When my great-aunt turned 63 she decided to let her hair go gray. When she told her stylist, he exuberantly replied, “Amazing! We can make you look 10 years older within the hour!” Now this was before the greige and grey hair trends took the world by storm. But my great-aunt is in her 90s now and she’s still dying her hair.
I turned 50 this year, and I think of my aunt often as I contemplate my aging reality while fiercely clutching my box of hair dye. The uninvited guests of aging: the rebellious silver strands that insist on joining the party, the fine lines that play connect-the-dots on my face, and the sneaky gravitational pull on my once perky assets.
Now it’s not in Vogue to fight the aging process. We’re in an era of acceptance and authenticity. A time when women are encouraged to embrace their wrinkles, gray hair and muffin tops. And yet, I’m not quite there yet. I’m definitely not trying to desperately turn back the hands of time and be 30 again.
Instead I’m all about aging gracefully. And I’ve put a lot of thought into this.
So my dear readers, in this blog I’m here to shed light on 10 things you might be doing that unintentionally make you look and feel older than you are. And I’ll provide a few tips and tricks to help you age gracefully and navigate this exciting chapter of life. So grab your coffee, sit back, and let’s jump in.
1. Sc-Hairy Stuff
Our hair is one of the first things people notice about us. And like Aunt Ruth’s hair stylist pointed out, hiding gray hair may be one of the easy ways for us to maintain our youthful appearance. But that silver or gray hair, isn’t the only way our hair may be aging us:
The Wrong Colour: Too dark or too light – either can unwittingly cast a spotlight on sallow skin tones, and may magnify the presence of those delicate fine lines. The same is true for solid shades, especially darker ones. Plus your gray hair really jumps out as your roots come in. Instead, select a hue that harmonizes with your complexion and lighten it a shade or two. Also consider getting highlights. They do wonders for hiding gray hair and add glow, radiance and movement to your locks.
Dull and Damaged: Likely the result of perimenopausal hormone changes, our hair changes texture and becomes drier, more brittle and even thinner as we age. It’s not your imagination. So it’s really important that we take care of our hair and scalp. Regular salon visits can help keep our hair looking healthy and youthful. I’ve found that taking collagen and zinc daily has done wonders for my scalp (and therefore my hair). It took several months to kick in, but WOW! It’s been a game changer for me.
Outdated Hairstyles: Don’t let your hairstyle become a relic of the past. Sticking to the same tired cut can add years to your appearance. Instead, embrace change. In fact, most stylists recommend refreshing your cut at least once every decade. If you opt for a classic style, like the bob, make sure you incorporate the current trending nuances. And remember, just because you’re over 40, doesn’t mean you need to go short.
2. Skin Care Sabotage
As time goes by, our skin naturally becomes rougher, more delicate, and experiences the inevitable pull of gravity, causing it to lose its firmness and sag. Like fine lines and wrinkles, this is just part of the normal skin aging process. And even if you’ve decided to accept your wrinkles, like me (I love my laugh lines!), if you’re not careful, you might speed this process up faster than you’d like:
Skipping sunscreen: the ultimate sabotage for youthful-looking skin. Not only does the sun wreak havoc on our skin’s health, it also accelerates the aging process. Leaving us with age spots, uneven skin tone, and a loss of elasticity. While a tan may seem appealing in the short term, the long-term consequences can be quite unforgiving. So, slather on that SPF and protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
Poor skincare routine: Oh, the havoc we can wreak on our skin when we become complacent with our skincare routine! Neglecting proper cleansing turns our skin into a breeding ground for dirt, oil, and pollutants, leading to clogged pores, breakouts, and a lackluster complexion. Moisturizing quenches your skin’s thirst, keeping it plump and supple. Without it, dryness, flakes, and those relentless fine lines and wrinkles take hold. And let’s not forget the magical elixirs of skin care products. Like ‘good skin’ wizards, they magically help us to age gracefully.
For those of us trying to age gracefully, taking care of our skin is a must.
3. Make Up Mistakes
When I look in the mirror in the morning, all I can see are the black bags under my eyes and my red, blotchy, uneven skin tone. My first impulse is to reach for my make up bag and cover that shit up.
