50 Everyday Habits That Can Make You Look Younger
Forget aging gracefully—here's how to age youthfully. Keep a healthy glow, a spring in your step, and a radiant appearance with tips from the experts.
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Aging is beautiful
Young, middle-aged, and older individuals studied thousands of photographs and were asked to guess the age of models with various facial expressions. Neutral expressions yielded the most accurate results, and fearful expressions made subjects look older; happy faces were rated as younger than they really were.
Eat more grapes
Sorbitol, which gives grapes, berries, plums, and pears their sweetness, is a humectant, a substance that attracts water when applied to the skin, helping it absorb and retain moisture.
Touch up your hair
As we age, our hair changes. “It often becomes coarser in texture and drier,” says hairstylist Jenna Mast. Heat styling can damage hair, so try air drying and only use an iron around your face. Whether you have your hair washed at home or at a salon, use deep conditioning treatments regularly to combat dryness.
Cleanse and moisturize regularly
Cleansing and moisturizing help protect skin and keep it healthy; but banish regular soap, which can be drying for older skin. Instead, use a cleanser that gently washes without stripping skin of its natural moisture. Avoid skin toners, especially those with a stringent or alcohol base. Follow with a good moisturizer, morning and night.
Conceal your problem areas
If you have a wrinkly neck or jowls, avoid tight-fitting or crew-neck tops, which squeeze skin upward. A shirt collar over a round-necked jersey is a better option. Wear dark-colored shirts if you have a large belly.
Give yourself a hand or two
A study showed that people could accurately guess women’s ages by looking at their hands. Use a good hand cream frequently, preferably one that contains SPF for daytime. Brighten dull hands by exfoliating regularly: Mix sea salt with lemon juice and gently scrub into your hands with a soft toothbrush.
Eat more greens and reds
Vitamin K—in kale and other green vegetables—helps your blood coagulate, reducing the impact of bruising. Lycopene in tomatoes gives the skin powerful protection against UV rays. Fruit and veggie consumption resulted in better skin complexion, according to a study.
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Wear less makeup
Instead of heavy makeup, pick radiant hues that mimic the look of natural youth, says makeup artist and What Not to Wear star Carmindy. “As we age our skin loosens and is not as taut as it once was, so the more makeup you apply, the more it can move, settle, and travel,” she says. “Less makeup will adhere to mature skin much better so you stay looking fresh all day.” If you do wish to wear makeup, though, here is how you can use makeup to look younger most efficiently.
Eat oily fish
Salmon and other oily fish are rich in DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol), a compound that boosts muscle tone and is one of the must-have ingredients in expensive “mature” skin creams. Eating oily fish twice a week offers the same benefits.
RELATED: Foods That Can Help Fight Wrinkles
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Exercise four or more times per week
A study showed that regular exercise can slow the aging process. You’ll fend off muscle loss and sleep better when you exercise most days of the week. Combine cardiovascular exercise for heart and lungs, resistance exercise for muscles, and stretching for flexibility.
Wear the right bra
Gravity affects us all, but properly fitting undergarments can help shape a figure into a more youthful silhouette. “Pop culture research states that over 80 percent of women are wearing the wrong size bra,” says style expert Sharon Haver, founder of FocusOnStyle.com. Get fitted at a lingerie store to make sure you’re wearing the correct size and style for your bust shape, as well as the right amount of coverage and support.
Drink more water
Our body is mostly water, and our skin is our body’s biggest organ—so we need to keep hydrated to avoid it looking dry and dull, and creating wrinkles. “The more hydrated you are, the more plump, subtle, and youthful your skin will appear,” says fitness and nutrition expert Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies. “In addition, staying hydrated can improve energy levels and fight against cravings, which makes it easier to stay on target with your exercise goals and healthy eating habits.”
Dress smart, not shapeless
Dress for the size you are, not the size you were—but hiding in big, baggy clothes isn’t flattering. Tailored, clean lines look sharper. “It’s not about volume but the cut of a garment,” Haver says. “It’s better to break free from hiding yourself in your clothing and stand tall and proud in well-fitting garments—not only will you look better but you’ll give yourself an emotional boost by allowing you to step into your star power.”
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Pick pants with Lycra
A stretchy material may give your bottom a boost, but try on stretchy pants before buying. “If you have a curvy body type, a bit of Lycra makes for a better fit,” Haver says. “However, if pants with Lycra are too tight, it creates an unsightly ripple effect.” If Lycra’s not working on the outside, try Lycra tights or a body-shaper underneath well-tailored pants, she suggests.
