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Be radiant! Tips for better skin, hair and nails

Reviewed by , MD

Was that wrinkle there yesterday? And what the heck happened to my hair?” This is the moment of truth: you’ve just noticed age-related changes to your skin and hair — and even your fingernails.


From sagging skin and rough, dry patches on your face, to dull, thinning hair and unsightly, brittle fingernails, changes to your skin, hair and nails can kill your self-esteem and darken your outlook. You want to feel good about how you look. You don’t expect miracles, but you want to look your best at every age.

Becoming radiant, with smoother, skin, shinier hair and stronger fingernails isn’t as mysterious as we think. A handful of simple steps will bring noticeable results to all aspects of your appearance more quickly than you dreamed possible.

Let’s take the problems one at a time.


“You are your face. And when you hate your face,it’s a pretty short step to hating yourself.”

Gina Barreca, PhD
Writer and Humorist

Women glimpse their first real wrinkles as young as 30, but by age 40 nearly all of us see the signs of time on our faces. Even though skin changes unfold slowly, one day you suddenly notice them and it becomes urgent to do something about the skin on your face.

What causes your skin to change anyway? The biggest culprit is “the aging process” — a collection of factors that conspire to undermine the youthfulness of your skin.


  • Your skin’s top layer, the epidermis, gets thinner and begins to let moisture seep out instead of holding it in.
  • Cell production slows and skin doesn’t repair itself nearly as fast.
  • You produce less collagen, the substance that plumps your facial tissues, so wrinkles and lines look even deeper.
  • The fibers that make skin more “elastic” and resilient wear out, allowing it to wrinkle and sag.
  • The skin makes less sebum, or oil, and sweat glands decrease, leaving skin dry, rough and flaky.

Preventing damage to the skin is best but you can’t go back and un-lie in the sun or un-smoke. You can make the most of what you have today, and protect it for tomorrow. Beware of stress and lack of sleep — both interfere with the all-important skin repair process. Plus fatigue makes under-eye circles appear even darker so you look older.

Perhaps the biggest factor is poor diet. If you don’t get proper nutrition every day — vitamins, fiber, phytochemicals, protein, and antioxidants to fight oxidative stress — your skin will be starved of all the raw materials it needs. Eat fruits and vegetables, fiber and especially foods and supplements with antioxidants to promote clearer, smoother and lovelier skin.

SKIN SOLUTION: Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Seal in moisture and help seal out environmental effects with a good moisturizer. After every cleansing, moisturize your skin to hydrate and lock in dewiness. Look for a product with ingredients that smooth and soften skin, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, and firm and plump the skin surface.

Favorite quick fix: Cut way back on sugar to limit inflammation. Sugar binds to protein and accelerates the breakdown of collagen and elastin, contributing to dull skin and wrinkles. It’s okay to have one cookie, not an entire sleeve.


Most women worry about their hair — a lot. We spend ridiculous amounts of money and time coloring, cutting, styling and generally altering the hair we were born with. But just when you think you’ve conquered your hair and finally know how to make it look good, it changes.


Hair feels its age just like your skin: the texture is either too coarse or overly flyaway; it becomes lackluster and loses its shine; the hair shaft dries out; and worst of all, hair can thin drastically, and even fall out. Hair loss is simply one of the most upsetting and discouraging — but common — concerns for women at midlife.

Because of physical changes to our hair, we often have to learn how to style it all over again, and that leads to extra damage from hair dryers, flat irons, and torturous styling tools. Sun, wind and product overuse take their toll as well.

And let’s not forget going gray. If you hate your grays, see your hairstylist about blending them in using highlights. If you’re very gray, learn to love it — or go for all-over color. In general, salon color is far superior and more natural looking than at-home kits, though more expensive.

HAIR SOLUTION: Be nice to your follicles. Hair follicles love protein and hate inflammation, which can speed up hair loss and impair new growth. If you’re starving yourself, your hair will show it. Best protein choices for hair include eggs, beans, and poultry. You can fight hair-damaging inflammation by eating avocados, pomegranate, and herbs like turmeric, mint and rosemary.

Favorite quick fix: Eat oysters. Oysters are loaded with high levels of zinc, a super ingredient that speeds up the repair of damaged hair follicles. Since zinc deficiency is closely linked to hair loss do your hair a favor and enjoy a few oysters on the half shell today.


The look and condition of your nails can be a huge confidence boost — or not. Some women need to have pretty nails. Executives, healthcare specialists, office workers, retail salespeople and women whose hands are often on display all want fingernails that look professional and presentable.

What’s ruining your fingernails?

  • Exposure to detergents
  • Excessive use of polish remover
  • Malnutrition
  • Low thyroid function
  • Underlying medical conditions
  • Trauma
  • Repeatedly wetting and drying

Unsightly, jagged or split fingernails can make you so self-conscious that you’re embarrassed to show them. Certain medical conditions, injuries and lifestyle all take their toll. Definitely wear thick rubber gloves when cleaning, and pull on warm gloves when it’s cold to protect your fingernails and the skin around them.

Nails can develop faulty structure and become brittle as they lose their flexibility and strength. They can break or chip easily, or split and peel right down to the quick — exposing the tender nail bed and causing pain, soreness, and sometimes even bleeding. Not pretty!

When your nails are weak, just the acts of opening doors and buttoning coats become potential nail-ripping activities. While super-long fingernails may not be your thing, you do want them to be neat, tidy and healthy.

NAIL SOLUTION: Give nails a breather from polish. Salon polish treatments, like gels and shellacs, prevent nails from absorbing moisture, making them even more brittle. Take a break every couple of months and consider supplementing with biotin and silicon. Though the studies are small, new research suggests that biotin can improve the condition of nails. Supplements with ingredients containing silicon, like horsetail, are thought to be good for nails too.

Favorite quick fix: Buff your nails. Gently buffing nails with a mildly abrasive four-sided block from the drugstore raises blood and lymph into the nail matrix — the tissue underneath the nail. It will also smooth out ridges and add shine.

How to be radiant — inside and out

One final tip for inviting radiance to your skin, hair and nails: leave enough time each day to get plenty of sleep. Your body’s repair-and-restore mechanisms only turn on while you are in the deepest levels of sleep. Being radiant is natural for all women, but only when we give the body what it needs — every day.

Your DO list:

  • Add at least one antioxidant-rich food to each meal and snack.
    Best antioxidant foods include carrots and apricots and other yellow and orange fruits, along with vegetables, spinach, and blueberries. Try an orange for dessert — oranges are filled with hydrating water and vitamin C, which helps make all-important collagen. Skin also loves foods like beans and lentils, salmon and nuts.
  • Choose radiance supporting supplements.
    Add in a supplement specifically formulated to target skin, hair and nails. One that contains alpha-lipoic acid, co-enzyme Q 10, milk thistle and vitamins A, C, and E — all well-known antioxidants. These nutrients will work their magic deep within your body, supporting better hair, skin and nails but also your overall wellness. Better health = more radiance.
  • Promote improved circulation by getting exercise.
    Do everything and anything that promotes healthy circulation — that will make you look more radiant by increasing blood flow to your face, scalp and fingernail beds. Circulating blood takes oxygen and nutrients directly to your cells, while the same mechanism carries away waste products like free radicals.

Working from the inside out — it’s a cliché because it’s true! — is the only way to truly restore radiance. Good looking skin, hair and nails are all the visible signs that your body is healthy. What you eat and do every day can change how you look very quickly one way or the other — the choice is always yours.

Last Updated: January 16, 2022
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