In many ways, getting older is great: you’re smarter (neuroscientists say the brain doesn’t fully develop until as late as your thirties), wiser (having learnt from all those mistakes you made earlier in life) and, unless you’re doing it wrong, probably a lot richer too.
What’s not so great about ageing though is how everything, physiologically speaking – from your brows to your balls – takes a violent nosedive.
Luckily, there are ways to take the edge off the ageing process. From what to have for dinner to how to style your hair, here’s our guide to getting better-looking as you age. Benjamin Button would be proud.
What To Do In Your Twenties
Develop Good Habits
No amount of exorbitantly priced anti-ageing ‘miracle’ moisturiser is going to right years of grooming wrongs. So start, no later than your early twenties, with a solid grooming regimen that helps lay the foundations for a lifetime of good looks.
“Use a gentle exfoliating face wash to remove dead skin cells and reveal brighter skin beneath, then follow up with a good anti-ageing moisturiser and eye cream,” says Chris Beastall, grooming editor at the online title Ape to Gentleman. “Also, if you spend a good deal of time outside – even on cloudy days – it’s worth using an SPF moisturiser as exposure to the sun is one of the major causes of premature ageing of the skin.”
Since you probably don’t want to spend most of what are supposedly the best years of your life slapping an entire chemists’ worth of ointments onto your face every morning, look for an all-rounder. Neutrogena’s Men Age Fighter, for example, combines the skin-tightening, wrinkle-smoothing and pigmentation-erasing benefits of retinol with SPF 15 for sun protection.
For your eyes – where the most noticeable signs of ageing appear – you’ll need to use something site-specific (fending off crow’s feet isn’t always a cakewalk, y’know?). Try Clinique For Men’s Anti-Age Eye Cream, a hydrating and brightening combination of lipids (to help reduce dark circles and puffiness) and antioxidants including vitamin C, E and green tea extract, which help form a barrier against everyday environmental damage.
…And Ditch Bad Ones
Key to holding onto your handsomeness is a holistic approach; while a carefully considered grooming regimen will keep the surface of your skin in good nick, what you put into your body is just as important as what you put on it.
“Smoking and eating [large amounts of] burnt or barbequed food both create free radicals which actively speed up the ageing process, so it’s best to kick those habits,” says celebrity skin therapist Louise Thomas-Minns.
Feasting on greens is equally important. “Broccoli, rocket and spinach can be really effective in boosting levels of collagen, which helps maintain skin firmness and keep wrinkles at bay,” adds Thomas-Minns, who suggests aiming for one to two servings daily.
Also, don’t forget to drink from the fountain of youth – keeping your water intake up (around two litres per day) ensures skin stays hydrated, so you appear fresher, healthier and younger.
What To Do Later In Life
Despite some marginal praise for the wibbling, wobbling ‘dad bod’ in recent years, we still find ourselves entrenched in a culture that’s youth-obsessed. Getting on? Then get a load of these face-saving tips.
Make Over Your Mop
Well, maybe not so much a mop as whatever you’ve got left. By the time they hit 40, most men will have started to bald, grey or at the very least recede, which means the days of lobbing some Brylcreem on top of your head and hoping for the best are over.
If you’ve still got the bulk of your barnet, but you’ve receded quite a bit, consider a Caesar cut, says Aveda’s master barber, Stelios Nicolaou. “A short, horizontally layered cut, the Caesar is a great option for men in their forties as it’s versatile, easy to maintain and particularly good at covering up a receding hairline.”
Going grey? Choose from two options: own it; or, if you just don’t yet see yourself as the silvery breed of fox, turn your salt into pepper with a subtle dye job. Whatever you do, stop with the dye jobs once you’ve reached your mid-to-late forties; by that stage, it can only look as fake as John Travolta’s face.
If, however, your genetics have seen to it that you’ve got little to nothing left, learn how to make the best of bald by keeping the skin in top condition and ensuring the look fits in with the rest of your style.
Trim Hair Where You Didn’t Have It Before
Nothing says I’m too old to give a shit like tufts of hair spilling out of your nose and ears. Pretty gross, right?
“Dedicate five minutes a week to taking care of ear and nose hair,” says Beastall, who suggests using blunt-ended scissors or a specialist trimmer (such as Panasonic’s ER-GN30, which vacuums up hair as it trims) to stall the growth of age-revealing strays.
Alternatively, Beastall recommends finding a barber that’ll (gently) burn away your ear hair once they’ve cut your hair, and considering a product like Nad’s Nose Wax for stemming the tide in your schnozz. “You heat the wax in the microwave, insert it into the nostril and then allow to cool for one and a half to two minutes,” he says. “Then, hold the stem of the applicator tightly and pull down in one swift movement to remove the hair.” It sounds worse than it is, and ensures hair is slower to regrow than it would with trimming.
Also, if you, like hordes of men in their twenties and thirties, define yourself by a beard even card-carrying Vikings would envy, remember to retire it once you hit your late thirties. Ditto long hair. Nothing good can come from channelling Gandalf.
Take Years Off Your Teeth
A mouth full of cheddar-yellow gnashers isn’t a good look at any age, but as you get older, it becomes one of the main giveaways that you’re past your biological prime. According to a survey of 2,000 men and women in Britain conducted by Oral-B, brighter, whiter pearlies can make someone look up to five years younger.
To take years off, consider professional whitening. Philips Zoom teeth whitening, a service offered by most dental clinics worth their salt, uses hydrogen peroxide activated by a UV light to make teeth up to six shades lighter. Which is something to smile about.