How To Age Gracefully as a Woman
By: Melissa Mae
So here’s the thing—aging is inevitable, but how we age is entirely up to you. Take a look at celebrity royals like Meryl Streep, Angela Bassett and Dame Julie Andrews, for example; the epitome of women who have matured gracefully and remained young at heart in the process.
With our rapid decline in collagen over the years, it is not enough to simply rely on genetics to keep you looking youthful when it comes to growing older. Sometimes we just need a little help from our skincare products, lifestyle and mental health.
So without further ado, here are some tips to still getting ID'd at the bar when you’re 50!
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Collagen and its Effect on Your Skin
When it comes to aging, typical side effects like wrinkles, laugh lines and saggy skin are sure to make themselves known. Besides those, you may also notice pigmentation from sun damage on your skin, longer ears, a droopy nose, a retreating hairline, and an expanded forehead over the years. And if you haven’t guessed it by now, this is all caused by the lack of our dear friend, collagen, in your body.
Yes (cue big sigh), it’s true. With the depletion of naturally produced collagen preserving the youth in your body as you age, your appearance is bound to go through some notable changes. So if you didn’t know of the importance of collagen already, get ready to get your mind blown.
What is Collagen?
Naturally produced in the human body, this protein can be found practically everywhere—from more prominent organs such as your bones and skin to more specific areas of your body like your eyes’ cornea and the lining of your gut.
And unfortunately for all of us, the levels of collagen in our bodies will start to deplete past the age of 25 and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives. Women, especially, lose about 30% of their collagen in the first five years post-menopause and about 2% every year for the next 20 years.
In general, external factors such as smoking, the overconsumption of sugar and exposure to ultraviolet rays (UV rays) from the sun can further decline naturally-produced collagen. But that’s not to say that you can’t maintain and increase the level of collagen present in your body.
How to Maintain Collagen Production
Firstly, skincare containing collagen does not work. We know that many brands are claiming that they can, but don’t be fooled! This particular protein’s molecules are way too large to penetrate your skin and thus, ends up functioning as more of a layer over your skin like moisturizer. What you’re guaranteed to end up with is moisturized skin, and that’s as good as it's going to get.
Secondly, you are not able to consume collagen directly at the source. What you can do is eat sufficient protein from animals such as cows, pigs and seafood so that your body can produce collagen naturally with the amino acids you’d get from it. Alas, this means bad news for our vegetarian and vegan friends out there.
Alternatively, you can consume antioxidants such as vitamins E, C and beta-carotene and minerals like magnesium and zinc. They are also essential to one’s diet to prolong aging. On top of that, eating fruits and vegetables like blueberries and dark greens and switching to avocado oil for cooking may also boost collagen production (albeit slower).
Skincare Tips to Maintain Your Youth
Besides the big C, investing in proper skincare can also help keep your skin looking and feeling young. Simply curating a daily skincare routine that follows the 4-step J-beauty regime is enough for you to go the extra mile in preserving the juvenility of your skin.
One thing you have to remember is that sunscreen is your number one youth elixir. Without SPF, your skincare routine will be rendered entirely useless (we’re not joking!). As good as the sun is in nourishing your skin with vitamin D, its harmful UV rays are the ones you have to look out for.
Most dermatologists have also found that 90 percent of sunspots, wrinkles, and sagging skin result from sun damage. The sun accelerates the degeneration of collagen in your body, causing your skin to age faster and be more susceptible to the risk of skin cancer.
A few things to note? You should be reapplying sunscreen throughout the day as it’s not enough to simply apply it in the morning and leave it be. Additionally, regularly moisturizing your skin below your layers of sunscreen is necessary for keeping your skin baby soft and hydrated.
Retinol to Reduce Wrinkles
Acting as a derivative of vitamin A, retinol provides anti-aging properties such as the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles, fading of age spots, softening of rough patches of skin, evening out of pigmentation, acceleration of the turnover of skin cells, stimulation of collagen production and development of new blood vessels for healthy and glowing skin.
