avatarDaniel Hopper


Graceful Aging

10 Tips to Help You Look 10 Years Younger

Practices to help slow down visible aging and retain your youthful looks.

Photo by Andrea Rico on Unsplash

The oh-so-desirable foundation of youth. The mythical spring from the times of the ancient Greeks with powers to reverse aging. I think it is fair to say that we would all like a magic potion to retain our youthful looks.

A 2009 study on twins found that “up to 40% of changes that contribute to the aged appearance are the result of nongenetic factors”. So, we have some control over how we look as we age. Many of us spend thousands of dollars on diets, cosmetics, surgery, and all kinds of things to appear younger and more attractive.

We’re bombarded with media of Hollywood stars and the like who never seem to age. But it does not have to be only the rich and famous who can age gracefully. You can invest in many things to slow the effect of aging or at least give the impression of looking younger without requiring expensive and evasive surgeries.

I think I am one of the lucky ones who hasn’t visibly aged hugely since my twenties. People often mistake me for being younger than I am. I even occasionally get asked for identification when buying alcohol, and I’m 20 years older than the legal drinking age of eighteen here in New Zealand!

With forty knocking on my door, this article discusses ten practices I’ve followed to try and retain youthful looks. Whether or not I look ten years younger is subjective … You might think I look old AF.

Photos of the author over the years

Resistance train regularly

An athletic physique will help you look like you are in your prime years. People look younger if they look like they play sports or at least do something athletic.

When I get asked for identification when buying alcohol at the supermarket, it’s usually after the gym. I will be a sweaty mess, but I’ll typically be in a basketball singlet. I look pretty “fit” for my age — far from the “dad” bod many men are developing by their forties.

Along with the benefits of things like strengthening our bones and joints, increased muscular strength and size, and improved posture, new research also suggests that lifting weights could help improve the appearance of our skin.

Working out provides so many benefits to our bodies. Why wouldn’t you?

“Resistance training counteracts skin aging such as deteriorations in skin elasticity, upper dermal structure, and dermal thickness. Our findings suggest that the increase in dermal thickness is a specific effect of resistance training on the skin…” — Nishikori, et al., 2023

Do regular cardiovascular exercise

There are a few benefits of doing cardio for our looks. First, activity offsets some of the calories we consume. This will help us to maintain a lower amount of body fat. Leaner people tend to look healthy and, therefore, younger.

Cardiovascular activity also improves our blood circulation, which could contribute to a healthy complexion. An analysis of 6,500+ adults illustrated a relationship between cardiovascular health and a slower pace of biological aging.

Cardio also keeps our hearts healthy, correlating with a longer life expectancy. Research found that people who ran for 30 to 40 minutes a day, five days a week, had a lower biological age than sedentary people. The sweat generated by cardio helps clear our skin of impurities by opening up the pores and improving the elasticity of our skin.

Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

Eat meat regularly

This tip will be controversial to some people, but eating meat can help preserve our youthful looks by providing many nutritional benefits.

Red meat like beef and lamb are high in the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) iron, zinc, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), all of which our body relies on to support the many functions of health and well-being, like our immunity.

Moreover, meats like beef and chicken contain the highest quality protein due to their complete profile of amino acids and their high digestibility and bioavailability. Research widely indicates (such as this double-blinded randomised crossover trial that plant-based proteins don’t pack the same punch as animal-sourced proteins.

“Meeting micronutrient needs through a healthy diet ensures a good functioning of all body systems.” — Kassis et al., 2022

Eat a lot of fruit and vegetables

I probably don’t need to tell you to eat your vegetables.

But fruit has been unfairly targeted in some fitness circles due to its sugar content. It’s fashionable to avoid sugar — which is a bit short-sighted.

Eat fruit because fruit and vegetables are packed full of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), which research shows support good health, fight off diseases, and slow the signs of aging.

We also consume a lot of antioxidants through fresh produce, which combats the free radicals contributing to aging. Free radicals attack crucial macromolecules, which can lead to cell damage and homeostatic disruption.

“Research suggests that free radicals have a significant influence on aging, that free radical damage can be controlled with adequate antioxidant defense, and that optimal intake of antioxidant nutrients may contribute to enhanced quality of life. — Lobo et al. 2010

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Use a scrub and a cleanser

Something that has helped my skin in my later years is how oily it is. In high school, I was riddled with face acne. It was so bad that I had the nickname ‘popper’ for a while (a play on words of my family name).

Later, in my twenties and into my thirties, the acne was worse on my neck and back, and I have some scarring from this.

But this same oiliness has helped keep my skin moist naturally (how often can we use that word!?). People with oily skin usually produce more sebum and vitamin E naturally, helping preserve their skin’s elasticity.

