Age can be so annoying. If birthdays were recyclable, we'd all be environmentalists. But is it worth going under the knife to fake away a few years? (The recent uptick in celebs on plastic-surgery benders is a little unnerving.) Don't worry: These six switches will make you look younger without a lot of drama.
Instead of: Soap and water
Try: Creams and lotions
Scrubbing your face actually dries and ages the skin. The new regimen? Cleanse gently, moisturize daily, swear by SPF 30, and think about an anti-aging cream."Over-the-counter products are best for people in their 20s and 30s," says Dale Isaacson, MD, associate clinical professor in the department of dermatology and medicine at George Washington Medical Center. "Once you get into your 40s, you probably need something stronger." Among the ingredients used to reduce fine lines and restore texture, so far vitamins C and A seem to stand out. In drugstore creams, look for L-ascorbic acid and retinol (the forms of vitamins C and A you want). At the prescription level, retinoids (like Retin A) have the most science behind them. Isaacson also uses formulations with high concentrations of vitamin C, growth hormones, and coffeeberry.
Instead of: Cover and hide
Try: Let there be light
Glopping concealer under your eyes (naturally, our first impulse) is the worst thing you can do, says Hollywood makeup artist Kerry Herta—it just enhances the crinkles. To hide the bags, dab a light-reflecting coverup, and don't use powder unless it's loose and finely milled. "If you've never curled your lashes, now is the time to start," Herta says. "It will give the illusion of a more open eye,"—as will building the mascara at the center of the lash. As for the rest of the face, "the compact has to go," she says. "Replace it with a liquid foundation." And brash lipstick can backfire; you'll look younger with soft colors and a little gloss on top. Or, if you just want a little oomph, try a tinted moisturizer. "The whole idea is to keep a luminosity to the skin rather than to mattify it," Herta says. "The look of youth is radiance."
Instead of: Dyeing darker
Try: A touch of shine
Yes, even if you're grey. In fact, that four-letter color can look edgy on the right person, especially with a few blond highlights, says Terrence Michael Renk, a stylist at J Beverly HIlls who works in TV and film. "More important than dyeing," he says, "is the texture: Young hair is shiny, and that gets lost when we age." Renk loves to glisten things up with glazes—clear or in warm demi-colors. Also the cut and a few well-placed highlights can counter facial sagging, he says. "And have some fun. One of the biggest trends right now is the 70s influence. There is nothing wrong with a 50-year-old woman putting a braid on one side of her head. "
Instead of: The "outfit"
Try: It's all about the right pieces
"If you're going to an event this summer, don't wear black pants, a dressy top, and a cardigan—it's very old lady-ish," says Charla Krupp, author of How Not to Look Old. Krupp's other "don'ts" include little suits and matchy-matchy getups. You'll look chic and younger, she says, in white pants and high heels, or a simple dress. And then, ladies, pile on the wrist candy—"a lot of bangles, a big thick watch, tons of teeny elasticized bracelets." Eyewear can make a big difference, too, she says. "Check out Annette Bening's glasses in The Kids Are All Right. (take a look.) Also, shake up the pedicure. "Red is so boring. Even wine, Wicked, and burgundies are getting stale. Put lavender on your toes. Blue, black...grey is really in." Whatever you do, just don't come off like you're trying too hard—which means, ta-ta, whirly skirts and mini bubble dresses. "Those look good if you're 12."
Instead of: Walking
Try: Walking backward
Don't get us wrong: Any exercise is good exercise. But moving nimbly is a subtle indicator of being young. "The key is motor plasticity," says Michael Gonzalez-Wallace, creator of the Super Body, Super Brain program. "You need to continue to train the brain circuits responsible for movement." That means, instead of just walking or jogging, which you do automatically, you should periodically throw in a balance or coordination challenge: Walk backward, play basketball, take a ballet class, stand on one foot with your eyes closed. "Try one new activity a week," Gonzalez-Wallace suggests. "You just need a few minutes."
Whatever you do, remember the bigger picture, says Stephanie Dolgoff, whose book, My Formerly Hot Life, comes out this month. "Dying your hair or filling in a frown line can definitely give you a little boost. But don't expect looking younger to make you happy. I saw a saying on a card once that said 'A smile is an instant facelift.' I rolled my eyes at the time, but it's true. When you laugh, you can't see the wrinkles."
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