12 ways to look and feel younger

Ever wonder who that person staring back at you in the mirror is? One of the challenges you may face as you age is trying to make your outward appearance reflect how young you feel inside. Unfortunately, our bodies go through some not-so-fun changes as we collect birthdays, and our health and genes can impact how we look and feel.

That doesn’t mean we have to resort to drastic or invasive measures like cosmetic surgery. We scoured the internet for common tips and tricks experts say can help you look and feel more youthful.

Take care of your teeth. A healthy smile is attractive at any age, but over time, teeth accumulate stains from food, drink and smoking. Medications, hormones and heredity can also affect the colour of our teeth as we age. Gum disease — which we’re more vulnerable to as we age — causes gums to recede. Put them all together and some experts warn the state of your teeth can add years to your age.

The solution? Teeth whitening products can help restore those pearly whites, but there’s no substitute for good dental hygiene. Regular brushing and flossing are essential, but so are regular check-ups. Your dentist can keep an eye out for decay and infections that can affect your overall health too — and help you treat them.

Update your makeup. Our skin faces additional challenges as we age, and we’re not just talking those “fine lines” into which our favourite products seem to settle. Skin can become thinner and more prone to age spots, dryness and uneven skin tone. It also loses some of its elasticity and changes shape — sometimes leading to thinner lips and “hooded” eyes.

Experts say it may be time to try something new at the make-up counter – like creamy products instead of matte powders, especially if your skin is dry. (Think tinted moisturizers, cream blushes and eye shadows.) Blush and bronzer can help compensate for the loss of a “rosy glow” we experience with age.

It’s time to lose those matte lipsticks too — creamy lipsticks or gloss can help perk up lips.

What about the eyes? It’s also time to lighten up on the liner. Fully-lined eyes recede into the face — a no-no when under-eye puffiness and droopy lids are an issue. Highlighting pencils and shadows can “open up” the eye too. Beware cautious of shimmer: light reflecting products do have their benefits, but shimmery products can make lines appear more pronounced, warn experts.

Fill out eye brows. Think hair loss only happens on the top of your head? Experts say as we age, our eyebrows become thinner too — especially after years of plucking. Combined with the eye lid droop, hair loss and grey hairs can make it tough to maintain a full, arched brow.

The solution? Eye brow pencils and powders that compliment your colouring can add colour, shape and definition. A little help at the make-up counter can help you find the right techniques and colours.

Moisturize. Did we mention skin becomes increasingly prone to dryness as we age? Dry skin can highlight fine lines and those dead skin cells that haven’t sloughed off yet can wreck havoc with your makeup. If you’ve been using the same skin products for years, it may be time to re-evaluate how good a job they are doing now.

What should you look for? Experts say it depends on your skin type and needs. (Yes, even oily skin needs moisture.) Some common ingredients helpful for aging skin include retinol, hydroxy acids and coenzyme Q10. (The Mayoclinic.com has a good overview of over-the-counter creams.)

Practice safe sun. Chances are you’ve heard the term “photoaging” — the damage that happens to our skin after years of unprotected sun exposure. Those “fine lines” aren’t the only concern: photoaging also leads to age spots, blotchiness and rough skin which can add years to our appearance. 

While dark spots can be treated with creams or procedures like laser therapy or dermabrasion, experts say our best defence is to avoid them in the first place. You know the routine: avoid the sun during the peak hours of the day, wear a hat and sunglasses and slather on the sunscreen. (We’ve got some tips for finding the sunscreen that’s right for you.)

Update your do. Whether you embrace your silver locks or cover them, remember that a good cut can be even more important for a youthful look. Frizzy, damaged hair won’t do anyone any favours, but an out of date cut can look “old” and “dated.”

Long or short, finding the right style is all about what works best for your face shape and hair texture. However, experts agree that hair that’s no longer than shoulder length tends to flatter many faces, especially with soft layers to highlight its best features (like the cheek bones and eyes.)  Side-swept bangs not only draw attention away from foreheads with fine lines, they also draw attention to the eyes.