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Seek out certain skin-care ingredients
No surprise—SPF protects against free radical damage from the sun’s UV radiation that leads to collagen breakdown, sagging skin, and wrinkles, says dermatologist Purvisha Patel, MD, creator of Visha Skin Care. But there are other game-changing skincare ingredients to look for, too. “Retinol and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) can rejuvenate the skin and eliminate fine lines and wrinkles,” she says. “Hyaluronic acid helps your skin retain moisture, which gives it a smooth, glowing look.”
Notice your neckline
Although the most flattering neckline depends on your face shape, hairstyle, neck shape and length, and your shoulder structure, one neckline in particular tends to be most flattering: “A classic V-neck with a collar creates a linear line that makes us look taller and thinner, and the bit of a collar detracts from the appearance of an older neck while spotlighting our face,” Haver says.
A pop of color can be fun and youthful, but it’s not necessary to wear it from head to toe. You can accent your outfit with a modern trend color, but you don’t want to look dated and old by holding on to a trendy color way past its expiration date,” Haver says. “It’s really not about age but about sophistication—classic neutral colors are always chic.”
Show your personality with fun accent pieces that don’t have an age or body type attached. “If you opt for classic clothes, which are always chic, a dash of an interesting accent by way of an accessory will instantly keep the look modern and fresh so you maintain a relevant and youthful appearance,” Haver says.
Avoid orthopedics if possible
Finding a comfortable shoe that also looks good is different for each person. “I have a high arch and I’m more comfortable in a bit of a heel rather than a pancake flat shoe,” Haver says. “I also look better with the bit of lift—there is no universal rule for heel heights.” But she says to avoid “fugly” shoes. “It’s well worth trying on different footwear brands to find the shoes that are the most stylish and comfortable for your particular foot,” she says.
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Let go of stress and conflict
Studies have shown stress actually ages your cells—but this aging can also be reversed with lifestyle changes that include stress management. “When you reduce stress and conflict, you are turning off stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, and activating endorphins, the natural pain killers in your body, which makes everything about you more youthful,” says psychiatrist Judith Orloff, MD, the author of Positive Energy.
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Highlight your eyes
When it comes to youthful eye makeup, try Carmindy’s signature move. “You want to ‘Carmindize’ or highlight the eyes using a cream or powder pearlescent champagne hue,” she says. “Apply it only under the eyebrows and on the inside corners of the eyes.” For eye shadow, she says to stick with lighter neutral hues like light brown, quartz, or taupe, and use a pearl or matte formula, not glitter or high shimmer.
Lighten up your liner
For lining your eyes, avoid the black color you’ve probably been using for years. “Keep eyeliner light, like chocolate brown instead of black, and apply it as close to the roots of the upper lashes as possible,” Carmindy says. Also, “keep away from using liner under the eyes, which can look aging. If you must apply something under the lower lash line, try sweeping a powder eye shadow using an angle brush.”
Load up on antioxidants
Antioxidants like vitamins A and C fight against free radicals, helping you maintain a younger appearance. “When free radicals from diet or the environment threaten to damage skin cells, antioxidants fight against these compounds and protect skin cells,” Palinski-Wade says. “Diets rich in antioxidants may help to fight against damage from the sun and the environment, and protect against inflammation which accelerates aging.” Eat oranges, strawberries, blueberries, bell peppers, and spinach to reap these benefits.
Skip the all-over concealer
Heavy face makeup can settle into wrinkles and give you a washed-out tone. Instead, first apply a makeup primer, which can create a smooth base for foundation. Another typical mistake: Concealer is meant to go on after foundation, not before. “If you use a sheer dewy foundation first all over the skin, chances are you will need much less concealer,” Carmindy says. “Then just add a spot of matte concealer over any areas that are still visible.”
Flaunt a natural pout
Red lips look heavy and unnatural, but a more natural lip color adds a youthful glow. Plus, dark lipstick can “bleed” out of lips into lines around the mouth. “Dark shades will make lips recede,” Carmindy says. “Use a clear or flesh-color lip liner to seal in the color without getting that ring-around-the-lip look.” Also, choose a gloss instead of a matte lipstick for more fullness and shine.
Cut down on sugar and salt
A healthy, youthful body needs healthy nutrients—and to avoid unhealthy ones. “Added sugars and excessive salt intake can increase inflammation in the body, which can accelerate the aging process,” Palinski-Wade says. “Inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen in the skin. The end result is accelerated wrinkling and sagging of the skin, leading to an aged appearance.” One study found people with a high blood sugar level were perceived to be older; another found salt increased cell aging in overweight people. By the way, check out the only blood sugar chart you’ll ever need.
