Secrets to a younger-looking you
Forget ageing gracefully – here’s how to age youthfully. Keep a healthy glow, a spring in your step, and a radiant appearance with tips from the experts.
Young, middle-aged, and older individuals studied thousands of photographs and were asked to guess the age of models with various facial expressions. Neutral expressions yielded the most accurate results, and fearful expressions made subjects look older; happy faces were rated as younger than they really were.
Touch up your hair
As we age, our hair changes. “It often becomes coarser in texture and more dry,” says hairstylist Jenna Mast. Heat styling can damage hair, so try air drying and only use an iron around your face. Whether you have your hair washed at home or at a salon, use deep conditioning treatments regularly to combat dryness.
Frame your face
Keeping your eyebrows well-groomed and shaped helps provide a frame for your face and draws attention to your eyes.
Cleanse and moisturise regularly
Cleansing and moisturising helps protect skin and keep it healthy; but banish regular soap, which can be drying for older skin. Instead, use a cleanser that gently washes without stripping skin of its natural moisture. Avoid skin toners, especially those with a stringent or alcohol base. Follow with a good moisturiser, morning and night.
Give yourself a hand or two
A study showed that people could accurately guess women’s ages by looking at their hands. Use a good hand cream frequently, preferably one that contains SPF for daytime. Brighten dull hands by exfoliating regularly: Mix sea salt with lemon juice and gently scrub into your hands with a soft toothbrush.
Eat more greens and reds
Vitamin K – in kale and other green vegetables – helps your blood coagulate, reducing the impact of bruising. Lycopene in tomatoes gives the skin powerful protection against UV rays. Fruit and veggie consumption resulted in better skin complexion, according to a study.
Wear less makeup
Instead of heavy makeup, pick pink, radiant hues that mimic the look of natural youth, says makeup artist and What Not to Wear star Carmindy. “As we age our skin loosens and is not as taught as it once was, so the more makeup you apply, the more it can move, settle, and travel,” she says. “Less makeup will adhere to mature skin much better so you stay looking fresh all day.”
Eat oily fish
Salmon and other oily fish are rich in DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol), a compound that boosts muscle tone and is one of the must-have ingredients in expensive “mature” skin creams. Eating oily fish twice a week offers the same benefits.
Exercise four or more times per week
A recent study showed that regular exercise can slow the ageing process. You’ll fend off muscle loss and sleep better when you exercise most days of the week. Combine cardiovascular exercise for heart and lungs, stretching for flexibility and resistance exercise for muscles,. “Regular strength training, with your own body weight or using external weights, can help to increase metabolism, increase strength, and improve balance,” says fitness and nutrition expert Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies, who also recommends Pilates classes. “Pilates can help to increase core strength and improve posture,” Palinski-Wade says. “Holding your body more upright with improved posture improves balance, protects against falls, and helps you look younger.”
Wear the right bra
Gravity affects us all, but properly fitting undergarments can help shape a figure into a more youthful silhouette. “Pop culture research states that over 80 percent of women are wearing the wrong size bra,” says style expert Sharon Haver, founder of FocusOnStyle.com. Get fitted at a lingerie store to make sure you’re wearing the correct size and style for your bust shape, as well as the right amount of coverage and support.
Drink more water
Our body is mostly water, and our skin is our body’s biggest organ – so we need to keep hydrated to avoid it looking dry and dull, and creating wrinkles. “The more hydrated you are, the more plump, subtle, and youthful your skin will appear,” says Palinski-Wade. “In addition, staying hydrated can improve energy levels and fight against cravings, which makes it easier to stay on target with your exercise goals and healthy eating habits.”
Dress smart, not shapeless
Dress for the size you are, not the size you were – but hiding in big, baggy clothes isn’t flattering. Tailored, clean lines look sharper. “It’s not about volume but the cut of a garment,” Haver says. “It’s better to break free from hiding yourself in your clothing and stand tall and proud in well-fitting garments – not only will you look better but you’ll give yourself an emotional boost by allowing you to step into your star power.”
