I tell my patients every day about the dangers of skin cancer. I tell them about sunscreen and smoking and staying out of the tanning bed. I tell them the statistics: One in five Americans will develop skin cancer. Someone dies of melanoma every hour. Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.

But here’s the thing about skin cancer: You never think it will happen to you, until it does. We all think we’re invincible, until we’re not. I hear it all the time: “It’s not going to happen to me.”

One thing we all know is that no one is invincible to aging. And we all have the same answer to the question, “Would you rather look 70 when you’re 50, or 50 when you’re 70?” When you make the health of your skin a priority, you keep aging to a minimum and, it just so happens, prevent skin cancer.

1. Safety first, sun second.

Limiting UV exposure not only prevents new skin damage, but it also gives your skin time to heal from past damage. Stay out of the sun from late morning to early afternoon, and wear broad-brimmed hats, UV-filtering sunglasses and sun-protective clothing. As for sunscreen, I recommend a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. That’s for everyone, every day. If you’re outside, reapply your sunscreen every two hours. And it should go without saying, but stay out of the tanning bed!

2. Make healthy skin a habit.

While UV exposure plays the biggest role in skin aging, there are a few other habits you may need to kick for the sake of your skin. Things like squinting and other repetitive facial expressions, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and eating a high-sugar, high-carb diet can all contribute to premature aging. Be gentle on your skin: Eat your fruits and veggies, put down that cigarette and wear your sunglasses.

3. Repair the damage.

So you’ve made the decision to prevent further skin damage. What about the damage that’s already been done? Your skin care routine is a valuable tool in slowing the aging process and even reversing it.

Start with an anti-aging moisturizer. Find one formulated for your skin type, with a label indicating that it’s hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic. Moisturized skin is youthful skin.

Second, your mid-20s is an ideal time to begin using topical retinol cream. Your skin has a natural ability to repair itself from sun damage, but that ability weakens over time. Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, stimulates collagen production and increases skin elasticity—two things the skin needs to repair itself. With hundreds if not thousands of retinol products available, it’s best to ask a dermatologist about the system that’s right for you.

Finally, reevaluate your daily skin care regimen. Are you using products that go to work the second you apply them? Do they contain alpha hydroxy acids and antioxidants that restore your skin’s health? Ask your dermatologist if your daily routine is enough for your skin care needs. Based on your lifestyle, skin condition and any previous procedures, you may need a medically supervised skin care regimen.

4. Go for radical reversal.

Have dark spots, wrinkles, frown lines or other skin damage? The latest cosmetic treatments are quick and easy, and they can provide you with younger-looking skin in a flash.

Chemical peels, like those formulated by SkinMedica™, smooth the texture of the skin by removing the damaged outer layers. From acne to age spots to fine lines and wrinkles, a chemical peel is one of the best ways to improve the overall appearance of your skin.

BOTOX® Cosmetic and Dysportô are used primarily to treat frown lines and crow’s feet. With BOTOX®, a skilled, experienced dermatology team is the difference between looking “frozen” and looking like a more youthful version of yourself.

Prescription injections like Juvéderm, Restylane®Silk, RestylaneÆLyft, Sculptra® and VolumaôXC add volume and smooth away wrinkles. These state-of-the-art anti-aging technologies offer a high level of control and deliver consistent, natural-looking results.

Collagen P.I.N.™, an advanced microneedling system, creates controlled, microscopic injuries to the skin that trigger the release of new collagen and elastin—two of your skin’s greatest weapons against aging.

One of my favorite fixes for sagging skin is Ultherapy®, a totally non-invasive way to look years younger. Ultherapy builds new collagen using ultrasound energy. That means no needles, no injections, no incisions and, best of all, no downtime.

Whether you have deep folds and wrinkles or the finest of lines, there’s a dermatology treatment that can reverse the signs of aging that concern you the most. For a free consultation about your own skin care needs, call Huntington Dermatology Inc. at 304.523.5100.

I’d love to help you take care of your skin and stay looking younger longer. Younger-looking skin might just save your life—even if you feel invincible.