growths. Remember to apply SPF 30 religiously to your face, neck and other areas of exposed skin every day. Sunscreen can reduce your risk for melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, by at least 50 percent, a recent study found.