Question …. is there an art to ageing smarter? I mean let’s be honest, for a load of us – sticking my hand highly up in the air – the physical ageing process is not really the most welcome phase of our lives. What starts off with some fine lines in your mid twenties or some growing love handles in your thirties and before you know it all the bloody wheels have come off.
You can’t fit into your favourite jeans, there is a grey hair lurking around your bikini line and you find yourself wondering what botox will feel like. Or perhaps you didn’t really notice the passing of time until one day when you looked in the mirror and found yourself speaking out loud “fuck I look old”.
The reality is we all age, you know cycle of life and all that. Yet the face of ageing has changed, pardon the pun. I believe that how we feel about beauty as we age has changed. Arguably around the same time as some changes in how the beauty industry handles ageing and anti-ageing.
After years of being the most used marketing buzz-word and adding to the negative spin on the whole ageing process, “anti-ageing” has lost its appeal for many. The ageing process or maturation process as I like to call it, is getting embraced a little more. Yes, there is still a lot to be evened out in a world where beauty often equates to youth, but recent developments include more diverse representation and specifically more 40+ models being used in the beauty industry.
The app and the ad – #powerofgrey
A couple of other interesting things have happened recently. Firstly, Pantene’s #powerofgrey advert encouraged people to embrace their grey hair and invited us Brits to question our socially established beliefs and associations about going grey. Yes the grey/ice hue is one of the on trend hair colours this year, but traditionally grey hair has never been celebrated in a body positive manner. Actually or been a prominent positive feature in advertising! This viral advert gave a nod to the beauty industry slowly but surely trying to instill confidence as opposed to playing to consumer’s insecurities. The multi-channel campaign was kicked off with a billboard at Westfield in London and was ironically the creative work of Grey in London.
Secondly, Facemap went viral again and had legions of folks weirdly getting on board with physical ageing themselves via an app. You know, because on an app they want to check out what they would look like older, yet in real life the amount of people getting tweakments to look their best self has never been so high! So are we for getting older now? Perhaps not just yet in the music industry though, if this morning’s press about Bebe Rexha is anything to go by. She was told by a music executive that she was too old to post sexy instagram posts. Really …. come on!
The maturation process
Correct me if I am wrong but I am kind of OK with the celebrating the maturation process. Ageing has never looked better, sexier and more confident. My personal perspective of people who are 40, 50 or 60 has changed over the last decade or so. Gone are the days of hitting a certain age, suddenly feel like you have lost your identity and decide to rock a blue rinse and perm. From your 30’s to perimenopause to postmenopause and everything in between, it isn’t just that we are ageing better, we are ageing smarter. Armed with the knowledge that our lifestyle, skincare and diet choice all contribute to how we personally age.
Things that impact how you age
Just like Molly Ringwald’s character in Sixteen Candles (1984), I haven’t just woken up on my birthday and suddenly aged. The truth is I, like you, have been ageing every day since I was born. We just all age at different speeds with genetics, diet, skincare routine and environmental factors all playing a part in the speed of this ageing process. For many, how we age is perhaps most noticed on our faces, this is the place I noticed ageing creep up on me.
In my 43 year old head I feel the same level of maturity as I did two decades ago…. my skin just shows differently. I don’t have too many bags under my eyes but those fine lines and wrinkles have been growing in number for the last decade or so. For me ageing well starts with accepting the changes in your body and still loving yourself. I am hopefully learning not to be ashamed of ageing as it is a bit of a gift or rite of passage. Maturity aside, I have found that the older I get, the more comfortable I am in my own skin…. just would like to do more when it comes to the upkeep of my skin.
I want to look at all the options out there for me. As a woman I do lean towards a more natural aesthetic…. Love Island lips need not apply! Nowadays there are so many great non-invasive treatments and daily skincare routines to help speed up skin cell renewal or increase plumping collagen production. Where do you start, after all, this is not just a rock up to one appointment and be done gig.
We are all looking for ways to stay looking and feeling more youthful for longer. Let’s open up the conversation on ageing well. Do you disguise the process with some botox or tweakment or do you just go au naturale. I have asked some brilliant industry professionals their tips for how to look and feel great whatever your age.
The rise of the tweakment
A quick glance across social media and you will see tweakments like Botox and fillers are far more common place. “There are tweakments and then there are tweeeeeakments” explains The Times labeled Queen of skin, Abigail James. “Some I totally go with, where as other much more clinical methods have been bunched into this tweakment sector which I personally believe are a step too far”.
As award winning facialist and author Abigail James really knows her stuff. “The skin is a living organ, constantly ageing and renewing itself”. James sees quick fix beauty things a bit like quick fix food, good at the time but short lived and not really giving any long term benefit. “Ageing well is not a one fix wonder but more of a continual journey. Finding treatments, methods and products that actually work on a cellular level which from a skincare point of view does require daily application and from a treatment perspective, courses and more than just a one of facial”. It needs to be maintained.
