How To Age Like An A-Lister, According To The Experts
From left: Mr Pharrell Williams in Paris, 23 June 2023; photograph by Ms Swan Gallet/WWD via Getty Images. Mr Jeff Goldblum in New York, 13 June 2023; photograph by Mr Gregory Pace/Shutterstock. Mr Brad Pitt in Northampton, 9 July 2023; photograph by Mr Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Anti-ageing is a fraught term – and one that’s slowly falling out of favour. No matter how hard we try to fight it, ageing is something that will eventually happen to all of us. (We’ll happily take it over the alternative.) Our mantra instead? “Better ageing.” Think Mr Pharrell Williams at 50, Mr Brad Pitt at (almost) 60 and Mr Jeff Goldblum at 70. Are all of the above blessed with dashing good looks and brilliant bone structure? Yes, maybe. But something tells us that there’s a little more labour going on than their natural appearances would let on…
Their secrets, you ask? While we’re sadly not privy to their exact routines, regimens and elixirs, we do happen to know a bunch of dermatologists, aestheticians, nutritionists and trainers who are on call to the A-list, although don’t expect them to spill names any time soon. And good news: according to them, how you age is as much – if not more – a result of your lifestyle choices and skin protocols as it is your DNA. Below, their expert tips for maturing like a fine montepulciano.
Protect your skin from the sun
The number one tip for better ageing from all the experts? Wear SPF. Every day. Without fail. “When it comes to ageing, the only bit you can influence is extrinsic factors, and 80 per cent of that is your UV exposure,” says Dr Jenny Doyle, a consultant oculoplastic surgeon and head of aesthetics at The Clinic Holland Park. “And it’s not just pigmentation – it’s volume loss, laxity of the skin, as well as fine lines and wrinkles.”
Invest in your skin health in your younger years and you’ll reap the rewards down the line. Likewise, a less-than-ideal lifestyle that might involve smoking, sun exposure and excess drinking will start to slowly start to leave their tracks on your skin. “If you can get into a good skincare routine in your twenties, then you’re going to stave off a lot of the problems that you see later on, like the pigmentation and fine lines and wrinkles that are a result of UV damage,” Doyle says.
Test your biological age
“The best way to get a fairly accurate assessment is to study your epigenetic data, and that’s how your behaviours and your environment influence your genes,” says Dr Andy Daly, a nutritional therapist at Dr David Jack Clinic. “The particular test I use looks at inflammation. If I see that somebody has lots of inflammation, I have to start of finding the source – and it’s usually in the gut. Once we’ve done that, then we look at optimising methylation, which is making sure that person has, say, a low GI [glycaemic index] diet. We put in plant-based foods, which are essential for methylation. We look at stress, sleep. We look at anti-inflammatory foods. And that person, once we’ve attended to all of that, can reduce their biological age, and look and feel much healthier.”
Cut back on added sugar
“You should try to limit the added sugars in your diet to 30g a day,” Daly says. “When it comes to skin health, there’s something called glycation, where sugars attach to certain proteins and fats in your bloodstream and they form inflammatory molecules called AGEs, or advanced glycation end-products. Collagen and elastin are proteins that provide structure and elasticity and support for the skin, so these sugars damage them. The more you have all these high-processed foods with lots of these sugars, the more the collagen loses its structure and the skin starts to sag.”
Use a retinoid
Retinoids, as you’ve likely already heard, are the ultimate power skincare ingredient. “When we grow older, the speed at which our skin cells proliferate becomes slower,” explains aesthetic doctor Dr Brendan Khong of Dr David Jack Clinic. “Retinoids increased cellular turnover, which helps to improves texture and fine lines.” As for the best time to start on the stuff? Your twenties, says Ms Milena Naydenov, lead aesthetician at 111 Harley Street. That said, you should still see noticeable improvements in your complexion even if you implement it later on.
