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How to keep your complexion glowing in the midlife
Hello! We’re back from our amazing adventure in Transylvania and I have so much to tell you. However today I must crack on and catch up with the work that I’ve missed so I’m forcing myself to stay away from the photos until I have more time. In the meantime, I have a post about how to keep your complexion glowing in midlife. I’ve been putting it together since I included this picture a couple of weeks ago and was bombarded by very kind questions both here and on Instagram asking me if I was doing anything different to my skin. Since then I’ve been thinking hard about any tips I can share. I’m testing a couple of new skincare products but it’s too soon for them to be showing results so instead, I thought I’d go through the fundamentals. I don’t do peels or fillers or anything intrusive but I do try hard to look after my skin.
The physical solution
It’s a cliché but I can’t stress enough what a difference sleep makes to midlife skin. If I get less than seven hours’ sleep, I age ten years the following day because the skin around my eyes can’t cope and I get huge eyebags. This is no exaggeration – if you saw me today or if you watched any of my Instagram Stories from Transylvania, you’d see the proof. Whenever I look around at friends I know well, I can see that poor quality sleep is the biggest factor in terms of glow. Of course perimenopause affects sleep terribly. Even if you aren’t having night sweats, you’re likely to have interrupted sleep.
I’m doing a lot of research on menopause at the moment for something else I’m working on and I’m going to do a few more posts on it on Midlifechic. Until then, I will say the same thing to you as I do to my friends. If you’re struggling with perimenopausal symptoms such as poor sleep, it must be having a huge impact on your enjoyment of this part of your life so have a serious think about HRT. As I heard a doctor describe it recently, if you had an underactive thyroid, you wouldn’t hesitate to take thyroxine. However when women’s bodies suddenly withdraw from oestrogen after 40 years, there’s a belief that they should just battle on without rebalancing the process.
Obviously you need to discuss your own circumstances with a doctor but make sure you find one who knows enough about menopause. I’ve learned that menopause is barely covered during doctors’ medical training which is why a lot of them just don’t understand or sympathise with it. However each practice should have one GP who has taken the time to focus on it. Ask the receptionist which doctor has an interest in menopause matters.
My closest friend and I had radically different experiences with the same GP Practice. Unluckily for her, she had an appointment with a doctor who we now learn has a personal conviction that women should not take HRT and told her she just needed to soldier on. I had an appointment with a nurse practitioner who is my age and rolled her eyes when I told her my friend’s story.
Remember there is no badge of honour for suffering through this time of your life. We need to make the most of every moment we have and to do that, we need to feel our best. One of the best things about taking HRT for me has been getting my sleep back. I still do wake in the night feeling anxious sometimes but not very often. Sleeping well makes everything better, not just your skin.
Don’t groan! You’re not going to glow if you’ve stopped exercising. It’s really easy to get out of the habit, especially in winter but if you are, just grit your teeth and get through the first six weeks. When you reach the other side, you won’t look back. I’m going to mention the GymCube programme that I’m using again. You may remember that I dropped a dress size when I was fully focused on it last autumn. In six weeks I changed from this (you can see that the dress is tight)…
…to this (where it is loose). By the way, this dress is now substantially reduced in the sale.
Of course then we went to Marrakech… and Christmas came along… and it all went pear shaped (quite literally). Anyway this was the rather desperate moment on 2nd January when my gym buddy (aka the middle son) forced me back to the gym. Yes I was sitting down and I hadn’t even started…
I’ve adapted my training for the new year and I’m now doing a longer workout at the gym twice a week plus a Pilates class. I’m then adding a couple of the shorter GymCube workouts at home. It’s getting results and it’s been great during the last few weeks when the weather’s been bad. I know my routine and I crack on with it.
On nights when I’ve exercised, I sleep better. I’m not a natural gym bunny (I’d much rather curl up with a book) so I struggle to find something I can stick to. GymCube is working for me again because of its adaptability – you have a huge menu of exercise options to choose from. It does mean that you have to invest some time up front deciding how to structure it to suit you and your life but once you’ve done that, it gives you a workable routine to stick to. In the interests of disclosure I should tell you that GymCube initially gave me free membership for a year so that I could trial it.
I usually eat healthily but I have made a change to my diet by adding a daily probiotic supplement. Last autumn I had a nasty tooth abscess which meant that I had to take double strength antibiotics for a week. It was such a heavy dose that after a couple of days I felt as though my entire digestive track was on fire. I researched it and quickly ordered some probiotics. They came as a month’s supply so I carried on taking them after the antibiotics had finished. I soon noticed that my tummy was flatter but I put that down to my sore mouth, assuming I must have been eating less than usual. When I stopped taking them, I was surprised to notice that after a week or so, my digestive system started to grumble again and my tummy puffed up.
I ordered some more probiotics and my tummy went down. I finished the bottle and promptly forgot about them… only to find that after a week or so, my tummy rounded out again. Just before Christmas I was contacted by ProVen who sent me some of their probiotics to test, my tummy went down again and I’ve been using them ever since. It isn’t as major as dropping a dress size but I can see the difference. The other thing I noticed was that when we all had norovirus over Christmas, Mr MC and the boys were all hit really badly whereas I wasn’t actually sick and bounced back quite quickly. I wonder if that is because of the probiotics too. I can’t say for sure but these are the probiotics that I was sent to review.