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Apply blush correctly
You may be trying for shadows to create a high-cheekboned look, but placing blush under cheeks just makes you look bony. Go for a rosy look instead. “Place it high on the apples of the cheeks and use a big fluffy powder brush to apply it in a nice natural flush,” Carmindy says. “Small brushes blend on too much, and placing blush under the cheeks make faces look too angular and severe.”
Have fun with nails
In one study, nail polish was found to make hands appear younger looking when participants had to guess a women’s age based only on her hands. Carmindy’s rule for nails? There are no rules! “Here is where I say just have fun!” she says. “No rules apply really, as nails are the new accessory.”
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Strive for healthy relationships
Letting go of toxic relationships and nurturing those that are healthy are good for your body as well as your mind. Research shows love releases the “feel good hormone” oxytocin, which can lower blood pressure, and better blood flow leads to a more radiant appearance. “Positive relationships nurture the positive energy in you,” Dr. Orloff says. “Love and appreciation from others makes you happy, more relaxed, and more attractive.”
Drink less alcohol
As with sugar and salt, it’s best not to overindulge in alcohol because of its negative effects on the body—even at the cellular level, studies have found. “Alcohol can dehydrate skin and increase inflammation, both of which can accelerate aging and give skin a dry, wrinkled appearance,” Palinski-Wade says. Although alcohol may have some health benefits, it’s best to drink in moderation, along with plenty of water.
Get strong with protein
Our lean muscle mass is made up of protein, so getting enough in your diet can help build and maintain your muscles to keep fit. “A loss of muscle can lead to a loss of strength and balance, accelerating the aging process,” Palinski-Wade says. “Less defined muscle on the body can also cause the appearance of looser, sagging skin, making you appear older than your biological age.” Focus on plant protein rather than a lot of meat for a healthy diet.
Treat aging skin
“Age spots” are really sun-damaged skin. “The key to removing age spots is to exfoliate skin to remove the darkened areas,” Dr. Patel says. Lightening serums may work, and professional chemical peels or laser removal are options, too. “People concerned about age-related spots should consult with their board-certified dermatologist on the best treatment for their case,” Dr. Patel says.
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Start strength training
All types of exercise are beneficial for maintaining a youthful look, but try to add strength training to your fitness regimen. “Regular strength training, with your own body weight or using external weights, can help to increase metabolism, increase strength, and improve balance,” Palinski-Wade says. “In addition, increased muscle tone helps to provide a more youthful appearance.”
Take a Pilates class
Pilates will help you stand up straight instead of hunched over, and give you energy to move about. “Pilates can help to increase core strength and improve posture,” Palinski-Wade says. “Holding your body more upright with improved posture improves balance, protects against falls, and helps you look younger.”
Cut layers into long hair
You need the right cut to make long hair work for you as you get older. “Some women feel attached to length because they think it makes them look younger, when in fact, it just hangs and doesn’t do anything to flatter or soften features,” says Mast. “Long, heavy hair really pulls down the face. Lifting up layers and adding texture to frame the face will take years off.”
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Keep a pixie cut modern
If you opt for shorter hair instead, don’t cut it too short on top. “Often women go ultra short à la Jamie Lee Curtis, but a more updated and softer approach is in the direction of Michelle Williams,” Mast says. “Leaving more length at the crown gives a more feminine, youthful profile, which can be more forgiving for women as we age, especially when it comes to loose skin around the neck.”
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Get your beauty rest
Beauty sleep is a real thing—your body needs the rest time (seven to nine hours) to rejuvenate and repair your body’s cells and get gorgeous overnight. You know lack of sleep causes puffy eyes and dark circles, but there are other effects, too. “Lack of sleep dries out your skin, making wrinkles deeper and more visible,” says sleep expert Richard Shane, PhD, creator of the Sleep Easily method. “Collagen production increases during sleep, preventing sagging, and blood flow increases so your complexion looks better and younger.”
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Be careful with bangs
You might think bangs hide forehead wrinkles, but that doesn’t mean they should be straight, full curtains across the face, Mast says. “Too often I see women with these awful, unflattering, boxy bangs that they have because they think it makes them look younger, when it really just ages them further,” she says. “If you have bangs that suit you, the bangs will bring out your facial features and distract from your problem areas.” A soft sweep across the forehead may be all that’s needed.
Whiten your teeth
Whiter teeth can give you a brighter smile and the appearance of a young, fresh mouth. “Yellow or discolored teeth makes people look older and less attractive,” says dentist Nancy Rosen, DMD. You can have your teeth whitened by your dentist in the office with a procedure called Zoom Advanced Whitening, which is the most effective way, she says. Or, “if someone chooses the over-the-counter method, they should make sure they follow the directions. My favorite OTC whitening products are the Crest White Strips.”