Seek out certain skin care ingredients
No surprise – SPF protects against free radical damage from the sun’s UV radiation that leads to collagen breakdown, sagging skin and wrinkles, says dermatologist Purvisha Patel, MD, creator of Visha Skin Care. But there are other game-changing skincare ingredients to look for, too. “Retinol and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) can rejuvenate the skin and eliminate fine lines and wrinkles,” she says. “Hyaluronic acid helps your skin retain moisture, which gives it a smooth, glowing look.”
Notice your neckline
Although the most flattering neckline depends on your face shape, hairstyle, neck shape and length, and your shoulder structure, one neckline in particular tends to be most flattering: “A classic V-neck with a collar creates a linear line that makes us look taller and thinner, and the bit of a collar detracts from the appearance of an older neck while spotlighting our face,” Haver says.
Let go of stress and conflict
Studies have shown stress actually ages your cells – but this ageing can also be reversed with lifestyle changes that include stress management. “When you reduce stress and conflict, you are turning off stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, and activating endorphins, the natural pain killers in your body, which makes everything about you more youthful,” says psychiatrist Judith Orloff, MD, the author of Positive Energy.
Highlight your eyes
When it comes to youthful eye makeup, try Carmindy’s signature move. “You want to highlight the eyes using a cream or powder pearlescent champagne hue,” she says. “Apply it only under the eyebrows and on the inside corners of the eyes.” For eye shadow, she says to stick with lighter neutral hues like light brown, quartz, or taupe, and use a pearl or matte formula, not glitter or high shimmer. For lining your eyes, avoid the black colour you’ve probably been using for years. “Keep eyeliner light, like chocolate brown instead of black, and apply it as close to the roots of the upper lashes as possible,” Carmindy says. Also, “keep away from using liner under the eyes, which can look ageing. If you must apply something under the lower lash line, try sweeping a powder eye shadow using an angle brush.”
Load up on antioxidants
Antioxidants like vitamins A and C fight against free radicals, helping you maintain a younger appearance. “When free radicals from diet or the environment threaten to damage skin cells, antioxidants fight against these compounds and protect skin cells,” Palinski-Wade says. “Diets rich in antioxidants may help to fight against damage from the sun and the environment, and protect against inflammation which accelerates ageing.” Eat oranges, strawberries, blueberries, bell peppers, and spinach to reap these benefits.
Flaunt a pink pout
Red lips look heavy and unnatural, but a pinkish lip colour adds a youthful glow. Plus, dark lipstick can “bleed” out of lips into lines around the mouth. “Dark shades will make lips recede,” Carmindy says. “Use a clear or flesh-colour lip liner to seal in the colour without getting that ring-around-the-lip look.” Also, choose a gloss instead of a matte lipstick for more fullness and shine.
Cut down on sugar and salt
A healthy, youthful body needs healthy nutrients – and to avoid unhealthy ones. “Added sugars and excessive salt intake can increase inflammation in the body, which can accelerate the ageing process,” Palinski-Wade says. “Inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen in the skin. The end result is accelerated wrinkling and sagging of the skin, leading to an aged appearance.” One study found people with a high blood sugar level were perceived to be older; another found salt increased cell ageing in overweight people.
Apply blush correctly
You may be trying for shadows to create a high-cheekboned look, but placing blush under cheeks just makes you look bony. Go for a rosy look instead. “Place it high on the apples of the cheeks and use a big fluffy powder brush to apply it in a nice natural flush,” Carmindy says. “Small brushes blend on too much, and placing blush under the cheeks make faces look too angular and severe.”
Strive for healthy relationships
Letting go of toxic relationships and nurturing those that are healthy are good for your body as well as your mind. Research shows love releases the “feel good hormone” oxytocin, which can lower blood pressure, and better blood flow leads to a more radiant appearance. “Positive relationships nurture the positive energy in you,” Dr. Orloff says. “Love and appreciation from others makes you happy, more relaxed, and more attractive.”
Drink less alcohol
As with sugar and salt, it’s best not to overindulge in alcohol because of its negative effects on the body – even at the cellular level, studies have found. “Alcohol can dehydrate skin and increase inflammation, both of which can accelerate ageing and give skin a dry, wrinkled appearance,” Palinski-Wade says. Although alcohol may have some health benefits, it’s best to drink in moderation, along with plenty of water.
