By Dr. William Rawls Consumers spent over $250 billion on anti-aging lotions, creams, and cosmetics in 2012. Unfortunately, most of these products yield little to no actual benefit in reversing the aging process. They often just mask the effects of aging at a superficial level. What are the best ways to get beautiful skin from the inside out? The best strategy is to avoid these 5 “collagen crunchers”: Harmful rays Sunlight is the most notorious collagen cruncher. But what’s surprising to most people is that sunscreens only protect you from UV light, but 80% of sunlight is from the infrared and visible spectrum. Infrared and visible light particles penetrate the epidermis and strike other molecules, creating free radicals which directly damages collagen. Toxins The free radicals generated by toxic chemicals, especially those coming from cigarette smoke, are extremely damaging to collagen. While it’s nearly impossible to avoid toxins altogether, make a point to become “toxin aware.” Avoid first and second hand smoke at ALL costs, and choose filtered water, organic foods, and natural cleaning solutions. Sugar and starch Glucose molecules, found in starch and sugar products, attach themselves to collagen strands and causes them to collapse. If you’re consuming high carb, processed foods, plan on accelerated skin aging and wrinkling at almost double the normal rate! Stress Chronic stress speeds cellular division, which contributes to skin cells dying at a more rapid rate. If you find yourself under chronic stress, make a point to practice breathing exercises, meditation, or try natural substances known to have calming effects like L- theanine and ashwagandha. Excessive alcohol consumption it’s no surprise that excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to accelerated aging. Alcohol itself is a toxin that dehydrates our skin cells, Enjoy an occasional glass of wine, but keep alcohol intake to a reasonable amount and your skin will thank you.