A smart woman’s guide to ageing well in ten top tips
Author Helena Frith Powell shares her top 10 tips to ageing well – and her list of things to avoid…
Top top tips for avoiding wrinkles
1: Embrace face oils
As our skin ages it gets drier. Face oils are an essential tool in your battle against wrinkles.
Chose the best one you can afford and use it sparingly, usually three drops or so will be enough. Warm it up in the palm of your hand before you apply it.
I often use one day and night. If you feel that’s a bit much then just go for the night when your skin is resting and regenerating and the oil will be at its most effective.
Mix with a nourishing face mask once in a while for extra effect.
2: Take a break from food
One of the most effective ways to clear your skin is to give your digestive system a rest now and again.
It doesn’t have to be an all-out full-on fast, but for example try not to eat after lunch until the next morning. You’ll be amazed by how bright eyed and young you look when you wake up.
If you can’t bear the thought of no food at all then reduce your intake of food for a day by half or do a detox where you eat only fruit and vegetables.
(Consult your doctor before starting any new eating regime, and bear in mind fasting will not be appropriate if you’re diabetic or suffering from low blood sugar).
3: Mask it
Face masks used to be something we put on once a month, maybe even less.
Now is the time to start using them as part of your weekly skincare routine. I use one at least four times a week, in the morning after cleansing.
They don’t need to be expensive, but do use a variety. I alternate between a purely nourishing one and an exfoliating one.
4: Stay cleansed
Now more than ever you need to be meticulous about your skin cleansing routine.
Cleanse, tone and moisturise morning and night. At night I use an oil-rich cleanser that effectively removes any makeup and in the morning a foaming one that washes off.
Going to bed wearing your make-up is one of the most ageing things you can do. If you’re too worn out the end of the evening to do a proper job then take advantage of evenings in by removing your makeup as soon as you get home.
5: Use active ingredients
By that I mean skincare products that contain active ingredients; things that will actually make a difference to your skin tone such as Vitamin C, green tea, AHAs, retinol and so forth.
All creams moisturise, but not all of them go below the surface to treat your skin and actually make a difference to its appearance.
General tips for ageing well
Have a good posture
Sit up straight at all times. Think about it; the image of older people is often one of someone stopped over. Pretend you have an audience with the Queen and stay straight backed. It will not only make you look younger, but more confident.
Look after your hands
Nothing betrays your age quite like your hands. Invest some time and effort in them. Make sure your nails are manicured, for example. And cover the backs of your hands in sunscreen every day to avoid age spots.
Age with attitude
Helen Mirren, my all-time favourite example of how to age well, once said: “I don’t look so good, but I don’t care.”
Of course, she DOES care, otherwise she wouldn’t look so good, but the important thing is she gives the impression that she doesn’t…
Look after your hair
This comes as part and parcel of the whole grooming thing, which as we get older is all the more crucial.
If you decide to cover your grey but find your hairdressing bills rocketing then remember you don’t need to do the full roots every time, you can just do the hairline.
And while we’re on the subject of hair, make sure there are no unsightly ones sprouting up, keep those tweezers close by!
Don’t get too skinny
The mistake a lot of women make as they age is to think that thin always equates to beautiful. It doesn’t.
If you get too skinny you will look old. As we age, our faces lose volume: don’t make that process faster than it needs to be.
You have to get the balance between staying trim but not looking drawn just right.
Exercise of course is key to this, yoga being an ideal way to stay toned.
And the five S’s to watch out for
The sun is your number one enemy. Wear sunscreen every day and avoid sun exposure when it is at its strongest, so between 11am and 3pm.
This is your number two enemy. Smoking is one of the most ageing things you can do, and it is also something you can avoid (unlike the sun for example).
Easy to say but if you’re an anxious type you really need to get a grip on stress levels.
Stress causes biological changes at a cellular level that have an effect on how quickly we age, not only in terms of looks but also our brains.
Stress is thought to contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and recent studies also suggest that women’s brains age more prematurely than men’s due to their increased stress levels.
Poor nutrition and excessive sugar is a lethal double whammy. Sugar attacks collagen and elastin, the two key ingredients to keeping your skin young.
I’m talking about the way you sleep, not the actual sleep. If you sleep with your face buried in a pillow, you will cause wrinkles.
So try to get used to sleeping on your back, and invest in a silk pillowcase, which will be gentler on your skin should you end up face down or on your side.
Helena Frith Powell is the author of Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles published by Gibson Square £12.99; available from £8.99 including UK p&p from Amazon
Helena Frith Powell was born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and Italian father, but grew up mainly in England. She is the author of eleven books, translated into several languages including Chinese and Russian. She wrote the French Mistress column The Sunday Times about life in France for several years. She is a regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Tatler Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar.
Helena has been the editor of four magazines, including M Magazine, a supplement for the Abu Dhabi-based National Newspaper and FIVE, a high-end fashion glossy, also published in Abu Dhabi. Helena was also editor-in-chief of 360 Life, a quarterly glossy magazine published with the Sports 360 Newspaper in Dubai, part of the Chalhoub Group.
Helena contributes regularly to UK-based newspapers and magazines and holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge. She is working on a thriller set in Sweden as well as a novel about the relationship between Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield called Sense of an Echo.
In 2022 her short story The Japanese Gardener came second in the Fish Publishing Short Story Prize. One of her stories was also shortlisted for the Bridport Short Story Prize. When she’s not writing, she works as a headhunter for the media and entertainment industry for the Sucherman Group.
Helena, who was educated at Durham University, lives in the Languedoc region of France with her husband Rupert and their three children.
More France Please, we’re British; Gibson Square 2004
Two Lipsticks and a Lover 2005; Gibson Square (hardback)
All You Need to be Impossibly French; (US version of above) Penguin 2006
Two Lipsticks and a Lover; Arrow Books (paperback) 2007
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (hardback) 2006
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (paperback) 2007
So Chic! (French version of Two Lipsticks) Leduc Editions 2008 (also translated into Chinese, Russian and Thai)
More, More France; Gibson Square 2009
To Hell in High Heels; Arrow Books 2009 (also translated into Polish)
The Viva Mayr Diet; Harper Collins 2009
Love in a Warm Climate; Gibson Square 2011
The Ex-Factor; Gibson Square 2013
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles; Gibson Square 2016
The Arnolfini Marriage; Amazon Kindle December 2016
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles (paperback); Gibson Square spring 2018
The Longest Night; Gibson Square spring 2019