One minute you’re looking at your reflection in the mirror without a wrinkle or gray hair in sight, and the next minute all you see are crow’s feet and silver strands staring back at you. Let’s face it: Aging is inevitable, and as soon as you cross over to 40, it almost seems like you’ve aged overnight. While we’re pretty sure there’s not a fountain of youth or a fancy elixir that prevents you from aging altogether, there are some easy anti-aging hacks that you can adopt to help slow down the process.
Use a retinol cream
Have you noticed any brown spots appearing on your forehead or along your neck and jawline lately that weren’t there, say, five years ago? These are known as age spots or sun spots caused by sun exposure, and hyperpigmentation, which causes the skin condition melasma. However, there is a solution.
“Derived from Vitamin A, tretinoin, as well as its cousin, retinol, “work to treat hyperpigmentation by increasing the cell turnover rate,” says Dr. Carla Marie Manly. “Additionally, tretinoin inhibits tyrosinase, the enzyme that produces melanin [the pigment in skin that gives it a darker, brownish color]. Tretinoin often works well in concert with other treatments targeted to smooth skin tone.”
Dr. Inessa Fishman, a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon, adds that both tretinoin and retinol are “noted to be very effective to improve skin exfoliation, thicken the dermis (the collagen-bearing undersurface of the skin), and improve the appearance of fine lines. Some of the most gorgeous skin in my office belongs to patients who are regular treinoin and/or retinol users.”
Stand up straighter
As we age, our spine is just one of the many parts that are affected by time, use, inactivity, and lifestyle, which might result in poor posture and/or a humpback look. Not cute.
“When rounded spines, poor hip mobility, head forward posture (“tech neck”) and other postural restrictions aren’t addressed, my clients don’t move as well, feel more limited in their activities, and they fear that their best days are behind them,” says Sukie Baxter, a posture and movement specialist. “Good posture makes your neck look longer, your waist look slimmer and your movement smoother. In short, it makes you look and feel more attractive.”
According to Baxter, standing up straighter has also been proven to increase energy, focus, productivity and feelings of happiness. Her recommendations? Try a routine of regular stretching that includes shoulder openers and activating your mid-back. Yoga and Pilates can help, too.
Eat more apples
Chowing down on whole, hydrating fruits, such as apples, can help your skin look supple and fresh. “Apples are a great anti-aging fruit due to the presence of pectin, which detoxifies the body of waste products,” Dr. Cara Pensabene says. “Apples also reduce the forming of wrinkles by keeping the body well-hydrated.” Other anti-aging fruits she recommends include avocados, bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, strawberries, and papayas.
Include vitamin C in your skincare routine (and diet)
“Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and an important component of skin building blocks,” says Dr. Fishman. A multi-tasking powerhouse, Dr. Fishman says Vitamin C helps to undo some of the sun and pollution damage our skin sustains during the day, brightens discoloration, plays an important role in wound healing, and helps the skin to lock in moisture that is so critical for both the skin and our other physiologic functions.
Science agrees. One study showed that when topically applied, Vitamin C is highly effective at rejuvenating skin, boosting collagen production to improve the skin’s elasticity and reducing wrinkles.
Fishman recommends using a topical vitamin C product as part of a skincare routine. However, taking a Vitamin C supplement or in the form of food — yet another reason to load up on veggies and fruits — can also be beneficial.
“Exercise is believed to actually reduce the risk of all age-related disease,” says Dr. Manly, which is why she considers it to be the greatest anti-aging hack, and she’s right. A 2018 study showed that regular exercise can keep the body decades younger, and all you need to commit to is 30 to 45 minutes of exercise per day. Plus, when you’re in shape, you naturally look younger. “As a bonus, working out with a friend or two increases social time — amplifying the benefits of exercise,” she says.
Make time for socializing
Why is making time to work out with a friend such a bonus, especially when it comes to aging? Because, Dr. Manly says, “Friendships have been proven to not only improve the quality of life, but good friendships also allow for improved attitude, faster healing time, and increased feel-good neurochemicals.” She adds that research continues to show that those who have healthy friendships and connections are happier in life, and when you’re happy, you tend to glow, which, in turn, makes you look younger, too.
It’s no secret that excessive exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays can add years to your life. That’s why women of every age should always apply sunscreen before going out in the sun. It’s the most unanimous tip we’ve received from our panel of medical experts, which is why ensuring you use sunscreen daily on your face and body is crucial to adopt ASAP.
By keeping things fairly simple — exercising more, eating a healthy diet, making the time to see friends, and wearing SPF daily — we might not be able to stop ourselves from aging, but we can help look like ourselves for a long time.