Many women think of their “beauty” routine as a from-the-neck-up thing. Well, there’s a whole lot of skin on the way down that needs attention, too. Your faithful and fabulous body’s gotta last a lifetime, so make maintaining the entire outer package (and its inner health, of course) a priority. You’ll look better dressed and naked, and who’d say no to that? Here are 10 tough-love tips on how to do it.
1. Necks need skin care and better posture … not turtlenecks. Start today by using your daily face care — moisturizer, night treatment and broad-spectrum SPF 30-plus — on your neck, too. Be sure to do the front, sides and back of the neck, and apply all creams in upward strokes, from bottom to top. Curb “tech neck” (the sag and creases caused by hunching over your smartphone, laptop, Kindle or iPad) by holding the phone up to your face and sitting up straight when you work, shop online or read.
2. Make your décolletage matter. The skin between your neck and breasts is thin, vulnerable and a magnet for sun damage. The good news is your chest — like facial skin — responds quickly to ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, peptides, niacin, antioxidants and botanicals that plump up lines, restart collagen production, soothe and smooth. So continue with tip No. 1 and extend daily facial skin care and broad-spectrum sunscreen right down to your bra. Start sleeping on your back, too. Side and stomach sleepers risk increased crinkling, crepe-like textural changes and creasing. A contoured back-sleeper pillow helps you stay put and comfy. Place your usual pillow under your knees to prevent middle-of-the-night rollovers.
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3. Soften dry, ashy arms and legs. Switch up your bath or shower routine to counteract the visible results of slowed cell turnover, oil production and circulation. Choose body washes and lotions infused with rich, emollient shea butter and botanical oils like almond or coconut. Apply moisturizer while skin is towel blotted, but still damp, to lock it in. Exfoliate flaky spots when needed — after washing but before hydrating — with a gentle body polish like Soap & Glory Smoothie Star Oat, Sugar and Shea Breakfast Scrub or SheaMoisture Raw Shea Coffee Scrub. The mild combo of sugar or coffee plus shea butter and botanical oils buffs elbows, knees and shins.
4. Get rid of skin tags. This is not a DIY procedure, so stop Googling and head straight to your board-certified dermatologist. She can determine whether these are skin tags or precancerous growths. Tags are fleshy little stalks that pop up around high friction areas such as armpits, neck, bra band or thighs … where seams or necklaces lie and that just look unappealing. They often run in families. A doctor will treat skin tags with a few sprays of cold liquid nitrogen or a shot of lidocaine to numb, followed by a snip and cauterization to burn the base on bigger tougher tags. The spot will redden, scab and fall off in a few days.
5. Banish body bloat. Sometimes rings don’t slip on or off easily, our bra or jeans feel too tight, and ankle booties or any shoes at all feel constricting. Temporary bloating (as opposed to IBS or serious medical conditions) is due to a sluggish digestion or water retention — the latter encouraged by salty foods or alcohol. Flush it away by drinking more water (uncarbonated, please!) and bathing in water with two cups of Epsom salt, which has the minerals magnesium and sulfate to drain excess fluid. Spanx can compress belly bloat, so why not just ease up in a wire-free bra, relaxed swingy top, midi skirt or cropped elastic waist pants, and fabulous new backless mules. Aaaaah!
6. Keep hands groomed and glam. We love stacking rings and bracelets, but our hands honestly need three things to counteract the appearance of veins, brown spots and dry skin threatening our style. UVA rays penetrate glass and shade. Always apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30-plus daily, even while driving, under a canopy or umbrella, or just sitting in front of a window. Keep a tube of hand cream at every sink and a travel-size one in your bag. And finally, wear colorful polish to draw attention to manicured nails. They’re as eye-catching and attention-getting as a red lipstick is to your smile.
7. Fast-fix body “decorations.” Dermatologists do have lasers and solutions for all our random discolorations, old stretch marks, cellulite dimples, broken capillaries, veins and red, splotchy areas — but they’re pricey and often painful. Instead, use a little body makeup or self-tanner to camouflage or blur discolorations. Keep it realistic — use a tint for waterproof makeup and a self-tanner that’s warm but within your actual skin-tone range.
8. Give feet some TLC. They’ve carried us around for decades, been stuffed into high heels and pointy toes, and subjected to blisters, cracked heels, corns, calluses, bunions and hammertoes. Pamper your tootsies at home with soaks and daily creams to soften calluses and tough skin. Slather clean feet with petroleum jelly or any emollient balm or cream, and slip on a pair of clean cotton socks before bed twice a week. Not sexy, but it works to renew your passion for sandals and slides. Buy gel insoles for all your shoes and treat yourself to salon pedicures for foot health and looks.
9. Treat skin irritations ASAP and gently. Mature skin may take longer to recover from bruises, the occasional chest or back zit, rashes due to medications or allergic reactions and eczema. Good to have around: topical arnica to ease pain after bashing your knee against the night table; a mild salicylic-acid blemish gel to treat pimples on your back; and super-soothing body creams with colloidal oatmeal and shea butter to relieve itching and irritation, like Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Relief Natural Repair Cream, Skinfix Eczema Extra Strength Body Cream.
10. Hold the laser, wax and shaver! Surprise: This last tip requires almost nothing. We all know the hair on our heads will thin to some degree and eventually go gray with age. Postmenopause hormonal changes may mean your upper lip and chin are sprouting new hairs (oh no!), but your body hair is … diminishing, thinning and going grayer. Aside from trimming your lady bits — you might have very little to do anymore in the way of body hair removal — what you leave or take away is not such a big deal.
Bikinis, bare legs and sandals — here we come!
For more beauty and style tips for women 50+ check out The Woman’s Wakeup: How to Shake Up Your Looks, Life and Love by Lois Joy Johnson, and the AARP Beauty & Style Guide app for iPads.