Going gray is OK
Although coloring your hair may make you feel younger, don’t feel attached to it. “For some women, upkeep becomes impossible and you actually look younger and fresher with a full head of gray or white natural hair with a gloss over it, rather than fully covered,” Mast says. “It depends on maintenance and the time you are willing to spend.”
Or, choose a natural hair color
If your grays can easily be covered, you can choose to dye it for a more youthful look. “If your salt and pepper and roots don’t become a white line after two weeks, try sticking as close to your natural color and add in neutral-toned highlights no more than two shades lighter,” Mast says. “Avoiding chunky, unnatural highlights and asking for softer babylights will give a much younger appearance.”
Keep your hair loose
Although a tight ponytail may give your face a little lift, ultimately softer, carefree hair provides a more youthful, undone look, Mast says. “If hair is regularly too coiffed, there is a definite feeling of, ‘I put a ton of effort into looking younger,’ versus something that is less tight, less uptight, and more casual with a feeling of effortlessness,” she says.
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Try home remedies for skin rejuvenation
The old trick of cucumber slices on the eye—as well as other cool things like cold tea bags or sweet potato slices—constricts blood vessels and reduces eye puffiness, Dr. Patel says. Some other home remedies? “Cleaning your skin with lemon juice can lighten sun spots,” she says. “Turmeric helps decrease free radical release.” Try adding the spice to foods, or take an over-the-counter capsule.
RELATED: Best Body Scrubs
Hide thinning hair
Menopause rears its ugly head on our heads, too! “I suggest investing in root concealer to fill in the hairline or spray on the scalp where hair is more sheer,” Mast says. “Another tip is to shorten up if you’re getting really thin. Better to have less that looks fuller than long strings of barely there hair.” Volumizing products can also help give more fullness, and hair color that more closely matches your skin tone can better conceal thinning.
RELATED: Natural Hair Loss Remedies
Stay away from teeth-staining foods
Another way to keep your teeth white is to avoid consuming things that leave their mark. Avoid “dark soda, red wine, coffee, tea, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and red sauce,” Dr. Rosen says. “The less someone consumes of these products the less stain that will form on your teeth.” Rinsing your mouth with water after, or drinking through a straw may help—but, straws also can cause mouth wrinkles, so that might not be the best option.
Having others need you creates positive, rejuvenating feelings that reflect outwardly and there’s a rewarding volunteer option out there for everyone. “Research suggests that community service and compassion can act as a buffer against stressful life events, protecting you from its impact,” says Emma Seppala, PhD, science director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and author of The Happiness Track.
See your dentist
Regular dental checkups and a professional cleaning are crucial for keeping an older mouth and gums looking good. “It’s important to get cleanings at least two times a year,” Dr. Rosen says. “Cleanings remove plaque and calculus from the teeth, which will make someone’s mouth look younger.” In addition, brush properly (Dr. Rosen suggests an electric toothbrush), floss every night, and use a fluoride rinse.
Take care of décolletage
Your décolletage, or chest and neck, can also be a telltale sign of age. “UV radiation and the sun can damage these exposed areas, causing wrinkles and skin laxity,” Dr. Patel says. “Besides using sunscreen, a serum containing ingredients like retinol, vitamins A and C, ferulic acid as well as a spot-lightening agent can help.”
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Meditate or do yoga
Research suggests meditation may slow aging by reducing stress, improving well-being, and adjusting hormonal factors, Dr. Seppala says. Yoga and deep breathing can also help increase outward signs of attractiveness. “These techniques help you relax, open your heart, and center yourself—which gives you a more calm, centered appearance rather than being riddled with stress, which increases aging and makes you look older,” Dr. Orloff says.
- Jenna Mast, hairstylist
- Carmindy, makeup artist and What Not to Wear star
- Sharon Haver, founder of FocusOnStyle.com
- Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies
- Purvisha Patel, MD, creator of Visha Skin Care
- Judith Orloff, MD, the author of Positive Energy
- Richard Shane, PhD, creator of the Sleep Easily method
- Nancy Rosen, DMD
- Emma Seppala, PhD, science director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and author of The Happiness Track
- PLOS ONE journal: “You Are What You Eat“
- American Medical Society for Sports Medicine: “Regular Exercise May Slow Aging Process“
- UCSF: “Lifestyle Changes May Lengthen Telomeres“
- Nature: “High sodium intake“
- AGE journal: “High serum glucose levels“
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons: “The appearance of your hands can reveal your age“
- Research Society for Alcoholism: “Drinking Makes You Older“
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Volunteering Good for Body and Mind“
- New York Academy of Sciences: “Can meditation slow cellular aging?“