40 Ways to Look Better After 40
A better-looking, more confident you starts now.
Men and women alike are delivered the same message about getting older so frequently that it’s impossible not to internalize it: As your age increases, your looks go in the opposite direction. The truth, however, is that there’s no age limit on looking good—in fact, as you get older, you might just find yourself feeling more confident and more attractive than ever. However, if you haven’t reached that pivotal point of self-acceptance yet, read on to discover how to look better after 40.
No matter your age, looking happy can make you seem more attractive and approachable. However, after 40, that gleaming grin really starts to work its magic. It can even make you look younger: A 2016 study published in PLoS One reveals that individuals who smiled in pictures were perceived as more youthful-looking than those making sad or neutral faces.
Cut your hair.
While many people associate shorter hair with a more mature look, keeping your hair super-long may actually be adding years to your appearance. As we age, our hair tends to get drier, more brittle, and more prone to split ends, meaning the longer your hair, the less well-kempt it’s likely to look.
Tone down the branded clothing.
Trying to look younger by wearing logo-heavy clothing will only backfire in the end.
“If your T-shirts have brand names written across the chest, it's time to get rid of them. Same goes for sports jerseys and other items that ‘say’ a lot. Keep it simple,” says Patrick Kenger, founder of PIVOT, a men’s image consultancy.
Get clothing you’re comfortable in.
Life is too short to wear clothing that pinches, pokes, or makes you feel miserable. A little comfort can go a long way toward making you feel more attractive and confident, so go ahead and wear clothing you feel good in.
Beauty after 40 starts from the inside out. Staying hydrated can not only improve the health and condition of your skin, a 2016 review of research published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition suggests that well-hydrated individuals may have an easier time maintaining a healthy body weight.
Skip the drying skincare products.
Skip that drying skincare routine you used on your acne-prone teenage skin and you'll look better in no time. “By 40, we are in desperate need of a really great skincare regimen,” says licensed cosmetologist Shreeda Tailor, owner of J. Tailor Salon in Houston. “Products that help add and retain moisture are really important…Use a mild cleanser that won’t strip moisture, use heavier moisturizers at night so you wake up to supple, glowing skin, and lock it all in with a hydrating toner.”
You already know that smoking’s bad for your health, and it’s pretty terrible for your appearance, too. A 2014 study by researchers at Osaka University found that smoking significantly increased the appearance of skin aging. So there’s no time like the present to quit.
Wear red clothing.
Give your wardrobe a pop of color and you might just look better in the long run. The results of a 2010 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General reveal that those who stood against a red background in pictures or wore red clothing were perceived to be more desirable and had an increased sense of status.
Take up distance running.
While staying active can make your body more toned, if you want to look more attractive to a potential partner, try swapping those sprints for distance runs. A study published in PLoS One reveals that male distance runners were more attractive to women—theoretically because of an evolutionary link to hunter-gatherers.
Keep an eye on your body language.
If you want to appear more approachable and attractive, start by monitoring your body language. Crossed arms or keeping your hands on your hips can make you seem defensive or angry, but a more casual stance can disabuse others of that impression.
Stand up straight.
Want to make yourself look instantly more attractive? Practice good posture. A 2018 study published in NeuroRegulation reveals that individuals who adopted a more upright position felt more confident than those who were slouching or hunching—and when you’re projecting confidence, you’ll look more attractive in an instant.
Swap out your glasses for contact lenses.
If you want to look younger and more attractive after 40, try swapping your glasses for a pair of contact lenses. A 2011 study published in the Swiss Journal of Psychology confirms what grade-school bullies have long insisted: Glasses make people look smarter, but less attractive.
Or choose rimless glasses.
If you do choose to keep your glasses, however, try a rimless pair instead of your usual thick frames. The same 2011 study reveals that rimless glasses made wearers look more trustworthy without decreasing their perceived attractiveness.
Take care of your neck.
Neck skin tends to lose elasticity and show signs of aging faster than other parts of the body. Take care of this delicate skin by incorporating a neck moisturizer into your regular skincare routine and you have the potential to reduce crepiness and avoid dry skin and irritation.