Love me a great treatment!
Can we talk about maintenance for a hot minute? Listen, ageing is not going to be your bestie end if you spent half your youth frying your skin on some mediterranean sunlounger with carrot oil on your skin, whilst smoking a bucket load of red Marlboro. They will bring some extra challenges to the maintenance regime. Sometimes maintenance through professional treatments and lifestyle choices are the way forward to help you look and feel your best. Elegant and smarter ageing, has maintenance at the core. Am I right?
I remember as a teenager we lived beside a genetically blessed French family. A ridiculously good looking dad, two young hollywood looking sons that half my school pined over when they would walk by and a fabulously beautiful mum. She epitomised all things French and she proudly took her body maintenance very seriously. We are talking advanced facials to the max. Sucking the water out of her knees to give them better optic. She never overate and her weight never yo yo’d …. ever. Then there was her visits to the health spa twice yearly to get her system reset. Whatever she did, blimey she looked amazing for her age and had the self-belief to match.
So is it all about making you feel better about yourself? Treatments or tweakments do make us feel better about ourselves. Thankfully, after a few years of seeing deluge of tweakments like the botox frozen and puffed up filler face, more natural tweakments like baby botox have been heralded as a better way to go. We as a generation are far more likely to invest in ourselves both to get tweakment and than as acclaimed aesthetics doctor Dr Sarah Tonks describes “in other self-care challenges”. She continues, we view ourselves “through a different paradigm, a different internal lens. Having treatments myself really motivated me to look better and caused me to go to the gym more and eat healthier!”
What professional kick ass treatments and invisible work should we be exploring? Tonks says it really depends on what we want. “Some problems can only be fixed surgically and there’s not much you can do about it otherwise whilst a different example would be a problematic thread-vein that’s one quick laser and problem solved”.
Botox and tweakments are not for everyone though. Vanderohe founder, Olivia Thorpe falls into this currently in the later category. “I’m averse to putting toxins into my skin, so I’m not for Botox myself. That said, I’ve seen it work wonders for friends and family members so I wouldn’t totally rule it out!”.
Much like my daily skincare routine, I take a combined approach when it comes to professional skincare treatments. Abigail James agrees that “sometimes we might need skin restoring and resurfacing which is a little more product based, low level peels, microcurrent LED light. Others we might want lift and firm – more radio frequency. Or we might want a more restoring emotionally type treatments – which I go more”.
More holistic, less quick fix
Is it time to take a more holistic or natural approach to your skin and look at how it is affected by sun, environmental pollution, diet, stress, health and wellness? After all, Botox is great at helping you look more rested but it doesn’t stimulate collagen, increase cell turnover or firm muscles in the same way facial methods or technological products do.
Perhaps aesthetic medicine isn’t what people think it is. The modern breed of aesthetic doctors are not just about the tweakments and injections. Dr Sarah Tonks explains, “We don’t remove a blemish and that’s your life changed forever! Sure you can get something tweaked if it’s causing you distress but people need to understand that it’s stopping smoking/drinking that will really stop those wrinkles coming in – not a 5-minute session of some miracle treatment!”. Culturally we are a lot more savvy these days with wellbeing and as Dr Sarah Tonks notes one way things have changed a lot is the increased use of SPF’s and vitamins in recent years.
Pretty much all my lovely experts agreed that purely opting for only quick fix beauty is not the way forward. Harley Street based skincare and aesthetic medicine expert Dr David Jack, believes that a holistic approach is the most important. By using skincare products and supplements you can properly have quite a profound effect on the skin from an anti-aging point of view. “The skin is an organ so its health depends hugely on the internal body environment, so maintaining a good daily intake of anti-oxidants, as well as topically, the health of the skin can be influence in a positive way”.
“Sure you can have something small done to erase this line/wrinkle but ultimately if you ‘the organism’ as a whole isn’t functioning properly then it will show in your looks” Dr Sarah Tonks agreed. She also sees exercise as being very important and particularly noted the rise in hormonal replacement therapies and checking micronutrient levels as being part of the future of ageing well. She likes to call it “maximising the prevention of damage and optimising the metabolic pathways to make the ‘whole’ look better. Getting old is merely an accumulation of this damage”.
Dr Sarah Tonks, commented that facial exercise is one natural approach that seems to be working well and more evidence is coming out to back it up. The benefits in taking a more naturally holistic approach are well documented. For The Times acclaimed ” The Queen of Skin” Abigail James, it more than just the skincare and facials. “It’s lifestyle, stress levels, diet, supplements etc etc. I see it daily on my commute into London some very grey, dull, looking faces”.
