Let's talk about aging. I am often asked in real life about my skincare routine, and disbelief at my age. I never quite understood it, and thought it was just one of those things people say to try and be nice, so I did an experiment: I posted photos of myself between the ages of 22-24, but without stating it was an old photo, and pretended it was recent. No one noticed that the photos were nowhere near recent. Not even my close friends or husband. I really haven't aged a damn bit in the past 10+ years.
Obviously there is a genetic factor involved in pretty much most things regarding appearance, but aging well was not merely a happy accident.
- Don't wait until you're showing signs of aging to use anti-aging products. I started taking care of my skin at a young age. By 7 years old, I was making sure I went to bed with a clean, freshly washed face. And by 14 years old, I started using eye creams and anti-wrinkle products. If you wait to use those WHEN you start seeing crow's feet and laugh lines, it's too late. Granted, late is better than never, but prevention is much, much better. Prevent wrinkles in the first place, instead of trying to reverse them later.
- Use sunscreen EVERYDAY, even on overcast days, even in the winter. Look, just because it's not 90 degrees and you're not on a beach, doesn't mean you're suddenly immune to sun damage all other days. The sun is not literally gone in the winter, or on cloudy days. Granted, you don't need SPF 110 in February, but you should use at least SPF 15 (I use a minimum of SPF 30 in the winter). Spring and summer months, obviously you'll want to increase to at least SPF 50 (I prefer SPF 90+. It's the closest thing I have to a force field). If your skin is prone to break outs, find a BB cream that has SPF in it. BB creams are higher quality, meant for your face, and you can find ones specifically for sensitive or oily skin types.
- Wash your face before you go to bed. DUH. Seriously, sleeping in your make-up is nasty and can't possibly be good for your skin. I can't believe I have to even say that.
- Keep your hair long. This one is easy. I'm not saying you have to have super long, Christian Fundamentalist hair. But a longer hair style (think "shoulder length" to "mid-back") is way more youthful than short hairstyles. Short hair just screams "mom" and "middle age" and "I gave up".
- Unless your skin is really discolored or blotchy, there is no reason you need a full coverage foundation. I can't imagine why anyone under the age of 45 needs a full face of foundation unless she already has extensive sun damage, dark spots, and/or discoloration. Foundation settles into fine wrinkles and makes them look much deeper. And it's super obvious looking. And because of that, it automatically adds years to you. There is nothing more youthful than a fresh, clean-looking face. If you do want a little bit of natural-looking coverage, use a BB cream. That is more than enough unless you are over the age of 45, in which case, your needs become much, much different.
- Stop over-tweezing your brows. Super thin brows not only look dated, and drag queenish, but they age you considerably. Think about when you were a young teenager. Your brows were thicker and fuller. Don't go full on "caterpillar eyebrows", but keeping them a little bit thicker will add a youthfulness to you. If you're older or just naturally have thinner brows, very very sparingly fill in your brows, using whatever product you prefer, making sure to err on the side of less (so that it looks natural. Unnatural, overdone brows are awful and should be illegal).
- Wear sheet masks (or other masks) overnight. I am a huge fan of sheet masks and sleep in them. I also wear mud masks and clay masks overnight too. I have zero data to back this up, other than that I look great for my age, but I think I get way more bang for my buck out of my masks that way. My skin looks and feels amazing in the morning.
- Care about what you're putting on your face. I'm not saying that you need to spend hundreds of dollars on creams and cosmetics, but if you never buy quality products, even if means paying more, then can you really expect to see results? Sure, there are some good, inexpensive products out there, but be willing to spend more if you find a product you love. Along the same lines, don't try too hard with following make-up trends. Going classic or natural will always look better than chasing a fad. And some things will always look super dated and old, like blue eye shadow. *shudder*
- Exfoliate. You don't have to exfoliate every day, but do it at least once per week. If microdermabrasion is in the budget, even better. That's basically a much finer scrubbing of your skin, and I fully endorse the process. Clinique's exfoliating scrub (the original, not the 7-day one) is something I've been using since I was 15. I credit Clinique's entire skin care line for helping me avoid the acne that hit my other siblings.
- Don't wear make-up every single day. Let your skin just breathe sometimes. Especially if you have sensitive skin or are prone to break outs.
- Don't ignore your neck and upper chest! Take care of ALL your skin! Keep those areas moisturized and protected too. I use the same anti-wrinkle products on my face, also on my neck and upper chest area (the part that is generally exposed by the average t-shirt or top). I also moisturize all of my body, and use an actual SOAP, not a "beauty bar" (those are basically just a block of laundry detergent and not that great for your skin). Take care of all your skin. Drink enough water, exercise regularly, and don't eat tons of garbage. If you treat your body like trash, don't act confused when it looks and feels like trash too. A healthy diet will show, not just in your waist line, but with your skin quality too.
- Stop pretending you're still 20. Don't dress like it's still prom circa 1998. As you get older, it's okay to change your style to something that reflects your age (and the current decade's styles). It's okay if you're not the same size as you were in college. It's okay to just BE OLDER and accept that yes, you might have some more wrinkles, and some gray hair, and maybe things just aren't as tight and perky as you remember. Accepting and loving who you are, at any age, is the best way to age gracefully. Botox and tummy tucks and plastic surgery and collagen injections? That's the sad, desperate way to chase your youth and end up looking like a blow up doll whose face might melt if she's standing too close to the radiator. Taking care of the skin you're in will always look better, even if that means you have some totally normal imperfections. You don't even have to care enough to do any of the things I've listed. It's also okay if none of it is that important to you. I promise you're still beautiful. Our society holds women to a certain expectation that we are supposed to stay as young looking as possible, for as long as possible, and yes, I'm aware that I am following that. Maybe you're more self-confident and don't need that, and know that even though some women might be jealous of my ability to meet that standard, I will always be jealous of the women who don't feel the need to conform in the first place.