Look 5 years younger (without using lasers)
By now, we all know the teeth-staining effects of red wine, coffee, and smoking — and they don’t make your smile look any younger. Going in for whitening treatments works, but for a more budget-friendly option, look no further than your kitchen pantry. Dr. Jyoti Srivastava, a NYC-based prothodontist at EastSide Dental Medicine, says baking soda, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon and orange peels, strawberries, and apples will all remove stains when applied in small amounts to your teeth. (Note: The high acidic content in some of these foods can lead to enamel loss if used too often, so Srivastava recommends only using them around once a month.)
Another surprising teeth whitener? Probiotics. “Oral probiotics help maintain a healthy balance of the oral flora, prevent dental decay, and [promote] fresher breath,” says Srivastava. Two of the bacteria in probiotic mints like EvoraPro produce low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, which can even whiten your teeth gradually over time. Altoids suddenly feel so yesterday.
When it comes to coloring your hair, celebrity colorist and Matrix artistic director Nick Stenson says to avoid hard lines and demarcated colors. “The key to a more youthful appearance is to go with dimensional tones,” he says. “Keep tones warm, not cool, and be sure to add face-framing highlights to make your face look brighter.” Why steer clear of dark, cool, and ashy shades? Surprisingly, they can cause your skin to look duller. For women with naturally dark hair, Stenson suggests getting a salon glossing. Not only will it amp up shine, it’ll help your color last longer and give hair a healthier glow. Extend the life of your glosses by using a conditioning treatment that you can do from home between visits. (Stenson uses Biolage Exquisite Oil on his clients).
And, of course, we fully support embracing your natural grays. There’s something so striking about a woman who can rock her silver strands with confidence and pride.
Another surprising way to look instantly younger? Bangs. “For one, it's a great way to conceal unwanted wrinkles on the forehead,” says Matrix artistic designer and NYC hairstylist Ammon Carver. “It also keeps the shape around your face light and lifted, whereas longer layers can have a dragging effect." NYC-based stylist Nathan Rosenkranz agrees: “Bangs signify youth. Keep your fringe flirty and full and never too short or wispy. If you’re going to do it, do it all the way.”
Stick-straight styles and extreme length near the face can appear "heavy" and sag your features, says Carver. If you like keeping your strands long, stay away from one-length haircuts. Instead, request long layers, soft volume, and bounce to lend a youthful feeling. If you’re a short-haired gal, Carver suggests avoiding haircuts that are "bubble-shaped" (i.e. lots of volume at the crown and round everywhere). They can be reminiscent of what he calls the "grandma shampoo-set look" — not exactly the chicest hair inspiration. Density matters, too: “Fuller hair looks younger,” says Carver. If your hair tends to be on the thin side, choose a haircut that can maximize fullness — he suggests collar-bone length or above.
If your strands haven’t evolved in a while, perhaps it’s time to consider a change. Rosenkranz says that if you’ve had the same haircut for years, you should take the plunge and try something new; the cut is most likely out of style if it’s been that long. Carver agrees: “A fresh look will help you feel just that…fresh.” We’re dialing our stylist as we type.
We’ve all been there: One day, you look in the mirror and notice a wrinkle that wasn’t there before, or a sunspot that appeared out of nowhere. Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mt. Sinai Hospital, suggests getting a chemical peel to even and brighten. This stimulates new collagen and reduces the appearance of wrinkles. At the same time, old pigmented skin cells are shed, leaving your skin renewed and brighter.
If you’d rather skip the derm visit and brighten with OTC creams, make sure to go directly to the ingredient list. Zeichner suggests looking for key ingredients like kojic acid and antioxidants such as vitamin C and phlorigine, all of which interfere with the production of melanin. Olay’s Pro X lineand Skinceuticals Pigment Corrector are new products he recommends, as they can even and brighten the skin.
Scrubs and face brushes aren’t the only way to get your skin’s texture back in the vicinity of “baby soft.” Zeichner says small doses of alpha-hydroxy acids (yes, the same AHAs used in chemical peels) and beta-hydroxy acids can also have the same effect on your skin as manual exfoliation. When applied topically, AHAs cause the outer layer of skin cells to peel off, while BHAs unclog and clean out pores. In the end, some people may actually prefer their ease and even exfoliation to scrubs and brushes.
