It was my birthday recently, which always gets me thinking about the saying “another year older, another year wiser”. Well I’m certainly older and this year I think I may be even a little wiser. Hitting my mid-forties, was a light-bulb moment, for me in terms of ageing. For once, instead of avoiding the question or fudging the answer, I’m actually feeling quite proud of announcing how old I am. I just turned 45 years old, if you’re curious, and I feel I am finally learning that age really is just a number.
At 45, I’m as fit as I’ve ever been, I’m certainly stronger, I don’t have cellulite, my nails are strong, my abs are flat and my skin although obviously showing some signs of ageing is clearer and more radiant than it’s been in years. I believe my holistic approach to living is absolutely the reason why I feel I am not only looking good but also why I have a much more positive mental approach to ageing.
So how have I achieved it? Before you roll your eyes and say you’ve heard it all before, I’m not going to lecture you on drinking plenty of water, eating fresh, seasonal food, cutting back on alcohol and getting more sleep, I won’t but please try – I know, it’s hard when life is busy but these are basically the rules to looking better and they work. Instead, I’m going to focus particularly, on what I have been doing for my complexion to help it looks its radiant best. We can’t turn back the clock but we can all glow from the inside out – after all, who cares about a few lines? If they come from smiles and sunshine – not me.
What: restorative skin ritual
When: Every evening if possible, but aim for at least 4 times a week. Handy tip for the super-tired - if you are so shattered by bedtime that just smearing a skin wipe over your face is as much as you can manage, why not cleanse your skin as soon as you get in from work instead of waiting until bedtime? You’ll clear all the day’s grime and makeup while you still have the energy to focus properly. My dentist, said the same goes for teeth actually. If you’re too tired to give them a lengthy full clean & floss at bedtime, do a longer clean earlier in the evening and just a quick whizz before you hit the sack.
Why: Spending more time to cleanse, massage and nurture your skin may seem unrealistic but just think how much time you spend covering it up with make-up or wondering around the beauty hall trying to figure which anti-ageing super cream to buy? I have found the more time I spend on actually physically looking after and touching my skin the less makeup I apply and the less anti-ageing products I am tempted to buy. You just don’t need to lots of products if your skin is healthy.
This ritual jumps starts circulation and lymph flow, thereby increasing elimination, reducing puffiness and soothing the skin. It makes my skin look more alive and it makes me feel more confident about my appearance. Don’t worry you don’t need to be good at massaging or remember a complicated, step-by-step routine. Honestly, before you know it you’ll be doing it without thinking.
How: Cleanse your skin as you normally would to remove make up and dirt. Soak a flannel or muslin cloth in warm, but not hot water, then mist the cloth with two or three pumps of a natural flower water skin toner - I like Neroli or Lavender but you could just a drop of Lavender essential oil into the warm water if you don’t have a flower mist. Wring out the flannel and apply to your face. Press into your face and inhale deeply. Repeat twice.
Now for the massage. Place a small pool of oil into the palm of one your hand and warm gently with the finger tips of the other hand and smooth all over your face and neck and down to the chest. My favourites include Dermalogica Phyto Replenish Oil with Jasmine, Aromatherapy Associates Hydrating Revitalising Facial Oil with Frankincense or Neal’s Yard Remedies Beauty Sleep Concentrate with Ylang Ylang, but feel free to use what works for your skin or what you already have at home. It’s as much, if not more so, about you massaging and touching your skin, as about the product.
Now, using the thumbs under the jawline and index fingers on top of your jaw, slide your fingers firmly along your jawline from your chin to the front of your ears. I do this about 8-10 times.
Next, using the fingertips of both hands, smooth the forehead with a firm lifting movement, starting at the eyebrows and finishing at the hairline again about 10 times or whatever feels good. Next, using the pads of your middle fingers, apply small, circular movements beginning between the eyebrows and finishing at the temples about 10 times. Follow by using your little fingers, to tap the delicate skin underneath the inner eye, working outwards towards the temple about 10 times.
Finally, press your face with your palms to help the rest of the oil absorb – your cheeks, your forehead, your chin, your neck, your décolleté. You will smell amazing, your skin will be glowing and you will sleep better with the tension smoothed away from your face.
What: switching my flat white for a green juice
When: 5-6 times a week
Why: we all know that drinking coffee is not the best thing for our skin so I’ve been trying something out for a couple of weeks to see if it makes a difference to my complexion. Instead of my usual flat white (or two) in the morning I’ve been making a fresh green juice packed with vitamins A, C and E (antioxidants which soak up free radicals and give us a great helping hand when it comes to looking and feeling healthy) and chlorophyll, every morning and trying to assess if it is making a difference to my complexion. I think so. I think drinking less coffee makes my skin better more hydrated plus the juice is so delicious and super healthy it’s a win-win. I’m not prepared to give up coffee altogether though – having a good coffee in the park over a natter with a friend is a ritual too lovely to give up. It’s all about balance after all.
How: I don’t stick to a specific recipe, I just whizz up a fresh vegetable juice or green smoothie from scratch without any fruit or added sugars depending on what’s in the fridge but I have included one below for some guidance. It’s always some combination of the following – spinach, celery, avocado, beetroot, carrot, cucumber, turmeric, ginger, flax seed, spirulina, lemon, mint. Some nutritionists says beetroot and carrot are too sugary but as I have hardly any sugar in the rest of my diet I feel ok about including them - and they taste good!
Green Skin Cleanser
stick of celery
handful of spinach or kale
few stalks of mint
1 tbsp green powder
2 glasses of/or 1 glass each of coconut water, pure water
Place all of the ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.
What: more yoga, less cardio
When: 3-4 times a week. Handy tip if you’re not so into yoga: simply switch some of your regular cool down stretches for some detoxifying yoga poses
Why: Yes, the yoga glow is real. You only have to look at all the bare-faced yoga beauties - Shiva Rea, Seane Corn and Julie Montagu instantly spring to mind – to realize that. I find when I increase my time on the mat my skin always looks better. How is that? Forward folds – get blood and oxygen flowing straight to our face. Hip openers – release pent-up emotions and stress, reducing the stress hormone cortisol, which is linked to an increase in blood sugar and acceleration in the ageing process. Twists - the ultimate detox, and the fewer toxins you have in your body the better your skin will look.
What: reading my face
When: Once a week
Why: Did you know you can get a pretty good idea of what is going on inside your body by looking carefully at your face? According to the ancient Eastern technique of face mapping, our skin, our largest and only accessible organ, is basically a message board communicating how well our body is doing internally and it’s the first place that stress, ageing, digestive problems, poor sleep, dehydration shows up.
About once a week, when my skin is completely clear of makeup, I take a good hard look in the magnifying mirror and discover a lot about my health and wellbeing. Dark under your eyes despite enough sleep and expensive eye creams? This area relates to our kidneys – ask yourself are you drinking enough water, are you drinking too much in the evenings? Big, painful spot sprouting up from nowhere on your jaw line? This area is linked to our hormones – it’s most probably your body giving you a sign that your period is on its way. Congestion in the cheek area – it could be the pigments in your blusher or bronzer but it could also be related to your lungs – are you commuting in a polluted environment?
I find it fascinating that our skin can reveal so much. If you want to know more about face mapping – visit a trained Dermalogica facialist for a complimentary face mapping skin analysis – visit www.dermalogica.co.uk