Uh oh… You can spend a fortune trying to look young but those droopy ears will give you away (are you listening, Madonna)!
00:18 GMT, 25 October 2012
00:18 GMT, 25 October 2012
We all know greying hair and wrinkles are a sure sign that age is catching up with us, but there are also more subtle changes that give away those passing years — no matter how well we look after our skin or how diligently we apply our make-up.
Here, we reveal the ten things you didn’t know were ageing you — and how to fight back.
Watch out for those ears: droopy ears are a sign of ageing that's hard to disguise
It’s not just sagging brows and crows’ feet that make us look older. Over time, our eye colour appears to fade and our eyes sparkle less.
According to Emma Jones, consultant ophthalmologist at London’s Moorfields Hospital, the iris does not actually become less bright. However, the whites of the eye become more grey and bloodshot, so there is less contrast.
HOW TO FIGHT BACK: The problem is partly caused by our eyes becoming drier with age, which can be prevented by using over-the-counter eye drops, says Emma.
‘You can also stimulate oil production in the eyelids by putting warm compresses over the lids twice a day and massaging with a clean finger in circular movements behind the lash line.’
YELLOWING, LONGER TEETH
We really do get ‘long in the tooth’ — our gums recede over the years, meaning an average front incisor of 11mm can end up as long as 17mm in old age.
Our teeth also darken over time, says dentist Richard Guyver. ‘Many foods and drinks cause staining, especially red wine, curry, tea, coffee and, of course, smoking.
‘Gum erosion also exposes the brownish neck of the tooth. White shiny enamel on the outside becomes worn away, revealing yellow dentine underneath.’
HOW TO FIGHT BACK: Use dental floss and brush teeth in a circular, rather than up-and-down motion, to avoid wearing away gum tissue.
To lighten molars, get your dentist to recommend one of the many tooth-whitening treatments now on sale.
Even the slimmest women can find their ankles thicken into late middle age. It’s because our veins wear out and are not as efficient at pumping blood back to the heart, causing blood to pool in the lower leg.
The body’s waste removal — or lymphatic system — also slows down, which means fluids can pool in the lower half of the limb, creating an unflattering ‘sausage leg’ look.
HOW TO FIGHT BACK: If you want to do more than cover them with boots and trousers, try massage and dry skin-brushing to improve circulation and help disperse the build-up of fluid around the joint.
Cutting out salt from your diet — which makes the body’s cells retain water — also helps, as does exercise to improve blood flow.
Tough call: Madonna has spent millions on keeping ageing at bay but has been mocked for her wrinkly hands
Under the knife: Melanie Griffith (left) and Joan Rivers (right) are just two of the many stars who have turned to cosmetic surgery, botox and fillers in an attempt to retain their youthful looks
A WIDENING WAIST
YOU may still weigh the same as 30 years ago, but you’ll still probably struggle to fit into your wedding dress because your pelvis and hip bones widen over the years by as much as three inches.
Also, during the menopause, women tend to put on weight around the tummy because of the drop in oestrogen levels. We also become more barrel-shaped over time as our breasts start to sag, sometimes by as much as 17cm.
HOW TO FIGHT BACK: The key is to keep sugar levels constant and stress levels down, says Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of Fat Around The Middle.
She says: ‘Stress releases blood sugar into the bloodstream to provide energy for the fight or flight response. When this isn’t used, it’s stored as fat.’ And buy supportive underwear, particularly a good bra.
A LONGER NOSE
As you age, the cheeks lose fat and volume, making the nose stick out by around half-a-centimetre more. Gravity also makes the tip of your nose sag.
Santdeep Paun, head of ear, nose and throat medicine at London’s St Bartholomew’s Hospital, says: ‘Cartilage in the nose is joined with elastic tissue that weakens with time, and gravity begins to pull the nose downwards, making it look longer over the years.’
