So, do you want to look younger and start the year by defying the onset of another decade? It's a silly question, of course. We all do. Well, not that much younger. But just a bit.
There's nothing wrong with looking your age – or with looking old, for that matter – except that few of us relish the idea. Certainly, we should learn to accept ourselves as we are, to embrace our changing faces and physiques as the years take their toll, but given the current national preoccupation – make that, obsession – with the beauty of youth and with finding ways to cheat nature and look "good for our age", it is no wonder that we feel we need to make the best of ourselves.
Would we be better people if we looked younger? Would we be kinder to each other and would the little glitches in our lives sort themselves out? I doubt it. But there's no doubt that when it comes to bolstering a fragile sense of self-esteem, if you think you look good, then you feel better about yourself and more confident, too, which can't be a bad thing.
It stands to reason that, if you want to bring about any changes in the way you look, you'll have to make a few changes to your way of life, which require sustained effort. Your sleeping patterns, emotional balance, eating habits, exercise regime (or lack thereof), skin-care routine and stress levels – all of this has an impact on the face you present to the world.
To improve the outlook, here is a whole bundle of things that you could try. You need to be realistic, though. As leading cosmetic dermatologist Dr Nick Lowe often says when lecturing on the subject of facial aesthetics: "Choose your parents with care." How we look and how we age is largely – about 50 per cent – determined by our genes, and there's only so much you can do to change what your genes have in store for you.
None of these suggestions is going to make you miraculously appear a decade younger, like a candidate on a makeover reality show. Nor will they turn you into Claudia Schiffer or Keira Knightley. Pick out what appeals to you and give it a whirl. There's nothing to lose but a few wrinkles.
1 Wear Sunscreen
I can't stress this enough. A large percentage of the visible signs of ageing (wrinkles, age spots) result from the cumulative effect of ultraviolet rays on the skin, over time. Wear sunscreen and you'll keep these at bay.
2 Get enough sleep
The whole idea of beauty sleep is not a myth. Your body needs time to restore itself overnight and that includes your face, too. While you sleep, cells are busy repairing DNA damage from the day before, so snuggle down and give them a chance to get on with it.
3 Learn where to put concealer
Dabbing a bit onto the skin between the inner corner of the eye and the nose has the effect of casting light into a notoriously dark spot and brightens up the face of anyone over 30. Sneak a bit around the edges of your nostrils, too, to minimize redness.
4 Resolve to eat more oily fish
Or failing that, high-grade fish-oil supplements. None of us consume enough essential fatty acids, which as well as helping our brains to function more smoothly are considered vital to keep skin-cell-membranes in good health and therefore stop the skin from getting too dry.
5 Wear tinted moisturizer
If your complexion looks even in tone, you appear younger. That's not just supposition – it's been proved by research. Try one of Dermalogica’ s tinted moisturizer’s which comes in light, medium, or dark to easily match a variety of skin tones. $42.
6 Drink plenty of water
Particularly hard to do at this time of year when it is so much easier to reach for warming coffee, tea or hot toddies. It won't hydrate your skin directly, but it will improve the way your insides work and good gut health is soon reflected in glowing skin.
7 Take up yoga
It is soothing, de-stressing, improves your posture, helps loosen the knots of tension that we all accumulate in our bodies and can be done anywhere. All you need is the space to unroll a yoga mat. Also, yoga devotees usually look remarkably youthful – and if you can't beat them, why not join in and see if it works its magic for you.
8 Wear the right perfume
One study last year showed that observers who sniffed a particular perfume while judging the ages of women, judged them several years younger. Bonkers? Maybe. But worth a try. The perfume in question was Ageless Fantasy by Harvey Prince.
9 Try Botox
It's not everyone's cup of tea, but injections of botulinum toxin A, to give it its proper name, will certainly ease wrinkles brought on by frowning or squinting. It's very safe, but results depend greatly on the skill of the practitioner. To find a good one, go to www.botoxcosmedic.com
10 Cut sugar from your diet
The body doesn't need it and sugar, according to nutritionists and skin experts, exacerbates a process called glycation, which accelerates ageing in the skin. (I tried this last year and found that two weeks off the sweet stuff made my skin noticeably clearer and brighter.)
11 Add the odd facial into your beauty regime
Regular TLC from a skincare professional will pay dividends in terms of a fresher-looking complexion with more bloom and spring to it. If you feel guilty about treating yourself, ask for one as a present. Try one of our MicroZone Treatments for regular skin maintenance. $25
12 Revise your make-up
Most of us are guilty of falling into a make-up time warp and ignoring the fact that what suited us five or 10 years ago might not look so good today. Also, cosmetic formulations are constantly improving, so newer products are nicer to use, with better results.
13 Exercise regularly
Whether it's walking the dog, rock-climbing, or scuba-diving, anything that gets you moving will improve your circulation. That in turn will encourage blood flow to the skin and help give it a healthy, youth-enhancing glow.
14 Try an anti-ageing cream
It doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. A great anti-ageing daytime cream is Dermalogica’ s Dynamic Skin Recovery with SPF30. Enhances skin’s defense against the cause of skin aging. This emollient SPF moisturizer contains glucosamine, soy, white tea, yeast extract and a patented polypeptide to combat free radicals, impede collagen breakdown and enhance skin firmness. $62.00 for 1.7 ounces.
15 Give up smoking
Just in case you need another reason to quit. It deprives the skin of oxygen, accelerates the process of skin ageing by hastening the degradation of collagen, which means more wrinkles – faster. Oh, and it's not great for your health, either.
16 Take up meditation
Not the most obvious way, perhaps, to roll back the years, but if you can learn to achieve the odd patch of focus and stillness in your life, it will help. Getting into the habit of relaxing your face as you concentrate on your breathing will ease the lines of tension and worry that we all develop with the years.
