So between Christmas and New Year, I turned 50, yes the big Five Zero. So does that now mean I am old, that I now need to start looking at retirement homes, caravans, walking frames and hearing aids? Of course it doesn't, unless of course I wished or needed to, which I can say I don't. It does however mean that my head of Grey hair is more age appropriate than when I started greying at 16.
Very few birthdays bring about a change in our lives, here in Australia, turning 18 does see things change, at 18 you have the right to vote, are legally considered to be an Adult, can now legally drink and buy alcohol and enter licensed premises such as nightclubs. Another example here in Western Australia is that at the age of 80, you are required to pass a medical examination each year to keep your drivers license. No such changes exist however for when you turn 50. Sure, it is a milestone birthday, half a century of living on our planet is as good an excuse to celebrate as any I have heard and so celebrate I did. A gathering of family and friends helped me to celebrate my Fiftieth and I had a wonderful time doing so. But nothing else changed.
I didn't for instance, change my choice of radio station, even though Triple J is a station aimed at the youth market of 16 to 25 year olds, I still like the same music I did the day before my birthday and the number of years since my birth wan't going to change it. I most certainly did not develop the urge to wear ill fitting cardigans and socks and sandals or any other ageist cliche. The reason being , is that nothing has changed.
It is my belief that with each passing decade, everybody ought to take a look at themselves and the way they are viewed by others, and your Fiftieth decade is no different. Now I am certainly not suggesting that you necessarily need to make any changes, but without taking time out to assess who you are and how others view you, it can be all too easy to come across very differently than how you think you do. Many of us have smirked upon seeing a Fifty something acting and dressing like a 20 something, a simple review of yourself each decade can prevent you being the one laughed at. A previous blog post of mine about my own review upon nearing 50 goes into a bit more detail on this.
So am I now past it?
Well you are, if you think that you are! But bear in mind that you can expect many more decades of life still to come. In Australia and the U.S. life expectancy is now between 78 and 84 years, so don't be in any hurry to feel old. Sure, we have aches and pains we never used to have but advances in medical science have seen ways to combat these. Anti inflammatory medications, surgeries like hip replacements as well as activities like yoga and exercise can see us lead active lives well into our Seventies. I for one still intend to be playing the occasional game of golf in my Seventies. I am no stranger to aches and pains and back and shoulder issues as my blog post An Ageing Body, Massages and Yoga details.
How can I not feel old when I look old? Well if it is your appearance that is making you feel old, then be realistic about your expectations and make some changes. Ageing is natural, but there are things we can do to help slow down the way it affects us. Obviously Diet and Exercise are important, the healthier and fitter you are the younger you will appear. One of the simplest things you can do to slow down the appearance of ageing is to drink more water. Buy a water bottle you like and keep it with you, sipping away and refilling it throughout the day. My personal water bottle is made of stainless steel and is insulated, it will easily keep my water chilled for 12 hours and its woodgrain appearance I think is rather stylish.
Another way to minimize the appearance of ageing is the use of a good skincare regime. I dealt with this on my blog 5 Essential Grooming Products For Your Face. The things to remember though are to look for products that are specifically designed for men and more specifically, men in their Fifties. Men's skin differs from that of women and so requires a differently formulated product, plus as you age your requirements change. You will be wanting to add more elasticity and vibrancy to your skin than you would when in your Twenties.
So I guess the thing about turning 50 is that yes, it is only a number, but no one cares what that number is as long as you yourself don't. If you feel old, make the changes that will leave you not feeling old any more, but ready once more to take on and enjoy all that life has to bring.The choice is all yours to make, yours and yours alone.
Grooming products for your face? Yes Guys, you need to establish a grooming regime and one that will at the very least incorporate these five essential products. By the age of 50, the signs of ageing will have started to become apparent, but I can assure you, that it is never too late to start a skincare routine.
In an ideal world we all would have started our routines in our early 20's, but for most of us, myself included, it was never exactly high on our list of priorities. We are all aware of the simple fact that our skin ages, this ageing process generally begins in our early 20's, a time in which our bodies slowly start a decrease in the natural production of things like Co-Enzyme Q10.
