Have you always received a lot of attention from men but you've noticed that the men who gawk at you now are, well, old? Or are you about to interview for a job with twenty-somethings and you want to look more like a contemporary than you do like their mother? Whatever your motivation, here are a few tips to looking ten years younger:
- Lose the mommy jeans (and granny undies). Nothing says frumpy like a pair of pants pulled up to your waist. Pants' waistlines have migrated several inches south (in case you haven't noticed). If you can pull off wearing low-rise pants, then please do. Here's how low-rise pants work: They hit just above the cesarean scar in the front and the coin slot in the back. And though they feel as if they could fall off, they won't.....they're too durn tight. If you're wearing the right pair of underwear (read "not granny"), then don't worry about whether or not your undies might show above your waistline in the back.....they might, and that's a good thing. I promise that you'll get used to this. One day you will throw on your low-rise pants and believe for a moment that you're wearing your favorite pair of old Levi's.........well, almost.
- Get a bra fitting. "But you got a bra fitting twenty years ago in the pre-teen section at Sears," you say? It's not only the waistlines that have migrated south, honey. After pregnancy and/or breastfeeding, chances are that the shape of your breasts has changed. Your husband will look you straight in the eye and swear that they haven't (smart man!), but get a bra fitting anyway. You would be amazed at how many women go through most of their adult lives wearing the wrong size bra! Think you'll feel uncomfortable getting naked in front of the fitter? A bra fitting is small potatoes (in my case, anyway) compared to a mammogram.
- Eliminate gray. So you thought you would be one of the lucky ones with gray hair a la Peter Graves during his Mission Impossible tenure. Oh well....we can't all be so lucky. Hide your gray via lowlighting, highlighting or all-out color. If you see someone with hair that you like (that is at least similar to yours in texture and length), ask for the name of her hairdresser. Also remember that whatever you do can always be undone, sometimes the very next day, so don't be nervous about experimenting.
- Stay svelte. For some, this means no more sour cream on the super burrito, but for others, more draconian measures are required. Come adulthood, many women find that their metabolism slows significantly and come menopause, it goes into reverse. If the eating and exercise habits you maintained prior to menopause are not enough to keep the weight off after, then you'll need to do something about that (something besides wearing your shirts untucked!). Keep in mind that stress, caffeine consumption and lack of sleep all exacerbate the packing on of pounds by contributing to elevated levels of cortisol and insulin in the blood.
- The right haircut. I was at a neighborhood party the other day when I saw a woman who looked to be twenty-something walk in. "She's cute," I thought to myself as I wondered who she was. Then I did a double take as I realized that the woman was my forty-something neighbor.......with a new haircut. She'd gotten soft layers with bangs and blonde highlights. Bangs can take years off your age (and hide wrinkles, too) and layering can help to focus the eye on your best features. Volume at the top of your head also lifts the eye upward (to your eyes and away from your jowls). Don't underestimate what a new haircut can do to knock years off your age. Also remember to wash hair less and condition more since mature hair has fewer natural oils.
- Skin tone. Chances are that even if it was a point of pride to pass on skin foundation twenty years ago, you need it today, if only as a spot treatment to even out your skin tone. If your face has become ruddy, a yellow-toned foundation will counteract redness. However if your face regularly breaks out in red rashes, bumps and pustules, you may suffer from rosacea (see How To Treat Rosacea).
- Those pesky undereye circles. They seem to come on when you first have children and you convince yourself they are a result of sleepless nights. But the sleepless nights eventually end and yet.....the undereye circles remain. Use a cream concealer (so that there is no caking of powder on the fine lines beneath your eyes) and once again, use a yellowish hue to counteract the darkness and bluish undertones.
- Chin whiskers, sideburns and other facial hair. As women age, changing hormone levels (less estrogen, more testosterone ) can mean more hair in the places where men have hair, for example on our faces. Women may grow downy soft peach fuzz hair all over their face or coarser whiskers. The methods for hair removal are myriad so you can choose your preferred weapon. (Women with significant hair growth may have an underlying hormonal issue that needs to be addressed.) At the same time that you are growing more hair on your chin, you are growing less hair in your eyebrows. If you were blessed with thick eyebrows when younger and always wondered what those eyebrow pencils were for, now you know. Hopefully you haven't plucked the life out of your brows by the time you hit your fifties; what you once wanted rid of, you will mourn.
- Brighten your smile. You've had a lot of deadlines over the past several decades and we don't even want to think about how many gallons of coffee you've consumed in the process of meeting them. While we hope that your stomach has held up for you, chances are that your teeth are showing some stain. Teeth are so easy to whiten now that there is no reason not to.......see How To Whiten Teeth for tips on the process.
- New glasses can be the equivalent of a total makeover. Hopefully you've owned up to the fact that you need some glasses......there's no more dead giveaway of your age than for you to be seen screwing up your eyes as you telescope the menu forward and back in front of your face. You should see your inevitable nearsightedness as an opportunity.......to buy a funky pair of new eyeglasses. If you already own a pair and have for several years, chances are that you need to upgrade. A hint that may suggest you are in desperate need of a new pair.......is if anyone has ever referred to you as The Unabomber. Go to a high-end eyeglass store where there are professionals who can match the size and shape of your lens and color of your frame to your face and skin tone.
- Age spots. Age spots are those flat, brownish black skin discolorations that appear on skin that gets a lot of sun exposure. Wear sunscreen on every part of your body that is ever exposed to the sun—not just the face and arms, but specifically ears, hands and neck. And don't forget........if you wear low-rise pants, put sunscreen on your belly and back, too. Age spots can also mask the early stages of skin cancer, so consult a doctor if you have any suspicions that an age spot is out of the ordinary.
- Start eating well..........yesterday. You've heard it before—increase fiber, decrease empty calories, increase water consumption, decrease caffeine and alcohol, yadda, yadda, yadda. If you aren't eating well by now, you had better start yesterday if you want to maintain your health, your weight and beautiful skin. Once you do start eating properly, the improvement in how you feel makes it all worthwhile. (And the way your body looks from the outside in is a bonus!) If you're not eating right by the time you reach midlife, there is probably nothing that I can say to convince you....we'll leave that part up to your doctor!
Once you've bagged that job—or man, as the case may be—continue to look young by maintaining the changes that you've made........at least until it's time to put on your purple hat.