Are parts of your body making you look older…even faster than your face? Let’s face it, most of us gals do a pretty good job cleaning, exfoliating, moisturizing, protecting and making up our faces so that we look as youthful and beautiful as possible. But could other parts of your body be letting the cat out of the bag? In fact, these five body parts could even be fibbing on you, telling others that you are older than you really are.
I’m not against aging
Let’s get that straight right from the start. I much prefer getting older over the alternative. And I would rather own my age and celebrate the life I’ve lived rather than go to ridiculous lengths to pretend I’m something I’m not, namely young. I feel I have earned my gray hairs, the tiny lines around my eyes and the seasoned patina of my hands. But that doesn’t mean I want to look older than I really am. Nor does it mean that I want to “look old” in general. Regardless of my age, I want to look beautiful…my very best.
And I don’t want to draw attention to my age. I want my appearance to match what is inside…vitality, enthusiasm, intelligence, wisdom and lots of grace.
[bctt tweet=”I’ve learned a lot from life, so I don’t mind looking like I’ve lived a little. But I don’t want to look like life ran over me and backed up and did it again!” username=”@kayharms”]
So let’s look beyond the face we so carefully scrutinize in the mirror and discover the other 5 parts of our bodies that may be aging us faster than we’d like. And let’s learn what we can do to minimize the effects of aging in those areas so that we look beautiful all over. I especially want to offer non-invasive procedures and tips that don’t cost a lot in any way.
Your Neck May be Telling on Your Face
We tend to care for the skin on our faces and leave out the skin on our necks. Literally. We leave it out in the sun, unshielded. We leave it out in the elements, under-nourished and exposed to the harsh environment. And we leave out our necks when we’re applying the corrective serums we apply to our faces.
The skin on your neck is delicate and easily damaged, and can make you look older than you are. So what can we do to correct and stop the damage?
- Wear at least an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen (I recommend at least SPF 30). Yes, we should have been doing this all the years, not just now. But better late than never. I wear Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen. Meanwhile, tell your daughters to consistently wear a strong sunscreen on their necks and chests.
- Exfoliate your neck area when you exfoliate your face and/or body. Dry, patchy skin contributes to the aged appearance of our necks.
- Apply the same products to your neck that you put on your face, including cleansers, toners, moisturizers, and age-defying serums. I wrestle with extending these sometimes pricey products down and onto my neck. But if I want my neck to look as young as the skin on my face, I need to spread the love…and the ointments!
- Wear your jewelry so that it draws attention away from your neck. You may need to rethink those earrings that dangle long onto your neck. If your neck does age you (as mine does) stay away from chokers and other short necklaces. Instead choose necklaces that pull your attention down to a pretty pendant. Leave the neck area free of jewelry and use pretty and/or bold earrings to draw your attention up toward your face.
- Don’t be afraid to show some skin. It might seem that you should cover your neck up with turtle necks or other high collars. That’s fine when there’s truly a chill in the air. But in warm temperatures, all that does is draw undesirable attention to your neck. “Hmm. What’s she hiding under there?” Instead, go ahead and where a pretty neckline on your top or dress, one that opens this area up so that you look more relaxed and confident. Just wear that sunscreen!
- If you do wear a scarf, tie it in such away that it doesn’t draw attention up to your neck. Perhaps tie it loosely so that it drapes on your shoulders or hangs low.
If Your Hair is Your Crown…
I’ve heard it said that a woman’s hair is her crown. Indeed, I think we tend to notice someone’s hair before we even get a good look at their face, especially if we spot them from behind. So let’s make sure our hair isn’t dating us.
- It’s not about the gray. I think the case has been made sufficiently that gray hair can indeed be beautiful. Yes, we may experience a little discomfort as we grow it out. There is no easy way to go from brunette to gray. But if you’re ready to go gray, go for it! Embrace the gray.
- However…we all automatically associate gray with age. So we do have to consider how to compensate. That’s the key. Recognize gray as “strike 1,” so to speak, and make sure you don’t swing and miss two more times. You can still hit a homerun with a strike against you, by the way. And you can have beautiful gray hair. But that’s all the more reason to keep your eye on the ball in other areas. Keep reading.
