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Forget Gracefully -How Not To Age, Period!

By Anne Garner

We all have ways of working out how old people are when we meet them. Many times, we do it subconsciously a few seconds into our first brief encounter with them. By the time they have walked off, we have in our minds, an impression of how old we think they are.

Now, if it is so easy for people to guess our age from the evidence of merely our appearance, it stands to reason then, that it is possible to present ourselves as whatever age we choose to.  Of course, this does not apply to us until we've reached the age where we could be judged as 'older.'  However, with a few precision tweaking here and there, we'll find that our appearance age has nothing to do with our old we actually are.

Here are valuable tips (for both men and women) to help you to stave off that 'certain age' appearance until you're well into your sixties. Here's to presenting your appearance age, at least 10 years younger than your actual years.

The first tell-tale signs of aging

If we know what the first signs of aging are, we are more likely to succeed in turning back the aging tick-tocking.  In order to look younger, the areas we need to first tackle are as follows:
Skin – face and neck
Wardrobe –shoes and clothes

How to make your skin look young

Wrinkles are one of the first signs of ageing.  Keeping wrinkles under control, is keeping your appearance age tightly under wraps. I've been a catwalk and photographic model for longer than I've had any other job, and I can tell you that expensive creams hardly ever work if other conditions are neglected. All of the ground work for good skin comes from within, as other than an expensive face-lift (which we're not even going to discuss) there is no ointment, balm or cream, which can truly 'turn back the clock.'  

Quit smoking, do not drink in excess, cut back on foundation, (I do not, and have never owned any foundation. It gets put on me when I'm working, but then I wash it off straight after) and most of all, sweat.

Yes, do things that make you sweat.  No cleanser can get deep into your pores, dig out the impurities and wash them away from your skin.  Sweating comes from the inside out, it gets through every nick and cranny of those tiny little holes on the skin of your face and sweeps away impurities like a hungry tide, leaving the healthy glow otherwise known as 'youth.'  

Remember that whatever you do for your face, also do for your neck. There is no point in having young skin on your face with a neck that looks like an old strangled chicken. Young skin on your face (and body) gives the impression of at least five years younger than your actual age.  

It is also important to take care of your eye-brows.  This part is so detailed that I have to cover it in a separate article.  

Men: Shaving greying stubble off your face decreases appearance age instantly.  If you have any white hairs on your chest, neck, or eyebrows, nip these out as soon as they raise their course, frizzy heads. Grey body hair gives an impression of impending sterility, loud snores, and mid-life crises (though in actual fact, it certainly isn't any of these things). Don't forget that moisturiser is not only for women.

Use your hair to keep you looking young

Don't go for the chopped look as soon as you turn 40.  Your appearance age makes a quick nose dive to the floor the minute your cut tresses do. On the flip side, don't keep long greying hair just because 'it's still so nice and thick.'  Go for a trendy style that suits your face and make sure that it's long enough to put into a pony tail (no matter how tiny) when you're having a bad hair day. A sensible Alice band will work wonders for dull hair that you just didn't have time to sort out.  

It is important to hydrate and treat your hair regularly. (I pick up cheap treatment packs from my supermarket), so hair care doesn't have to be expensive at all. A good cut and style twice a year, suits me just fine.

Forget Gracefully -How Not To Age, Period!

Whatever you do, don't go crazy with hair colours, this just shows bad taste and makes your face look old and outdated. Teenagers with brightly coloured hair, look 'cool.' Older women just look like ancient rebels desperate to squeeze that last drop of youth out of what remains of their lives.  Electric hair colours just make them look much older - mutton-dressed-as-lamb material.  Trying too hard increases the appearance age!

Men: It is only natural for men to start vibrant hair gardens in their ears and nostrils as soon as they hit 35.  It is because this is such a widely known fact, that it is so vitally important to remove those hairs.  Get your eyebrows plucked, not trimmed at the barbers.  Trimming makes them harder and thicker!  Maintain the youthful eyebrows you playfully raised while at college, by learning how to pluck the stray wire-brush prongs that sometimes sprout overnight.

Greying hair, in an extremely biased world, is fine on a man, but a comb-over is sinful. Whatever you do, do not comb over.  Shave your head, chop your head off (not really), but do not have a comb over!  

Keep your wardrobe looking young

Again, let me stress that trying to dress like a teenager, increases your appearance age because it give the impression that if you have to try so hard to look young, then you must be very old indeed. Stay trendy with good jeans for casual wear.  Stay away from frilly, knitted collars; puffed sleeves; elasticised waist bands etc.  Go for simple and flattering clothes that suit your shape.  