“ProVen Probiotics Adult Acidophilus and Bifidus – 25 billion is a high-strength friendly bacteria supplement for adults containing Lab4 – the most studied group of friendly bacteria in the UK. Shown to help with bloating, IBS and supporting the gut both during and following a course of antibiotics. It also contains calcium, vitamins C and D, zinc and selenium to help support digestion and immunity. All products in the ProVen Probiotics range contain Lab4 – a trademarked group of four bacterial strains that are one of the most studied groups of friendly bacteria in the world and the most studied in the UK.”
A pack costs £13.95 and you can buy them on a 3 for 2 offer from Boots or Holland & Barrett or directly from ProVen. When I was on their website I noticed that their range includes probiotics for women to help support the urogenital tract, often a problem area during and after the menopause. They have probiotics specifically for travellers too. I usually buy Yakult and make everyone take it for two weeks before we go on holiday to help prevent the legendary Turkish tummy. These sound like an even better idea – in addition to the probiotics they contain calcium, ginger, glutamine & aloe vera.
The topical solution
Skincare: Glycolic Acid
In order to glow, your skin needs to be polished and shiny which means you need to keep it exfoliated. I find glycolic acid to be the best topical skincare product to keep my skin glowing and I increase my use of it during winter. It’s gentler than a mechanical exfoliator and it prepares the surface of the skin for maximum absorption of any serums that follow. After experimenting with a few different brands over the years I’ve settled on two that I use alongside each other after cleansing. I’ve talked about Alpha H Liquid Gold before. This is the stronger of the two products and so I just use it twice a week. On the other days I use Pixi Glow Tonic which I find to be a bit gentler (perhaps because it’s alcohol free) but still very effective. It isn’t surprising that they’re both multi-award winners.
Skincare: Add oil to your moisturiser
I bought this Wonderglow when I had my make-up done at Charlotte Tilbury before my evening at Kensington Palace. I stopped using it for a while because I was looking for a primer that was designed to ‘fix’ my make-up and I didn’t find this to be effective for that. Since Christmas I’ve been applying it before the No 7 Primer that I recommended in my last beauty post. It does seem to add extra bloom to my complexion at this time of year.
The sartorial solution
Ok, I’m going to finish with an obvious statement here but wearing colours that suit your skintone makes a huge difference to how glowy you look. In the picture that everyone likes, I was wearing blush pink and warm greys which I know suits me. It’s taken me years to work out which colours have a good effect on me and in the end I had to work with my instinct. You may remember that eighteen months ago I went to see a colour specialist. I sat through the colour matching experience and completely agreed with her when she used colour swatches to define me as an autumn. Over the weeks that followed I started to buy more clothes in deep greens and rust but I just felt awful when I wore them.
As it happened, a few months later my sister decided to see someone different and have her colours done too. We look very alike and our colouring is identical. She was defined as a ‘Blue Spring’ and as soon as I saw her palette, I knew it was mine too. So, I sold a lot of my autumn coloured clothes here on Midlifechic and I now stick to the bright blues, reds and warm pinks that make me happy (and which I’d always been instinctively drawn to before). I guess what I’m saying is that deep down you probably already know which colours make you zing. If you want more guidance, read Iwon’twearsludgebrown because Donna is a trained colour consultant and often explains very carefully how to define what suits you.
By the way don’t forget to apply the same theory to make-up too. The right lipstick in particular makes a big difference. I tried the No7 match made service when I was at the ThirtyPlus Blog Awards
I bought some of the lipsticks that were recommended and they work really well for me. There is a match made app that you can download onto your phone and it will tell you which colours you should be wearing. I haven’t tried it but it might be worth having a play around with it.
So, it feels as though this has been a bit of a rambling post – I hope it’s been helpful. I’m tired. We didn’t get back until late last night and we have to be up at 5am every day this week because the middle son has volunteered to help with lambing at school. I’ve mentioned before that they have a working farm in the grounds and he is taking agriculture for one of his Sixth Form options. We’re amazed by how much he loves it. Every day he comes home with a story about tracking down an escaped goat or being the first to handle the new alpaca.
Last week he was a bit dishevelled when he rolled up in the office after school. You see one of the teachers was off sick and so he and a friend had been asked to take the feed up to the ewes. They are heavily pregnant and apparently it contains something that they crave so as soon as they saw the boys approaching, they came running at full pelt. Our boy being the bigger of the two climbed over the fence and herded them away from the gate so that he could open it. His more diminutive friend followed, holding the feed as high as he could above his head. It sounds like a good plan but the sheep weren’t fooled. They surged, lifting him off his feet and burying him in their attempt to reach the sack. He held onto it bravely until our boy dived in to rescue him – who’d have thought that all those years of rugby scrum training would actually prove useful? Just another school day in the life of our idiosyncratic middle son…
It was clearly a bonding experience though because those same ewes are lambing this week and the boy who usually hates getting out of bed is up at 4.30am every morning checking the webcam in the barn to see how they’re getting on. And yet on Sunday he is auditioning for the National Youth Theatre in Manchester… I do wonder when the direction he is heading in will be revealed! With that I will leave you because I must get on. It’s hard to believe that this time yesterday we were in a snowed-in chalet on the top of a Transylvanian mountain. We appear to have brought the weather back with us because it’s been snowing heavily all morning here too. Have a great week, I’ll be back on Friday.