One of the biggest lifestyle changes you can make, according to Doyle, is to drink more water. “It’s just good for you generally, but you do see a big impact on skin. We’ve got a VISIA® machine and that does skin analysis and it really looks at the under eye area. When someone’s dehydrated, you can really see the increase in wrinkles there.”
Consider the “B” word
Horrified by the idea of Botox? While it certainly won’t appeal to everyone, it remains unmatched in its ability to erase lines – and pretty much every preternaturally wrinkle-free and handsome celeb you see on TV has had a sprinkling of the stuff. “Other treatments may help lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but none address what has caused the fine lines and wrinkles in the first place – the muscle contraction itself,” Khong says. “I would usually advise to start when there are many static lines (expression lines that are present even when an expression is not made). I always err on the side of caution and use lower doses when treating and topping up if necessary.”
Replace lost volume
Dermal filler is still something of a taboo among men, but the good work is pretty much invisible – and far more common than you’d think. In short, deployed deftly, a little dermal filler can be a well-kept secret between you and your medical professional, and an indispensable tool in your better-ageing arsenal. “Very minimal volumes of filler, just to replace what’s been lost – in the mid-face, around the eyes, in the jawline – is the way to do it so you don’t look like you’ve had anything done,” Dr David Jack says. “It just sets you back a few years.”
“Botox or fillers won’t make your skin glow or improve the texture,” explains Ms Debbie Thomas, founder of the D Thomas Clinic. “With laser, we really focus on the quality and the health of the skin. Healthy skin looks fresh, it looks even, it’s got a luminosity, it looks plump. Those are all the type of things we’re trying to do.
“Under the age of 35, you’re looking at non-ablative lasers that can stimulate collagen, so something like an Nd:YAG laser, or BBL, which can help with pigmentation. As you start to get over 35 into your early forties, then might introduce some of the milder ablative lasers – like the Moxi and the Fraxels and the Pixels – which will help to increase and really boost the cellular turnover of the skin, so they just give you that slightly deeper regenerative benefit.”
Eat an antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory diet
“To me, anti-ageing ‘superfoods’ are all the anti-inflammatory ones,” says Daly. “I think sardines and anchovies are superfoods. The smaller, oily fish – I think it’s absolutely essential to include those in one’s diet every day. Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage. Those all promote detoxification. And obviously berries and brightly coloured fruits and vegetables are also essential. And the wider the variety the better, so you get all your vitamins and antioxidants.”
Up your omega-3s
“What we want to try and achieve is a diet in which the ratio of omega-3 foods, which are anti-inflammatory, to omega-6s (which, in the Western diet, is mostly processed fats) is one to three,” Daly says. “What we’re seeing in the Western diet is one to 60.
“What we want from the omega-3s is a fatty acid called EPA, which we get from fish – smaller, oily fish, I always say to clients, because they’re lower down the food chain and the less contaminated by mercury. With vegans, their omega-3s – flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts – don’t have the EPA fatty acid, so they need to supplement with an algae-based supplement, which is where the fish get their omega 3s from.”
Embrace the new-age skin boosters
Injectable moisturiser Profhilo, for example, is fab for juicing up lax skin, while mesotherapy, which involves micro injections of vitamins and antioxidants, will help impart a glow. The hottest new skin booster, however, is Ameela®, a powerful polynucleotide that can rejuvenate under the eyes, and around the chin and jawline.
“Ameela® stimulates muscle cells, so you get this lift, which you don’t get with the others” says Doyle. “And it works not just on collagen and elastin, but other cellular pathways. So, in areas where you’ve got poor vasculature, under the eyes for example, you can increase the capillary network. Polynucleotides also scavenge free radicals, which are basically the culmination of ageing – intrinsic and extrinsic factors – and cause damage to the chromosomes. So, there’s a bio-revitalisation side to it too.”
