The quest for ways to feel and look younger never grows old. It’s an idea that’s captivated many a culture and none are immune to its charms. From potions to plastic surgery and everything in between, solutions are sought for the Peter Pan effect to never grow up. But you don’t have to go under the knife to win back a few years or to put yourself on the right path to maintaining the youthful glow.
Here are a few less invasive ways that can make anyone look and feel younger. They may require small (or big) lifestyle changes, but it’s a small sacrifice to make for the radiance you’ll get in return.
One of the fastest and easiest ways to look instantly younger is hydration. Yes, it starts with keeping your body hydrated by drinking water, but you also need to give your skin a drink with a good moisturizer to fend off the signs of aging (think fine lines, wrinkles, and dullness). No matter your age or skin type, you can benefit from a daily moisturizer that promotes a smooth, youthful appearance.
While there is an endless array of products from which to choose, you really don’t need anything too fancy. Even all-natural oils such as olive and coconut oils can be quite beneficial. Formulas with the added component of retinol or hyaluronic acid may also decrease the appearance of existing wrinkles. It’s also advisable to find a daytime moisturizer with SPF, which brings us to our next way you can look younger.
2. Wear sunscreen
You’ve heard it said, but have you heeded the warnings about sun protection? You don’t have to be at the beach to need SPF. Repeated daily sun exposure — yes, even in the winter — not only puts you at higher risk for skin cancer, it can also make you look older by contributing to fine lines, wrinkles, brown spots, and blotchy skin. “UVA rays give you the wrinkles and the muddy skin tone that ages you,” Dr. Richard Glogau, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco, told Good Housekeeping.
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher on your face, every single day. SPF 30 is preferred. And, a product that also has antioxidants like vitamins C and E gets even more bonus points. “Antioxidants boost the benefits of sunscreen. They help neutralize the damage caused by UV light,” Dr. Ranella Hirsch, a dermatologist at Boston University Medical Center, said in the same story.
If you are out in the sun for extended periods, make sure you’re also wearing sunscreen on your body. The neck, chest, and décolletage are frequently forgotten or neglected areas, and can quickly show unwanted signs of aging.
3. Flash those pearly whites
Laughing can do a world of good for your mind, body, and soul — and that smile can also shave years off your numerical age if you’re flashing a set of pearly whites. Discolored, stained teeth aren’t only distracting, they add years to your appearance. There are a number of over-the-counter teeth whitening kits for a DIY approach, or alternatively, whitening strips are also a user-friendly option.
However, these methods don’t always have the power to really brighten your smile to its full potential. You may have to resort to the dentist’s chair for the best results and invest in a service such as Zoom. Use a whitening toothpaste for daily maintenance and also try avoiding teeth-staining culprits, such as red wine, coffee, and soda (you shouldn’t be drinking soda, anyway!). You’ll be laughing all the way to looking younger in no time flat.
4. Sweat it out
The benefits of breaking a sweat are many, especially when it comes to keeping you young on the inside and the outside. A fit, in-shape body not only looks more youthful, studies have shown regular exercise may actually slow the aging process. You’ll also feel more energized.
5. Eat well
Just like exercise, what you put in your body can turn back the clock, too — from the inside out. Feeding your skin a balanced diet of healthy options and quality protein can lead to a glowing, youthful complexion. For example, salmon and other oily fish are rich in DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol), a compound that boosts muscle tone and elasticity. It also happens to be one of the “secret” ingredients in expensive, anti-aging skin creams. Antioxidant-rich fruits such as blueberries are essential, too, while avocados offer healthy fats that nourish the skin. Eat a rainbow of veggies, too, as dark, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables boast a powerhouse of nutrients, including carotenoids, which have been proven to perk up complexion. Lycopene in tomatoes gives the skin powerful protection against UV rays, too.
On the flip side, avoiding processed foods should also be a general rule of thumb as excess sugar and preservatives can wreak havoc on your skin and your nutrition. And watch your sodium intake. Salty foods can cause water retention and lead to bloating and puffiness.
6. Sleep tight
You may think that red, puffy eyes (and the need for a steady stream of caffeine) are the worst things a consistent lack of sleep will cause. But fatigue also raises cortisol, which negatively impacts your appearance and your health. “If cortisol is chronically high, it can age you by breaking down collagen in skin,” Dr. Amy Wechsler, dermatologist, psychiatrist, and author of The Mind-Beauty Connection, told Good Housekeeping. The short story? Sleep more to look better.