- Keep your hair healthy. As we age, our hair loses some of its vitality. So it’s important to wash with a restorative shampoo like StriVectin Ultimate Restore Shampoo, moisturize with a good conditioner regularly (you might try Pantene Expert Age-Defy Conditioner), and restore the balance and health periodically with a hair masque like Nexxus Renewal Restoring Masque.
- Wash your hair as rarely as possible. Now I’m not advocating greasy or unkempt hair. But washing and especially drying our hair actually takes a toll. And for you ladies who do color your hair, did you know that water is actually enemy #1 to color-treated hair?
- Many, maybe even most, women will experience some hair thinning as we age. The causes for hair loss are many and varied. One of the best articles I found for explaining different prompts for hair loss or thinning is this one at Health. Regardless of the reason behind your thinning hair, there are a few things you can do to help it look fuller and healthier. You might try a styling product such as Living Proof Timeless Plumping Mousse. Or protect new growth with a product like Bumble and Bumble Full Potential Hair Preserving Booster Spray. Also, keep styling to a minimum. Over-styling and applying too much heat will only speed up the thinning process.
- Loosen up your style. Regardless of your hair color or thickness, you can hit a home run by paying attention to this one tip. Ask your hair stylist to help you settle on a current style that is easy to manage, soft around your face (think bangs or wispy layers) and free falling. Even more than gray or thinned hair, tightly constructed and over-managed hairstyles age us.
- But do have a style. If you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably too old to just let your hair go. In fact, I’m not sure anyone looks great with unstyled hair. But as we get older, hair that isn’t well cut and cared for tends to age us even more.
Give it to me Straight!
Okay, ladies, it’s time to discuss one of those things few people like to tell us about the realities of life. As we get older, it is normal to become a little more stooped, to lose a little height and for our gait to change. Yes, it happens to most of us. Our shoulders and back are the third body area that easily gives our age away.
So let’s talk posture. As we age, we naturally lose some bone, cartilage and muscle mass. Those losses and changes result in shifts in how we stand, sit and walk. But we can minimize the effects with these tips so we don’t look older than we are.
- Good posture begins with awareness. Try this little experiment. Set a timer on your phone or kitchen timer for 45 minute increments throughout the day for one day. Every time the timer goes off, check your posture. Whether you’re checking emails, standing in line at the store, walking, ironing clothes, gardening, whatever, how is your posture? Now correct it and try to purposefully maintain good posture as long as you are thinking about it.
- Here’s a good way to correct your posture. Stand up with weight distributed equally on both feet or sit up with your weight squarely on your rump. Now raise both shoulders straight up toward the ceiling. Gently pull them back. Hold this position for a few seconds. Now gently drop your shoulders to where they rest easily. Your ear lobes should be in line with your shoulders. More than likely your posture is much improved right now.
- How heavy is your shoulder bag? I know I’m prone to accumulating too much stuff in my bag, and it gets heavy! We need to either keep the weight out of our shoulder bags or use a handbag instead.
- Exercise regularly. Just a 30 minute walk most days of the week helps tremendously with maintaining good posture and gait.
- Stretch out. After exercising, when your muscles are warm and loose, get in a session of long stretches. Learn how to stretch correctly (maybe that will be a future blog post – I learned from a wonderful trainer years ago and would love to pass on to you the correct way to stretch) and take your time. But also, just reach for the stars and strrrrretch a few times during the day, especially if you’ve been sitting long.
- Strengthen your core. Pilates and yoga are great ways to build muscle and stability in your core. Or just add some planks to your normal weight training routine.
- Speaking of weight training, do it. Strengthen your muscles with full body weight training three times a week. Make sure to include exercises that strengthen the back, shoulders, chest and abdominal muscles. Stronger muscles will support your spine resulting in better posture. I have improved my strength, my energy level and my posture exponentially with the FASTer Way to Fat Loss fitness program in recent months. I’d be glad to tell you more about it if you email me.