Get a pair of great dress shoes.
Eager to adopt a more stylish look? Start from the bottom up. “Men over 40 should wear respectable shoes. If you still have square-toed shoes with a rubber sole, we need to swap those out for something proper,” says Kenger. “A deep brown oxford will do the trick here and work for a variety of occasions. Look for something Goodyear welted. Don't let the break-in period scare you—they'll be surprisingly comfortable afterward.”
Use sunscreen daily.
Keeping your skin protected with a little SPF can majorly improve your appearance—and confidence—especially as you age.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology reveals that, among identical twins, those who used sunscreen regularly had fewer signifiers of age than those who were less diligent about mitigating the effects of UV rays.
Whiten your teeth.
Break out the Whitestrips! A bright, healthy smile can make you look better in no time. A 2012 review of research published in the Open Journal of Stomatology reveals a significant association between healthy, well-aligned teeth and attractiveness.
Play up your facial symmetry.
A 2011 review of research published in the journal Philosophical Transactions B reveals that symmetry is highly correlated with perceived attractiveness. Even if your face isn’t perfectly symmetrical, employing a few tricks to make it appear so can make you look more attractive in no time—like moving the part in your hair, for example.
Put on some red lipstick.
Just because you’re over 40 doesn’t mean your makeup needs to be a sea of beige. According to a 2017 study published in the journal i-Perception, red lipstick, thanks to its contrast with a person’s skin, can make them look more attractive and youthful.
Keep your accessories age-appropriate.
Don’t overdo it with the accessories if you’re over 40—just a single statement piece can make you look instantly more polished.
“Keep the jewelry minimal,” says Kenger. “Stand out in a more favorable way for your age by working in a great watch or two. A good watch should be your go-to accessory. Have one for dressier occasions and one to pair with your casual attire.”
Get a well-made suit.
Want to stand out after 40? Get a beautifully-tailored suit that fits you like a glove.
“Nothing makes a man look better than a suit that fits him correctly,” says Kenger. "The way a suit accentuates the shoulders and cinches the waist can create the appearance of a very attractive body shape."
Eat more fruits and vegetables.
Eating your fruits and veggies does more than just keep you healthy. A 2012 study published in Evolutionary Psychology indicates that skin pigmentation associated with the consumption of fruits and vegetables made people appear healthier and more attractive.
Keep some stubble.
Don’t break out the razor if you’re trying to look better after 40: According to a 2016 review of research published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, light stubble was rated as the most attractive type of facial hair on men by women.
Or go for a full beard.
However, a well-kempt beard can go a long way—especially if you’re hoping to appear attractive to members of the same sex. A 2013 study published in Evolution and Human Behavior suggests that bearded men were generally perceived as more masculine, and were ranked as more attractive by other men.
Don’t try to disguise your shape.
While your body may not look the same as it did when you were in your 20s, that doesn’t mean you should forgo fitted clothing in an attempt to disguise your shape. Opting for exclusively loose pieces has the tendency to make people look heavier, not thinner, anyway.
Let your brows grow in.
“A full brow is very youthful and frames the face,” says Stephanie Jones, a licensed esthetician and owner of The Blushery in Beacon, New York. “As we age our brows start to thin out, lose color, and lay flat. Fluff them up with a brow pencil, powder, or pomade in a matching color using hair-like strokes to lightly fill in sparse areas.”
Science even backs the cultural obsession with Brooke Shields-like brows: A 2017 study published in Frontiers in Psychology reveals that high facial contrast—like a face with full, dark eyebrows—was perceived as more attractive.
Get rid of that ring of thinning hair.
Losing your hair? Instead of clinging to the few strands you have left, shave it all off and you’ll look more attractive in no time. While some people incorrectly assume that bald men are viewed as less attractive, a 2012 study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science reveals that men whose hair was digitally edited out of photos were perceived as taller, more dominant, more masculine, and more confident than they were with hair.
Trim those stray hairs.
“Take care of your grooming,” suggests Kenger. “Men will often neglect some of the strange body hair growth that happens after 40. Getting a proper grooming tool that can trim your beard along with your nose and ear hair is essential and should be used regularly.”
