If You Think 2020 Has Aged You, These Experts Say You Might Be Right

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The reflection in the mirror today might be a little different than the one in March—to be fair, we’ve seen some things this year. If you’re feeling like you look a little older, it’s OK, you’re not alone. The aesthetic experts we spoke to said there are a multitude of reasons why you might be looking and feeling this way, but thankfully we still have time to turn it around before the year ends. And if we don’t, that’s ok too, we’ve made it this far and all of these “concerns” are only temporary.

Video Vanity
In the last five months, “Zoom” went from a word we know to mean speed up, to the new way we communicate with each other on the regular. If one thing is for sure, video conferencing has made people pay more attention to their appearance. “We are spending more time than ever doing our work through a virtual platform. It’s quite simply a matter of having the opportunity to see one’s image through the camera lens,” says San Antonio, TX dermatologist Vivian Bucay, MD. “Add stress, changes in sleeping and diet habits, lighting issues, and bad angles, and you have the perfect recipe for an increased demand for minimally invasive procedures for perceived aging.”

Stress Effect
According to Bloomfield Hills, MI dermatologist Linda C. Honet, MD we may all be experiencing a great amount of stress due to the COVID era we’re living in, but for some it can manifest in our looks. “As if this stress in and of itself isn’t enough, it’s showing up on our faces,” she says. “We are frowning more, smiling less and feeling emotions we’ve never felt before for a very extended period of time, and at times there seems to be no end in sight.”

Added wrinkles, sagging and lackluster skin can give an overall more aged look in a short matter of time. “Simplistically speaking, the release of cortisol increases the circulating sugars in our bodies and results in these sugars binding proteins like collagen in the skin, making the collagen less functional,” adds Dr. Honet.  “Stress can also affect the skin barrier function, resulting in increased dryness and crepiness on the surface of the skin.”

Gray Hair 
If grays are creeping up, it’s probably only due to a dip in the frequency of hair color treatments. “Considering that people are probably going longer without coloring their hair, they are noticing a lot more grays,” says Nine Zero One hairstylist Sarah Klein. “When we’re used to coloring every four to six weeks, we often don’t realize how gray we really are or even see new grays that have appeared. So, having a longer time in between appointments is definitely going to be eye opening for those who are used to the consistent coverage.”

This doesn’t mean we’re producing more grays than before says Klein, it just means they are more visible. “This is a tough time for everyone for all different reasons, but I think we this can be a great time to embrace your natural beauty. Try not to stress about it and if it becomes too much to handle, there are some temporary root sprays that can help cover the grays or I suggest even contacting your hairstylist and see if they can provide you with an at home professional hair coloring kit.”

Soft Bodies
Stay-at-home orders and gym shutdowns around the country have led to a more homebody lifestyle for some. “The combined effects of less exercise and daily movement result in loss of lean muscle mass, reduced circulation and a sluggish lymphatic system,” says holistic nutritionist Jennifer Hanway.  “Add in a diet higher in sugar, carbs and alcohol—sugar is one of the key dietary drivers of premature aging of the skin—the combined stressors of this new normal, and a lack of restful, restorative sleep, it would definitely result in anyone looking older.” 

While turning it around may seem challenging, Hanway says it’s important and empowering to understand that by improving just one part of our holistic health routine we can synergistically improve the rest. “Eating a healthier diet will improve energy levels, meaning we feel more motivated to workout, which in turn leads to reduced stress levels and better sleep.”

Pressing Pause
Prospect, KY dermatologist Tami Buss Cassis, MD adds that a break in getting beautifying treatments can also create an accelerated aging affect. “When we were shut down for almost eight weeks, we were only allowed to do emergency appointments. That gap really made people aware maintenance is very real and important! If we don’t maintain our personal health, fitness and beauty routines, the person we are slowly becoming due to the aging process will stare right back at us on that FaceTime call.”

To turn back the clock, the experts we spoke to say the secret is in the bounce back.  “Our bodies make us resilient as a human race,” says Dr. Honet “And remember, if you’re feeling a little older, a little Botox, a little filler here and there and a little self-care are a good thing. Looking good makes you feel good, and each and every one of us needs to feel something to feel good about right now.”

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