- Eat healthy and get plenty of vitamin D and calcium. While I’m all for getting your vitamin D through 30 minutes daily of unprotected sun exposure, as we get older that may not be enough. I live in sunny Arizona, exercise outside most days and still don’t get enough vitamin D without taking a supplement.
Where are the Girls?
I don’t have much to fill one of the pieces of equipment pictured above, but some of you do. And the more you have, the more gravity can pull downward as time marches on. So it’s important to keep “the girls” sitting pretty. Y’all, this is a game changer. A well-fitted and supportive bra can take 5-10 years off your perceived age. And it improves your posture!
- Get fitted by a professional. Most department stores provide this service, as does Soma. Our bra size and fit changes with weight increase or decrease, age and shifts in posture.
- Take good care of your bras. You should probably have two or three flesh toned bras. Others are icing on the cake. Bra manufacturers say you should alternate the bra you wear every day. You don’t have to wash a bra after one wearing, but you should wear a different one the next day. They say the elastics in the bands need 24-48 hours to return to their original position. Sounds strange to me, but I’ve heard this rule of thumb often enough and from enough reliable sources that I think it’s worth following.
- Replace your bras every 8 to 10 months. I know. They’re expensive. But remember, this is an area of your body that really weighs in on your perceived age!
I have a thing for hands. Which makes it all the stranger that I tend to think that nobody notices mine. In fact, we probably all notice each others hands a lot more than we assume. We talk with our hands, love with our hands, praise the Lord with our hands, teach with our hands and cheer on our favorite team with our hands. Of course people notice!
As we age our hands take on the patina of time. We begin to notice sun spots, fine wrinkles, crepey skin, protruding veins, scaly skin and weathered nails that make us look older. Some aging signs can’t be helped, but we can do a few things to soften the story our hands tell.
- Use a good hand cream regularly. I adore this Thymes Kimono Rose Hand Cream. I try to apply some every time I get in the car, after I wash dishes or my hands and before I go to bed.
- Use sunscreen here, too. Age spots actually have nothing to do with age and everything to do with accumulated sun exposure. While most of us didn’t think to apply hand cream with SPF protection during our younger years, we can start now. Before heading outdoors apply a dime-size dollop of hand cream with sunscreen. You might try Eucerin Daily Hydration Hand Cream SPF 30.
- You could try a spot corrector. If age spots are really noticeable, you might try an over-the-counter corrector with 2% hydroquinone such as Glytone at $38 and up. You can also get a corrector with 3% hydroquinone, but you’ll need to visit a dermatologist for a prescription.
- You can improve crepey skin. I’ve not invested this deeply in improving the appearance of my hands yet, but you can use a prescription retinoid cream to improve texture and jumpstart the growth of thickening collagen. Once again, a dermatologist will need to prescribe the cream and instruct you on use. These can run $100 and up.
- Slough off dry skin with a sugar scrub. Try using an exfoliating scrub such as Tree Hut Shea Sugar Scrub weekly.
- Maintain a classic manicure. Not every woman wants painted nails, and that’s fine. And some women prefer to keep their nails trimmed short because of the work they do. So I’m not advocating that every woman manicure her hands the same. But if I want my hands to tell my story and not the tale of a much older woman, I’m wise to keep my nails looking clean, healthy and nicely shaped. I shared how I do my own home manicure in this previous post.
- If you do polish your nails, choose a bright, trending shade. I know a lot of older women prefer soft pinks, mauves and beiges. I use those some myself. But those shades make us look older. If you polish your nails with a brighter shade, it draws attention away from skin problems and onto your nicely manicured nails.
- Or choose a classic French manicure. If you’re up to visiting the salon regularly, a classic French manicure is still trending and youthful. A French manicure is simply a nail presentation where the nails are painted a soft, usually flesh toned pink with a slim white band at the top, although there are many variations.
Aging is really a gift, not a curse. Subtle physical signs of aging tell the world that we have lived long enough to have experienced both joy and grief, success and failure, sweet indulgences and hard work, peaceful moments and difficult seasons. But let’s make sure our bodies are telling the best story, a beautiful story. Let’s take care of ourselves and continue to put our best foot forward. (Ahh, those feet. That’s another post for another day!)
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