Aging Gracefully and Feeling More Confident

aging

In our 20s, we wave away any thought of aging because it seems so far into the future. We’re too busy living in the moment and enjoying our youth. Yet once our 30th birthday passes, that first fine line settling in sends us into a tizzy. Suddenly, aging is a very real, very swift phenomenon. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve looked at myself in the mirror and thought, where has the time gone? Am I really at this age…already? 

I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve had many conversations with friends about wrinkles, skincare regimens, and the lack of confidence that parallels aging. We all reach a point where aging bothers us and we do everything in our power to avoid more wrinkles, age spots, saggy jowls, and all that other fun stuff that comes with growing older.

Obviously, there are expensive tried-and-true ways to maintain youthful skin. But fancy facials, micro-needling sessions, and injectables like Botox and fillers are not for everyone. While I don’t judge anyone for doing their thing, I want to talk about the impact you can make on your skin for much cheaper! It really boils down to the love you show your body! 

Before I break down the tips to slow down the visible signs of aging, it’s important to keep one thing in mind…

Your outlook on aging makes all the difference.

We live in a world where the social definition of aging is slowly shifting from what it once was. No longer is young the only beautiful. Aging has now taken on a much more inclusive tone where many types of women are recognized as beautiful, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, etc. And thank God for this! A world with only one definition of beauty is b-o-r-i-n-g.

Despite this changing social viewpoint, many of us still look at our faces and think “old, less attractive,” and compare ourselves to younger women we encounter daily. I know I do this all the time. I see a woman fresh out of college and I sigh internally and wish I was still that young and looked like that.

But what if we stop looking at aging as a bad thing? What if we rebel against this way of thinking and look at growing older as a blessing that is beautiful in itself? Every day we wake up and get to be is something to be grateful for. Switching up perspective on aging can change how we view the fine lines and wrinkles that will inevitably take over our face someday.

There are minor lifestyle changes that can slow down the visible aging process, though.

Be mindful about how you nourish your body.

The first step to aging gracefully starts with what you’re putting into your body. Yep, it’s true. Skincare truly starts from the inside out. We can ease many of our skin and aging complaints by paying more attention to our diet. And I don’t mean following a strict diet with special foods. It’s much more simple than that.

Drink water and lots of it.

The easiest way to avoid premature wrinkles and adult acne is to stay hydrated. Drink water first thing in the morning—ideally with lemon and a bit of cayenne—to flush the toxins out of your system. Choose water over soda (even diet!) and other sugary drinks all day long. It will keep your skin brighter and clearer. And when our bodies are fully hydrated, our skin looks younger. We are basically giant houseplants. When plants don’t get enough water, the leaves look shriveled and blah. But when they get the water they need, the leaves take on vibrant color and bounce back up.

Eat raw fruits and vegetables.

Eating the rainbow in fruits and veggies is one of the easiest and healthiest ways to keep your skin youthful. In their rawest form and unpeeled, fruits and veggies are full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They aid in our collagen production, which helps our skin’s elasticity. If you’re worried about saggy skin, eat your daily fruits and veggies. As a bonus, you’ll stay fuller for longer periods of time because of the high fiber content.

Don’t overindulge in alcohol.

If there’s one thing I want to tell college-aged me, it’s that bar nights aren’t worth it. Nothing sucks the hydration out of your skin faster than a night of binge drinking. Overindulging in alcohol too often may lead to chronic dark circles under the eyes and those tiny red blood vessels at the surface of the skin. The high sugar content of alcohol may also contribute to acne, rosacea, and severe dry skin. I love to have a beer or a glass of wine, but I make sure to hit my daily water goal beforehand. Ideally, the goal is half your weight in ounces of water. After an adult day (or night out), rehydrate! Electrolytes from drops or hydrate packets help out.

Don’t smoke.

I could go on and on about all the dangers of smoking cigarettes. It negatively affects our health in so many ways, but for the sake of time, I’ll keep my rant to how quickly smoking ages our skin. Nicotine (and all the other chemicals in cigarettes) reduces the oxygen flow to the skin. Oxygen is necessary for youthful-looking skin. It’s what keeps our tone even and bright. Have you ever seen the way a lifelong smoker’s skin has a grayish hue and more fine lines, particularly around the mouth? It’s just not worth it.