Cleansing and exfoliation are things I have done regularly over the past fifteen or so years to look after my skin. Cleansers and scrubs/exfoliators help remove dirt, sebum, oil, toxins, and dead skin cells from our skin and under the surface, promoting cell turnover for a soft, fresh complexion and young-looking skin.

Use vitamin E products on our skin

Vitamin E is an essential nutrient and antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties and benefits like supporting cell regeneration.

Our skins produce vitamin E naturally, but we can ingest it through diet or supplementation, and it can also be topically applied to the skin through a cosmetic product like an oil or cream.

Research has indicated that Vitamin E skin products could reduce the damage caused to our skin by UV damage and other free radicals. They help us to retain the moisture in our skin, soften it and protect skin cells from damage. This \helps to heal wounds and reduce the visibility of scars.

My skin is too oily to use a moisturiser product — they always make me break out. However, then I discovered vitamin E products without all the additional chemicals. These don’t leave my skin a weeping mess of oil, and I feel these products have improved my acne scarring and my skin’s general appearance. A couple of products I use are vitamin E body butter, serum, and oil.*

Image via openbeautyfacts.org

Limit sun exposure

A tan may be attractive at the time, but regular sun exposure or use of tanning beds will age your skin faster, leading to things like wrinkles and sunspots. Up to 90% of visible skin aging could be due to sun damage.

Numerous studies indicate that sun damage contributes greatly to skin aging prematurely through photoaging. Photoaging is the “most recognised form of extrinsic aging of the skin — describes changes brought about by long-term sun exposure.” (Martires et al., 2009)

Use sunscreen when out in the sun, especially on your face and neck, and cover-up to protect your skin from UV rays to minimise its effects on skin aging.

“Chronic sun exposure causes photoaging, which can be viewed as an environmental damage superimposed on chronological aging. Chronologically aged and photoaged skin are clinically distinct but share similar biochemical and cellular features. Chief among these common traits is accumulation of damage to the long-lasting extracellular matrix fibers of collagen and elastin.” — Rittié & Fisher, 2015

Look after our teeth

Growing up, our parents drummed it into us to brush our teeth daily. It seemed like a chore at times — but it was for good reason, as looking after our teeth is crucial for more than just aesthetics.

When it comes to looks, white teeth and a nice smile might not necessarily take years off your life, but, on the other hand, you can look a lot older if you haven’t looked after your teeth.

Activities like drinking coffee regularly (especially if it is black) and smoking will age your teeth.

In fact, a 2015 study showed that people who smoked had an older perceived facial age.

“Although associative in nature, these results support the notion that lifestyle factors can have long-term beneficial effects on youthful looks. “— Gunn et al. 2015

You should have regular dentist checkups and deep cleans if this is you. To look after your teeth in general, brush and floss them daily. A whitening toothpaste can help reduce visible staining.

The author owns this image

Style your haircut and facial hair

As well as looking after our health and bodies to slow down visible aging, we can also groom ourselves to look younger.

A haircut can go a long way to making us look older or younger. A hairstyle that’s currently fashionable or popular can help you to appear more youthful in appearance.

Facial hair also makes a difference. A beard ages a man.

According to research, people with facial hair are perceived as around ten years older than clean-shaven people. A person can shave their beard off, and they instantly look like a different person. A younger person.

So, if you want to appear younger, get a haircut that’s flattering to your looks in terms of length and style, and if you’re a guy, you might want to ditch the beard.

Dress for success

How you present yourself with your clothing choices can influence how old you look.

Dress with a style that’s in fashion or at least “with the times”. Wearing similar clothing as people younger can give the impression that you’re younger. I’m not saying to dress like a teenager — some people do this well into their fifties, and it’s tragic. But equally, a sweater vest might give the impression you’re older.

Present yourself in your best light with clothing choices that give you confidence.

I’ll regularly wear a singlet over warmer months — my physique gives me the impression I’m younger than I am. But for work, I wear professional clothing that accentuates my shape. I also choose vivid colours like purpose for my shirts and wear blazers that are not something your accountant is likely to wear.

Final Thoughts

We have long been searching for the “fountain of youth”. As vain as it is, we would probably all like to look a little younger.

Many of us highly invest in our looks, whether it’s the gym and supplements or make-up.

This article has explored ten tips to help you look ten years younger. Pushing forty, I’m often told that I look closer to thirty — so I thought I’d compile a list of some of the practices that have helped.

To me, looks are intrinsically linked to our health. Beauty soon fades if we don’t look after our bodies. The habits and practices recommended in this article come down to three key categories: lifestyle choices, skincare, and overall well-being.

I’m not sure how much you can reverse the effects of the aging you’ve already had — but if you’re in your twenties or even thirties, these tips should help slow your signs of visible aging.

Before we finish, it’s important to remember that aging is a natural process. It’s nothing to be afraid of — there are a lot of benefits that come with aging. But wouldn’t it be nice to have looks that age like a fine wine?

Thank you for reading my story.

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