Having a few lines on your face at the age of 50, is not only to be expected but adds a certain amount of character and charm to our appearance, but a basic grooming routine enables us to slow down the degeneration of our skin, projects an air of someone who whilst comfortable with natural ageing, takes pride in himself , as well as makes us feel better about ourselves.
A couple of points before you raid your girlfriend's/wife's bathroom cabinet. The first thing to understand is that men's skin, differs from that of women. The first and most obvious difference is facial hair and our need for regular shaving.
However, as men, we produce more testosterone and this results in our skin being tougher and up to 25% thicker. So, rule number 1 is to use products designed for Men, the added bonus of course is that any fragrances used will be more masculine and wont leave you smelling like your Grandmothers garden.
The men's skincare Industry is growing exponentially and offers a great variety in both quality and pricing, but most women will tell you, don't automatically assume that the more expensive the product the better. Quite often the benefits of a product 5 times or even 10 times the price of another are so negligible that the value is simply not there.
Many of the products I myself use are what I shall call supermarket brands and as such are significantly cheaper in price than the high end brands. Of course you are free to spend as much as you wish, but if you are only starting your grooming regime, you may see the prices on some of the products and wonder how you can justify the expense and so simply give up on the idea of a skin care regime altogether.
The following product types are what I consider the basics,the products every man should be using. I will likely discuss additional products that I recommend using, in a future blog. But for now lets start with the basics, a starter pack if you will.
So lets begin with something that unless you posses a fully hirsute face, you will be familiar with. Shaving. I will begin by saying that I hate shaving, and generally only do so a couple of times a week. I can get away with this because one, I am single two, I quite like how I look with a few days growth and lastly, my job is not one whereby appearances are important.
I myself have sensitive skin and suffered for many years with regular and rather bad shaving rash. I would often have to apply a cortisone based cream just to eliminate the red raw rash and inflammation on my neck. This continued, until I discovered that using a shave oil, as well as a shave cream/gel provided the extra lubrication needed to eliminate shaving rash.
The issue with using a shave oil is that by its very nature it is oily. My neck was always oily, and my bathroom sink was always left with a thick oily residue, however as I no longer was suffering from an appalling shaving rash, I tolerated these inconveniences.
So what is the purpose of Shaving Cream/Gel? For the most part there are two tasks that it performs. The first is to hydrate the facial hair, which has the effect of softening it and therefore making it much easier for your razor to cut.
The second reason is to provide a cushion of lubrication to protect the skin against the friction of your razor blades. The end result is a closer and more comfortable shave,with less complications from shaving rash, ingrown hairs and infection.
With the exception of a few products on the market like shaving soap, this lubrication is done with either a shaving foam , a shave gel or a cream. All perform the same basic role and so it really does come down to a personal preference.
I personally prefer a gel as I find that the thick white foam does not allow me to see how well I'm shaving unlike the more transparent and thinner gels. After years of either shaving rash or oiled up bathroom sinks, I have discovered an Australian Premium Men's range that has a shaving gel that leaves me with no rash even without the use of oil.
Black Leopard Skin Boosting 2 in 1 Shave Gel Cleanser, is a premium product and so more expensive to buy than a supermarket brand, however I feel this to be one product where paying the extra for a premium product is worth it.
If you are anything like most men, you will either think using a Facial Cleanser is too girly or you have no idea at all what it is. A facial cleanser is exactly what it sounds like, a product specifically designed to clean your face.
So why use a specialist face cleaner rather than just soap? Well to be honest, you are better of removing that bar of soap all together, but for now I am talking about your face.
Part of your skins defense, is it's natural pH level of about 5.5. Which makes it slightly acidic, now regular soap is slightly alkali, which means using soap on your skin, especially your on face will change the pH level of your skin resulting in a neutral or worse still an alkaline pH, allowing bacteria and disease to take hold. We see the results of this with at best, minor blemishes and acne.
Your skin produces a natural oily substance called Sebum, which does a number of different things, it helps to maintain your skins pH, controls moisture flow both in and out of the skin, it aids in moisturizing your skin and it also acts as a protection against bacteria and disease. Soap however is too harsh a cleaner, ridding the skin of its Sebum.