The world of aesthetics has been abuzz with one word this year: exosomes. A not-too-distant cousin of stem-cell therapy, exosome therapy harnesses “extracellular vesicles” that contain growth factors, proteins and more to stimulate cell regeneration at deeper layers of the skin, explains skincare specialist Mr Pietro Simone. “Generally speaking, someone in their forties or fifties can experience a significant thickening of the skin, a significant smoothing of fine lines and wrinkles and also an overall more radiant look.”
They’re increasingly becoming available topically, but for best results Simone recommends having it administered via microneedling or EnerJet.
Look for potent super-ingredients
“The main ingredients of an ‘anti-ageing’ regimen are a vitamin A, so a retinol, a vitamin C, and then SPF,” Doyle says. “So, if you get into a routine of using those three things at home, you’re sorted.”
Once you’ve got those building blocks, you can start to add in other super-ingredients. Naydenov recommends peptides and bio-active compounds, such as carotenoids and flavonoids, which “repair and regulate skin at the cellular level”.
Drink bone broth
While the jury is still out on collagen supplements, one thing that will boost your levels of the all-important structural protein, according to Daly, is bone broth (which is made by simmering bones for hours). “I’m a big fan,” she says. “I do a bone-broth protocol myself once a year and my skin just plumps up and it’s amazing. If you’re vegan, there’s other ways you can get collagen, but it is the best source. Absolutely.”
Get regular facials
“Any facial, from the simplest hydrating one to a resurfacing facial that includes technology such as radiofrequency, jet peel or microdermabrasion, can help slow down ageing and improve overall skin health,” Naydenov says. “The more complex the problem and the deeper the wrinkles, the more advanced and more frequent the facials. For younger skin, facials are good to preserve [skin health] and slow down the ageing process.”
Get your eight hours
“Sleep is when the cells in your body repair and regenerate, which can help slow down the effects of ageing,” Khong says. “Good-quality sleep can help to prevent cognitive decline, strengthen immune system and decreases risks of chronic diseases.”
Care for your eyes
The windows to the soul are also the first place to show signs of ageing. “In your eyelids, there’s no subcutaneous fat, so we’ve just got skin and then muscle basically,” Doyle says. “The skin of eyelid is the thinnest of anywhere on the body, and you’ve got not any fat underneath to buffer those ageing changes.”
How to care for the skin around your peepers? “Prevention is the best option,” Thomas says. “Wear sunglasses. Use lightweight products around the eyes. And use an antioxidant, such as a vitamin C, during the day, and then in evening something that’s a bit more regenerative, like a retinol.”
Cook with “moist heat”
“AGEs also form in foods that are exposed to high temperatures – so we’re talking about frying, grilling, baking,” Daly says. “It’s good to try and limit the number of times we cook using those techniques and instead opt for moist heat method, so boiling, poaching, steaming. If we can try and do that, that would also mitigate the effect of these harmful compounds and limit our exposure to them.”
Don’t downplay exercise
“Exercise plays a vital role in mitigating the effects of ageing on both the body and brain,” says Mr Jason Reynolds, head of movement and exercise at Lanserhof at The Arts Club. “Regular activity can improve cardiovascular health, potentially slowing down heart disease progression, and increases bone health to combat age-related osteoporosis. Exercise also helps maintain or increase muscle mass, and is also known to regulate blood sugar levels.”
…Especially strength training
“The main differences for exercise between those in their twenties compared to those in their forties is that the body is not able to recover as well as we get older,” Reynolds says. “Therefore, we should do less high-intensity exercise, and more strength training.”
Don’t overdo it
“The celebrities that are ageing well are not doing drastic treatments at once – rather regular non-invasive treatments,” Naydenov says. “They are replacing rather than adding when it comes to injectables.”
Thomas agrees. “I tend to find the people that look the best tend to do a combination of things. So, they do a little bit of Botox, not too much. They do a little bit of filler, not too much. And then they really work on the quality of their skin to make sure it’s got as much collagen and is as even as possible.”