Don't think that a trendy attire will make you look younger because it's modern.  In fact, it could turn out to have the opposite effect, if it's not suitable for your body shape. Don't wear polyester suits or big gathered skirts (for men, perhaps it would be a good idea for you to stay away from the skirts too).  

Get rid of the stuff in your wardrobe that you've had for 20 years, unless they are vintage pieces or jeans.  It is very important to throw out old shoes, as even if the clothes are perfect, the shoes can be a dead give away.  Wear heels you're comfortable with, but if you prefer flats, reject those awful one-inch miseries your mother used to wear and go for ballet pumps or chic sandals instead.  

Stay far away from padded shoulders, they are a curse! Put your chest out, draw your tummy in and spring into a good posture – you need it if you're going to improve your appearance age.  However, under no circumstance, must you use shoulder pads for this effect.  If you want to appear taller, wear higher heels.  

None of these need to come at a price, just be careful how you shop.  Charity shops are an essential visit if you're seeking to change your image with an almost non-existent budget.

Choose less fruity fragrances (too young), and more subtle, fresher, flowery scents. Spring flowers are a manifestation of new, fresh life.  Psychologically, this represents 'youth' to the olfactory sense.

Men: Suits are in, and so are pointy shoes (again).  Your choice of aftershave must be less old spice and more new fragrance.

Good, white teeth make you look younger.

Our teeth age with us, and one of the things that's an instant age indicator, is the state of our teeth.  Even for people who've got all of the above right, one flash of a smile can either break down, or increase the appearance age.  I'm sure we all know at least one person who fits into this category.  

Obviously, non-smokers' teeth age far better than smokers' gnashers. Other factors such as diet, dental care, tea/coffee/red wine abuse etc, play an important role in the appearance of your teeth.  

Forget Gracefully -How Not To Age, Period!

There might be nothing you could do about your teeth, if you've just inherited a less-than-perfect set, so the next best thing may be to get them whitened.  I cannot vouch for home whiteners.  I've tried two separate ones in the past with no change whatsoever (although other people may've have better luck than me).  

Your dentist (and this may be expensive) can do a wonderful job to shave years off your appearance age, if you have them done at the surgery. If you can afford this treatment, it's worth saving up to get it done.  Resist the urge to go shopping for (new clothes and fancy shoes/bags/gadgets etc) the next 6 months, and I'm sure that you could save up enough for a professional whitening treatment.

Aim for your ideal weight to make you look younger

Many women look matronly even before they've had children, while quite a few men look like they've enjoyed decades of beer drinking when they're barely in their twenties.   These are not good looks. On the other hand, being too skinny can make a person look haggard, thin-skinned and way too old.

A balance has to be struck. Keep enough weight to hold a layer of muscles under the skin for perfect firmness, but not too much to cause the muscles to disintegrate into a pile of mushy, blubber-like skin.

Whatever, your body shape, it looks far younger and more attractive, if there is visible muscle tone still present.  Youth is attractiveness - attractiveness gives the impression of youth.

Tune your outlook into youthfulness

The day you begin to think old, is the day your appearance age escalates. It's great to listen to music you love, but do not limit yourself to only your era of music.  Spread your wings a little and have a listen to what younger people are enjoying.  Take the example from people who work with children and young people.  Their job requires them to stay in-tuned to popular culture, modern trends, music, films television etc.  Having a young outlook keeps your appearance age where you want it to be.

I am not saying that we have to begin talking like teenagers do, and use only words like 'wicked', 'cool' and 'like,' this just makes us sound stupid.  What I'm advocating rather, is that we should be aware of what's happening around us today.  Our appearance age is judged by how old we 'look' and also by how old we sound.

We do not want to sound immature by any means, but after working so hard to get the appearance age right, we don't want to open our mouths with our sparkling white teeth and talk about 'back in my day' this is going to negate all efforts we have previously made.

Be vibrant, optimistic and passionate.  Younger people express passion in the way they speak about the things with which they're involved.  Older people tend to be more cynical and pessimistic.  If your mind is active, enthusiastic and young, your body will quickly follow into place.  Don't say, 'I'm too old for that,' rather, if you don't enjoy something, say so and move unto trying something new, different and exciting with the keenness of a fifteen year old.

If you have an opportunity to learn something new, don't think, 'Oh where would I ever need to use that.' This is old people's thinking.  Go out and enjoy new experiences with zest! An active and inquisitive mind is one of youth and freshness.

Now, I've given you the ammunition, you too can make your appearance age, at least 10 years younger than your actual age.

Anne Lyken-Garneris a contributing writer for Fabulously40 Youth Project Worker, Writer, Television Support Actress & Occasional model.

To find more of Anne's work visit her blogspot. 

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