From investing in expensive eye creams to splurging on facials, it’s almost too easy to blow your budget trying to look youthful nowadays. However, dermatologists and dietitians say there are many budget-friendly ways to get glowing skin as you age—and most of their tips require little more than a trip to your medicine cabinet. To find out how you can have the skin of your dreams, keep reading for their best advice that won’t break the bank.
In case you haven’t heard the hype yet, lymphatic drainage is the latest wellness trend, and with good reason: It can depuff your face.
“Stagnation of the lymphatic fluids, which often occurs after night’s sleep, makes the skin heavier and causes stretching and sagging,” explains Valerie Aparovich, a certified cosmetologist-aesthetician, biochemist, and science team lead at OnSkin. “When done regularly and adequately, lymphatic drainage massage helps achieve more defined facial features and a more rested, youthful look. Besides smoother skin texture, such massages speed up metabolic processes within the cells, promote a brighter complexion, and strengthen capillary vessels.”
You can use your fingers or a gua sha tool to do a lymphatic drainage self-massage, but make sure to apply a skin-friendly oil first to your entire face and neck. You’ll also want to speak to your doctor or esthetician about the specific massage techniques you should use, as there can be side effects from these massages.
“There are two items you probably already have in your home that will make a world of difference in softening fine lines in the facial area: medical tape and castor oil,” says Christy Calafati, a beauty expert and makeup artist.
According to Calafati, castor oil serves as a super-effective moisturizer—especially around the eyes—which can help make crow’s feet less visible.
“One more thing to stack with the castor oil is medical tape,” Calafati adds. “Medical tape is a far less expensive option than Japanese face tape and works just as well, if not better. And many people already carry this in their medicine cabinet.”
Medical tape can help hold the skin in place, creating a Botox-like effect by keeping your facial muscles relaxed and thereby preventing those pesky expression lines. When using medical tape on deeper forehead lines, Calafati advises pulling the skin taut and applying a piece of tape about two or three inches long. Do this nightly and you’ll definitely notice a difference in your skin, she says.
“It’s always a good idea to stick the tape on your hand and pull it a few times to lessen the ‘stickiness’ first, and be extra cautious around the eyes,” she adds. Again, speak with your healthcare provider before committing to this routine.
“Covering under-eye bags with a thick concealer can provoke more profound fluid stagnation and swelling, and actually make you look tired,” she explains. “And applying too much setting powder to smooth the skin or fade hyperpigmented spots will result in a cakey look, accentuating the signs of aging.”
The lesson here? Less is more when it comes to makeup as you age. Aparovich also recommends opting for cream, gel, and liquid formulas whenever possible—these are less drying, and can therefore make your complexion look more plump and supple.
“Opting for lighter, watery foundations or tinted moisturizers will enable a more youthful and refreshed skin appearance and promote a healthier glow,” says Aparovich. “Matte lipsticks are often water-absorbent and can dry off the lips, making them tight and wrinkled, while moisturizing lip glosses will make your lips look plumper and fuller.”
Free radicals—molecules that are known to damage cells—accelerate the aging process. Fortunately, many of nature’s tastiest treats are packed with antioxidants, which can neutralize them and prevent them from causing any damage. Some particularly antioxidant-rich foods include berries, cherries, nuts, brightly colored vegetables, and dark leafy greens.
“Eating papaya can help you look younger as you age since it contains a wide range of antioxidants to fight free radical damage and improve your skin elasticity, thereby minimizing wrinkles,” adds Megan Darlington, a registered dietitian at Test Prep Insight.
“Eating more broccoli can also improve the look of your skin since it’s rich in vitamin C and K, which are arguably the two most important anti-wrinkle antioxidants. These two antioxidants are crucial for your body to synthesize collagen, which keeps your skin from sagging,” Darlington notes.
“Staying hydrated makes a huge difference in the appearance of your skin, hair, and nails,” says registered dietitian Madelyn Larouche. “Our bodies are composed of 60 percent water, after all. Hydrated skin will look glowy and radiant, whereas dehydrated skin will look dull, flaky, and dry.”
Larouche suggests adding electrolytes to your water to further support hydration—for example, adding two tablespoons of lemon juice, a quarter teaspoon of salt, and two teaspoons of honey to two cups of water.
Aparovich highly recommends drinking a full glass of water first thing in the morning—when your body is most dehydrated after a long night’s sleep.
“Water helps activate the lymphatic system, which is responsible for regulating the body’s fluid levels, detoxifying potential, and fighting infection and inflammation,” she explains. “Regularly drinking water in the morning can help you achieve a cleaner, fresher, and smoother skin appearance.”
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Beth Goldstein, a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs Surgeon at Central Dermatology Center, says one of the best things you can do for your skin as you age is to protect it from the sun. In fact, according to Goldstein, 90 percent of skin aging happens due to damage from UV rays.
Goldstein recommends applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen—at least SPF 30—every morning, and reapplying every few hours if you’re outdoors. She also advises wearing a hat when spending extended periods of time outside—say, gardening, reading on the porch, or lounging at the beach.