However, it is important to note that retinoids do have the potential to dry out your skin and cause irritation, especially if you’re already one who suffers from dry, dehydrated or sensitive skin. It also takes quite a while before the ingredient’s results start to kick in and show on your skin. So give it time; good things come to those who wait for it anyway.
Alternative Means to Age Gracefully
If skincare’s not really your thing (yes, we know how hard it is to keep up with the latest fads in the industry), there are other ways for you to prevent premature aging. Simply make some slight changes to your lifestyle!
Perhaps one of the most common platitudes out there—regular exercise will do your body and skin some good. Besides the toned muscles and good shape you’ll be in after working out, the benefits of exercise are vast.
Exercise stimulates your blood flow and cleanses your skin of bad skin cells, lowering your risk of heart diseases and cancer and improving your mood and quality of sleep altogether.
On top of that, training with weights and resistance help you build strong back muscles and shoulders and straighten up your posture just as your bone loss starts to occur with age.
When working out, you’ll also feel the rush of happy hormones, otherwise known as endorphins, that make you feel lighter and more energetic in life. And we all know how influential happiness is on the rest of your appearance (psst! peep our previous article).
Have a Healthy Diet
It’s no secret that your diet plays a big part in your appearance and health. Of course, a diet rich in healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low sugar is the most ideal in this circumstance, but we know that’s quite a feat for most of us.
Eating fruits and vegetables, especially, help to draw out the aging process as they contain beneficial antioxidants that boost collagen production. Foods like nuts, seeds and cold-water fatty fish also contain omega-3 fatty acids that help defend your skin against harmful external factors and make you look younger.
Just refer to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ full list of recommended foods here for a better understanding of what you should consume:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Lean protein
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy
- Healthy fats
- Vitamin D
That’s not to say you can’t eat what you want, but just in moderation. Avoiding solid fats, processed foods, and refined sugars is already the first step to eating healthier.
Avoid Smoking and Drinking
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but smoking and drinking alcohol can cause premature aging and other health risks. To be more specific, your body might go through some notable changes such as the yellowing of your teeth, the development of your arcus corneae, the creasing of your earlobes, and the presence of xanthelasmata (trust us, it’s not cute).
Cigarettes are also known to damage your skin’s fibre, diminish collagen production and reduce your skin’s elasticity. To be safe, try your best to cut down on the amount of nicotine and alcohol you choose to put in your body. At the end of the day, no one wants to look older than they actually are.
Okay, you’ve probably heard this many times before but drink your water! Not only does hydrating yourself slow down the process of aging, but it also minimizes wrinkles, reduces puffiness, improves your complexion and tightens your skin, leaving it looking plumper and more youthful.
Drinking at least eight glasses of water a day will help you cleanse your body of toxins and replenish moisture within it. Nothing happens overnight, but we guarantee that your skin will thank you in the future with sufficient water intake every day.
Get Sufficient Sleep
Several studies prove that sleep deprivation ages you quicker, and honestly, it’s not something to mess around with. Sleep (or the lack of) has the ability to control how you look and how you function in the day.
If you were only to get a couple of hours of sleep a day, your skin would not be able to renew itself and will start to look dull due to a slow cell turnover. To put it simply, not only will you have prominent dark eye circles or puffy eyes, but you’ll also have a dull complexion to show for it. It also promotes high cortisol and glucose levels that can, in turn, lead to health problems like hypertension and type II diabetes.
With sufficient sleep, your body will be able to have enough time to heal your skin from the adverse effects of sun damage during the day and restore the collagen and elasticity of your skin. We recommend sleeping at least 8 hours every night for your body to rest and reset itself for the day to come.
Last but not least, your vibe. And we know this sounds random, but it’s actually one of the most important things that get considered when people determine your age. How you carry yourself in the way you talk and behave plays a big part in people’s first impressions of you.
Having a youthful and progressive mentality is key to having people question your age (in a good way!), even if you don’t look like it. Be open to trying new things and keep yourself up to date on the latest trends and get ready for the shower of compliments, girl!