The other day my mom told me that I looked younger than my younger sister who is five years younger than I am. I was flattered, of course, but then I pointed out that I didn’t have to take care of two children under the age of 5, and that I happened to get a sample facial treatment at Neiman Marcus as I purchased her special Bvlgari day/night cream for her birthday. We had a good laugh about that.
But it got me to thinking, what other factors might contribute to looking younger—aside from sleep and sampling expensive beauty products?
1) Lifestyle—Don’t smoke. Don’t drink too much. If you happen to drink, drink a lot of water the day after. I am proud to say I’ve never smoked a day in my life. As for drinking, I do occasionally imbibe, but I know my limits (which isn’t very much). My sister was a smoker and a party-er back in the day. I remember going to a bar with her once, and a guy wrongly guessed that she was the older sister. Her comment was, “Man, I guess smoking does make you look older.”
Anyway, the purpose of drinking a lot of water after a lot of boozing is twofold—helping get the alcohol out of the system as well as rehydrating. Hangovers are pretty much your body saying, “I’m dehydrated. Don’t ever do that again.” How easily some people forget. ;-P
2) Use sunblock and avoid UV-exposure/tanning beds. Another major difference between my sister and me and that I generally avoid the sun, while she lives for the sun or its substitute, the tanning bed. When I know I’ll be out in the sun, I’m fairly religious about putting on sunscreen and covering up as much as I can, especially since I burn easily. As for tanning beds, I’ve never been in one, nor care to try.
3) Find the right products that work for you, and remember—not everything works well for everyone all the time. Skin conditions change depending on hormone levels, stress levels, environmental conditions, and more. I know I can’t use the same things for summer and winter because my skin tends to be oilier during the summer and drier in the winter. I also tend to break out right around my period and when I’m under a lot of stress. Anyway, I am a shameless sampler. I like trying new things because it’s amazing what a new product can do to break the rut, and sometimes when you go back to your old regimen, it starts working again—at least for me.
I haven’t quite found the magic formula, but I tend to use Caudalie’s foaming cleanser, radiance serum, and a dab of moisturizer. What I like about Caudalie is that it doesn’t contain any parabens or alcohols, which tend to dry out the skin.
During the times I do break out or feel as though my skin’s on the oily side, I use Neutrogena Oil-free Acne Wash and Spot Gel which has the salicylic acid to help with the breakouts.
For special occasions, I use Bvlgari Lumiere serum under my makeup, which helps give my skin a healthy glow. I kid you not—every time I use it, I get compliments from the ever-critical Korean mamas in my life, everything from “Wow! You actually look nice today,” to “You’re glowing. Are you pregnant?”
4) Let your skin breathe. Makeup is an interesting paradox. On one hand, it could help you look younger/fresher, but on the other, using it too often and/or too much can really age you. Allow yourself to have make-up free days. Your skin will thank you.
As a work-at-home-mom, I probably wear make-up once or twice a month depending on my mood/number of special events. But when I do wear make-up, I make sure I remove everything before I go to bed. Those days of sleeping with make-up on are long gone.
I’m also a firm believer of exfoliating—ideally once a week—and moisturizing. Breakouts happen when the dead skin cells, excess oil, and dirt clog up the pores. Exfoliating helps get rid of the dead skin cells and dirt and ultimately reduces the number of breakouts.
For exfoliating, I use a mask from my arsenal of samples that I’ve gotten from visiting cosmetics counters, as well as ones I’ve purchased on a whim. I like Seikisho Mask White by Sekkisei (which ironically looks like tar when you put it on) because I get to peel it off and see the dead skin cells and gunk on the other side. I’ve also used Kiehl’s Rare Earth Clay Masque, which is good for those oily, pre-breakout days, but not as fun as the Mask White.
My mom came up with her own homemade cucumber yogurt mask, which does a nice job of softening/moisturizing the skin as well. [Recipe] The benefit of making your own is that it’s cheaper than buying stuff in a jar that might have chemicals that you don’t want.
If it’s too much of a bother to worry about exfoliating and moisturizing and figuring out when to do what, consider getting a facial. Some cosmetics counters will give them to you free in order to sell their product or if you happen to be a good customer (Neiman Marcus does that for the creams I’ve bought for my mother and mother-in-law). Some stores may give you samples home to try out for a few days—I love Sephora for that reason. And, if you buy a product that doesn’t work for you, places like Nordstrom, Sephora, and Neiman Marcus will take them back and give you a full refund.
My mother-in-law is a firm believer of the facial and the high-end beauty creams. She’s nearing eighty and still gets carded whenever she claims her senior-citizen discount. I call her the poster child of facials.
5) Address complexion problems sooner vs. later. Make friends with your dermatologist and/or beautician because s/he will more likely be cheaper than a plastic surgeon. I regret not seeing a dermatologist when I was younger (it would have saved me a lot of grief during my acne-ridden teenage years). Fortunately, I was lucky not to have been scarred from my acne.
One of the Korean dramas I watched (I can’t remember which one) had a father-like character tell a daughter-like character to remember to use expensive hand and neck creams. The reasoning is that while people can get facelifts and Botox to look younger, the wrinkly skin on their necks and age spots on their hands give their true age away. So ladies, don’t forget your hands, neck, and decolletage.
I’m sure there are others that I’ve forgotten to mention. What’s your secret to younger looking skin?