Death, taxes, wrinkles—they’re all unavoidable. And while we’re all about embracing the wisdom and experience that comes with getting older, it can admittedly be more challenging to embrace the lines and wrinkles that crop up with every passing birthday. As the saying goes, age is just a number, so when you want to look as good as you feel, consider these easy anti-aging tips and tricks. Spoiler alert: It’s not just about skin care. Hair and makeup play a large role, too, which is why we asked a dermatologist, makeup artist, and hairstylist to share their best (easiest) look-younger advice. Here are eight of their expert-approved, turn-back-the-clock tips and tricks.
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1. Remember That SPF Isn’t Just for Your Face
Bravo, if you’ve already adopted good sunscreen habits (i.e. applying a broad-spectrum formula with at least an SPF 30 all over your face 365 days per year). But here’s the thing—your complexion isn’t the only part of you that's subject to the sun’s damaging and aging effects. Hands can often give away age even more so than our face, particularly because most people do little to take care of this exposed skin other than to perhaps slap on some hand cream. To that point, after you apply sunscreen on your face, do a second pass and cover the most often forgotten spots: your hands, as well as your ears, neck, and chest, suggests Devika Icecreamwala, M.D., a dermatologist in Berkeley, CA.
2. Sandwich Your Retinol
There’s no denying that retinoids are the gold standard in the anti-aging world, lauded for their proven efficacy at smoothing fine lines, evening skin tone, and minimizing pores. The only caveat? They can be irritating for many people. But don’t let that be a deterrent. Apply a plain moisturizer first, then your retinol product (remember, a pea-size drop is all you need for your entire face, says Icecreamwala), then top that with another layer of plain moisturizer. Having this buffer on either side of the retinol helps notably cut down on the likelihood of unwanted side effects like redness or dryness. Also helpful: Always start by using any retinol product only one or two nights per week, gradually increasing use to give your skin time to get acclimated to the potent ingredient, advises Icecreamwala.
3. Load Up on Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a choice skin care ingredient, delivering a trio of benefits. It is a powerful antioxidant, helps fade dark spots, and also stimulates collagen production to keep skin smooth and youthful, says Icecreamwala. (She advises using a vitamin C serum; more concentrated than a cream, it’ll give you the best bang for your buck. Try: Beautycounter Rejuvenating Radiance Serum, $68, Beautycounter.) But don’t just apply the vitamin, eat it, too. Consuming fruits and veggies high in vitamin C, such as red peppers, strawberries, and Brussels sprouts, has similar collagen-stimulating and youth-boosting effects.
4. Make Acids an Important Part of Your Routine
More specifically, we’re talking about alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), which work to gently exfoliate the skin and deliver a one-two anti-aging punch. This not only leaves skin smoother and more radiant, but also makes other topicals (hello, vitamin c and retinol) work more effectively. There are several AHAs to choose from, but if you have to pick just one, go for glycolic acid. It’s unique in that it offers both those exfoliating benefits and can also boost collagen production to help combat fine lines and wrinkles. Peel pads, like Pixi Glow Peel Pads, $22 for 60, Target, make it easy to reap the benefits daily.
5. Get Bangs
There’s a reason they call it "bang-tox"—fringe covers your forehead, instantly hiding fine lines and wrinkles. But if you don’t want to commit to full-on bangs, John Mouzakis, a stylist at Chicago’s Mixed Co. Salon, suggests opting for a sideswept bang that ends at the corner of your eyes. This softer look is more versatile, easier to style, and the perfect way to camouflage crow’s-feet, he says.
6. Layer Eye Cream and Concealer
No one wants dark undereye circles and fine lines, but cakey, creased concealer is a surefire way to add years to your look. No, thank you. Combat this unwanted effect by adding an eye cream into the makeup mix. “After applying your concealer, gently pat a bit of eye balm or rich eye cream over the concealer for a slightly dewy finish,” suggests clean beauty artist and makeup educator Jo Levy. “This immediately softens any dryness around the eyes and blends out your concealer a bit better, especially if you’re using a medium to full coverage.”
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7. Switch from Black to Brown Mascara
Yes, it’s that simple. “A black-brown or espresso shade often looks less harsh on the eyes and more youthful than classic black, and also complements all eye colors,” says Levy. Who knew? One to try: Mary Kay Ultimate Mascara in Black Brown, $15, Mary Kay. And for an extra eye-opening effect, remember to always curl lashes before swiping on mascara.
8. Keep Your Hair Long
Contrary to what you may have heard, your hair doesn’t have to get shorter as you get older. “It’s not the length that matters so much as the style,” says Mouzakis. “An outdated haircut will instantly make you look older than you are.” One telltale sign it’s time to switch it up? If you’ve had the same haircut for a decade, a change is calling. If you’re looking for a flattering length, consider a collarbone-grazing cut. It’s flattering on pretty much any hair texture and type and is long enough that you can still pull it back into a ponytail.