HOW TO FIGHT BACK: Using sunscreen will keep the skin on your nose strong enough to support the organ. Plastic surgery can lift the nose tip but so can special exercises, says Carole Maggio, author of Facercise.
Push your nose tip firmly with your index finger. Then flex it down by pulling your upper lip down over your teeth or pushing down on your nostrils. Release the lip — and repeat 35 times.
Carole says: ‘Feel the nose tip push against the finger each time — and a tingling feeling that will show you have boosted the blood circulation and tone in the area.’
DROOPY EAR LOBES
From our 30s onwards, our ear lobes lengthen by an average of 0.22mm a year, says a study in the British Medical Journal.
The reason is that collagen, the connective tissue in the skin, breaks down over the year, leaving the lobes — which are unsupported by bone or muscle — more vulnerable to gravity.
HOW TO FIGHT BACK: Apply sunscreen to the lobes to protect the collagen from damage, and avoid heavy earrings, which pull the ear down and stretch the skin. Plastic surgery can trim the excess — for about 1,000.
Unkempt: TV historian Mary Beard has famously frizzy hair but doesn't want to be judged on her looks
DRY, DULL, FRIZZY HAIR
It’s not just going grey that signifies ageing, it’s the rough texture and dullness of the hair, too.
Hair is at its peak in your early teens but then individual shafts slowly begin to thin meaning every woman will notice they have less volume in their 30s or 40s.
And as we age, circulation in the scalp also becomes less efficient and toxins build up in the hair bulb — an enlargement where the root of the hair ends. This impairs nourishment of the hair, causing snapping and split ends.
‘As we age, our hair begins to produce fewer melanocytes — or pigment cells,’ says trichologist Richard Spencer, of the Spencer Clinic in London.
‘This, together with the weakening of a follicle, will produce a white, thin and frizzy hair type. This pigment loss will also make hair less shiny because light gets absorbed rather than reflected.’
HOW TO FIGHT BACK: Have regular head massages, and use scalp-nourishing shampoos to unblock clogged hair bulbs — as well as regular trims to remove the driest, weakest ends of the hair.
‘For anti-ageing hair care, think of your hair in much the same way as your skin,’ advises trichologist Philip Kingsley.
‘Use an intensive conditioning treatment regularly, and shampoo and condition the hair frequently with good-quality products suitable for your hair type.’
As we age, our nails grow more slowly — probably because blood supply to the tips of the fingers becomes less efficient.
Dr Asim Shahmalak, of the Crown Clinic in Manchester and Harley Street, says the thickening of nails is caused by a build-up of cells under the nail bed. Over time, this coarsening will make the nail look less translucent and more yellow.
HOW TO FIGHT BACK: To speed the growth rate, regularly clip and buff nails. Quickly treat fungal infections that can turn the nail bed yellow — and always use a base coat when painting nails so it is not permanently stained.
Feet grow over the years because years of walking flatten the arches of our feet. After years of bearing the body’s weight, the connective tendons and ligaments lose elasticity and don’t hold the joints and bones together as well — feet increase by half a shoe size every decade over 40.
HOW TO FIGHT BACK: Keep your weight down to lessen pressure on feet, and avoid developing bunions, which will increase the size even more, by steering clear of high heels or ill-fitting shoes. Pick footwear with arch support.
By 70, you’re around 5cm shorter than you were in your prime. In childhood, bones grow and repair very quickly but from your mid-30s, they don’t replace themselves as rapidly and lose density.
With age, the bones start to lose minerals, mainly calcium, so vertebrae do not repair themselves as efficiently. As a result, bones start to shrink, compress and even collapse, resulting in loss of height.
Gravity also makes the 23 discs in between our vertebrae lose fluid and flatten out, bringing the bones closer together.
Women tend to shrink more because levels of the hormone oestrogen, which protects bone strength, fall after menopause.
HOW TO FIGHT BACK: To protect your spine, try non-impact exercises such as Pilates and yoga, which will build the supporting muscles and take the pressure of the vertebrae.