Last month I turned 45. I thought it would be a perfect time to talk about natural anti-aging, and what has helped me the most in preserving the youthfulness of my skin and appearance.
Over the years I’ve done a lot of experiments. Based on my personal experience – diet, lifestyle, skin care and mindset all together can have a huge effect on your body and help to slow the signs of aging. The healthier you are on the inside, the more it shows on the outside.
It’s amazing what taking good care of yourself can do. We’ve all had at least one friend who suddenly took up exercise or a healthy diet and a month later looked amazing, beaming with energy and radiance. Diet and lifestyle improvements can be transformative.
In today’s blog post and video I go over what in my diet, skin care, and daily routine really makes the biggest difference in terms of slowing down the signs of aging, and improving my skin as I’m getting older. Because of hormone changes, my skin has become more sensitive and reactive. In recent years I’ve had to make a lot of adjustments to my skin care routine and lifestyle to keep my skin as healthy, clear and balanced as possible, which I’ll talk about as well.
Diet for anti-aging
- I find being consistent with eating a healthy diet is key. You don’t need to be perfect all the time or go on an extreme diet. What’s most important is eating healthy, fresh, unprocessed food as much as possible.
- These are the healthy foods I eat most of the time:
- Green leafy vegetables and colourful vegetables
- Meats, fish, animal products
- Beans and legumes
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- I haven’t followed a formal diet for almost a decade. Instead I prefer to eat intuitively. I eat what my body wants and needs, and I only eat when I am hungry.
- I don’t eat much sugar, carbs or starches. I feel the best when I’m eating an abundance of vegetables (green leafy vegetables and colourful vegetables) and healthy fats and proteins (meats, fish, eggs, beans, avocado, legumes, nuts, seeds). I find this helps keep my blood sugar stable and I get less skin irritation and breakouts.
- I eat some fruit, but not too much. I prefer getting my vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants from eating a lot more vegetables than fruit. If I eat too much fruit I don’t feel good, it makes me bloated, my energy and mood gets very up and down, I get pimples and breakouts, and it can trigger my melasma to darken. It’s one of those foods I’m quite sensitive to, so I’m careful how much I eat.
- I don’t eat much food made from flour. It doesn’t matter if the flour is gluten-free or not. I prefer to eat whole grains which have a lot more nutrition and are much more filling.
- Drinking freshly pressed green vegetable juice really helps my complexion. It’s one of my favourite ways to boost my nutrition, energy levels and adds healthy colour to my skin. Optimally I like drinking at least 16oz (2 cups) per day. My favourite green juice consists of cucumber, celery, leafy greens (ex. spinach, kale, cilantro, etc), lemon, green apple.
- Drinking homemade bone broth or soups made with homemade broth helps keep my skin supple, plumped and prevents dryness. I’ve tried taking collagen supplements many years ago, but I find nothing compares to how homemade broth benefits my skin. It’s a goal of mine to start drinking it everyday.
- I rarely drink alcohol. Not that I don’t like alcohol but hangovers make me so severely depressed, I prefer not to drink. It’s been about 2 decades that I rarely drink, and I believe this has really contributed to keeping my skin and appearance young.
- Ice cream, yogurt, and raw chocolate/raw cacao give me really bad cystic pimples (even at 45!). So these three foods I do my best to avoid.
- Too much salt and high-sodium foods like soy sauce make my eyes and face super puffy. I have to be really careful. I make my own homemade sauces and condiments to avoid high sodium flavour enhancers, additives and MSG (monosodium glutamate)
- Knowing what foods are and aren’t compatible with my body allows me to make the best diet choices for me. I don’t believe in cutting out or restricting food unnecessarily which can cause stress, misery, and food issues.
- The one thing I hope to let go of one day is drinking coffee. I stopped for many years and my skin and complexion was a lot better. But these days I’m not ready to stop coffee. I find when I’m not drinking coffee my skin is much less dry, less dehydrated and I have more rosy/healthy complexion. I’m also prone to getting rashes and bumpy skin texture on my upper body (especially chest and arms) and even sometimes on my face. Stopping coffee usually helps clear that all up (but as I said, I’m just not there yet!).
Lifestyle improvements for anti-aging
- It’s been a couple of years I stopped using hot water to wash my face. This one lifestyle change greatly improved my skin. It’s a lot less dry and dehydrated, and avoiding hot water has greatly reduced redness and skin irritation. Overall, my skin looks and feels much healthier since I stopped using hot water. This is one thing I will continue doing forever. I don’t wash my face in the shower, but instead I wash my face over the sink before going in the shower. I don’t ever put my face under the hot water in the shower. Basically no hot water ever touches my face. If steaming or hot water helps you with breakouts, I recommend using a hot compress just on your pimples, not steaming or using hot cloths all over your face. It’s really too drying, and not necessary. Also, the water shouldn’t be ice cold. It needs to be cold, but not burning or numbing cold, because that too can be too harsh and irritating for your skin.
