Getting older isn’t what it used to be—women are embracing natural gray hair, fine lines, and life’s other big changes with more enthusiasm than ever. They call it: aging gracefully. We love to see it, of course, but it’s not always a walk in the park. Being hit with the realization that you can’t run as fast as you once could can be a hard pill to swallow, and, *squints*, when did these fonts get so small? Not to mention, just because some find skipping Botox empowering doesn’t mean beauty standards have (poof!) disappeared.
It’s a push and pull, aging is. And the least you can do for your journey is find practices that support you through it; that keep you healthy, confident, and grounded. And guess what? Those habits don’t all have to be (in fact, we recommend most of them aren’t) about the way you look. Most of us can probably agree that, as you get older, looking good comes with feeling good, and feeling good comes in many forms.
To help you strike this ever-changing balance and, most importantly, enjoy life as it comes, we reached out to dermatologists, dietitians, doctors, and more for some pro self-care tips to make the aging process easier—from what to eat to when to see a doctor to how to change your makeup routine and more. Take what you need from these recommendations, and go make the coming years your own.
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“My number one tip for aging gracefully is SPF,” says Aaron Barry, celebrity makeup and hair artist. “No matter your age, gender, race or skin type, sun damage accelerates the aging process.” More importantly, it increases risk of skin cancer.
“You can now even prep your skin for makeup with SPF primers,” Barry adds. “I like to use the Thrive Causemetics Sunproof 3-in-1 Priming Sunscreen with SPF 37 at the beginning of my makeup application. Not only does it create the perfect base for foundations but it’s hydrating, controls oil, and most importantly, protects the skin from harmful UV rays.”
If you’d rather have a regular ‘ole sunscreen, check out our best sunscreen round-up.
Visit Your OB-GYN Annually
Women over 50 should see their OB-GYN annually, says JoAnn Pinkerton, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the Midlife Health Center at the University of Virginia Health System. And they should make sure to see one who is knowledgable about perimenopause and the menopausal transition.
In addition, Pinkerton recommends getting mammograms every one to two years, making sure your pap smear is up to date, getting a colon cancer screening, and regularly getting your blood pressure and lipid levels tested. With your doctor, review significant family history of breast, ovarian, uterine or colon cancer, she adds, as well as heart disease, stroke, or blood clotting. All of these practices and protocols will help you remain healthy and ideally, prevent or catch chronic illness if it ever occurs.
Lift and Lighten Eye Makeup
“People often follow the natural eye contour when applying eye shadow which can create a droop,” explains Barry. “To lift the eye, I use the outer corner of the brow as my guide, and blend eyeshadow up and out towards the outer corner of the brow. This creates a lifted and a lengthened eye shape.”
On top of that, Barry recommends staying away from heavy eyeliner. He says it can “look harsh and draws attention to drooping lower lids.” Instead, he suggests tight lining the upper lid by applying liner to the upper inner lash line. It’s not stark, but “still frames and defines the eye,” he says.
Watch Your Cholesterol
Dr. Pinkerton warns that fluctuating estrogen levels may lead to an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, and can therefore increase risk of heart disease.
Use Volumizing, Moisturizing Hair Products
“It is super important to remember that the hair that we had in our 20s is not the hair that we have as we transition into our 50s and beyond,” explains Aloxxi stylist Jessica Wall Innella. She adds that you may experience changes such as thinning and dryness, both of which can be remedied by the right products.
“For an amazing mousse that will provide soft hold and lift minus the stickiness, my go to product is Maxxam’s Kiss,” says Shab Reslan, HairClub hair health expert and trichologist. “For a super light-weight thickening spray formulated to be sprayed liberally throughout the hair, I love Neuma Blow Out Mist.”
For a good moisturizing, low-maintenance treatment, Innella recommends Aloxxi’s Essential 7 Oil Leave-In Conditioning Cream.
Aim to move for at least 30 minutes daily. Dr. Pinkerton says you can even disperse it over small increments throughout the day to make it feel more approachable, if that works for you. You can try walking, some gentle yoga, or if you’re feeling particularly strong, some resistance training or pilates.
Precisely Apply Contour
“Contour and blush placement is key in achieving lift,” says Barry. To ensure you’re applying it in the right place, Barry recommends finding your cheekbone and applying a cream contour or bronzer beneath it to create shadow and depth, repeating the technique along the jawline. To blend it out, he swears by the Artís Oval 6 brush. “It really hugs the shape of the cheek bone giving you great definition,” he adds.
“One extremely important nutrient that often gets over-looked is water,” explains Heather Mangieri, R.D.N., a sports and wellness dietitian in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “Even slight dehydration can negatively impact mood, energy levels, and the ability to focus.” She adds that dehydration can also result in dry skin that appears more wrinkled.
To make sure you get the amount of water you need, Mangieri says to start drinking first thing in the morning and continue throughout the entire day. “Filling a large water bottle in the morning and taking it with you wherever you go can help you remember to drink,” she adds. (Just ask Oprah!)