Ironically, by riding your skin of this natural oil you are increasing the likelihood of blackheads and pimples. A Facial Cleanser on the other hand is pH balanced to match your skin and whilst it does a great job of eliminating dirt, grime and oils, it leaves behind an ideal amount of sebum, ensuring your skins natural defense is still intact.
Unlike my recommendation in Shave Gel, I have found the cheaper supermarket brands to be more than adequate and just as good as the premium branded cleansers. I have tried a number of different brands and including Primal Earth, Bulldog and Nivea Men.
Primal Earth is a New Zealand based company that produces a range of inexpensive Men's skincare products that use plant based ingredients and avoid harsh chemicals and artificial colours, they also proudly do not utilize animal testing.
Post Shave Balm
As a guy with sensitive skin, I know first hand the benefits of using a Post Shave Balm. However, don't get Post Shave Balms and Aftershave confused.
Aftershave is an alcohol based fragrance that will dry and inflame your skin whereas a Balm will soothe and moisturize your skin. Lets be honest, dragging a razor across your skin may well cut your facial hair but it aggravates your soft facial skin,leaving it exposed to bacteria and disease.
Most balms contain ingredients like Aloe Vera which helps to soothe and calm the skin as well as mild moisturizers and cleansers to clean and replenish your skins moisture levels. My sensitive skin has a tendency to flare up with shaving rash if I don't use a balm afterwards , even when using a great shave gel like Black Leopard.
Again my own experience has seen me using one of two products, Black Leopard After Shave Balm or the less expensive Nivea Post Shave Balm Sensitive.
Whilst the very act of shaving with a razor has an exfoliating effect, it is still recommended that we as men regularly exfoliate. Now it is important to note, that it is crucial that you use the correct type of product, that is a Facial Exfoliate designed for men.
You see that there are many exfoliates on the market that are designed for the body and hands, great products and the use of which I recommend, but not for your face. Exfoliates contain small sand like particles that act a bit like sand paper.
Products designed for the tougher skin on your hands and chest tend to contain larger particles often made from things like ground nut shells, whereas for your more delicate facial skin the particles are far smaller, smoother and much less abrasive. Think of them like car polish, instead of using a harsh Cut and Polish compound, use instead a light polishing cream. Both contain a fine grit but one is far more aggressive and damaging if used wrong.
Again, much like car polish, the job of an exfoliate is to remove dead skin cells ( or dead paint in the case of your car). By doing so, not only does your skin look fresher and healthier, but it is removing pore clogging dead skin and encourage new skin growth.
It is also important to note that this is not a daily routine, once or twice a week is all you need, any more than that and you risk doing damage to your skin. Because of its harsh nature, I would recommend buying a better quality product here, as they tend to contain a finer and smoother grit compound. A product like Black Leopard Hydrating Face Scrub is a good example of a premier quality scrub.
Some would say the key to maintaining your skins health and vitality is the daily use of moisturiser. Ideally you should be using 3 separate moisturisers, a moisturiser with a sunscreen after your morning shower, a heavier moisturiser at night before bed accompanied with an eye cream. The reality is most guys are not even going to consider doing that. I personally only use an eyecream and one type of facial moisturiser
A daily moisturising routine will obviously supply much needed moisture to your skin, the results of which are, smoother and softer skin, less obvious wrinkles and a slowing down of visible ageing. To be honest, you would be amazed at just how much better you will feel after a only a month or two, your face will feel less tight and you will look more alert. I can honestly say that you will be glad to add this to your daily routine.
As for what to get? first of all find a product you like, most cheaper moisturisers work primarily by using oils to prevent moisture loss, whereby most of the premiere products use ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid and Aloe Vera, which whilst expensive, help to draw moisture into the skin itself.
My moisturiser of choice is yet again a Black Leopard product. I do like their Anti Shine Moisturiser. However, I did not start out using it but began with a simple supermarket product. I found the Loreal Men's range to be quite good but like many moisturiser ranges there is quite a choice.
Moisturisers are often tailor made for differing skin types and ages. As a man rapidly approaching his 50's, look for products that say things like " age defying", it is not just marketing hype, but rather the products are designed with the differing needs of ageing skin.
The single most important thing to remember about moisturisers, is to use them on a daily basis, after washing your face with a good Facial Cleanser.