- Sleep for me is a priority. If I don’t get enough sleep, I look old, haggard, and feel terrible. To get the best “beauty sleep” I avoid eating heavy meals before bed, make sure I’m well hydrated throughout the day, stop using a computer before sun down, and use the time before bed for self care. Bathing/showering at night, my skin care and body care routine is how I unwind from the day and have some time for myself. Getting ready for bed is actually my favourite time of the day and it sets me up for a good night’s sleep.
- Regular daily exercise makes a huge difference and can really help keep your body youthful and skin bright. But I’ll be honest, since having kids it’s been one of my biggest challenges. But when I do exercise daily, I REALLY see and feel the benefits. You just feel lighter, and you glow. Talk about an instant boost. If there’s one thing you can start today to get your youthful sparkle back, it’s exercise. Do both cardio and strength training (don’t just focus on one, or what you are good at). Building strength and endurance will give you the ultimate results, you’ll feel the difference and it really shows in your complexion and appearance (I’m talking brighter, smoother, clearer, more supple skin, and a firmer body).
- Tightly tying my hair back might appear like an instant face lift, but once I put my hair down, the skin on my face doesn’t quite bounce back like it did in my younger years. Instead it can appear more loose, saggy and just kind of hangs. I also find tight buns and pony tails can cause hair breakage in the front of my face, so I’m trying to train myself to get used to my hair being down more often, or loosely tied back.
- As I’m getting older, the skin on my body is getting drier. Bathing with non-chlorinated water has made a HUGE difference. The water at our house is hard, so it’s still drying, but not as bad as what chlorine was doing to my skin and hair. If you suspect chlorine in your water is drying out your skin and hair, try getting a shower filter or home water filtration system. It can make a big difference.
- If the skin on your body is getting dry, flaky and wrinkled, my favourite ingredient/product for dry skin is glycerin. For really dry skin – mix or layer glycerin with a body oil, cream or balm. This works way better than using a body moisturizer on its own. And if you are going to use pure, undiluted glycerin, only use it on your body, not on your face. Using undiluted glycerin on your face can cause irritation and possibly breakouts. I have a whole blog post on how to use glycerin for dry skin.
Skin care for anti-aging
- The foundation of my skin care routine is a gentle skin care routine. My skin has always been quite sensitive and reactive, and as I’m getting older and my hormones are changing, my skin is even more reactive. I’m prone to redness, irritation, melasma, and occasional breakouts.
- Nowadays I find that if a skincare product is too strong for my skin or too irritating, it really ages my skin. If I have a bad reaction to a product it can make my skin appear thinner, more lined and textured, shriveled up and porous. And it can take much longer for my skin to heal and bounce back to normal.
- I’m careful not to overdo it with too many products or anything too strong. I know it can be hard seeing changes in your skin as you get older, sometimes those changes feel like they appeared overnight. But based on my personal experience, going too fast and too strong with anti-aging skincare products can sometimes backfire and make things worse, not better.
- The most important product in my skincare routine is mineral sunscreen. I use sunscreen every day of the year. Rain or shine. I’ve been doing this for over a decade. I not only use mineral sunscreen for sun protection, but I also find non-nano zinc oxide to be very balancing and calming for my skin. It soothes redness and can balance sebum production. The trick is finding a sunscreen that works for your skin and has skin-benefiting ingredients that you want to use every day (my sunscreen of choice has always been Suntegrity 5in1 Tinted Face Sunscreen SPF30, it’s the best). At 45 I don’t have any sun spots on my face, and very minimal sun damage (which is pretty good considering how fair I am and living in hot, sunny Bali, Indonesia for ten years).
- The second most important step in my anti-aging skin care routine is regular exfoliation. I need it more now than I did when I was younger. Due to slower cell turnover, my skin gets dull, lined and textured easily and regularly. Gentle exfoliation really helps erase texture and buildup. My skin can be too sensitive for most scrubs, but facial masks, exfoliating acids, and double cleansing keeps my skin smooth, and lines and texture at bay.
- I know a lot of skincare experts will say you need a good serum for anti-aging. But, if there’s a lot of buildup on your skin, it’s going to make it a lot harder for the serum to absorb and do anything for your skin. I’ve benefited the most first integrating exfoliation into my skincare routine, and later adding in a serum.
- The only exception would be if you’ve just started using a retinol or retinoid product. It’s best to take a break from exfoliating products for the first 3-6 months as your skin adapts to the retinol product. Retinol and retinoids work differently than exfoliating products, but they too help bring newer skin to the surface, which makes your skin brighter, smoother, less textured, less lined, and firmer.
- Making sure your skin is well hydrated is also key. Eating a water-rich diet and avoiding caffeine, sugar and alcohol can make a huge difference, as well as using hydrating skincare products. I have found that hydrating serums and mists can really help firm and smooth crepey, saggy skin and diminish the appearance of fine lines and enlarged pores.