Tend to Your Mental Health
Especially as menopause moves in, Dr. Pinkerton recommends paying special attention to your mental health and talking about it with your doctor. “Do not ignore depressive symptoms,” she says. “Beware that perimenopause hormonal changes are associated with an increased risk of depression, particularly if you have had depression at puberty or postpartum.”
“A big mistake I often see is the overuse of powder, which can appear cake-y and drying on the skin,” explains Barry. That’s the opposite of the look you want to achieve, which is why he recommends opting for a very light dusting of a radiant, hydrating product like BY Terry’s Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder as a finishing makeup step. “This helps maintain moisture in the skin, it blurs imperfections, minimizes pores, fills in fine lines, and controls shine without drying you out,” he adds.
Educate Yourself on Menopause
Societally, we face a lack of conversation around one of the biggest life changes a human can experience: menopause. But it should not be a taboo subject, and it’s up to you to help change that (and make the process easier for yourself) by actively researching and discussing it with your friends, family, and doctor.
Perimenopause (or pre-menopause) can affect women as early as in their 30s. According to Dr. Pinkerton, some common symptoms are:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Mood swings
- Sleep disturbances
- Weight gain
- Changing or irregular menstruation and ovulation
- Decreased sex drive or painful sex
- Changes in breast size or shape
- Heart palpitations
- Loss of memory and focus
Take a Calcium Supplement
“With declining estrogen levels after menopause, you may start to lose bone density more quickly, which can increase risk of osteoporosis,” explains Dr. Pinkerton. This leads to increased fracture risk, which is why it’s important to ensure you’re getting enough calcium to maintain strength.
You can do so by either taking a calcium supplement, or ensuring to include calcium-rich or calcium-fortified foods in your diet, such as dairy, orange juice, and whole grains, says Centr Nutritionist Angie Asche, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D.
Embrace Your Grays
Or as Innella calls them, “hairs of wisdom.” Innella encourages embracing gray hair and says your stylist can help. “Having a plan with your stylist about what the transition looks like is key,” she says, adding that it often includes lightening around the hairline for a better blend. “Incorporating highlights or dimension will defuse the part line and span out the time between touchups,” she says.
You might notice that your gray strands are a bit coarser and more wirey than usual, which is why Innella recommends a moisturizing hair mask like Aloxxi Instaboost Colour Conditioning Masque in the shade Silver Fox, which conditions and keeps color fresh.
Drink Green Tea
Asche says green tea contains antioxidants that fight inflammation, so she recommends regularly having a cup, especially if you fight any inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS).
Get Ample Sleep
It’s easy to slack off on the zzzs when you’re young and can easily recover. But as you age, sleep becomes crucial to living life fully. Dr Pinkerton recommends you “make it a priority” to get at least seven to eight hours of rest in every night to remain alert and sharp.
You probably already know that you can’t drink like you used to. Not to burst any more bubbles, but Dr. Pinkerton recommends cutting the wine to one glass daily—ideally less than that. Alcohol use among older adults is on the rise, which creates risk for heart and liver problems, memory issues, mood disorders, and more, according to Harvard Medical School.
Use a Retinol-based Night Cream
Eat More Nutrient-Rich Meals
“There is a natural slowdown in metabolism as we get older and the intensity of activity starts to slow down, too. Those changes mean that fewer calories are needed to maintain a healthy body weight,” explains Mangieri. “Choosing nutrient-dense foods becomes necessary to meet daily nutrient requirements without over-consuming calories.”
There are many ways you can incorporate nutritionally diverse meals into your diet—one of them being through a quick, easy smoothie. “A smoothie with Ripple (fortified pea milk), banana, peanut butter, protein powder, chia seeds, and spinach will provide vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and many other vitamins and minerals to support optimal health,” adds Asche.
“Muscle mass and kidney function tend to decline with age, diminishing the ability to conserve water,” explains Dana Cohen M.D., integrative medical doctor in New York City. “Additionally, the kidneys’ ability to remove toxins from the blood declines with age and requires more water, which means older people lose more water to normal kidney function than younger people. As we age our thirst sensitivity declines, which means we are less likely to notice when we are dehydrated.”
That’s why, in addition to drinking plain water and eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, Dr. Cohen recommends that women over 50 take an electrolyte supplement with no added sugar like Cure, a brand that she medically advises, to absorb more fluids and replace electrolytes lost from exercise, alcohol, illness and common medications.
Understand Cosmetic Procedure Risks
Scheduling an appointment for Botox or filler injections may seem like a quick fix, but the reality of it is, they’re high-maintenance and come with a slew of risks that not everyone talks about. According to Dr. Mikailov, Botox—which prevents wrinkles by essentially inhibiting muscle contraction—usually requires two to four annual injections for the ideal benefit.
Filler, which is often use to plump lips or lift certain areas of the face, can be made of various substances, says Dr. Mikailov, and if done wrong, can have serious adverse effects including stroke, blindness, severe scarring, and permanent “filler bumps” that happen when filler migrates.
“Aging gracefully does not require ‘going under the knife’ or plastic surgery,” says Dr. Mikailov. “Establish a relationship with a dermatologist who can guide you to your goals.”
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