Look for cleansers and moisturizers with ingredients like glycolic acid, malic acid, mandelic acid, and salicylic acid. Just remember to apply SPF afterwards and not go overboard if just starting out. Zeichner suggests using the products every other day and increasing them to every day only if your skin can tolerate it.
Sagging, dimpling, and dulling are three words we don’t want anywhere near the skin on our bodies, thanks. To ward off this triple threat as you grow older, Zeichner first stresses the importance of moisturizing over exfoliating. “Parched skin peels,” he says. “Especially in the winter, exfoliating [the skin on your body] can lead to more skin irritation and dryness.” So, before you get too scrub-happy, make sure you’re moisturizing first.
In regards to cellulite, we’ve accepted the reality that there isn’t much we can do to avoid it. But, just because cellulite scrubs and creams won’t rid your body of dimpling doesn’t mean they’re useless. Zeichner says the scrubs can help smooth out the surface of the skin, giving the illusion of less apparent dimples, while cellulite creams containing antioxidants and retinol can strengthen your skin’s elasticity. Both products usually contain caffeine, which “helps dehydrate fat and make cellulite look less apparent.”
When it comes to our bodies, surface skin is just one part of the story. To really melt off the years, there’s one thing that takes center stage: toning. “Toning and stretching exercises will keep your muscles strong and flexible and your body well-balanced,” says Dylan Davies Schenk, certified nutritionist and owner/creator of Cross Train L.A. Regular exercise is the key to keeping your mind, muscles, and skin youthful. Another plus from all that huffing and puffing? Schenk states that when you sweat, blood flow increases and toxins flee your body, leaving your skin youthful and radiant.
Of course, we couldn’t possibly discuss toning without addressing body weight. Schenk warns against the dangers of falling into the “skinny is best” mentality: “As you age, it's important to keep a healthy weight and BMI (body mass index),” he says. “If you're focused on being ‘skinny,’ or if you lose weight too quickly, it may actually make you look older." How so? Skin can become saggy around the face, hands, or arms. Instead of focusing on being “skinny,” Schenk says to turn your attention to eating a well-balanced diet and maintaining regular exercise. “Everyone will notice,” she says. “Your hair, skin, and eyes will look brighter. Your muscles will be lean and toned, and your body fat will be in a healthy range.”
Sometimes, foundation has a tendency to settle into the wrinkles and fine lines we’re trying to smooth over instead of, you know, actually smoothing them over. L.A.-based makeup artist Melissa Walsh points out a few crucial steps to avoid this annoyance. “It's all about hydration,” says Walsh. “Drink lots of water and use a serum or cream with hyaluronic acid in it, like Hado Labo Replenishing Hydrator. Then, use a filler like Algenist Targeted Deep Wrinkle Minimizer before applying a foundation base specifically for targeting wrinkles, like Terrybly Densilis By Terry Serum Foundation.”
On nights where you want to look your best, use a plumping mask or patch (we like Talika Eye Therapy patches) for extra hydration. Then, apply a primer to firm everything up before applying your foundation. Ready for a kicker? Walsh suggests finishing off your look off with a very light dusting of powder, because contrary to popular belief, shiny skin can actually highlight wrinkles and rough texture.
Our brows have been through a lot over the years. They’ve been plucked, they’ve been tattooed, they’ve been waxed, brushed, and even shaved off. The good news is that bold, beautiful brows are finally being embraced. Instead of skinny lines and strong arches, now it’s all about creating a soft, natural-looking shape. “The soft arch that isn't too full or thin makes you look younger because it softly defines your eyes,” explains Walsh. “Thin brows are too harsh and accentuate aging skin around the eyes, while too-thick brows tend to get wiry and unruly as we get older.” Noted.
She suggests filling in your brows with a soft, waxy pencil or powder using short, feathery strokes. Brush them out thoroughly with a spoolie brush, set them with a swipe of clear brow gel, and you’ll be good to go. They may not achieve Lily Collins status (if only), but having soft, natural-looking eye framers will take years off your face.