Unfortunately, as we grow older our bodies develop aches and pains that we scoffed at when in our 20's. For many years I have had the "pleasure" of enduring the occasional tension headache.
Today, was one of those days. I woke this morning, after a late night of live music and a few drinks, to a sore neck and a head that felt like it was in a vice, even the slightest of movements or bright light sent my head pounding and my stomach churning.
Whilst it is certain that my ageing body has made me more susceptible to such headaches, it is worth noting that, for the most part I should be able to prevent them from occurring or at least lessen their severity.
Tension headaches are perhaps the most common of all headaches and whilst the root cause may vary, the common factor is still the same, tension. So, it makes sense then to ascertain what the cause of any tension headache is so that it can be combated.
In general, a tension headache is caused by tension in your neck and shoulders, but what causes that tension can vary. Overuse of your neck and shoulders, poor sleep, especially with a poor mattress or pillow choice, extended time spent hunched over looking at your computer screen, smartphone or even a book. Other contributing factors include stress, anxiety, depression, bright lights or noisy environments.
In my case, whilst their may be several contributing factors, I find that if I get over tired and therefore sleep "heavily" I will often wake with a sore neck and a headache. Last night was a case in point, I did have a late night and slept very soundly after spending the evening, listening to loud music whilst hunched over leaning on a railing and having spent money on a number of drinks at the bar. (p.s. No! I wasn't hungover, but a few drinks coupled with a late night ensured a heavy sleep).
So aside from taking some anti-inflammatories, with food of course, what were my options? Well I could have spent the day moping around being a grumpy old man for the rest of the day, but that was not going to be very productive.
So I started with a hot shower and whilst any movement was unbearable, I performed some basic stretches on my neck and shoulders with the hot water on my back. Personally I always find that a hot shower followed by a good pot of tea, improves everything. (Pot of tea? See I am getting old. )
Whilst I did feel a little better , I was still not in any shape to hit the day running. My next step was to get out my tube of fisiocrem. Fisiocrem is a wonderful herbal solution that was recommended to me by two Physiotherapists and contains the like of Arnica and Calendula. I have found it more effective than any other over the counter product for use on muscle aches. This time however, like the shower, it helped but not enough for my liking.
My next approach was to jump in my car and head to my nearby shopping centre/mall, where there is a small shop offering massages. I feel certain that you are familiar with the type of shop I refer to, an Asian massage shop with curtained off booths offering a basic massage service.
I have been to this shop a number of times and whilst I know not to expect the quality deep massage one would get from a professional sports/therapeutic masseuse, I for one find them to be a good entry level massage. Rather than just getting a neck massage I chose the neck/shoulder and back massage. I did so as quite often, lower back issues can manifest higher up, resulting in neck and shoulder problems.
In this instance it was money well spent, whilst I still feel a little tightness in the neck, my tension headache has abated and I am feeling great. I firmly believe that such massage shops offer a good service, however I will make a point of saying that should your symptoms not ease, a trip to a medical professional, be that your GP or a qualified Therapeutic Masseuse is in order.
Of course prevention is always better than cure, so how do you go about preventing tension headaches in the first place? Well, for me I know that losing weight is always going to help, and that is a work in progress. However, exercise and stretching is perhaps the best thing you can do to prevent any muscle related ailments.
One of the best forms of exercise, both for combating tension headaches and simply for men in their 50's, is Yoga. For many guys, you will no doubt have the idea that yoga is for women and its not a serious form of exercise. On both counts I can assure you that is not the case.
I myself, over the past 6 months have attended a number of yoga sessions and have been surprised at just how intense even a beginners session can be. Plus, at none of the sessions was I the only male there. The attendees have all been of a wide variety of ages and of both sexes.
The benefits of yoga are many and varied, but improving your flexibility, your core strength and your overall fitness, are the most relevant here. It is also a good social gathering, which is always a bonus for us single men, who knows who you may meet.
There are many types and levels of yoga ,so I suggest you simply start with a beginner level. A quick search online or even a phone call to your local council should reveal a number of local yoga classes. Many gyms hold yoga sessions, with non members attending on a pay as you go basis.
Divorced and nearly 50 I rediscovered who I was.