In our mind’s eye, most of us imagine ourselves still young and in our prime. But one look in the mirror can quickly bring us back to reality. That can’t be me! Although we’ve earned every wrinkle, age spot and sag while experiencing life to the fullest, we all yearn to look a little (or a lot) younger.
Well, we can—and we can do it without much effort, expense or Real Housewives-like scary plastic surgery. Honolulu-based naturopathic physician Laurie Steelsmith, ND, author of Natural Choices for Women’s Health, offered an abundance of creative suggestions. Some take just minutes, others take almost no time at all… yet they can take as much as 10 years off a woman’s appearance.
Youth-restoring options for when you have only five seconds to spare…
Project your “love glow.” A new study from Syracuse University shows that falling in love takes only one-fifth of a second! Remember how new love could light you up from the inside, projecting youth and vitality? OK, maybe it’s not possible to fall in love just now. But you can think a loving thought and give a big smile, Dr. Steelsmith said, which will bring a youthful sparkle to your face.
Check your posture. Nothing reads old like slumping. For an instantly improved figure, stand up straight, raise your chin, throw those shoulders back and pull in your tummy.
Do a facial exercise. Open your mouth and eyes wide…then scrunch up your face…then release. This gets the blood flowing, putting roses in your cheeks.
Brighten your eyes. Use two drops of homeopathic Similasan eyedrops in each eye every three hours, as needed. This remedy, which is generally safe for everyone, reduces redness and soothes dryness and irritation, Dr. Steelsmith noted.
De-stress with instant aromatherapy. The scent of lavender makes you feel—and look—more relaxed and rejuvenated. Lightly spritz yourself with a lavender product designed for use on the skin, such as Aura Cacia Lavender Harvest Aromatherapy Mist ($7.99 for four ounces at www.AuraCacia.com)…or rub a drop of lavender essential oil onto the pulse point on your wrist…or swirl four drops of lavender oil into your bathwater.
Dash on the right lipstick—a light-colored one. Dark lipstick seems old-ladyish and actually emphasizes tiny lip lines.
Take a pass on heavy makeup. Pancake foundation and too-bright blush look unnatural and make wrinkles more noticeable.
What to try when you have three minutes…
Exfoliate your face. Getting rid of dead cells with a facial scrub makes your complexion glow. Natural option: Combine a spoonful of ground oatmeal with enough honey to make a paste, then gently rub it onto your clean face. Rinse.
Use contrast hydrotherapy. To rinse your face, use two splashes of medium-hot water followed by two splashes of cold water. The hot/cold contrast increases circulation and tones skin, Dr. Steelsmith explained. Next: Moisten a cotton ball with a natural astringent, such as rose water, aloe vera juice or green tea, and stroke it across your face to remove lingering residue and restore the skin’s proper pH.
Combat sun damage. Smooth a dab of vitamin C serum over your face—its antioxidants protect against ultraviolet rays and environmental toxins. Dr. Steelsmith recommended the brands Obagi (www.Obagi.com) and SkinCeuticals (www.SkinCeuticals.com).
Counteract saggy eyelids. Curling your eyelashes is a simple beauty technique that makes eyes appear larger.
Eat some blueberries. Berries won’t restore youthful comeliness instantly, of course—but they take just a moment to eat, and their vitamin C and bioflavanoids promote skin health and strengthen connective tissues.
If you can indulge yourself for 10 minutes…
Make your hair shine. Rosemary essential oil gives tresses an extra sheen and a scent that’s light and clean. It is particularly helpful for dry, brittle or frizzy hair. After shampooing: Add a few drops of rosemary oil to your conditioner, work through your hair for a few minutes, then rinse…or towel-dry your hair, rub a dab of rosemary oil between your palms and stroke it onto your damp hair. Then style as usual. Repeat after each shampoo (as Dr. Steelsmith does to keep her long hair frizz-free despite the Hawaiian humidity) or as often as desired.
Clear up blemishes. Even if pimples remind you of being a teen, they don’t make you look any younger. The fix: Use your fingertips to spread honey over your face, avoiding the eye area. Leave on for five minutes…rinse off with water…then cleanse your face as usual. “For people prone to acne, this works like a charm if used every day,” Dr. Steelsmith said.
Give yourself a steam facial. Steam cleans pores, boosts circulation and promotes a rosy complexion. Dr. Steelsmith’s method: Fill a sink or bowl with steaming hot water. If desired, add a few drops of stimulating peppermint essential oil and/or anti-inflammatory lavender essential oil. Drape a towel over your head to trap the steam. Then bend over the water for several minutes, keeping eyes closed and taking care not to burn yourself.
Ease eye puffiness. Dampen cotton balls with diluted witch hazel, then lie down with eyes closed and place the cotton balls over your eyes for five minutes (be careful not to let the witch hazel get into your eyes). Witch hazel contains catechol tannin, which reduces puffiness by constricting tiny capillaries just below the skin’s surface.
Do some quickie aerobics. Just 10 minutes of dancing or brisk walking increases circulation and reduces puffiness in the face, hands, ankles and elsewhere.
Drink a cleansing shake. “I put many of my patients on a ‘magic smoothie.’ It is chock-full of vital nutrients and supports regular elimination, promoting the health and vitality of the whole body. And the healthier you are, the more youthful you tend to look,” said Dr. Steelsmith. To prepare two servings: In a blender, combine one cup of chopped parsley or spinach…one chopped carrot… one-half chopped, peeled cucumber… one-half chopped, peeled apple…one banana…one-half cup blueberries…one heaping tablespoon of whey or rice protein powder…and two cups of water. Blend well. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate and drink later in the day.