Last week I celebrated my 41 birthday (and I’m about 7 months pregnant too!) – definitely feeling it! I thought it would be fun to share what I’ve learned so far about anti-aging and preserving the youthfulness of my skin. I know many of you are much younger or older than me, or around the same age. Now that I’m into my 40s the fine lines and wrinkles are definitely showing, and I have to take care of my skin differently than I did 10, 20, or even 5 years ago.
Aging to me isn’t a bad thing. My life all around has gotten much better with age. And when it comes to skin care, I like that I need to put a little extra care and effort into taking care of myself.
As I always say, every effort counts. Based on my experience, every effort shows!
What I’ve learned so far about anti-aging
Stress & your skin
A few days ago I was stressed (and upset) about something. At the end of the day I had this deep diagonal line across my forehead. It look like I had slept on something that left a huge indent in my skin, but as the hours went by and the line wouldn’t go away, I realized that it was stress showing up on my face.
Up until now, I’ve been quite lucky that most of my wrinkles and lines are around my eyes. My forehead has always been quite smooth. But this incident was a stark reminder that things do change, as we age our skin doesn’t bounce back like it used to, and holding tension really does show in your face.
This experience made me make a conscious decision to do more to alleviate stress in my life, and not walk around with it, keep it inside, or let it build up. All of that will start showing up in your face, and if you’re upset long enough or too frequently, it can leave permanent marks.
Over the years, I’ve come to see that we hold tension in different parts of our body. For me I tend to hold a lot of tension normally in my jaw and mouth (clenching my teeth), and now that tension seems to be making it’s way up to my forehead.
Finding ways to relax, will get rid of that tension (and help to prevent the wrinkles). And how do you relax? Well, you do more of the things you enjoy, you express your feelings and worries, don’t hold things in, and find ways to regularly release pent up energy, stress, and worry.
Here’s some of the things I like to do to relax (and keep stress wrinkles at bay):
- If I’m upset, I try to talk about it as soon as possible and deal with the issue straight away
- Never go to sleep angry
- Lower the volume on my internal worries
- Practise being more confident (practise does make perfect!)
- Exercise regularly
- Spend time outdoors and consciously breathing fresh air
- Make time to have fun with friends and loved ones
- Go for massage or spa
- Take hot baths and home facials
- Limit time on the computer (I always feel my best when I shut computer & phone off at 5pm, not always easy, but life feels a whole lot better)
- Be around things that inspire me (read an inspiring book, listen to uplifting music, watch a great movie).
- Be on top of my daily responsibilities and keep my home clean (cause when things pile up, life gets stressful).
- Keep reminding myself to relax, release and “lighten up!” (I also consciously remind myself throughout the day to release tension I might be holding in my face, jaw, shoulders, and neck – all of which can throw your posture off, interfere with breathing, and cause fine lines and wrinkles).
- I frequently ask myself if I’m happy/content? If I’m not, what can I do right now to shift the energy or mood?
And remember, stress and worry doesn’t only cause fine lines and wrinkles, but it causes pimples and breakouts too (and can cause all sorts of health problems). Managing stress needs to be everyone’s top priority!
Your diet shows in your skin
I used to get away with eating and drinking all sorts of stuff, but not now.
It used to be that certain foods and drinks gave me pimples and breakouts. Now a days there’s also foods and drinks that make my skin look dull, dehydrated, puffy, lined, and older.
It’s a shame, but it’s true.
Most notably what makes my skin look terrible is coffee, alcohol, MSG, all high sodium condiments (like soy sauce, miso, fish sauce, etc), and eating out at most restaurants.
Does that mean I never eat out, or have given up some of my favourite salty condiments?
My honest answer is yes and no. Some foods I’ve given up completely, others I haven’t.
For me coffee and alcohol are terrible for my skin, both give me breakouts, rough bumpy skin, and making me look tired, puffy, and old.
It’s been many years now that I don’t really drink alcohol (I’m pregnant now so I don’t drink it at all, but when I wasn’t pregnant, I could go months or even years without having a drink).
Coffee on the other hand I have a love-hate relationship with. It’s one of the worst things for my skin. It gives me terrible breakouts and leaves my skin dehydrated, dull, rough, puffy, and grey. But I like the energy boost coffee gives me and the taste of it. I’m one of those people that ditches it for years, swears I’ll never drink it again, and then one stupid day I give in to the craving and I’m back drinking it full force. For me coffee is terribly addictive and once I’m drinking it, the adverse effects start creeping up fast.
As I’m getting older, both coffee and alcohol really do something terrible to my skin, and I know I’m much better off avoiding them completely.
As for eating out – I still eat out. I like eating out and it’s a part of my social life. I would never give that up. So, I have to find ways to work around it, so it’s not so detrimental to my skin.
When I eat out at restaurants, I make sure I’m doing a lot of healthy activities around the meal (both on the day I’m going to eat out, and the day after). Simple things like drinking more water, eating water-rich and fiber-rich food, exercising, and getting good rest before and after the meal, makes a HUGE difference. I find if I’m fully hydrated and my digestion is working good, I can eat out and not have a puffy face the next day (and if I do get a puffy face, drinking more water, eating some fruit and exercising help it go away quickly!).
Beware, some anti-aging products make wrinkles look worse!
You would think anti-aging skin care products would all be beneficial for your skin and decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. But over the years, what I have come to notice is in some cases there’s anti-aging products that do the reverse, and actually emphasize the lines and wrinkles on your skin.
And it doesn’t matter how much the product costs, or if it’s super popular, or if it’s a natural or mainstream skincare product – not all products work the same way on everyone, and not all anti-aging products do what they promise to do!