Then I started to notice that after my make up was completed, I actually looked older. I also noticed that some of my girlfriends who wore very little make up had a young, dewy glow (I’m talking about you Elyse). And it dawned on me that the make up techniques I used in my 30s and even 40s, were actually aging me. You may still be making some of these mistakes and inadvertently aging yourself:
Heavy Does It: Using too much concealer, foundation or powder will definitely make you look older. These may have been your go to tools in your 20s and 30s, but in now, they give us a cakey look. And they settle into our fine lines which only accentuates our wrinkles.
Matte Finishes: While matte finishes may be trendy, it can age your appearance. Unlike a slightly dewy makeup that gives you a youthful glow, matte finishes actually emphasizes our fine lines and wrinkles instead of camouflaging them.
Outdated Styles: Like our hair, we need to stay up to date on current make up trends. Things like contrasting lip liner, heavy eyeliner and ultra-skinny eyebrows are no longer in fashion. And they’re not actually all that flattering for women aimed at aging gracefully.
Avoid Sparkles: When it comes to sparkle and shimmer, remember that whatever you embellish with them will be highlighted. Usually we add sparkle to our cheeks and eyelids, so we’re actually drawing attention to our dark circles and crows feet. Toss the sparkles and go for a dewy glow instead.
The good news is that there are tons of cosmetic companies right now that specialize in mid-life women. I’m obsessed with Bobby Brown’s new brand Jones Road Beauty, specifically the Miracle Balm. You’ve gotta try it!
4. Fashion Faux Pas
Aging gracefully is tough to do when you’re wearing all the wrong things. And unfortunately, many of us are:
Ill Fitting Bras: As we age, gravity takes its toll and things may not be as perky as they once were. If we’re wearing the wrong size bra it can accentuate back rolls, fail to provide proper support, and even worsen our posture. To take off some years, improve your appearance, and ensure better-fitting clothes, it’s time to invest in a professionally-fitted bra. Experts suggest getting fitted at least once a year to ensure the right fit for your changing body. Cause let’s be honest, it’s changing all the time.
Ill Fitting Clothes: I totally get not wanting to update your wardrobe every time you gain or lose a few pounds (which I think we just agreed was common in perimenopause). But wearing the wrong size clothes is definitely not the answer. Stylists agree that clothing that fits properly is more important than following trends. And don’t think that wearing bagging or oversized outfits is helping you to conceal the body parts you don’t like. In fact they make you look softer and less muscular which inadvertently makes you look older.
The Wrong Material: To avoid aging yourself, choose clothing in material that provides both comfort and a flattering fit. Opting for breathable fabrics like cotton clothing also ensures you stay cool and prepared for unexpected hot flashes. You really can age gracefully without compromising on style.
Elastic Waist Pants: No need to say more.
Shoes: – I get that as we age (or at least I notice it now and didn’t before) our feet swell dramatically throughout the day. And if I had a dollar for every time a friend announced she had Plantar Fasciitis, I’d be a very wealthy woman. So it stands to reason that as we age, we start to shy away from the Come F#ck Me heels we wore 24-7 in our 20s. There’s no need to commit shoe-icide anymore. Instead we opt for a sensible pair of flats or a wide chunky heel. And that’s ok because there are a ton of sensible shoes that are also stylish. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that sensible means Crocs or Birkinstocks.
5. Skipping the Gym
Hopefully I don’t need to sell you on the benefits of working out, but just in case… As we age, we start to lose muscle, and inactive people can lose 3-5% each decade after the age of 30. Over time, this muscle loss can make simple everyday activities like walking the dog, cleaning, and even shopping (Yikes!) out of reach.
It hinders our ability to cope with and recover from an illness or injury. Loss of muscle coupled with the higher risk of osteoporosis can lead to dangerous, life-threatening falls.
Plus, there’s tons of studies right now demonstrating that sedentary lifestyles contribute to accelerated aging. In fact, one study found that people who exercise often appear up to nine years younger than those who are sedentary.
