They say, “You’re only as young as you feel”. Is the opposite, “You’re only as old as you look”? While aging is inevitable, some little things we do every day can make us look older than we have to. Luckily, they’re easily avoided; no medical intervention necessary!
Commuting. If you spend a lot of time in the car, the left side of your face gets extra sun exposure – the #1 cause of old-looking skin. Slather on the sunscreen, and don’t neglect the backs of your hands.
Stress. Whether from road rage or other causes, chronic stress accelerates premature aging by shortening telomeres, the specialized DNA sequences and associated proteins that maintain the integrity of our chromosomes. Whole books have now been written about harnessing the power of telomerase, the enzyme that protects telomeres. If you don’t feel like reading all that, meditation, deep breathing, exercise, vodka and Xanax are also highly effective.
Tech neck. Did you know that constantly looking down at our devices and computers encourages slackening of our jaw and neck muscles? Obviously we’re not about to give them up but people who care about these things suggest we keep them at eye level whenever possible.
Sleep. Sleeping is good. Smooshing our face into the pillow is not so good, leading to additional wrinkling. If you can’t sleep on your back – and many can’t – try a silk or satin pillowcase, or use a sleep mask.
Dry Climate. Dryness saps moisture from your skin. Use a humidifier, especially during the night. If you live in Texas, buy two.
Straws. I was all about drinking my coffee through a straw to minimize staining my teeth until I realized that pursed lips accelerate wrinkles around the mouth. (Look at any chronic smoker.) And if you drink a lot of bottled water, you might want to pour it into a glass with a wider opening.
Inactivity. According to a 2010 Australian study, every hour spent watching TV after age 25 cuts almost 22 minutes off the viewer’s lifespan. Yikes. Does my pounding heartbeat when I watch a show like The Americans or Man in The High Castle count as exercise, though?
City Living. Here’s something interesting from a Harvard School of Public Health study: Women living in the greenest areas, as measured by satellite, were 34 percent less likely to die from a respiratory illness than women living in the most paved-over areas. And women living amidst greenery were 13 percent less likely to die of cancer. If you live in a city, get some houseplants!
Sugar. Really want to wreck your skin? Eat sugar! It causes inflammation, which breaks down collagen and elastin, the building blocks of healthy, plump skin.
Heavy makeup. Kind of a no-brainer, but wearing more makeup as we age is actually, well, aging. Go easy on foundation, substituting a tinted moisturizer with a broad-spectrum sunblock, dab a little concealer only where you need it, and skip under-eye liner and mascara, which cast a shadow and make older eyes look tired.
How about a quick way to look younger? Every year our skin and hair tones change subtly, so what used to be flattering may not look as good now. Color experts recommend wearing one of these four universally flattering shades.
NEW BLACK Black is my go-to. But I admit it’s often too severe for mature skin, making fine lines, under-eye circles and wrinkles more obvious. Much more flattering are softer shades like charcoal grey and navy. And when you do wear black, consider adding a scarf to bring color near your face.
PERIWINKLE Even the name is charming! Hair and skin tones become “cooler” as we age, so one color that looks pretty on most women is this medium blue with a touch of violet or purple.
TURQUOISE Turquoise looks great against every skin tone. To figure out whether to go bluer or greener, one color expert suggests looking at the veins in your wrist and choosing a shade that leans in that direction. On medium to darker skin, either will be beautiful.
RED VIOLET This vibrant color is more flattering than pastel pink, especially on lighter skin. Fuchsia, raspberry and magenta can brighten your face and still look sophisticated.