Get strong with protein
Our lean muscle mass is made up of protein, so getting enough in your diet can help build and maintain your muscles to keep fit. “A loss of muscle can lead to a loss of strength and balance, accelerating the ageing process,” Palinski-Wade says. “Less defined muscle on the body can also cause the appearance of looser, sagging skin, making you appear older than your biological age.” Focus on plant protein rather than a lot of meat for a healthy diet.
Treat ageing skin
“Age spots” are really sun-damaged skin. “The key to removing age spots is to exfoliate skin to remove the darkened areas,” Dr. Patel says. Lightening serums may work, and professional chemical peels or laser removal are options, too. “People concerned about age-related spots should consult with their board-certified dermatologist on the best treatment for their case,” Dr. Patel says.
Cut layers in long hair
You need the right cut to make long hair work for you as you get older. “Some women feel attached to length because they think it makes them look younger, when in fact, it just hangs and doesn’t do anything to flatter or soften features,” says Mast. “Long, heavy hair really pulls down the face. Lifting up layers and adding texture to frame the face will take years off.”
Get your beauty rest
Beauty sleep is a real thing – your body needs the rest time (seven to nine hours) to rejuvenate and repair your body’s cells and get gorgeous overnight. You know lack of sleep causes puffy eyes and dark circles, but there are other effects, too. “Lack of sleep dries out your skin, making wrinkles deeper and more visible,” says sleep expert Richard Shane, PhD, creator of the Sleep Easily method. “Collagen production increases during sleep, preventing sagging, and blood flow increases so your complexion looks better and younger.”
Be careful with a fringe
You might think a fringe hides forehead wrinkles, but that doesn’t mean it should be a straight, full curtain across the face, Mast says. “Too often I see women with these awful, unflattering, boxy fringes that they have because they think it makes them look younger, when it really just ages them further,” she says. “If you have a fringe that suits you, it will bring out your facial features and distract from your problem areas.” A soft sweep across the forehead may be all that’s needed.
Whiten your teeth
Whiter teeth can give you a brighter smile and the appearance of a young, fresh mouth. “Yellow or discoloured teeth makes people look older and less attractive,” says dentist Nancy Rosen, DMD. You can have your teeth whitened by your dentist in the office or using an over-the-counter method. Also avoid teeth staining foods and drink such as tea and red wine.
Hide thinning hair
Menopause rears its ugly head on our heads, too! “I suggest investing in root concealer to fill in the hairline or spray on the scalp where hair is more sheer,” Mast says. “Another tip is to shorten up if you’re getting really thin. Better to have less that looks fuller than long strings of barely there hair.” Volumising products can also help give more fullness, and hair colour that more closely matches your skin tone can better conceal thinning and these natural hair loss remedies are worth a try.
See your dentist
Regular dental checkups and a professional cleaning are crucial for keeping an older mouth and gums looking good. “It’s important to get cleanings at least two times a year,” Dr. Rosen says. “Cleanings remove plaque and calculus from the teeth, which will make someone’s mouth look younger.” In addition, brush properly (Dr. Rosen suggests an electric toothbrush), floss every night, and use a fluoride rinse.
Take care of décolletage
Your décolletage, or chest and neck, can also be a telltale sign of age. “UV radiation and the sun can damage these exposed areas, causing wrinkles and skin laxity,” Dr. Patel says. “Besides using sunscreen, a serum containing ingredients like retinol, vitamins A and C, ferulic acid as well as a spot-lightening agent can help.”
Meditate or do yoga
Research suggests meditation may slow ageing by reducing stress, improving well-being, and adjusting hormonal factors, Dr. Seppala says. Yoga and deep-breathing can also help increase outward signs of attractiveness. “These techniques help you relax, open your heart, and centre yourself – which gives you a more calm, centred appearance rather than being riddled with stress, which increases ageing and makes you look older,” Dr. Orloff says.
Sign up here to get Reader’s Digest’s favourite stories straight to your inbox!