My mother taught me this. Many years ago, probably somewhere in my late twenties or early thirties I bought an expensive eye cream from Barneys New York. I was all excited about it and put it on to show my mother. She took one look at me, and told me it looks like the product is making my wrinkles look worse! She told me I had to be REALLY careful, especially with buying eye creams because many products can make wrinkles look deeper and more pronounced. Upon closer inspection, she was right. Over the years, this is the one thing I’m very careful about when selecting products.
Now in my 40s, my wrinkles and lines are a lot more deeper and more obvious, it’s even more important for me to find products that really moisturize my skin and give me a smooth finish.
I find anti-aging products that are formulated to “tighten” the skin around the eye can be too drying, and can make wrinkles look worse (for this reason, I much prefer oils and creams, over gel formulas).
Also anything with a matte finish tends to emphasize wrinkles and thinning skin more, where as products with a dewier finish tends to reflect light, which makes your skin appear a lot smoother (so beware, even when selecting an eye cream, some of them have a matte finish that can make your skin appear more wrinkled). For shine-control, I don’t use powder all over my face. Instead I strategically place tiny amounts on non-wrinkly parts of my face that really needs it (like my forehead, nose, sides of nose, and chin) – avoiding the eye area completely.
Protect Your Skin From Yourself
When I say “protect your skin,” I don’t just mean from the sun (and yes, sun protection is super important, this will keep fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and premature aging at bay), but there’s a lot more you need to be protecting your skin from – and the biggest one, is yourself!
And what does that mean? Well, in my younger years I thought the more I did to my skin or the more I put on my skin, the better it would be. But over time, I’ve seen the opposite to be true.
I used to think using really hot water, scrubbing my face with coarse scrubs, textured cloths, and rough facial brushes was a good thing. I thought layering a bunch of harsh products and chemicals on my face would give me beautiful skin.
I sincerely thought that.
And all that did was make my skin red, broken out, thin, lined, gave me broken capillaries, scars, and uneven skin tone.
Luckily I learned in my early 30s that all that was wrong. I made massive changes to my skincare routine early enough to reverse and prevent further damage.
Here’s what I started doing in my early and mid 30s, that now in my 40s I see the biggest benefits from:
- For the past 6 years I stopped washing my face in the shower. I find the hot steamy water really dries out my skin. I prefer to wash my face before having a shower, and avoid getting my face wet in the shower.
- Wash your face with the gentlest cleanser you can find (your skin should never be dry, tight or squeaky clean after washing because that means you’re drying out your skin, and throwing the PH balance off).
- Stay away from all products that irritate, burn, or dry out your skin. This includes staying away from medicated acne products (they don’t work, they’re drying out your skin, they make your skin prone to sun damage, and if used long enough, could age your skin too). Also, stay away from any product that tingles after applying it to your skin (tingling doesn’t mean the product is working – tingling means the product is irritating your skin!).
- Your skincare routine must be GENTLE, nourishing your skin. Anything you are doing that is too rough, stripping, drying, or irritating needs to stop immediately. If you hurt your skin, you are aging your skin.
- Even if a skincare product is natural or made by you, it doesn’t mean it’s the best product for your skin. Alway keep a watchful eye how YOUR skin is responding to what you’re putting on your face. Don’t just assume if a product is natural or popular it’s going to be good for you (there’s many natural ingredients that you could be allergic to, have a sensitivity or reaction too, could be clogging your pores, or drying your skin out).
- Make the extra effort to protect your skin from the elements – including protecting your skin from the sun, indoor heating, air conditioning, water, wind, and pollution. Every effort counts, and one day you might be like me and thankful that you took the extra precautions.
Keep updating your routine
Along with making sure everything you are using and doing is supporting the health of your skin – it’s important to continually update and adjust your routine as well.
What worked for you 5 years ago, might not work for you now (and many times we get stuck in our old habits).
As we get older, our bodies naturally change. So it’s important to not only continually adjust your skincare routine and makeup, but also your diet, exercise routine, sleep schedule, etc
Know and diversify your sources
If you’re like me and you love reading blogs, magazines, and books about skincare, beauty, product reviews, etc. – make sure you’re taking into account the age of the writer/expert, and where they are located.
In my teens and 20s I really loved reading books and articles on beauty and health written by much older women, beauty editors, experts, and doctors in their 40s, 50s and beyond. Now, in my 40s, I tend to prefer reading books, articles and blogs written by much younger bloggers, authors, and experts in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
Recently I was reading an anti-aging eye cream review on a blog I frequently visit. Somewhere in the review, the writer mentioned she was 22. I immediately thought to myself, “Ya, well her 22 year old eye wrinkles are a lot different than my 40+ year old wrinkles – not sure if this review is of any help to me!!”
It made me think about all the blogs, websites, editorials, and books I regularly read, and how I never really think about the ages of the writers, and if their opinions or advice are really relevant to me.
The same goes with where the author, expert, or blogger is located. I cringe when I read comments on beauty blogs how someone in hot sunny Singapore is following the skincare routine of a beauty blogger is cold dark London – and wondering why the products are messing up her skin! What someone is using and doing in a cold environment without much sun, will affect someone else’s skin differently in a hot environment with extremely strong sun.
So, with all this being said – when you are reading books, blogs, advice columns, reviews – always keep in mind the age and location of the author. This doesn’t mean you should only seek information or advice from someone your age or from your location. You just need to keep it in mind to know for sure if the advice or information is relevant or relates to you, or needs to be adjusted for your particular location and needs.
Based on my own experience, I actually find the more diverse the information, advice, and opinions you get from different people of different ages, backgrounds, and locations – the better!
Knowledge is power, and the more you seek out, the more you will gain. We’re never too old to learn new things (and having a seeking spirit will keep you young!).