Ageing is a marathon, not a sprint. The signs creep up on us slowly and over time until one day you look in the mirror, and see fine lines, crow’s feet, age spots, and thinning hair staring back at you. Ouch!
Fortunately, addressing the signs can be much faster. Here are five things you can do right now that will have a huge impact on how you look, both today and in the future. Don’t wait, get started immediately!
#1 Quit sugar
No, bh isn’t just jumping on last year’s anti-sugar bandwagon; there’s a legit anti-ageing skin care reason for limiting your intake. “Too much sugar in the diet causes insulin levels in the body to rise sharply, resulting in an increased concentration of sugar in the blood,” explains Jenny Millar, the Brand Manager at BABOR.
This sugar rush then reacts with proteins and peptides in the body, resulting in a hardening of collagen fibres, a process that’s known as glycation. Rigid collagen fibres are less springy and more susceptible to breakage, and “so lines and wrinkles start to develop”.
All types of sugars behave this way, though high-fructose corn syrup – a sweetener used in many food and drinks – is believed to cause more damage, Jenny says. “Foods very high in sugar content need to be reduced in the diet – avoid cakes, biscuits, snacks and alcohol.”
Instead, load up on antioxidant-rich vegetables (leafy greens are ideal), nuts and seeds, rolled oats and lean meats. As well as being rich in nutrients, Jenny notes that, “a diet rich in free-radical-fighting antioxidants helps to keep sugar from attaching to proteins.”
And it’s not only about what you eat, as skin care plays a role too, Jenny notes. She says that L-carnosine is a good skin care ingredient to help minimise the effects of glycation on the skin, while marine collagens can help to keep the skin’s collagen fibres strong.
#2 Get serious about sun protection
We know you know that the sun is the number-one culprit when it comes to skin ageing. Lines, wrinkles, age spots and discolouration – all are largely thanks to that yellow ball in the sky.
But did you know this: one recent study from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research found that daily application of SPF15 or greater can actually delay the visible signs of ageing.
In the study, a group of people were asked to diligently apply an SPF15+ (or higher) every day. After four years, they were found to have no detectable changes in their skin.
That’s right, none. Not an extra line, wrinkle or patch of pigmentation in sight. Imagine if you’d done this four years ago. Start getting serious about SPF today, and your future self will be very pleased you did.
But the trick is to be super diligent. Those people in the study who applied SPF only when they felt like it didn’t see the same results.
RELATED: 8 tips to keep your skin firm
#3 Ditch the shimmer
Let’s be honest, who hasn’t picked up a shimmering metallic eye shadow or illuminator and thought: “maybe it’ll bring some sparkle to my eyes”? Sure, it sounds good in theory but beyond a certain age, it’s rarely advised says Melanie Burnicle, Revlon’s Makeup Director for Australasia. The reflective particles will quite literally highlight (and sit in!) any fine lines and crepiness.
Ditto with too much colour. Although Melanie recommends neutral and earthy shades for eyes and lips, she does encourage you to play with colour, as long as it’s done “in a more modern and subdued way. For example, you might like to do an eyeliner with a navy blue or mahogany shade”, rather than teal or royal purple.
And speaking of those pesky fine lines, a good primer worn under all your make-up is the fastest way to make them look smoother and the skin more flawless.
RELATED: 5 makeup mistakes that age you
#4 Pump up your volume
Skin isn’t the only place to show the signs of ageing – hair can cop it, too, in the form of thinner and weaker strands. A multifaceted approach is the best way to tackle it, says Aveda’s National Educator, Mathew Wickham, including making adjustments to your cut, colour, styling and hair care.
The right cut is one way to see quick results. According to Mathew, you want a style with a strong, bold shape to create the illusion of thickness. “A bob is a great solution to make hair look thicker,” he says, “but don’t over-layer, especially around the face.” Avoid ‘dos that are too short or too long – they can start to look straggly when hair is very fine – and keep length on the crown to get some volume happening around the front.
When it comes to colour, the sweet spot is again in the middle, rather than being too dark or too light. Skilled colourists may recommend a slightly lighter shade for the centre and darker around the edges, which is “almost like contouring the hair colour”. Clever!
Take extra care when styling thin hair, as it can be more susceptible to damage and breakage. Mathew recommends using a good-quality cushioned paddle brush, and never brushing hair when it’s wet.
And while volumising products may be your new best friends, there are a couple of other tools to add to your arsenal. The first is a scalp exfoliant, as Mathew points out that sometimes the hair follicle can become blocked, which actually prevents hair from growing through. The second is a fortifying treatment, which actually helps to strengthen hair over time. Result: strong hair, don’t care!
#5 Take up meditation
Many years ago, I met and interviewed Paul Wilson, author of the best-selling The Little Book of Calm. Paul had loads of interesting things to say about meditation but to be honest, what I remember most from that encounter was his incredibly smooth, radiant and line-free complexion. Could meditation really be responsible for that? Actually, yes.
Meditation has been found to lower the levels of cortisol – aka the stress hormone – in our blood. While cortisol is needed to get us through stressful situations, too much of it over a long period of time can lead to all sorts of issues, including complexion-related disasters such as psoriasis and thinning skin. Our skin naturally gets thinner as we age (think of the papery soft texture of your grandmother’s skin) and I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want high cortisol levels speeding up that process.
One study has shown that meditating for just three consecutive days (for 25 minutes at a time) can help keep cortisol levels in check.
What are your biggest age-related beauty concerns? Do you have any other tips for addressing them?