News & Politics

“I Need a Makeover”

How a new haircut, the right lipstick, yoga, and carrots can help you look younger

It’s never too soon to start paying attention to these age-defying strategies.

Hair: Short or Long?

Short, chic cuts flatter most mature faces. Long hair pulls the face down. Chopping off long tresses isn’t always necessary if hair is still thick and shiny. Styling long hair with layers can prevent the drag effect on the face.

Curls are youthful—on the young. They can look matronly or suggest a bad perm on older women. Sleek, straight hair says youthful but sophisticated.

Thinning hair? A stylist can thicken what’s left with layers, gel, and color.

Go Gray or Dye It?

Men can get away with gray, but those who choose to hide it often have a hard time because dyed hair tends to look less natural on men—women can alter skin tones with makeup for a better match. DC stylist John Cullen recommends that men only partially hide gray with semipermanent color.

For women, letting nature take its course can be a bold statement. But gray or white hair should be styled in a sleek cut. You may need a little help from the bottle to remove yellowish casts.

If you’d rather cover it up, image consultant Sandy Dumont warns that shades of red so popular among stylists are too harsh for older skin tones.

With Makeup, Think Pink

Foundation: When picking a shade, try to match it with your forehead skin as areas around the nose and mouth darken with age. Dumont says bronze tints make skin look sallow and accentuate lines, while cool pinks freshen all skin colors. Makeup with the mineral mica creates radiance by reflecting light.

Lips: Gloss is dewier than lipstick. Browns, nudes, and deep reds can be harsh, while light pinks brighten, unless they are washed out. (If you’re drawing attention to your mouth, you might also think about whitening teeth discolored by a life of coffee, tea, and red wine.)

Apply blusher high on cheekbones—not on the hollows—to lift the face.

Eyes: Black liner can be severe; instead, try brown or gray. On lower lids, liner is a good substitute for mascara, which can accentuate dark circles and puffy or lined skin. Keep eye shadows muted—no bright colors or sparkles. Brush shadow just to the corner of the eye and sweep upward toward the brow to lift the eye.

Beards and Brows

Guys, shaggy brows may say creative, but they never say young. And a beard betrays age if it’s graying faster than the hair on your head. Coloring a beard is tricky—hair textures differ—and shaving may be the remedy.

Ladies, you might not want to overpluck eyebrows. After age 30, brows are less apt to grow back. Waxing and sugaring can scar aging skin, while an Indian threading method pulls hairs from the roots without damaging skin.

The Antiaging Power of Food

• Antioxidants and flavonoids are antiaging wonders found in foods like cranberries, blackberries, artichokes, grapes, and garlic. The more color on your plate, the more of these free-radical neutralizers you’ll get.

• Omega-3 oils, found in fatty fish like salmon and tuna as well as in flaxseed, stimulate a hormone that moisturizes and smoothes skin.

• Isoflavones, in soybeans, help prevent symptoms of aging—osteoporosis, sagging skin, coarse hair—caused by the loss of estrogen during menopause.

• Vitamin A, found in orange and dark-green vegetables, can rejuvenate skin. There’s some evidence that vitamin E, in nuts and seeds, offers the same benefit.

• Dietary requirements for iron drop with age, and excessive amounts can actually generate free radicals.

• Sodium in salted, smoked, and pickled foods can cause puffiness and should be limited to 2,300 milligrams a day.

• Drinking at least eight glasses of water daily is said to help reduce skin dryness and wrinkles.

Exercise and Attitude

A slim, upright body, a springy step, and a serene expression can upstage all those graying hairs, wrinkles, and added pounds. Regular exercise helps, but consider these potential boosters:

• Practices such as yoga, Alexander Technique, and Rolfing can limber up limbs, improve posture, and even add height.

• Fans of meditation, neurofeedback, and craniosacral therapy say those techniques smooth worry lines and bring back the serene, happy look of their youths.

• Adequate sleep can boost energy, banish dark circles, and improve mood.