It is pretty tricky to expect everyone to enjoy and embrace the changes we undergo as we age. Olivia Thorpe from the award winning natural and organic skincare line Vanderohe sympathises. “If you’re confident and happy in your skin, you will look great. If you are uncomfortable in your skin – and many might be – I’d suggest investing more in treating it gently before you embark upon tweakments: go for regular facials, lighten your hair, brighten your teeth… whatever makes you feel wonderful”.
For her it is very simple, “I try to lead as healthy a lifestyle as I can, whilst enjoying “unhealthy” things in moderation. I spend time massaging my skin thoroughly every time I wash my face or apply a serum (it’s why I love oils so much) – it gets everything working under your skin and really helps your skin to absorb what you’re putting on it”.
Celebrity cosmetic acupuncturist Sarah Bradden is famed for her naturally holistic yet powerful approach to “ageless ageing” that uses a combination of cosmetic acupuncture for the face & body, led medical lights, activated oxygen, energy healing & reflexology. As “Queen of needles” her approach to ‘pro ageing’ is very much a 360 thing. “No stone is left unturned!! From looking at your life journey, experiences, trauma, hormones, TCM diagnoses and western medical history. When we look at ourselves as a whole this is when we make real changes. Not only to how we look but more importantly to how we feel”. This type of treatment by Sarah is definitely not a immediate fix but it is one that is well documented in changing people’s lives.
With more of us looking for natural ways to look our best, everything from facial yoga to drinking more water have all been heralded as ways to help your skin look great. Olivia Thorpe is a firm believer in the holistic approach to having great skin. Afterall, there is zero point in maintaining a really fantastic facial routine if you are boozing regularly and eating junk.
I have found myself gravitating on social media to accounts that uphold this more naturally holistic approach. Davinia Taylor’s account is one that I visit every day. Having put her partying days behind her, Davinia openly discusses the most amazing body transformation she has gone through. She is now my go fave for straight talking wellbeing, lifestyle and gut health tips.
Through biohacking, Davinia uses her genetics, gut health and weight training to shape her body. “I drink plenty of organic coffee which has huge antioxidants and I add MCT oil again good fats which help my energy levels and keep my blood vessels clear of congestion caused by veg oil and sugar. I eat plenty of collagen in bone broth and add it to my coffee two daily to make sure my gut and skin get ample supply as we stop producing it in such abundance when we hit 30”.
One of the things I love about Davinia’s account is she frequently has some other interesting natural wellbeing tips. “Skin wise…. I generally use the sun to heal and I don’t use SPF at all I just use the shade. If I have a skin complaint like pmt spots I’ll sit out in the sun and they generally heal after a day or so of wandering around in it. I don’t wear sunglasses as this indicates to the skin that it’s not in direct sunlight and the skin won’t naturally protect itself as it thinks it’s indoors. The eyes tell the skin what level of melanin to produce to protect the skin (a tan)”.
I am a firm believer that I feel so much better after some sunshine. Olivia Thorpe’s is also a fan of the benefits of the sun as well as facial massage and steam treatment ! “Don’t be afraid to go in the sun – so long as you use good spf protection, it’s actually vital for good health”.
The sharp rise in the in natural and holistic approaches has also been mirrored in the rise of using cleaner and greener beauty and wellbeing techniques. Claire and Rebecca Hopkins, founders of the award winning natural skincare line Balance Me use key ingredients in their range as natural ways to brighten and smooth your skin. As a brand their result driven natural products have become some of my go to favourites this last year. Claire and Rebecca have shared some of their skincare tips on positive ageing.
- Wear SPF (factor 25 and above) from March to October (use the clock changing as a guide)
- Your body’s natural supplies of hyaluronic acid deplete with age so ensure you really boost it (a 20 year old has 50% more natural HA than a 40yo)
- Other key ingredients to look out for are Vitamin C (for brightening, elasticity, skin firmness) and natural peptides (collagen boosting) and acmella oleracea (nature’s natural answer to botox!)
- Cleanse twice a day to keep skin clean and also prepped for rejuvenation overnight when skin will naturally repair itself
- Use a moisturiser at the end of you skincare regime as it will act as a barrier to protect your skin from external aggressors and lock in moisture.
For me, great skincare gives me a glowing skin…. and I am all about the glow. “A glowing complexion, whatever your age, helps to bring beauty to your face as it makes everything sparkle with health and I’d suggest a really good, organic and natural face oil to achieve that” say Thorpe about her gorgeous Vanderohe No.1 Nourishing Face Serum.
Davinia Taylor comments on her also using of some cupboard staple products in her skincare routine and likes to wash her face once a week in baking soda for a good scrub and sometimes splashes peroxide on it like a quick peel mask. “I follow this with Marie Reynolds Restore probiotic face mask to add good bacteria back onto my skin to protect it from the environment like pollution (living in London the tube is a necessary evil !)”.
