Kids want to look older; adults want to look younger. That’s just the way it is. In our celebrity culture, we’re surrounded by images of skinny, glamorous 20-somethings, and the message is clear: This is how you should look if you want to be successful. But once you get into your 40s and beyond, is striving to look like a 25-year-old starlet really healthy or effective?
Frozen in time. Charla Krupp, veteran beauty writer and editor and author of How Not to Look Old: Fast and Effortless Ways to Look 10 Years Younger, 10 Pounds Lighter, 10 Times Better, doesn’t necessarily think so. Although she agrees that aging is a drag, she cautions that trying too hard to hold back the years with plastic surgery can create a frozen-in-time look that is in itself aging. After all, she says, “If you look like you had work done, you’re obviously old enough to have a face-lift!”
Update your look. At the other extreme, if you’re still dressing in the same styles, wearing the same makeup and cutting your hair the same way as you did in your 20s, your resistance to change could be adding years as well. Krupp advises updating your look to stay current while remaining age-appropriate. It’s about “looking young without looking ridiculous.”
A new do. “Nothing ages you like too-short bangs … too-long hair parted down the middle,” Krupp says. Opt for a long, soft fringe of hair falling to one side of the face, to hide a wrinkled forehead or a receding hairline. Color away grays and consider going a shade or two lighter or adding highlights to recapture the color of your youthful locks, as our hair color deepens as we age.
Get rid of wrinkles. Forget celebrating wrinkles, Krupp says, and make your dermatologist your new best friend. Update your skincare regime and investigate anti-aging treatments, from chemical peels and dermabrasion to laser and light treatments. Just don’t go overboard, she says, or you’ll end up looking like a member of the Women Who Have Had Too Much Work Done Club. The same goes for your teeth. You might want to whiten them, but you don’t want them to glow in the dark.
Freshen up your makeup. “If you’ve been outlining your lips the same way since college, you’re overdue for a change,” she says. Tame your eyebrows into a modern line, update your eye makeup and lose the heavy eyeliner for instantly younger eyes. Learn to apply foundation only where it’s needed rather than caking your whole face in it, switch to a lighter shade of pink lipstick and lose the false nails, and you’ll achieve a younger, fresher look.
Dress your age. Getting your clothes right is probably one of the trickiest things to master as you get older. After all, you can’t wear those micro miniskirts without looking like mutton dressed as lamb no matter how good your figure is once you get past a certain age. On the other hand, long flowing skirts down to your calf and beyond can be a recipe for instant frumpiness. Finding the middle ground with high heels and either the perfect jeans or a knee-length pencil skirt over that all-important shapewear underwear can be a tricky process. Staying current is as much about staying in touch with those around you as developing your own personal style, though, as Krupp says, “You’re going to look out of it if you show up in a fussy suit when everyone else at the office is wearing jeans.”