All the plastic surgery in the world won’t help you if your skin looks unhealthy. And so let’s begin with a look at your skin. So often, a beautiful appearance is marred by clogged pores, irritated skin, acne, splotchy pigmentation, visible capillaries, wrinkles, moles and other growths.Over the next few months, we’ll tackle each of these problems.  I’ll teach you how to take care of your skin with a minimum of effort. Today, let’s explore how your skin begins to look weathered.Our skin is made up of that waterproofing top layer, called the epidermis. The bottom layer is what really holds us together—it’s called the dermis. Below the dermis is a layer of fat. Some of us have a lot of that layer and some have just a little.  But that’s a whole different discussion.Our skin is a complex organ. Not only does it protect us from chemicals and germs, but it is actually a factory, making all sorts of things for the rest of our body.  One good example is vitamin D, made in our skin and shipped out to remote locations all over our body to do incredible things.QUIZ: How Healthy is Your Skin?Our skin is built with collagen (that’s what leather is), those stretchy elastin fibers, and hyaluronic acid, one of our natural moisturizers. Add to this a bunch of oils, proteins and sugars, and we have a sort of solid, sort of a gel-like mesh we call skin. It’s at its thickest and healthiest before age 30. We lose one percent of the substance of our skin each year after that. Check out how thick your kid’s skin is and then look at your mother. By the time she is 70, her skin is so thin you can actually see through it.Our skin, like the rest of our body, follows our genetic program and ages predictably. This website will explore just how you can influence your genes and improve your appearance and your overall health. Besides your genes, sure ways to speed up the aging of your skin include cigarette smoking and too much sun exposure. Your goal should be to slow the aging process—this is one contest that you win if you’re the slowest, not the fastest.Beautiful skin is a modern phenomenon. Thousands of years ago, we rarely bathed and never put harmful chemicals on our skin.  If we survived smallpox, our skin was coated with scars and slimy oils and a healthy layer of dirt. That oil made it harder for our enemies to grab us, and it repelled and killed insects, neutralized bacteria and actually smelled so unique it helped us attract mates. It really was good for us, but no one would want to ride an elevator with you today if you didn’t wash it off regularly. But our modern process of washing and hiding our skin with cosmetics contributes to the common problems of acne and irritated, itchy skin.In the next few months, I’ll design a simple skincare program that every one of you can easily follow. Stay tuned.MORE: Recipes for Beautiful Skin