Limit sugar.

Sugar, aka Collagen Killer, accelerates aging and causes adult acne. I know when I overdo it on sugar, my chin breaks out with those painful cystic pimples. Sugar diminishes the elastin and collagen (hence the nickname) our skin needs to stay firm and smooth. If we have a poor diet that is high in sugar and low in fiber, we’re likely to have more fine lines and wrinkles, uneven tone, and a saggy neck.

Movement is the ultimate act in an anti-aging routine.

Exercise is an important part of our overall health. The more we move, the better our blood flow and oxygen levels. Not only is this critical for our heart health, but it may keep our skin looking younger for longer. As we age, the epidermis thins, which is what causes the gaunt circles beneath the eyes. Exercise will slow that process down. The increased blood flow helps the epidermis stay thicker, which keeps our skin plumper and tone even.

Even if you aren’t into hardcore workouts, there are some basic low-intensity activities you can do to get your body moving and skin glowing.

  • Walking or jogging: Aim for a 30-minute walk or light jog every day to get your heart rate up. Don’t worry about speed. Just keep moving and enjoy the afterglow.
  • Yoga: Stretching is important for limber muscles and elastic skin. When you’re breathing mindfully and forcing yourself to relax the face muscles, you’re making it harder for the wrinkles to set in. I haven’t tried it yet, but face yoga is a huge anti-aging trend right now.
  • Weightlifting: Lifting even light weights has enormous benefits for fighting sag. As you tone your muscles, you’re helping them stay attached to bone to avoid that saggy skin look associated with aging.

Treat your skin like the prized possession it is.

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on anti-aging creams and face masks to take care of your skin. There are simple changes you can make to your skincare routine to slow down the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, and the southern drift.

Protect yourself from the sun.

This may be the most important thing you do. Wear a daily facial moisturizer that has an SPF of at least 15—higher daily. Remember that all sunscreens and SPF moisturizers are not created equal, though, and use one free of harmful ingredients.

Don’t be aggressive with your skin.

Skin has a memory. And consistent pulling of the skin will lead to the dreaded loose skin look and wrinkles much earlier. When you wash your face, avoid pulling a washcloth over the skin, especially around the eyes. If you have to use a washcloth to remove makeup, consider a soft one specifically made for facial cleansing. Norwex’s body and face pack is an excellent choice for a gentle washcloth that will remove every bit of makeup without the tug.

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize

We’ve already covered the fact you should wear an SPF moisturizer every morning. But moisturizing at night is super important, too. I recommend a lighter moisturizer in the morning, but a heavier one before bed. Regardless of the time of day, use a moisturizer that contains anti-aging ingredients, like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and peptides.

Give yourself regular facials

This is the biggest time commitment of all of these, but one that can have a tremendous impact. Facials exfoliate and improve circulation in the face, making your skin look more plump and glowy. Try to do an at-home facial at least once a week, in this order:

  • Double-wash your face: The first round is for removing make up and grime from the day. The second is a 2-3 minute deep clean where you massage and stimulate your pores.
  • Apply a toner: Use a cotton pad to apply a light toner and let dry.
  • Steam: There are facial steamers you can buy to really open the pores up but there’s a cheaper option as well. Microwave a large bowl of water until just below boiling. Hold your face over the bowl with a towel over your head for 1 to 2 minutes. Don’t do this too long or you may feel lightheaded.
  • Exfoliate: Get rid of old skin cells and encourage lymphatic drainage by rubbing an exfoliant or facial dry brush over your face in gentle circles. Be careful not to press too hard. Too much pressure could have an adverse effect. This one may be my favorite, as great as it feels and how easy it is to implement.
  • Apply a serum: Continuing with the circular motions, apply a serum to your face. Let it soak in.
  • Moisturize: End with a thick application of night cream and a separate eye cream, if you choose.

Do what feels good to you.

At the end of the day, you have to do what makes you feel beautiful. We are all human and can’t adopt every healthy habit, so start small. Pick 1-2 options from above that you know you are more likely to stick with. If you’ve tried the simpler anti-aging methods and still feel a lack of confidence, there’s no shame in doing more. If you have the means to get regular spa treatments, Botox, or fillers, do it! You don’t have to answer to anyone. Just remember the main person’s opinion that really matters is your own.

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