17 Sleep on a silk, or satin, pillowcase
Slippery fabric such as silk or satin drags less on the skin, so doesn't pull it into wrinkles, which sounds like an old wives' tale but actually holds true. Hairdressers recommend these, too, for longer-lasting blow-dries.
18 Eat more good bacteria
If you have what nutritionists call gut dysbiosis, or an unhealthy gut, this will be reflected in the condition of your skin. Taking acidophilus, a probiotic supplement, every day will enhance levels of good gut flora, which should soon result in healthier-looking skin.
19 Take expert advice on your hair color
"Having a few lighter strands around the face suits almost everyone and will take years off your face," says Susan Baldwin, creative color consultant at John Frieda.
20 Eat more brussel sprouts
Most of us hate them. Some of us eat them, but only because we feel pressured to do so by a family member. The reason that brussel sprouts can help prevent the body from developing cancer is because they contain Glucosinolates and antioxidants. Some of the types of cancer that brussel sprouts may help protect the body against include breast, colon and prostate.
21 Have your eyebrows shaped
Having your eyebrows professionally shaped – and possibly tinted – is one of those minor beauty revelations that makes you wonder how you ever got by without it before. A defined brow opens and lifts the eye area in a way that's little short of wondrous. In terms of results, it's worth far more than the $15 it costs.
22 Learn to curl your eyelashes
Give them a squeeze with an eyelash curler, which looks like a giant pair of nail scissors with a clamp on the end, before you apply mascara and see how it opens up your eyes.
23 Wear blush
Get blusher right – the right color, in the right place – and your face will look instantly fresher and livelier. The easiest way to start is with a sheer gel blusher – simpler to use and to spread thinly. Smile, pat onto the apples of your cheeks, and blend up and out from there towards the hairline. And remember that less is more.
24 Get a great haircut
Updating your hairstyle can be enough to make you look years younger and a fringe hides a multitude of frown lines. Cosmetic surgeons will often send would-be clients off for a makeover; frequently, a haircut will give them enough confidence to skip the scalpel.
25 Consider a laser treatment
Fine lines and age spots can both be softened by treatment with fractional lasers (the ''fractional'' bit means that between each hole in the skin created by pinpoint laser beams, there remains a fraction of whole skin that encourages faster healing). For details, see www.fraxel.com; for practitioners, visit www.cosmeticdoctors.com
26 Spend time doing things that make you happy
You'll feel better and look better as a result. And in the same vein, try to smile a bit more. It's nicer for everyone else and it tricks the body into changing its mood. It also uses fewer muscles than frowning.
27 Whiten your teeth
You don't have to spend $250 at the dentists; get your hygienist to give you a full scale and polish, then choose a decent kit off the internet or invest in a Rembrandt Whitening kit, $25, which you can use at home
28 Cut down on alcohol
Not only does drink have a dehydrating effect on the body, but it dilates the capillaries, which leads to a rosy flush on the face (not in a good way) and has a general inflammatory effect on the body that encourages ageing.
29 Get into the habit of massaging your face properly
Massage expert Beata Aleksandrowicz has done the most brilliant little book (Quick and Easy Face Massage: Five-minute Massages for Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime, Duncan Baird Publishers) that will encourage a smoother, happier face – and provide a tiny soothing break in your day, too.
30 Treat yourself to a professional make-up lesson
Many of the staff on department-store make-up counters are professional make-up artists. Seek one out and see what they can suggest for you. And if you don't like it, all you have to do is wipe it off, and try elsewhere.
31 Don't diet too strenuously
It's sod's law, but if you lose enough weight to make an appreciable difference to the size of your stomach and hips, the other place where the loss will really show is in your face. You don't want to end up looking gaunt – even the word is ageing.
32 Practice relaxation
We're all super-busy these days, which raises stress levels, which is ageing in itself. Relaxation is a habit that can be learnt. Taking time, watching the clouds, practicing deep breathing – will all help ease the lines of stress and worry that settle in through habit and then become a permanent part of the landscape of our faces.
33 Zap away age spots
Brown pigmentation marks on the face or hands are a giveaway of ageing skin. Treatment with chemical peals helps lighten the pigmentation, leading to a smoother, more even complexion. It's neither painful nor an expensive treatment. Treatments cost from $70 to $120 but you do need more than one treatment for best results. Try pcaskin.com for more information.
34 Find the shade of lipstick that suits you
The right color, whether nude-y beige or cerise, will light up your face. Experiment at make-up counters, and consult the Bobbi Brown Lipstick Wheel (at counters nationwide) which tells you that if you're, for example, a "Tulle Brown" sort of girl, which other colors will also work for you.
Not harshly, but with an exfoliator brush preferably every night. That's enough to take the dead cells off the surface, which makes your skin smoother, so it reflects light better, which is what makes it look more radiant.
36 Use a skin serum
Used after cleansing and before your normal moisturizer as a skin-booster treatment, these contain vitamins that help to repair and protect the skin. Try Dermalogica’s MAP-15 Regenerator $85
37 Think long and hard before going under the knife
If you're toying with the idea of a facelift, consult at least three surgeons and mull over what they suggest before deciding. Find a good one through the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (www.plasticsurgery.org)
38 And finally, have more sex
Studies have found that couples who make love frequently look more than 10 years younger than the average adult who has sex less often. The current thinking is that the pleasure derived from sex is a crucial factor in preserving youth.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Whether it's getting more sleep, taking more exercise, changing your make-up routine, or trying the latest laser technology, a younger look for the new year doesn't have to be an impossible dream.