What a drag it is getting old. So sang The Rolling Stones, but you don't need to turn to mother's little helper to get through the aging process. Here, our executive editor and former beauty director Amy Synnott shares her top 10 tricks to look five years younger—and fast. From the drugstore makeup and tools she loves most to the tip she gleaned from none other than the ageless Jennifer Aniston, check out Synnott's easy hacks, some even guaranteed to have you looking younger by the time you finishing reading.
1. Clean up your diet. Though there are hundreds of different points of view on exactly what constitutes the perfect diet, one thing we can all agree on in your 40s is this: Highly processed food does not a pretty 40-something face make. To keep your skin as taut and glowy as possible, load up on colorful whole foods (think blueberries, cantaloupe, broccoli, kale), good fats (avocado, almonds, fatty wild fish) and lean protein (preferably free range or grass fed). Still feel bloated? Itchy? Covered in mysterious middle-age pimples? Many health experts (including my personal food guru, the integrative doctor and wellness coach Dr. Frank Lipman) suggest eliminating (or at least reducing) your intake of dairy and gluten to see how you feel. Full disclosure: If those rogue zits on your chin disappear a few weeks after eliminating your morning latte, then you and I have something in common.
2. Sweat. Moving your body for at least 30 minutes a day is good for your mind (big kiss, endorphins!)—and your complexion. Cardio boosts circulation, which is why your face looks flushed and rosy for hours after exertion. Sitting in a steam room (which causes your heart to pump out way more blood than normal) also increases blood flow to your face. If you really want to get your glow on before a party, I highly recommend this one-two punch of cardio followed by steam. It’s way more reliable than a facial, IMHO.
3. Beef up your brows. We all know our hair gets thinner as we age, but did you know your brows get thinner, too? Brows add symmetry to your facial features, so you don’t want those ‘pillars to look anemic. The good news is that it’s much easier to fake a full brow than join Hair Club for Men. I swear by Guerlain’s Universal Eyebrow Kit ($53, sephora.com), which includes a tiny brush-and-spooly along with three shades (blonde, light brown and dark brown) and a pale pink highlighter. Fun fact: A strong brow and a bit of shimmer under the brow bone can make you look a lot less like a Basset Hound.
4. Caulk up those crows feet. Sure, you could get Botox. But if the idea of injecting botulinum toxin right next to your eyeball gives you pause, a silicone-based line filler might be more appealing. I love Lumene’s Bright Now Blur Line & Pore Minimizer ($20; ulta.com) because it glides on like silk, doesn’t get gummy, and can also be used to blot out enlarged pores. Think of it as a good lighting—built straight into your makeup.
5. Shrink your under-eye bags. I’ve never had the patience to sit with a pack of frozen peas on my face for the five minutes or so it would take to constrict blood vessels and therefore reduce swelling, so I’ve literally tried hundreds of eye creams looking for the elusive miracle de-puffer. The product I find works best for my transient under-eye luggage is a serum I found at the drugstore: Sudden Change Under-Eye Firming Serum ($9; walmart.com). It’s made pretty much entirely out of albumen (a fancy word for egg whites). You have to apply it very carefully—think one small drop under the eye then pat, pat, pat with your ring finger—and viola. In three minutes, those blown-out bags will look vacuum-sealed. I should warn you that this product is very easy to screw up—apply too much and you will look like you have Saran Wrap curdling under your eyes. (If this happens, just dab the flakes with a bit of water.)
6. Swap out your bun for a pony. A messy chignon on a 20-year-old says, “I’m too cool to waste time on a blowout.” On a woman over 40? You might as well admit you lived through the Dewey decimal system. If you can’t be bothered to blow out your hair (ask any hairdresser worth his Super Solano and he will tell you there is nothing more youthful than shiny hair with lots of movement) then scoop your hair up into a high pony. The eternally ageless Jennifer Aniston recently told me this is her “go-to everyday style.” And for good reason: It visually pulls the cheekbones up, making the whole face look more lifted. Bonus points if you add soft bangs and/or long layers around the face, which soften hard lines and downplay any asymmetry.
7. Kick back with an LED mask. The same red light technology that’s being used in doctors' offices for quickie photo rejuvenation treatments can now be enjoyed in the comfort of your own bed while listening to Serial podcast reruns. And: It’s affordable! The Illumask, which provides 30 daily, 15-minute treatments, costs just $30 at Walmart. Of all the light therapy treatments out there, this one is my favorite because you don’t even need to hold it, you can simply lay back and do nothing while the mask does its thing.
8. Ditch the powder. Were you trying to look like Miss Havisham? If not, then put the pressed powder down. Truth be told, even loose “translucent” powder should be approached with a caution normally reserved for Dunkin Donuts. The older I get, the more I gravitate toward creamy formulations that (I hope!) recapture some of the dewiness seen in pictures from my late 20s. Two that I can’t live without: Nars Illuminator in Orgasm ($30; narscosmetics.com) and Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($62; sephora.com). I’ve even started dabbing my cheekbones with this delicious glowy oil from Norway, Nordic Beauty Healing Oil Serum ($190; nordicbeauty.com). A touch of facial oil can make even the dullest skin reflect light—always a good thing.
9. Lay off the mascara. I know: There was that time you didn’t wear it and everyone asked if you were tired/depressed/recovering from giardia. But that is no excuse for channeling your inner Tammy Faye every time you pick up a mascara wand. Spidery lashes don’t look good on anyone, and heavy mascara casts shadows that actually highlight dark circles. Some women even find they look younger by forgoing mascara altogether as they age. My advice: Use a light hand. I love Maybelline Lash Discovery ($8; ulta.com) because its tiny little wand ensures you never end up with clumpy lashes.
10. Meditate. Spending 20 minutes a day training your brain to be less reactive to stress is a great investment in your sanity—not to mention your ability to age gracefully. To this end, I highly recommend downloading the life-changing (and simple—even my 7–year-old daughter uses it!) app, OMG I Can Meditate (free on itunes.com). The more mindful you are about living in the moment and thinking about what what really matters in life, the less likely you are to obsess over things you can’t change (like your neck). As Mark Twain said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
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