Age is just a number - tips for youthful longevity
Updated: Nov 16, 2020
Without tooting my own horn, people are sometimes surprised when they hear my age. I'm never really sure whether to be proud of this or offended but either way, the end result is that they feel I am coming across younger than my actual years. Is this just good genes? Or good jeans? Or am I doing something right in my routine?
In my younger, party years, my night time/day time routine was generally something more akin to ensuring all the vomit was out of my hair and then drinking enough coffee to raise the dead. How I came through my 20s unscathed - not to mention unwrinkled - is still a mystery to all (must be those gene genies again). But now that I'm in my 40s, I'm much more aware of the rapidly encroaching sands of time, threatening to dehydrate my corpse and leave me buried in a sea of crepe skin and damaged hair.
So, what are my thoughts on all this? I believe the main reason people perceive me as younger than I am is because that is how I perceive myself. I never really grew up. If you look closely, there are fine lines, creases, sun spots, but these all go unnoticed as I'm squealing with glee on the roller coaster or laughing uncontrollably at old episodes of The Simpsons. I'm not saying you should go out and become a useless kidult like me by any means. But there is something to be said for living a stress-free lifestyle. Take my mum for example, she just turned 73 and is looking amazing! Age is merely a number and like myself, she possesses that lust for life and sense of humour that has made her eternally young.
The real secret to remaining youthful into your mid to late age is simple. Don't take life too seriously. Don't just work, work on you. Work on being happy. The more you worry and fuss about, the more stress you are putting on your skin. When your body is under stress, there is an increase in the stress hormone cortisol. This can harm your youthful glow in so many ways.
Firstly, the increase in cortisol can lead to a decrease in the synthesis of hyaluronic acid, which results in moisture loss in the skin, subsequently damaging your skin's natural protective barrier and leading to the skin looking dehydrated and wrinkled. Once the barrier is damaged, it's really hard for it to retain enough moisture to repair itself and no amount of slathering it in oil is going to make much difference to those wrinkles until it's recovered.
Secondly, the increased cortisol levels can increase production of oil and sebum, leading to break outs and acne. Stress can also wreak havoc in those with sensitivities such as psoriasis, rosacea and eczema.
Let's not forget about those bags under the ever reddening eyes, grey hairs (those that haven't fallen out already) and possible over indulgence in alcohol, cigarettes and fast food - the refuges of the chronically over worked and time deprived - which can cause dull, flaky skin, chapped lips and bloating. I know I tend to bite my cheeks and grind my teeth a lot when stressed too, which leads to headaches and causes my face to look fat due to the growth of the overworked jaw muscles.
But in these fast paced, energy drink guzzling, 'quick-fix the symptom and get on with it' times, what's a gal (or guy or other gender identifying) to do? The first thing everyone will tell you (which is also the correct answer) is drink plenty of water. There's no substitute. Good skin starts on the inside and it starts with hydration. Nutrition plays a big part too, but I won't go into that here as it's too in depth.
Next in my bag o' tricks (another groan as we've heard it all before), get plenty of rest. Notice I said rest as opposed to sleep. It can be hard to get plenty of sleep and sometimes, the pressure we put on ourselves to get that coveted 8 hours can create a cyclical situation in which we actually become stressed out by the thought of attempting to get enough sleep because we are worried about how tired we'll be the next day if we don't, whereby we have basically just given ourselves insomnia. Yes, this has happened to me. So, I have found that as long as we allow ourselves sufficient time to rest our minds - put the phone down, turn the tv off - maybe play some relaxing music, engage in meditation or yoga if that's your thing (I actually find it very beneficial), read a good book and just let go of the stresses of the day, not only are you relaxing but you are more likely to fall asleep and have a more restful, quality sleep, even if it isn't for a full 8 hours! Remember, quality is better than quantity in this instance.
Hey, wait, isn't this a skin care blog? What's all this bull about drinking water, relaxing and having fun? Can't I just slap on some retinol and get back to my meeting?! You could try that approach, yes, retinol, hyaluronic acid and vitamin C have amazing abilities to turn back the clock, but that’s really just treating the symptom and not the getting to the cause. Skin Care science has discovered some wonderful products that can really can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, sun-spots etc, but it’s always best to look at using it as part of a holistic treatment if you want to achieve the best results at the end of the day.
Which brings me to probably the most important step for those who are hoping to delay the onset of fine lines, wrinkles and sun spots (not to mention melanomas and other cancers and tumours!) ALWAYS WEAR SUNSCREEN! I cannot stress this enough. If you aren't protecting your skin from the sun's damaging and aging UV rays, then you won't see all the wonderful benefits of your skin care working to their full potential. The most harmful things for your skin are UV rays, cigarettes and alcohol. I would never ask you to give up your precious wine! So let's do what we can and limit the rays! It doesn't matter if it's not sunny, UVA will still penetrate your skin's layers even on a cloudy day, and this is the one that gets deeper down and does the real damage that can take a while to show on the surface. UVB is what gives you sunburn. I will add a more in depth blog post about this subject matter at a later date but for now, just trust me!
In my future blog posts, I will also take a more in depth look in to some of these aforementioned miracle skin care ingredients, but for now, go and pour yourself a nice tall glass of thirst quenching, hydrating, life giving water while you contemplate tomorrow’s exercise plans, then, do whatever makes you happy.
Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist, health professional or expert on the above subject matter. The article contains my research and opinions and is provided for entertainment purposes only. Always consult with your GP on any medical matter and don’t take health advice from the internet.
About the author: Mary Mildreen, 45, hails from Sydney, Australia and may or may not be using a pseudonym. She is the daughter of Australian author John Kernow, who inspired her love of writing. Mary currently resides in the tropical far north with her partner and their menagerie of deranged animals. Mary is a vegan and gets plenty of protein.