Fabulous at 40 (and beyond)
Read any celebrity magazine these days and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the world may have gone a tiny bit bonkers. ‘Beauty’, sadly, has become a bit of a cliché, characterised by nips and tucks galore, and layer upon layer of makeup – and that’s just women in their 20s. On the flipside, though, in the ‘real’ world, there are oodles of more mature women who are flying the flag for looking fantastic in their 40s and beyond – right here on home turf in fact, one need only glance at Sussex’s own Helen Mirren to know that youth doesn’t have to be wasted on the young. We’ve put together a little black book of secrets to help you look fabulous at 40…and beyond.
Match your makeup to your skin
Consider how your skin has changed from two decades ago. If you’ve been wearing the same makeup looks for years, opt for a professional makeover, so you can work out whether you need more hydration, or a less powdered finish – as we age, our skin gets drier and piling powdery makeup on top of dead cells ain’t pretty, which is where creamier foundations and concealers step in helping skin look dewy and glowing.
Use an anti-ageing cleanser
Any anti-ageing regime worth its salt begins with a cleanser that’s packed full of nutrients, and a good quality cleanser (which does often equal a more expensive one) gives to your skin instead of taking away. Avoid skincare that contains mineral oil and petrolatum ingredients as they act like a plastic wrapper that suffocates your face allowing neither nutrients in, nor toxins out.
Get a new do
It’s very rare to see women in their 40s+ dying their hair a deep, dark shade of Morticia Addams, and for good reason – lightening naturally dark hair makes skin appear to have more pigment, so you don’t look washed out. As we get older, our skin becomes more sallow and our hair grows darker, but the key is to lighten up with honey tones, which warm up the skin and give an instantly more youthful look. Also, the whole ‘mums have short hair’ thing is a myth; some length to your locks will frame your face and keep it soft.
Drink red wine
Of course drink water, that’s a given; it promotes circulation and keeps skin supple and plumped. But, mercifully, drinking red wine is good for you too. It contains a powerful heart-healthy antioxidant called resveratrol, which also helps keep wrinkles at bay and is known for its anti-cancer properties. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes have the highest concentration of antioxidants, just don’t go overboard – try and stick to one (albeit large) glass and drink it with food to counterbalance the inflammatory effects of alcohol.
Keep it real
Any nutrition expert worth their weight in quinoa will tell you to keep your intake of processed foods to the absolute minimum, which is golden advice. A menu of fruit, vegetables, healthy lean proteins and water is perhaps the ultimate in youth-preserving diets, but it’s pretty boring too, so try to eat less fried food; flavour your food with garlic, ginger and herbs instead of salty, sugary sauces; and keep fast food at bay. A natural fix for age-defying skin is a daily spoonful of the honey bee secretion, royal jelly, which – if you can get past the fact that it comes from bee glands – is known for its health benefits.
Make time to work out
Pumping iron keeps your body strong and your skin firm. There’s lots of online workouts out there that incorporate some tough moves, but that you can get done in under 10 minutes daily. Search for a workout that incorporates burpees – a full-body exercise that targets the back, chest, arms, and legs – and different variations of squats and lunges too. For a gentler option, try yoga or Pilates.
Try something new
Bogged down by reality, more times than not when plans are asked of us, many of us instantly say no, or think of excuses as to how we can get out of it – ‘I’m tired’; ‘there’s no parking’; ‘I’ve got a hot date with The Great British Bake Off’. But, spontaneity is good for the soul: try the new bar, take the spare ticket to the theatre, go out for dinner on a Wednesday – the excitement of saying yes to more adventures will open your mind and shine through in the way you look too.
Keep your brain active
It was the ancient Roman poet, Horace, who suggested we all ‘carpe diem’ way back in 23 BC, and it was unlikely he was bored, plonked on the sofa when he did. Seizing the day doesn’t have to be about hurling yourself out of an aeroplane, or being busy all the time, but if you’ve ever wanted to learn French, brush up on your photography skills, or finally set about writing your memoirs, now is the time; learning something new will inspire a youthful exuberance.
Remember: you look way better than you think you do
A generalisation perhaps, but a lot of us spend our 20s scrutinising ourselves and not appreciating how gorgeous we actually are; our 30s in the swollen, sleep-deprived throes of pregnancy and looking after mini maniacs that we’ve created ourselves; and our 40s worrying about the wrinkles that the past 20 years have given us. It’s shallow and foolish to consider that youth is what makes us inherently beautiful; age brings greater confidence and wisdom, so give yourself a break and accept that this is you and you look great.