Five Easy Ways To Look Younger
Unhappy with what you see in the mirror? Fight the signs of ageing with these expert tips to keep you youthful for longer
Women are schooled in the art of stalling time. Given their delicate features and thinner skin, they’re well aware that signs of wear and tear invariably show up earlier for them than they do for men. Our biological points of difference – thicker, oilier skin and a more resilient body – mean that many lucky men enjoy an ageless grace period that lasts up until our thirties.
But that doesn’t mean we’re exempt from some rather disheartening physiological quirks as we get older. When time catches up with us – and it will – it can sometimes feel and look as though two decades’ worth of damage has hit us all at once.
Much of this is due to falling testosterone levels, which decline at a rate of about one per cent a year. Without testosterone, body fat increases while muscle mass, energy levels and, of course, libido all take a nosedive, culminating in a period of life that has been cruelly dubbed the manopause.
While there’s little point trying to deny or dodge the inevitable, there are ways of weathering the passage of time so that the journey is smoother (and generally more pleasant to observe). Here, we offer some surefire solutions for the most common age-related woes.
By the time you reach your mid-thirties, tufts of wiry hair will begin to appear from nowhere, seemingly overnight. Earlobes and their corresponding holes sprout lengthy grizzlies, shoulders are dotted with fresh follicles and, in some unfortunate cases, the neckline and chest hair merge like two great rivers hell bent on cloaking your upper body in a wolverine polo neck.
While it may seem as though these hairs are new, the truth is they have always been there, quietly waiting for their time to shine. “This is likely due to long-term exposure of these hair follicles to hormones such as testosterone,” says Dr Benji Dhillon of the Phi Clinic. In other words, marinating in hormones for 30 years has given these hairs superpowers. “Unfortunately, the theory of long-term exposure of hormones does not apply to hair on the head,” he says.
Lest you end up looking like a human Furby, it may be helpful to know that there are permanent and effective ways of defuzzing that trump the idea of manscaping with tweezers or wax strips. Laser hair removal has become increasingly affordable and, depending on the size of the area to be treated and the density of the hair, you can be thoroughly deforested in just a few sessions.
Lasers target the pigment in the hair, frying the follicle to the point where it goes out of business. “It can very effective at preventing the growth of hairs in areas that concern individuals, including the face,” says Dr Dhillon. “With the latest devices, we can now treat people of all skin types, but this does require a skilled practitioner. The only caveat is that hairs with little or no pigment in them (such as blonde or white hair) cannot be treated.”
Fine lines and crow’s feet
Men’s skin doesn’t age in quite the same way as women’s. “Men tend to have bigger facial muscles, which lead to more deeply etched, dynamic wrinkles around the eyes, frown area and forehead,” says cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting.
“They also have less facial fat in the cheek area, meaning there is less scaffolding to hold up the middle of the face. With age – and especially if a guy is committed to an exercise routine to keep his body in shape – the loss of this fat means men’s faces can end up looking hollow and gaunt.”
The good news is that the solution doesn’t have to involve a course of injectables. A high-quality vitamin C-based serum should do the trick. “They’re great for brightening skin and treating fine lines as vitamin C boosts collagen production,” says Dr Bunting. “Look for a quick-drying serum that won’t leave skin sticky.” We recommend Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester 15 because it is a stable, high-concentration formula.
The expanding waistline
Even hardened gym enthusiasts will fall prey to an expanding waistline in middle age. While there’s an element of truth to the fact that one’s metabolism slows down with age, the mechanics of weight gain are much more complex.
At the root of many age-related problems is the fact that we lose testosterone as we mature. This can have a tremendous impact on muscle mass and it is muscle mass that burns through calories, keeping us trim. Nutritionist Ms Rhian Stephenson of spin studio Psycle London puts it more bluntly: “As testosterone declines, so does the body’s ability to hold muscle mass,” she says. “As a result, the body tends towards fat storage more quickly than it would during your twenties.” And to add insult to injury, that excess flab is actually producing oestrogen, which has the effect of lowering testosterone even further.
Layman’s logic would suggest that cutting back on the calories should do the trick. But restriction, as evidenced by the slew of failed fad diets, doesn’t help people lose weight (if anything, dieting just slows down your metabolism even more). In addition to obvious measures such as cutting back on sugar and saturated fats, you need to choose foods that speed up your metabolism and boost testosterone levels.
“The best foods to speed up the metabolism are plant-based wholefoods, fibre-rich foods and foods that are naturally high in healthy, unsaturated fats,” says Ms Stephenson. “Zinc is required for testosterone production and is found in prawns, cashew nuts, poultry, eggs, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, lentils and chickpeas.”
Ms Elena Malmefeldt, a specialist in physiological screening who is playing a key role in Sweden’s healthcare reforms, suggests choosing hormone-free, organic meats and avoiding excessive amounts of foods that are rich in phytoestrogens, such as soya products. “And try to include broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage because they help reduce oestrogen levels,” she advises.
At some point in the not too distant future, skin will discolour. For many men, the hands and face become speckled with light brown spots that won’t budge. Hyperpigmentation, as it is technically known, is largely due to UVA exposure over the years, a cruel comeback from your cellular system for having foolishly thought that an SPF 6 tanning oil qualified as adequate sunblock.
“Men are rubbish at sunscreen,” says Dr Bunting. “When you consider that UV exposure is responsible for at least 80 per cent of skin ageing, this oversight has a tremendous impact.” Invest in a sunscreen that doesn’t feel sticky and heavy – they’ve come a long way in the past 10 years – and slap it on every day. We recommend the SPF 30 Face Moisturiser from Malin+Goetz.
As for fixing those stubborn blemishes, Dr Bunting suggests looking into cosmeceuticals designed to target pigment and brighten the skin. “Look for ingredients such as liquorice, kojic acid and arbutin. Topical vitamin A at night, in the form of retinol (or new kid on the block retinyl retinoate), will help, too.” We like Skinceuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector or the new Power A High Potency Vitamin A Treatment Drops from Zelens. For really stubborn spots, you’ll need to book in with the doctor, who’ll probably prescribe some topical medication and a course of laser treatments. For minor pigmentation and uneven skin tone, you can blast your face with near-infrared waves at The Light Salon, a non-invasive 11-minute treatment now available at Harvey Nichols.
We like to think of bones as being “fixed”, but they’re living tissue and in a constant state of flux. After we hit 30, we lose bone matter, which affects posture and joint mobility while increasing the risk of injury. Most guys feel this degeneration in the form of back pain, a symptom that’s exacerbated by a sedentary lifestyle.
Celebrity personal trainer Mr Dalton Wong says, “The advice I give my clients is, in their twenties and thirties, to focus on their front. From your forties onwards, however, you need to focus on your lower and upper back as well as the glutes and hamstrings.” It is this shift of focus that ensures a more balanced and resilient frame. “The best exercise for back health is resistance training such as lifting weights or rowing,” he says. “This increases the lean muscle mass, which makes for a stronger skeletal system, which will be less prone to injury.”
To support mobility as you get older, Ms Malmefeldt implores men to “cut out the white stuff [she means sugar, wheat and white rice, by the way] and start taking omega-3 fatty acids to decrease stiffness and joint pain. Omega-3 and rosehip powder are great anti-inflammatories.” She also recommends a supplement such as Solfar Extra Strength Glucosamine Chondroitin MSM, which includes glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM, to maintain connective tissues and cartilage.