Why you shouldn’t be afraid to bare your arms in midlife

Beauty routines throughout my life have focused on my face. And in summer, my legs. And feet. Every now and then, my hands would get a look in. So it comes as some surprise that now, what I notice most are my arms. 

Oh for those heady days of halternecks, vest tops, spaghetti straps and sleeveless dresses. When I could wear them without looking at my arms and thinking, ‘What they need is a cardigan.’

The reason arms lose tone as you age is that muscle mass declines naturally – approximately three to five per cent per decade after the age of 30, especially if you’re relatively inactive, accelerating as you get older. And lower oestrogen levels during and after menopause don’t help matters either.

Is there an easy fix? I’m not going to lie, doing a few tricep curls with a can of Heinz beans doesn’t mean you’ll be waving bye-bye to bingo wings faster than you can say two fat ladies (are bingo callers still allowed to say that?). Neither can you spot-reduce fat – you have to optimise your overall weight with a healthy diet and exercise and do strength work, in order to develop tone in specific areas.

However, there’s no doubt that since I’ve been going to Fight Klub, an exercise class that works the upper body as well as the lower, incorporating boxing moves, weight training and press-ups (which I modify by doing them against a wall because my wrists are weak), my arms are in better shape than they’ve been in a while. If you want to start – or switch up – an at-home exercise routine, visit a professional who can devise a programme and teach you how to do arm-strengthening exercises, such as overhead tricep presses, properly and safely.

Apart from muscle tone, the other problem with ageing arms is the texture of the skin. My elbows were looking like a rough whorl of wrinkles and my inner arms had that dry parchment appearance that reminds me of my mum’s arms when she used to bemoan them looking like my grandma’s. In this passing on of the age baton, I like to remind myself I’m fortunate to have lived long enough to notice collagen loss. Not everyone gets that lucky.

But I still want my arms to look better. That means using a body scrub, especially on the backs of the upper arms and the elbows, and I’ve been trying Biossance’s new Squalane + Enzyme Sugar Body Scrub (launching next month; £22, lookfantastic.com). The sugar crystals slough off dead skin cells, while pomegranate enzymes offer an additional exfoliative action.

Moisturising can help but you need to do it regularly, not just dip in on the odd occasion. I’ve heard positive feedback from many testers who plump for Sol de Janeiro’s Brazilian Bum Bum Cream (£46, cultbeauty.co.uk) and they’re not talking out of their backsides because, yes, you can use it on your arms. It’s packed with guaraná, an Amazonian plant that contains caffeine, which can have a temporary tightening effect, and cupuaçu butter, a particularly nourishing ingredient.

My personal favourite, however, is the new Firming Body Moisturiser from Olverum (£40). It’s a sophisticated lotion with collagen-supporting ingredients, and helped with my crêpeyness pretty swiftly. If you prefer an oil, the brand’s Firming Body Oil (£47.50) contains grapefruit and black pepper botanicals for toning – it absorbs well and leaves a nice sheen. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m slipping on a sleeveless number and leaving the cardigan on the back of the chair.


This week I am mostly…

Enjoying the limited-edition Onolla + Elixseri Fresh Start Duo (£129 for two serums), a reset programme for your complexion. Opening Act loosens and removes dead skin cells overnight, while Rescue Diver provides a wave of cell-plumping moisture.

Leave a Comment