When it comes to youthful makeup, it’s not so much what you use as much as it is how you apply it, says Walsh. “Go ahead and use color [on your lid], but only along the top lash line; keep the rest of your eyeshadow a neutral color.” When selecting timeless, universally flattering shades, Walsh emphasizes three must-haves: a taupe eyeshadow with a slight sheen; a sheer, berry lipstick; and a light coral blush. (Women with dark skin tones should choose more heavily pigmented shades in the same family.)
Walsh suggests cream blush because it blends easily and doesn’t show fine lines —just make sure it isn’t glittery or shiny. Stay away from gel formulas, as they tend to accumulate in drier areas and can accentuate fine lines. Powder blush works if your skin is on the oilier side; apply with a light hand to avoid inviting any clown comparisons. After priming and plumping, concentrate on thick eyelashes, soft brows, a subtle wash of blush, and sheer lipstick. “The overall effect is fresh and young,” says Walsh. “After all, too much makeup is aging in itself.” We couldn’t agree more.
The fountain of youth may be a myth (if not…we’d appreciate a call, thanks), but that doesn’t mean your diet can’t affect your appearance. Lauren Slayton, M.S., R.D., director at FoodTrainers and author of The Little Book of Thin , suggests loading up on what she calls “the youthful skin trifecta”: vitamin C, beta-carotene, and good fats like EFA (essential fatty acids). Studies have proven that consuming more vitamin C results in a lower likelihood of wrinkles and dryness, while beta-carotene is what your body converts into vitamin A — otherwise known as our trusty skin friend, retinol. Retinol builds collagen, which promotes skin elasticity. Finally, good fats like omega-3 and omega-7 help produce your skin’s natural oil barrier and are what keep it looking plump and hydrated. Make sure you’re also getting enough B vitamins to avoid looking wan, and keep an eye on your iron intake; a lack of iron can have a less-than-pretty effect on your hair, skin, and nails.
Slayton also recommends trying a surprising food you might not have heard of: sea buckthorn juice (she suggests this one by Sibu Beauty). She explains that the Latin name for this miracle berry literally means “making horses shine” because of its beautifying qualities. “Sea buckthorn is an omega-7 oil, but it also contains vitamin C and beta-carotene,” says Slayton. “It’s a must-have for dry skin and [will help keep you] healthy, young looking, and glowing.”
When you’re stressed, it shows. Not only does stress have a negative affect on your physical health, a recent study indicates that higher plasma cortisol levels, which are associated with stress, can also make you appear less attractive. Not that we base our happiness on how other people perceive us, but c’mon — the occasional “Wow, you look amazing!” can put an extra pep in our step any day.
Unfortunately, as much as we would all like to eat, pray, and love ourselves to a worry-free existence, the reality is that daily stress is pretty much inevitable for most of us. The key, therefore, is learning how to deal with it. It might be tempting to reach for that cigarette, but we all know the scary effects smoking can have on our health and appearance by now. But, here’s some encouraging new info: Quitting before you’re 40 can actually help you increase your life expectancy by 10 years — whoa. Because smoking decreases vitamin C absorption, Slayton recommends loading up on foods rich with vitamin C, like papaya, pineapple, bell peppers, and broccoli to help kick the habit.
One simple solution that doesn’t involve nicotine? Taking a walk. “Brisk walking will instantly calm your body and mind,” says Schenk. “Studies show that a brisk walk will lower your stress levels and blood pressure, as well as improve your blood circulation.” Another plus? Schenk says that walking also has long-term benefits, like slowing cognitive decline and warding off Alzheimer's disease or stroke. Stash a pair of flats in your desk so you can walk off any midday stress and keep those white hairs at bay.
But, we're not going to deny the secret little thrill of getting carded when you were actually born during, say, the Ford Administration. So, in the interest of creating more of these, "Oh stop it, you're just being flattering!" moments, we've uncovered the scoop on how to reverse time without injections, surgery, or lasers. Let the age reversal commence.
Photos: Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza, Courtesy of Refinery 29
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