- It’s about experimenting with different products and ingredients to find what is most compatible and effective for you. I find experimenting with one active ingredient at a time, and using it for at least 3-6 months gives the product time to work, and for me to know if it’s really making a difference.
Recommended skincare products for anti-aging
I know it can be overwhelming and confusing navigating through all the different active ingredients and anti-aging products. To make it easier, I put together a list of different skin challenges that come up as you get older, and what are the best active ingredients to target those issues, plus products I recommend.
Fine lines, texture, enlarged pores
Exfoliation and making sure your skin is well hydrated will help with most texture issues including rough skin, fine lines and enlarged pores.
The key is finding an exfoliation method that works for you. Some people love the instant results of facial scrubs, others do better using exfoliating toners and serums made with exfoliating acids. If your skin is sensitive, a facial mask once or twice a week can also be very effective (one of my favourite exfoliation methods). Aim to exfoliate your skin 1-3 times/week
Use a facial scrub or micro-exfoliant that’s made with ultra fine, non-sharp exfoliating particles, powders, or grains.
EXFOLIATING ACIDS – AHA TONERS, SERUMS, PEELS
AHAs are exfoliating acids like glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, etc., help to dissolve surface buildup revealing brighter, smoother skin. A lot of exfoliating acids also act as humectants, which draw moisture to the skin keeping it hydrated, dewy and plumped.
EXFOLIATING FACIAL MASKS
Facial masks can be a much gentler method of exfoliation, yet as effective as a scrub or acid toner. Look for masks containing ingredients such as fruit enzymes, honey, AHAs, powders and clays which resurface the skin, and keep it soft and bright.
Washing your face using an oil and wash cloth can also be an effective and very gentle exfoliation method. Facial oils help loosen the buildup of debris and dead skin cells, and the gentle sweeping motion of a damp washcloth lifts and removes everything from your skin revealing smoother, more supple skin.
Fine lines, enlarged pores, texture, and even sagging skin can be caused by dehydrated skin. Look for mists, serums, and moisturizers containing humectants that can draw more moisture to your skin.
Hydrating serums can help diminish the appearance of enlarged pores and firm up lined, saggy, and crepey skin. Key ingredients that draw moisture to the skin include hyaluronic acid, glycerin, algaes, and aloe vera.
COMPLEXION MISTS & TONERS
Hydrating mists and toners help plump up the skin with extra hydration which can help smooth the appearance of fine line and enlarged pores. Best to find a mist or toner without drying alcohols. Humectants such as glycerin, aloe vera, rose water, hydrosols, and honey can help draw water to the skin.
Deep wrinkles, sagging, & crepey skin
Retinol or retinoids help the most with smoothing the appearance of deep wrinkles and increasing skin elasticity and firmness. If retinol is too strong for your skin, a gentler alternatives is products containing plant stem cells which help to resurface the skin, or a retinol alternative like bakuchiol.
Keeping skin well hydrated and moisturized is also key. Ingredients like peptides can help bring volume and bounce back to the skin, and ceramides strengthen the skin which can help smooth the appearance of deep lines and wrinkles.
- LUNA NECTAR Futurize Retinol Alternative Boosting Serum
Hormone changes from peri-menopause and menopause can cause breakouts. As we get older, our skin also becomes more fragile, so I don’t recommend using strong acne washes or acne regimes which can be too drying for maturing skin. Instead, better to spot treat just the pimples, and not use harsh products all over your face. Effective ingredients for spot treating pimples include salicylic acid, sulphur, clays, and essential oils.
Dullness, hyperpigmentation & sun damage
Regular exfoliation with AHAs or fruit enzymes and using products containing vitamin C will help resurface the skin, brighten, and fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation from sun damage.
If you have a lot of sun damaged that has made your skin look weathered, patchy, textured, or leathery looking – I strongly recommend using plant/fruit derived stem cell serums. These ingredients have a way of softening, rejuvenating, and resurfacing the skin (you can use it on its own, or alternate with a vitamin C serum – using vitamin C serum during the day, stem cell serum at night).
To maintain your results it’s very important to use sunscreen daily.
Mindset for anti-aging
- I avoid negative self-talk as much as possible. I refrain from telling myself I’m too old, or that I look bad. It creates no value, and causes anxiety and misery.
- I avoid getting too close to the mirror and I don’t inspect my skin using a magnifying mirror. No one gets that close, and all you’ll find are imperfections and be tempted to pick and squeeze at your skin. I like to keep a good distance between me and the mirror.
- Getting older and seeing your body changing can feel overwhelming, but I find focusing on what I’m good at, what I like about myself, and what I enjoy; these are the things that makes the journey a lot more empowering, enriching, and fun. If you can enjoy eating healthy and taking care of yourself, you’ll naturally be inspired to do more and get even better results.
What's working for you?
I would love to hear what you are doing in terms of natural anti-aging and what is working for you? It could be a product you’re loving that is delivering amazing results, or a diet or lifestyle change that’s made a big difference in your skin and wellbeing. Please share in the comments below.