Add some structure to your style. Think beyond current fashion trends or what you wore in the past. Stylists warn that clingy, loose knits and draping fabrics can highlight rather than hide parts of our bodies we would rather not emphasize.

In contrast, garments with tailoring and structure can still add shape and skim over “trouble areas” — all with sophistication. For example, if cardigans make you feel dowdy, try a jacket instead or opt for a crisp blouse or shirt instead of a t-shirt. And when it comes to jeans, select a style with a dark wash and flat back pockets for a more flattering look.

And speaking of structure, don’t forget what goes under your clothes. The right support in the right places can boost your shape without having to lose weight or go under the knife. (Besides, bras that don’t fit properly can cause undue strain on the arms and shoulders.) Whether you want shapewear for a special occasion or every day undergarments, don’t be shy about getting an expert fitting.

Don flattering colours. The right hues can flatter our features and boost our mood, but the wrong ones can leave us looking and feeling a little blah. Because our colouring changes as we get older, experts advise to take a second look at the colours you’re wearing. Some hues — like pastels, black and white — may not be as flattering with paler skin and lighter hair.

What are some safe bets? Depending on your taste, experts note that stronger hues can play up your best features. Some colours like eggplant, teal and true red look good on most people, and navy blue may just be the new black.

Don’t forget your accessories too — they’re a quick way to update your wardrobe. Some experts warn to pay attention to your shoes and handbag as they can easily give away your age.

Exercise regularly. How often we hear exercise is good for our health? The benefits don’t end with maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of chronic disease. Exercise improves blood flow which means more oxygen and nutrients get to our skin cells. Muscle tone not only looks good, it improves strength, balance and stability. 

Exercise also helps reduce stress, improve sleep and boost energy — all of which affects how young we feel.

Get your zzzs. It’s no secret that getting sufficient slumber can stave off fatigue. The more energy we have, the more likely we are to be active — and exercise boosts our energy levels too.

Unfortunately, a lack of sleep isn’t so easy to hide from the world. The tell-tale signs of puffiness, bags under the eyes and dark circles can make us appear older, even if it’s just temporary. Dark circles and puffiness are genetic too, but can be helped with the right concealer. (Think one shade lighter than your skin tone for dark circles, and one shade darker to help under-eye bags recede.)

Butt out. Smoking isn’t any kinder to your external organ (the skin) than it is to your internal ones. Experts say cigarette smoke — even second hand — can contribute to wrinkles, dryness, uneven skin tone  and loose skin under the eyes. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can destroy the collagen our skin needs to stay flexible and elastic. The habit can also rob your skin of oxygen and nutrients like vitamin C.

It isn’t just your face that feels the effects — skin elasticity is impacted everywhere else, warns WebMD. That includes the underarms and breasts. Research has shown that smoking is linked to hair loss as well, not to mention what it can do to your teeth. The good news is that after you quit, your skin and health can start to repair themselves.

Enjoy your fruits and veggies. Just in case you haven’t heard, these tasty choices are good for us for so many reasons — including helping to maintain a healthy weight, keeping the immune system strong, fighting inflammation and reducing the risk of chronic disease.

Of course, all of those nutrients and antioxidants also help nourish our skin from the inside out. Other healthful choices like whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy and legumes also provide a boost. (Check out this list of foods for a healthy glow.)

What foods do experts say we should limit or avoid? You know the culprits: foods full of added sugars and salt, fried and fatty foods, refined starches, red meat and high fat dairy shouldn’t be staples in our diet. They can contribute to inflammation in the body as well as weight gain — and can lead to bloating, constipation and heartburn thanks to our bodies’ changing digestion system.

Sources: About.com, EverydayHealth.com, The Guardian, MakeupGeek.com, the MayoClinic.com, MSN.com, Oprah.com, WebMD

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ Martin Novak

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