Jan. 2, 2012 -- A woman's thirties and forties can be the most beautiful and energetic time of her life, says Dr. Jennifer Ashton.
Ashton, a co-host of the upcoming ABC show "The Revolution," has worked as an OBGYN for over a decade and is spilling her secrets about how women in their thirties and forties can look and feel their best. In her new book, "Your Body Beautiful," Ashton covers many topics like healthy eating, cancer prevention and beauty.
Beauty Secrets From Your Kitchen
When it comes to taking care of your face and skin, Ashton relies on natural products that can be found in the aisles of any grocery store, and recommends that all women do too.
"If you turn a bottle or a jar around and you cannot pronounce the ingredients, you should not be putting those things on your skin," she says.
Natural products are inexpensive, effective and safe. Safflower oil is a great overall body moisturizer and coconut oil is a natural face moisturizer.
"I use a jar of organic coconut oil for my face twice a day," she says. "It gets absorbed very well. It has a lot of antioxidants. It's a great facial moisturizer."
For hair care, Ashton opts for olive oil or coconut oil. "I grease it up like you wouldn't believe, put my hair in a pony tail or headband," she says.
Sugar is a good, natural exfoliator. Ashton makes her own exfoliator, mixing sugar, with a few drops of milk, and honey into a paste.
"You mix it with honey, the hydrator and then you get some acid from the milk," she writes.
You can also make a homemade facial scrub combining sugar, honey, milk and oatmeal. Mix it all up in a bowl and rub it all over your face. Leave it on for approximately 15 minutes, once a week, to boost skin's radiance, Ashton says.
Along with these natural products, women in their thirties can start using medical products that contain retinoids or peptides.
"Using retinoids and serums with peptides are like sending postmen to your skin to penetrate deeper layers. Retinoids are in a lot of over the counter products like Oil of Olay and L'Oreal," she writes in her book.
The same principles apply when it comes to what you eat.
"Not eating well can age you on inside and outside. You need to watch out for hidden sugars. Inside the cell they can cause metabolic damage that can show on your face," she writes. "Everyone knows sodas have sugar, most people don't know there is sugar hidden in fruit and vegetable juice. You don't need to avoid these drinks completely completely -- just be aware and don't overdo it."
Read an excerpt from Dr. Ashton's book, "Your Body Beautiful," below.
The Make-or-Break Years: Why Your Thirties and Forties Determine Your Lifetime Health
Not long ago, I spotted Jennifer Lopez at the grocery store. No, she wasn't waiting in line with me at a New Jersey Stop and Shop, waiting to pay for her kids' Pull-Ups. She was on the cover of People magazine's "Most Beautiful People" issue. I admit it: I couldn't wait to see who else made the list. As I flipped through, gazing enviously at the twelve gorgeous women in the issue, I noticed something shocking—and fabulous. Almost every single woman in those pages, with just a few exceptions, was in her thirties or forties (or even older!): J-Lo, forty-one; Sandra Bullock, forty-six; Dana Delany, fifty-five!
I was thrilled when I saw this—and it's not just because I'm forty two! It's because the world has finally realized something that I've noticed for years in my medical practice as an ob-gyn. Many, many of my patients look (and feel) much better in their thirties and forties than they did in their twenties. The truth is, if you treat your body right, your thirties and forties can be your strongest, sexiest, most beautiful decades.
Even better, the exact same habits that keep you healthy, strong, and sexy in your thirties and forties also lay the foundation for a lifetime of health and beauty, inside and out. It's easy to overlook what a monumental realization this is. For as long as modern media has been around, twenty-something women have gotten all the buzz. Everyone was supposed to look like they were under thirty. Even doctors weren't that interested in women after their late twenties, when they were theoretically done having babies (boy, that's changed!). After the last baby and before the first hot flash was a medical no man's-land, when doctors put their patients on medical autopilot and didn't pay much attention to their health.
But today, for the very first time in history, the world in general, and doctors especially, are realizing that the thirties and forties are transformative decades for women. I don't just mean that these can be a woman's most beautiful years (although that's certainly true). Today, women in their thirties, forties, and beyond have more energy, vitality, and success than younger women. Consider this: When Forbes published a list of the world's fifty most powerful women in 2010, the vast majority, from Michelle Obama to Oprah, were in their forties or older.
It's no coincidence that the world is finally recognizing the incredible power of the thirties and forties in women's lives. In the past few years, new medical research has shown that these decades are the make-or break years for health and beauty. If you're in your thirties or forties, you stand at a critical crossroads: You can put yourself on autopilot, because you're understandably preoccupied with work and family and too busy to pay much attention to your own health. Or, you can commit to building a specific set of habits, affecting how you eat, exercise, handle stress, and care for your skin, hair, and body. If you put in the work to develop these habits now, you can lay the foundation for a lifetime of health, strength, and physical and emotional beauty.
That's why I wrote this book. I want to take you step-by-step through a program to build the habits that will transform the rest of your life and keep your body beautiful, inside and out, for decades to come.
Excerpted from YOUR BODY BEAUTIFUL by Jennifer Ashton with Christine Rojo. Copyright (c) 2012 by Dr Jennifer Ashton. Reprinted by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.