Over the last three days I have discussed the various ways you can slow down the ageing process – from looking after your mind and mental wellbeing to remaining as active as possible and eating as healthy a diet as you can.
But while all this might leave you feeling and acting young, you can still LOOK old.
Here, on the fourth and final day, I’ll teach you how you can give Mother Nature a helping hand and appear more youthful.
Many people in their 50s aren’t ready to resign themselves to getting old. Both men and women feel middle age would be more comfortable if they could avoid the obvious signs of wear and tear.
So, when fine lines, wrinkles and sags appear, many of us decide to fight back with creams, potions, fillers, Botox and cosmetic procedures.
The last three require intervention, but you can put your best foot forward with modern make-up. Here are my tips:
■ Study magazines to see how models are using new trends in make-up. Then experiment.
■ Don’t overdo it. Understate.
■ Ditch the black eyeliner. Brown and grey are much more flattering for an older skin.
■ Old skin becomes sallow, so use make up one shade lighter than you used to.
■ Use brushes to apply make-up, both foundation and powder. You’ll be astonished by the results – wrinkles are less obvious – and it’ll last all day.
■ Older, sallow skins require a blusher, but not too much.
■ Old lips require a lip liner to prevent lipstick bleeding.
■ Always wear total sunblock under your make-up even on dull days, and on the back of your hands.
■ CC creams are a godsend for older, mottled skin, I used one instead of foundation.
The only anti-wrinkle cream that works
Many promises are made to you at the cosmetic counters about creams to keep wrinkles at bay.
Be sceptical about them all, except those creams that contain a derivative of vitamin A called tretinoin which comes as a cream, gel or liquid.
Tretinoin is well-known to dermatologists because it’s been used for decades to treat many skin conditions, including acne and psoriasis.
Quite incidentally, it was discovered to have an anti-wrinkle effect by increasing the blood flow to the skin, so improving the quality and quantity of collagen fibres in the lower level of the skin, the dermis.
The result is a smoother, plumper, younger-looking skin. Research shows it works as a true
rejuvenator. Cells that have become damaged and inefficient with age are switched on again so they repair and renew themselves, making skin look more youthful.
It’s only available on prescription.
Your hair can still be your crowning glory
As hair gets thinner, you have to take greater care of it.
■ Don’t scrub the scalp with your fingertips or you’ll loosen hairs from the soft wet hair follicles.
■ Don’t tug at wet hair as you comb it because this will remove or tear it.
■ Don’t brush or comb your hair too frequently as this may irritate the scalp and stimulate oil
■ Don’t use anti-dandruff shampoos more than once every two weeks as they can irritate the scalp.
■ Use the mildest shampoo you can find and only ever shampoo your hair once, more is unnecessary. Just leave the shampoo on for about a minute after massaging it in and then rinse until the hair is clean. Always use a conditioner after hair washing to prevent tangling.
Camouflaging hair loss
Nothing makes you feel older than thin hair. Be active about keeping it in good condition.
Many of us see our hair thinning with age, but we can use camouflage to hide hair loss. See a specialist in hair augmentation. Review your options, there are so many:
■ Hairpieces are the safest and least painful way (in terms of health and money) to mask hair loss.
Some hairpieces can be permanently attached to the head, either being tied to existing hairs or by being glued on to the scalp.
■ Extensions These are ideal for thinning hair and some you just clip in and clip out.
■ Hair weaving covers bald patches by braiding replacement hair strand by strand on the edges of your own hair.
■ A coloured spray that covers the head in an organic dust can disguise bald patches.
■ Hair transplants mainly for men where hair follicles are taken from the back of the neck and transplanted into bald areas.
■ Keep your hairstyle simple, one that needs little upkeep with minimum hairspray.
And here’s another way to look younger …try not to get fat!
It may be unpalatable to most of us, particularly as we watch our middle-age spread spreading, but being fat is ageing.
If you’re fat, you’re old well before your time, and this applies in a profound as well as superficial sense.
First you lack mobility, speed and agility. You can’t run for a bus without getting out of breath. Make no mistake, that’s OLD.
On Monday, I talked about how to be a super-ager: someone between 60 and 80 who still has the brain of someone in their 20s because they’ve worked their mind and body hard over the years and kept them young. So, the first way to be a super-ager is avoid putting on a lot of weight. Secondly, obesity damages your vital organs. Your heart is strained pumping blood around those extra kilos of weight.
Your blood pressure rises, working your heart even harder. Your arteries fur up, risking a heart attack.
Your digestive system, can’t work efficiently if you’re overweight.
Your overloaded joints make you a candidate for arthritis and back problems. But not only does a high calorie intake lead to obesity, it also leads to insulin resistance where your insulin levels soar in parallel with your blood sugar and this pushes you into type 2 diabetes.
Worse, with high insulin levels you crave sweet food. You overeat and binge too, so you can find yourself in a vicious circle where your appetite and your weight are beyond your control.
How you can cut back on calories
Simply lowering calorie intake is sufficient to cure type 2 diabetes.
Calorie restriction is the only treatment required. It’s important to bring type 2 under control because diabetes is truly ageing – it shortens your life.
Untreated diabetes promotes many diseases we associate with ageing, such as cataracts, kidney disease and heart disease.
Calorie cutting has to be done slowly rather than quickly, so avoid extremely low-calorie crash diets. As a start, an average man might try eating 2,000 calories per day and a woman 1,800 and lose no more than a pound or so a week.
■ The sooner you start calorie-restricted eating, the better.
■ You’ve got to make every calorie count, so eat foods that are high in nutrients but low in calories like fruit and vegetables.
■ Stop when you first feel full. This will reduce your calorie intake by a third.
■ The other trick is to eat slowly. The stomach takes 15-20 minutes to realise it has food in it and send a message to your brain that it’s starting to feel satisfied. The modern habit of eating food quickly means you can eat an excess of calories in the time it takes your stomach to realise it’s being fed.
■ Another trick is to drink a glass of water before eating and sip more throughout the meal. You’ll feel fuller sooner.
The secret of a long life – keep your insulin levels down
■ Watch your weight
■ Beware sugary foods and drinks
■ Be sparing with animal fats
■ Eat little and often
■ Drink alcohol in moderation
■ Eat vitamin and mineral-rich foods
■ Sleep seven hours a night
■ Be active every day
■ Stand, don’t sit