Skin Care

7 Secrets to Looking Younger

“Why am I aging so badly? How can I slow it to down?”

Those are the questions most often asked of Dr. Jeanine Downie, M.D., dermatologist and Director of Image Dermatology P.C. in Montclair, New Jersey. “For women, there’s a ton of aging between 48 and 51, and that’s in our face and in our body, in terms of soft tissue changes and in terms of hormonal changes. Sometimes it’s bone density loss.”

Of course, the next most-asked question is, “What’s something that I can do—that I can commit to—to improve it?” Fortunately, Dr. Downie has a plan.

1. Pay attention to your eyes.

The skin around your eyes is especially prone to damage and wrinkles as you age. To protect this delicate area, Dr. Downie offers two tips:

  1. Put sunblock under your eyes. “People are putting sunblock all over their face, and not under their eyes. If you use sunscreen [there], you’ll age slower.” Not to mention, The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that up to 1 of 10 skin cancers occur on the eyelids. Forget your sunscreen, and you could suffer the consequences.
  2. Stop rubbing! “People don’t know that they’re not supposed to rub their eyes at all. It’s not good for you,” she says. “If you rub your eyes like you’re scrubbing a pot, then your eyes will look like a pot.” Once you stop, it’s been estimated you’ll look younger within a month.

2. Protect your hair.

As you age, your hair grays and thins, and for many, begins to fall out. To keep from exacerbating the damage, or prematurely drying your scalp, try these strategies:

  1. BYOHD (Bring Your Own Hair Dryer). “When you travel, you shouldn’t be using different hair dryers in different hotels, because they’re different wattages,” she says. “[They’ll] be too strong for your hair and break your hair.” She suggests Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum to safeguard your locks, due to its high silicon content.
  2. Don’t self-color. “Different hair dyes have a lot of ammonia in them. There’s a ton of chemicals in there, and things go wrong all the time with women and men dying their hair themselves.” Dr. Downie advises seeing a professional for your hair coloring needs, and trying Oscar Blandi’s Pronto Colore Root Touch-Up for emergencies.

3. Slather on the sunscreen

Though questions have recently been raised about the chemical composition of sunscreen, it remains critical for skin maintenance and cancer prevention. One 2013 Australian study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that participants under 55 who applied sunblock daily reduced the appearance of aging by about 24 percent.

“Wear sunblock every day,” says Dr. Downie. “Ultimately, it helps with your photo damage and your photo aging. Sunscreen every day, rain or shine, January through december, regardless of ethnicity.” Her favorite sprays for the body are Aveeno Hydrosport and Neutrogena Beach Defense.

4. Work it out

You knew this one was coming, but it doesn’t make it any less important: Exercise is key to maintaining healthy skin. In fact, a 2014 study from Ontario’s McMaster University discovered that people over the age of 40 who regularly worked out had the skin composition of 20- and 30-year-olds.

But that’s not all: When the researchers placed volunteers aged 65-plus on a fitness regimen for three months, their skin improved markedly, “with outer and inner layers that looked very similar to those of 20- to 40-year-olds.”

“Exercise increases circulation, it makes skin glow. Hair grows faster. Nails grow faster. It decreases stress levels,” says Dr. Downie. She suggests 25 minutes of cardio and 25 minutes of weights four times a week for optimal health results.

5. Try new things.

Dr. Downie is a big fan of the SkinMedica care line, including:

Of course, once you purchase creams and lotions, she emphasizes that you actually have to use them: “They don’t work in the jar.”

6. Hydrate!

“Most people are living in a semi- to very-dehydrated state,” says Dr. Downie. Dehydration causes skin to become dry, and as you age, your chances of becoming dehydrated increase.

The solution? Good ol’ H2O. “Drink water—it’s better for you overall, better for the physiological balance of your body.” She suggests that a 120-pound person drinks eight glasses of water per day. And if you weigh more, you should up your intake proportionately.

7. More tips

You knew they could help with your overall health, but these life strategies can also keep your skin looking younger, says Dr. Downie.

  • Buy colorful produce:Eat the rainbow—a lot of colored fruits and vegetables.” A healthy diet and avoiding obesity is crucial to good skin and cancer prevention.
  • See your doctor regularly: “Check for changing moles, get a body check once a year, and wear sunblock every day.  People with histories in their families should be checking more often.”
  • Embrace growing older: “Aging is not terrible! We want to be aging, and we want to be breathing, otherwise we’d be deceased.”