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20 New Year's Resolutions You Can Really Keep

Downscale your expectations and supercharge the results by taking five easy steps in just four areas of your life.

TAKE 5 for Your Face

Reach for retinol. Many products claim to tighten lines and wrinkles, but the closest thing to a cosmetic time machine is a retinol-based cream. Yes, it really works. "Most dermatologists agree that retinol is the best topical anti-aging product," says Paul M. Friedman, MD, a Houston- and New York City-based dermatologist and co-author of Beautiful Skin Revealed: ‚ÄČThe Ultimate Guide to Better Skin. Not only will retinol (or Retin-A, its prescription name) smooth your skin, it will also diminish sunspots and acne.

SPF your skin. Before you coat your mouth in color, spread on an SPF 30 lip balm to protect your most kissable asset from sun damage. While you're at it, don't forget the rest of your face. Apply a sunscreen/moisturizer combo every morning to keep your skin hydrated and protected against skin cancer and premature aging. "It's the most important thing you can do" for your skin, says Friedman.

Butt out. Not swayed to quit smoking by cancer and lung disease warnings? Maybe the thought of a face full of wrinkles will finally convince you. Research confirms it -- smoking prematurely ages your skin. Can't quit on your own? Ask your doctor for help.

Wash the day away. Before you go to bed, wash off all the makeup, dirt, and other gunk that's accumulated on your face throughout the day. ‚ÄČThen top off your cleansing ritual with a light moisturizer that has fatty acids called ceramides. "A simple moisturizer is important to enable your skin to repair itself," Friedman says.

Get naked. Find a mirror and do a skin check. Red-flag any spot that's changed in color, size, or shape and let your dermatologist check it out. "Skin cancer caught in its early stages is almost completely curable, so it's important to get your moles checked," according to Friedman.

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