Hanging onto extra pounds as we age can also make us look significantly older. It can obscure our bone structure, increase sagging, and may even emphasize some of those creases in our face.
Exercise not only helps to strengthen bones and core muscles but also counteracts muscle imbalances, promoting better posture and reducing the risk of injuries. Incorporating simple stretching exercises into our routine can further enhance flexibility and mobility, helps us feel young and maintain a youthful, active lifestyle.
6. Don’t Be a Slouch
Maintaining good posture is essential for aging gracefully as it impacts our overall appearance and the impression of aging. Slouching and having a distinctive stooped posture can make us appear older and less vibrant. Not only does poor posture affect our aesthetic, but it can also lead to muscle imbalances and strain on the spine, potentially causing pain and discomfort.
We can also use our posture to project confidence (even if we’re not feeling it). And an open posture and lifted chin, not only signals self-assurance, it also portrays vitality and a more youthful presence.
Good posture is key to radiating grace, beauty and confidence.
7. Mental Mush
Aging gracefully isn’t just about appearances, it’s also about our brains and making sure they’re aging slowly too.
To age gracefully means to maintain a sharp mind. Neglecting your brain health can result in cognitive decline, memory lapses, and diminished mental acuity. It can make you feel older than your actual age and leave you struggling to keep up with younger people, especially in terms of cognitive abilities.
So as we age, we need to engage in activities that stimulate cognitive functions. Like reading challenging books, solving puzzles, learning new skills or even a new language. These types of brain exercises can counteract the normal aging process and enhance your mental abilities.
8. Resting B!tch Face
A negative attitude can have profound effects on your appearance and well-being. And that constant scowl you’re sporting is doing more damage than you might think. Research conducted in Berlin reveals that individuals who smile are consistently perceived as younger than their actual age.
Laugh often and surround yourself with positive people. Is has a profound effect on your mood and overall demeanor. After all, laughter is the best medicine, especially when it comes to graceful aging. Embrace moments of joy and find humor in everyday situations.
Practice gratitude. Count your blessings. And find silver linings, even in in the graying hair. By shifting your perspective and embracing a positive attitude, you radiate a youthful energy that defies the grasp of time.
9. Living on a Prayer
Poor lifestyle choices have a significant impact on how you feel and look. Drinks with your girlfriends. A smoke when you’re out drinking. Chronic stress, emotional eating, even caffeine can make us look and feel older than our years. Let’s break it down:
Smoking: not only harms your overall health but also contributes to premature aging.
Excessive Alcohol: has dehydrating effects our skin. It also impacts our weight control and even our sleep.
Skimping on Sleep: affects energy levels and also impairs brain health, cognitive performance, and can contribute to weight gain.
Chronic Stress: coupled with unhealthy coping mechanisms like emotional eating, can accelerate the aging process, affect weight management, and harm brain health.
Unhealthy Eating Habits: excessive sugar consumption, processed foods, and unhealthy fats, impact our skin health, contribute to weight gain and can negatively affect brain function.
Aging gracefully therefore means making healthier lifestyle choices, as often as possible. We don’t always have to be perfect. Life is short after all, and we still want to have some fun.
10. Monotony – Not The Spice of Life
Don’t let your sense of adventure collect dust as you mindlessly binge on Netflix. It’s time to break free from the monotony and inject some youthful zest into your life. It’s never too late to try new things. Adventure is a huge part of aging gracefully.
Take a leap of faith and try new things that make your heart race faster than your hair is turning gray. Raise that blood pressure a bit. Try skydiving or parasailing on your next trip. Go ziplining through the jungle like Tarzan and Jane. Take a hip-hop dance class and train like your going on tour with Beyonce.
Embrace the unknown. Conquer your fears. And watch your age do a double take as you’re out there living your best life. Remember, age is just a number. And the memories you create while trying outrageous adventures will keep you feeling forever young. Bucket list, meet your new best friend!
Aging is inevitable. Aging gracefully is an art.
So as we age, let’s embrace this new chapter. And add a sprinkle of laughter and a zest for life. Face the journey with curiousity, self-love, kindness and adventure. Together we can live forever young at heart.