What else helps the bad stuff out your skin? Abigail James is a big yoga fan. Davinia Taylor loves to run and is a HIIT exerciser. Olivia Thorpe views her exercising 3 times a week as a key component too. “It gets the blood pumping, your skin sweating out the bad stuff and it enhances the mood like nothing else can… and this will show in your skin”.
Collagen boosting you say?
That leads me succinctly onto my next point. What about sex? When I first popped out on Twitter to mention that I was writing this post, one of the responses I got back was all about the natural way to exercise …. sex. Amongst other things it promises to be a great way to boost mood and increase happy hormone production and ladies and gents, it is these hormones that also boost skin plumping collagen. One lady that replied, proudly announced that her skin has never been so great since she challenged herself to orgasm at least once a day. As holistic as you can get?
Let me leave this topic like this. One country were women are renowned for their graceful ageing is the same country that is also famed for their fulfilling love lives….. France. Yes? The city of love is their capital city! The French do love and sex well. There have also been a few studies, one I will highlight here is the 600-page “Study of Sexuality in France” by France’s National Research Agency on AIDS. It noted that over 90% of French women over the age of 50 were still sexually active and are were ready to seduce and be sexy. Along with good wine, great food and apparently sex, the passionate French do what makes their bodies feel good. Do they feel guilty or apologise for this? Non!
Live well to age well
Ageing well and gracefully isn’t just about your genetics and your perspective on life …. although they help massively. True we can’t stop the ageing process, we can however make a big impact on our physical appearance through our lifestyle choices. Everything from the food you eat to your relationships and environment impact the speed that your body ages. It is all about balance. Yes ageing well comes from living well. It is in your hands, are you ready to commit to some. To start you off, here are some of y tips that you can do fairly effortlessly to age a little smarter
- Skincare routine on fleek. Does your skincare arsenal include collagen stimulating peptides? It is also time to add in some wrinkle smoothing retinoids.
- Use sunscreen – yes even in the UK. Go for a broad spectrum sunscreen in a high SPF.
- Choose the right makeup. Powder based foundations are no longer likely to be your friend as they settle into wrinkles and accentuate fine lines. Try tinted moisturisers and cream based blush or highlighters. Let your makeup accentuate your natural beauty not cover it up!
- Exercising regularly helps increase blood flow to skin cells.
- You are what you eat y’all. You guessed it, how you age and also how you feel is impacted by your diet. Fruit and veg are jam packed with skin loving antioxidants and vitamins. Include good fats in your diet for skin protection. Fish like salmon contain skin boosting omega 3 fatty acids.
- As we age or go through hormone changes our hair can become weaker and more dry. Time to change up your hair care and choose a hair-style that is less severe on your facial features. Brands like Aveda do offer a free hair and scalp check to help get your hair back to its best.
- Keep stress to a minimum. A little stress can be good, too much can age us, increase blood pressure and wreak havoc with our sleep patterns …. and we all know that not enough sleep ages the heck out of you! What starts as a frown often becomes a wrinkle. Coping mechanisms often used in times of stress like drinking or smoking can impact how we age too. It is a double whammy. Find your mind calming thing, reading, yoga, meditation, binge watching your favourite series on Netflix. Stay positive.
- They don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing. A good nights sleep helps delay the ageing process. We you release a collagen and elastin restoring growth hormone as we sleep. Better still cortisol levels reduce and our skin cells build and repair themselves. Aim for 7, 8 or 9 hours a night. Practice better sleep hygiene. Keep bed times consistent, avoid blue light emitting electronics before bed, opt for a room that is cooler and with no light.
- Drink water and plenty of it. Nourish your skin from within. Sadly not all drinks do. Too much alcohol can exacerbate any inflammatory skin conditions and leave your more dehydrated. Which for me invariable shows in my skin. Water is not just great for hydration it also keeps our system working well and helps aid digestion.
- Have more sex, glow from the inside out. (Pah…. I am waiting to get a call from one family member after they read this). Love and sex release feel good and skin plumping hormones.
- (Sounds simple. Can someone the less stress point to my family because jeeso they have aged me about 17 years since the start of the school holidays!)
It is ok to age, but I want to age well. Elegant ageing. Rather than age bring me fragility and wrinkles it continues to bring lessons, laughs, tears, people, experiences, hopes, wisdom and love. When it comes to the maturation process, if you feel good about yourself you invariably will look good. The real fountain of youth is looking after yourself both internally and externally. Beauty through self-belief, mind over makeup, amazing professional treatments,happiness and well-being. Anyone else spot that none of these are fitting into the current ideal of beauty a la Love Island lip fillers? It will be interesting to see how smarter ageing continues in generations to come.
“ageing is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength” Betty Friedan
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