Try colored contacts.
If you’re eager to freshen up your look after 40, try a pair of colored contacts on for size. A 2011 study published in Evolutionary Psychology suggests that a darker limbal ring—the area where the iris meets the pupil—is an indicator of youthfulness and attractiveness.
Tend to your roots.
While ombré hair may have had its moment in the sun, if you’re over 40, having visible roots isn’t doing you any favors. However, if you don’t have time to hit the salon every few months for a touch-up of your color, try covering that growth with a root touch-up spray. Better yet, simply embrace the gray—plenty of people are paying good money for that color these days!
Add some muscle.
Make sure you don’t pass by the dumbbell bench the next time you hit the gym. According to a 2007 review of research published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, men with a moderate amount of muscle were perceived as more attractive to women. However, too much muscle may have adverse results: The same review revealed that women were more likely to view highly muscular guys as less committed in relationships.
Add eye cream to your daily routine.
Making eye cream a part of your regular routine can stave off some of the early signs of aging, making you look more refreshed in the process. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology reveals that, after just four weeks of treatment, eye cream users improved the smoothness of their eye areas and reduced the depth of their wrinkles.
Use a light hand when applying makeup.
A little bit of concealer and powder may help you tone down redness and broken capillaries, but don’t go overboard with your foundation after you hit 40. “It’s common to try to cover and conceal signs of aging with heavy foundation. But too much coverage looks unnatural and settles in lines, making them more noticeable,” says Jones.
Even if your skin is still relatively line-free, according to a 2016 study published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, women wearing less makeup were typically ranked as more attractive than those wearing a full face of products, anyway.
Or have it applied professionally when you can.
Have a big night coming up? Splurge on a professionally-done makeup look if you can, or have a friend with a knack for applying products lend you a hand. According to the same The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology study, when ranked by attractiveness, women who had their makeup professionally applied fared better than those who had made themselves up.
Make sure you’re using makeup that’s right for your skin type.
Those cosmetics you used in your 20s might not be the right fit for your aging skin, so consult a professional and find out what formulas are right for you.
“The key with any look is to make sure that the products directly on your skin are exactly what your skin needs,” says Tailor. “A moisturizing foundation may be necessary for your skin but if you are craving a matte look, layer a mattifying setting powder instead of using a matte foundation which could dry skin out.”
Focus on your eye makeup.
Don’t have time to make up your whole face? Sticking to a single area—specifically your eyes—may make you look better in the long run. A 2015 study published in Evolutionary Psychology reveals that makeup that increases facial contrast around the eyes, like that achieved by eye makeup, can increase a person’s attractiveness to others.
And make sure you use a primer, too: “Eyelids are very thin, and as we age they, become slightly transparent, revealing different vascular color tones," says Jones. "By applying a thin layer of eye primer from the lash line to the brow bone, we are evening out the skin tone, which instantly brightens and opens the eyes. Plus it will hold eye makeup in place for hours without any worries of smudging."
Emphasize your lashes.
Whether you’re opting for a lengthening mascara or splurging on eyelash extensions, emphasizing your lashes can go a long way toward making you look better after 40. Longer, thicker eyelashes can make your eyes look bigger and more refreshed, so don’t be afraid to play them up.
Use age-appropriate hair products.
Your skin isn’t the only part of your body that can show signs of age—your hair does, too. “Hair ages with us so having the right products to support your style is important,” says Tailor. “Whether you color, highlight, or rock your natural shade, make sure your hair care is reversing the clock on accumulated damage.”
Embrace your hair’s natural texture.
As hair ages, it gets more brittle and prone to breakage, meaning it might be time to ditch those high-heat hair tools once and for all and embrace your natural texture. “Healthy hair is show-stopping,” says Tailor. “Take care of it!”
Love your body the way it is now.
If you want to look better after 40, that doesn’t have to mean undergoing a major makeover. Instead, play up your assets and try to embrace the way you look now—not how you wish you looked. If you’re confident about your appearance, you’ll not only feel better, you’ll look better, too. And to make the most of the years to come, start with these 40 Amazing Habits to Adopt After 40.
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