There’s no shortage of guys who’d love to look a few years younger—but not nearly as many of us are prepared to go under the knife. If you’re among the plastic surgery averse, fret not: there are still a few things you can do to cheat Old Father Time.
The tips, tricks and wonder products below won’t entirely wipe your clock clean, but they will make some difference. And when it comes to looking younger, every little bit helps, right?
Forget the scalpel and say goodbye to the syringe—here are some totally non-invasive ways to give yourself an (almost instant) facelift.
Lose the Beard
Facial hair might make a man look distinguished and cover a variety of blemishes, but numerous studies show it’s also the quickest way to add a few years to your age.
In a 2012 paper published in the journal Behavioral Ecology, Australian ecologist Barnaby Dixson and Canadian psychologist Paul Vasey concluded that beards made men look “significantly older” than they were. Another arguably less scientific survey published in The Daily Mail two years later found that a full beard can add—wait for it—up to 10 years to a man’s actual age, while a mustache adds five and a goatee four. Message? You shave, you save—a few precious years anyway.
Get a (Fake) Tan
A sun-induced tan might be skin’s worst enemy (UV rays are responsible for the bulk of premature aging) but a fake one is a man’s best friend. “Using self-tan makes skin look younger by evening out shadows, hiding dark circles and pigmentation and generally making skin look healthier and toned,” says self-tan expert James Read, who’s tanned more celebrities than the Californian sun. Most tanning products take hours to develop, but Read’s Instant Bronzing Mist is slightly tinted, so it offers a little color straight away, while a deeper color develops later. (Ryan Reynolds is a big fan apparently.)
“With guys, less is always more,” says Read. “You want to build your tan up gradually, rather than going all out.” For perfect results, he suggests gently exfoliating skin first with a scrub (we like Patricks’ FS1 Crushed Diamond Face Scrub) and applying a thin layer of moisturizer before your tanner.
If you need to shave on the day of tanning, he suggests rubbing an ice cube over the skin after shaving, to close pores, patting dry with a tissue and only then applying the tan. He also has a great tip for knowing when you’ve reached ‘peak tan’. “Taking a selfie with your phone, with the flash on, is a great way to see what your color is actually like,” he says.
Get Your Brows Done
Apart from asking for music to be turned down in bars, few things age a man quite like errant eyebrows. Leave them to get bushy or ignore the strays and you may as well write ‘Mr. Burns’ on your forehead.
A tidy brow, subtly shaped from underneath, on the other hand, opens up the whole face. “It’s the equivalent of a non-surgical facelift and can make a real difference,” says makeup artist Luke Stephens, who’s no stranger to primping men’s eyebrows for celebrity photoshoots.
If you’re a novice, think about a professional eyebrow shaping to begin with (many brow bars now offer their services to men, though make sure you opt for one like Sania’s Brow Bar in New York, which has experience giving guys natural-looking results). It’ll set you back around $75.
Depending on how bushy your brows are and how fast your hair grows, you may need to see a professional as frequently as once a month. Keep your brows in check between appointments with the right tools, like Tweezerman’s Brow Grooming Kit
To pluck, use the tweezers to grab one hair at a time (get as near to the base as of the hair as possible) and remove using one quick movement, in the direction of hair growth. “Try plucking after a shower,’” says Stephens. “That way, the steam will have helped soften skin and hair and the hairs will be slightly easier to pull out.”
Finish off by brushing them into shape with a product like Tom Ford Men’s Brow Gel Comb. Not only does it help shape your brows, but it also contains a universally flattering hint of color to give them definition too.
Protect Your Neck
We’re so focused on our faces that it’s easy to forget our necks often need a little TLC too. “The skin on the neck is thinner and endures a lot of mechanical stress from being engaged in facial and upper body movement, so it’s worth including it in every step of your skincare regimen if you want to minimize prematurely aging,” says Evans.
Give yours a five-minute daily work out with Dermalogica’s innovative Neck Fit Contour Serum which, as well as using ‘Flex Lift Contour Technology’ that acts like an invisible mesh to immediately tighten skin, uses a metal roller delivery system to massage the skin, increasing blood flow and lymphatic drainage. “Research on mechanobiology shows a positive response from the skin at a cellular level to the physical ‘stress’ applied during massage with a tool,” says Evans. StiveVectin’s Tightening Neck Serum Roller works in a similar fashion.
Apply a Filter
We all know how applying filters to our Instagram pics can iron out wrinkles and eradicate imperfections. And to a certain extent, you can do this to your face, too, thanks to products that use blurring technology and light-reflecting particles.
“These work by manipulating light and how it bounces off the skin to give the illusion of an even tone and radiance,” explains Victoria Evans, education manager at Dermalogica. “When you have uneven skin tone, darker and drier areas of skin will absorb light making it look flat and dull. The smoother the skin’s surface and the more hydrated it is, the more light will naturally reflect evenly and the more youthful it’ll look.”
For an instant ‘blurring’ effect try Lab Series’s Instant Filter Moisturizer which instantly corrects redness, evens out skin tone and acts a bit like a real-time digital filter for your face, and products like Ole Henriksen’s Wrinkle Blur Bakuchiol Eye Gel Crème. They won’t make your face look like a Pixar character, but we see that as a bonus.
Try a Sneaky “Instant” Fix
There are few true topical alternatives to cosmetic surgery. If there were we’d all have skin like college sophomores. There are, however, numerous ‘instant fixes’ whose skin-tightening ingredients use a web-like matrix that sits on the skin and smooths fine lines as they dry. Skin Doctors Instant Facelift and StriVectin’s Hyperlift Eye™ Instant Eye Fix both work in this way and tighten the skin in minutes. They can’t perform miracles and the results are strictly temporary, but they’re handy if you want to look a little better in profile pics or family photos.
If All Else Fails, Try Makeup
In many respects, the skin on a man’s face is a bit like the paintwork on his car: the more scratches, dents and visible rust patches it has, the older it tends to look. The solution? Disguise tell-tale, age-related imperfections like uneven pigmentation, broken capillaries and dark under-eye circles with one of the growing number of cosmetics aimed at men.
A key weapon in your anti-aging armory should be a concealer. “They’re the jack-of-all-trades in your kit bag and the most versatile makeup product out there for guys,” says War Paint For Men founder Danny Gray, who says that a large portion of the brand’s customers is guys in their 40s wanting to look more youthful on Zoom calls.
Their War Paint Concealer comes in shades to suit all skin tones and can be applied with a fingertip or blended in with a Face Sponge.
“Apply in natural daylight if you can as this not only gives you the most accurate reflection of your face but also makes it easier to see when something isn’t fully blended,” he suggests. Tom Ford For Men’s Concealer is good, too, as is Stryx’s Concealer Tool, while Boy de Chanel’s Concealer comes in a whopping eight complexion-correcting shades. If you’re still nervous about the concept of makeup for men just think of it as, you know, camouflage.