A while back I went to a really cool party in the cool part of town. (Let’s be real, it was my boyfriend who was invited and I just tagged along. Lest you think I’m also one of the cool people). But let’s rewind a little bit…
The last time *I* was invited to a party in my own right, it was at a Brooklyn walk-up, over a simple dinner of homemade spaghetti and cheap wine from Trader Joe’s (all mismatched cups) with a bunch of junior editors. Jennifer brought homemade vegan mandarin olive oil cake and the general atmosphere was very Hemingway: “We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.” (Except no sleeping together…I don’t think). Average age was 25 or so–2 years younger than me. This other, cool, grown-up party was at a neighborhood so deafeningly cool that I don’t know what it is called exactly (south Soho? Tribeca?). The place was so obviously expensive and spacious that I–not being able to understand how a single person can enjoy so much luxury? How?–very embarrassingly asked the host if he has a roommate. (No). Wine was kept chilled in its own wine fridge and poured in matching glasses. Atmosphere was much more Fitzgerald than Hemingway. But the really interesting thing was, a) all the women were really beautiful and b) I couldn’t tell how old they were.
Later on, after plenty of drinks, I complimented one of the women on how gorgeous she looks. To my surprise, she responded with wild enthusiasm for my looks, especially the fact that I don’t have any wrinkles under my eyes. (“It’s because you’re Asian!” she exclaimed.) It turned out that she was in her mid-thirties and very much into maintaining youth–which was only professional since she was, in fact, a model. But it was a lesson nevertheless that almost everyone is anxious about her age, no matter how confident or enviable on the outside.
At 27, I feel very much at an in-between age–as in, no longer satisfied with grungy, impoverished but exuberant early-twenties existence, but also far from sophistication and luxury of thirties. And I’m frequently envious of both, and feel too young or too old for either. But the truth, I’ve realized, is that your best age is what you make of it. There is no reason to want to turn back the clock, or (heaven forbid) press fast forward. At the same time, I won’t say, “Don’t care about your looks! That’s what the society tells you to care about. All that matters is what’s on the inside!” For heaven’s sake, I’m a woman and taking care of my looks is what I’ll do, whether that makes me seem vain or not. The best anti-aging policy, I think, is to take good (but not obsessive) care of yourself and just enjoy what you have. I think there is a lot of comfort in that.
For me, maintaining youth means mostly 3 things: health, diet, and skincare.
1. Health: I make it a rule to workout almost every day. In my experience there is a tremendous difference between the amount of energy and “glow” I have, from when I workout at 5+ days a week and just 3 days a week. For anti-aging almost any form of exercise will be beneficial. Cardio is a huge mood-lifter and stress-reliever–and since stress is a major factor of aging, your daily runs will literally keep you young. On the other hand strength training releases growth hormones and testosterone, which keep our bodies young and lean. Yoga is a great way to keep your joints and muscles flexible. I try to vary it up and have fun.
I also prioritize sleep, though not neurotic about it. Some days I need more sleep, and other days I wake up early without much effort. A lot depends on your personal circadian rhythm and hormone levels, so try to get as much as you need.
2. Diet: Drinking plenty of water is crucial for maintaining youth! Your cells literally plump up when you give it enough water–and shrivel up when you’re dehydrated. All the anti-aging potions and creams won’t make much of a difference if you’re dehydrated all the time. I like to squeeze some fresh lemon juice into my water.
Make sure to get enough antioxidants through your diet. Of course, you can take supplements, but you absorb it better through food! For anti-aging: Vitamin A (think sweet potato, carrots, broccoli, etc) is crucial for cell renewal and keeping your skin supple and wrinkle-free. Vitamin C (red bell pepper, citrus fruits, berries) is the building block for collagen–in vegan beauty products you’ll often see “collagen-boosting” associated with powerful C ingredients like rose hip oil. Don’t forget to get enough Omega-3s from walnuts, avocado, chia seeds, flax seeds, for healthy hair, skin, and nails.
3. Skincare: In addition to my usual, cruelty-free, gentle skincare routine, for the past few months I’ve incorporated some more functional anti-aging products. I mean, my all-natural oils will always be there for me–but these products mean business, and they deliver. I love Ole Henriksen’s Invigorating Night Gel, which has botanical alpha hydroxy acids–basically, this works like a very gentle peel, which takes away the dull dead cells, evens skin tone and brightens dark spots, while making it easier for other ingredients to get to your skin. After I let the night gel dry completely, I apply Humble + Lavi’s Triple Action Collagen Booster. It really works miraculously to plump my under-eye area and forehead, even when I feel tired. I’m also going to preach again about the importance of sunblock, because powerful anti-agers like these products have high antioxidant content, which means they can make your skin more susceptible to sun damage. Make sure to layer your SPF with sunblock and BB cream–I also like to carry a tube of sunblock with me to reapply throughout the day, especially on my chest.
Finally, as corny as it sounds–I think doing something a little off-kilter or getting a good laugh every once in a while keeps me feeling young. You know, like maybe wear some crazy color instead of navy blue, try a different color eyeshadow, etc. 🙂
Have you felt anxieties about your age? And what is your stay-young secret?
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling