Dear Scott: My friends are my age, and they all look better than I do. They all get Botox, color their hair, and I havenít done anything.

I had decided to grow old gracefully, but if age is a state of mind, my state has seceded from the union.

Iím turning 60 years old in a few weeks and could use a few ingredients to the recipe to looking younger. I want to feel good about myself again.

Iím willing to do whatever it takes to fight this battle on the front lines and win. Do you recommend Botox?

Answer: There is a joke, ďIf you want to look pretty, hang out with ugly people.Ē Within every joke is always a glint of truth, or it wouldnít be funny.

Now that you have made the decision to enhance your appearance, hanging out with attractive people could prove to be helpful.

Your friends will be more than happy to give their opinions on what steps to take for the enhancement of your outward appearance.

Although the topic of Botox and other cosmetic enhancement procedures does come up often in the salon, I refrain from giving any advice on the subject.

Not only am I unqualified to give advise on the subject, there are so many new procedures available that itís mind-boggling.

Itís best to seek the advice of a physician educated in the field who can give you the pros and cons on the subject.

You can also search the subject of cosmetic procedures and physician reviews online before making a consultation appointment. Your girlfriends could probably lend a hand in a referral, as well.

Itís also good idea to make a list of questions before your visit. By doing so, it will allow you to make the most out of your consultation, and you wonít forget anything.

As a hairdresser and image consultant, my job is to do just that, enhance your exterior projection. You will absolutely feel better when Iím finished. But thatís just another ingredient to the recipe.

In the meantime, you might want to try looking and feeling better, and appearing younger, by using the power of your incredible mind.

There are chemicals hiding in there designed specifically to enhance the feeling of higher self-esteem and promote a better sense of well-being.

A good recipe always has a few essential ingredients. If you want to feel good about yourself again, the complete recipe starts with a happy, healthy, enriched noodle in the mix.

Here are a few suggestions that will help your exterior appear more youthful by using the power already available within your very own brain.

Make yourself laugh

This is funny stuff you wrote. ďIf age is a state of mind, my state has seceded from the union.Ē

And when asking about Botox, ďIím willing to do whatever it takes to fight this battle on the front lines and win.Ē

You are a funny person. Itís hard to tell in an email if you intentionally used all those puns. If you did, youíre funny. If you didnít, youíre even funnier.

That you are able to take a serious issue of self esteem and make us all laugh about it, already gives you the first ingredient for the perfect noodle needed for the recipe to looking younger.

Heavy laughter creates an exhaustion of the abdominal muscles; ďI laughed so hard my stomach hurts,Ē this in turn produces an increase of the release of endorphins in the brain normally associated with exercise.

There is another positive side effect to this increase of endorphins. Pain tolerance is significantly improved too.

So I have to say it, laughter truly is the best medicine.

Go hug somebody

Thereís a reason a hug makes us feel better.

Studies show that when we hug another person the brain releases oxytocin, better known as the love hormone.

Oxytocin plays an important role in both human and animal bonding. It is an essential hormone required for the development of trust building, and the cultivation of a truly empathetic individual.

Just a quick hug wonít do it. Studies report there should me a minimum of three to six seconds for the chemical to become activated.

It other words, it takes a few seconds to actually connect with another personís energy.

Try not to count one thousand, two thousand, and three thousand when giving your hug. Instead, relax and absorb the moment.

During one of my own undocumented, unapproved studies, I found that three seconds is the perfect amount of time to give and receive a hug. I found the hug to be an extremely valuable use of a very short period of time.

I also found that six seconds can get creepy.

Compliment somebody

Studies have proven the impact negative comments can have on people that normally would feel healthy and happy.

When confronted throughout the day with negative comments such as, ďYou look tiredĒ or ďAre you feeling OK today?Ē the exact same individual who started the day off feeling in good health becomes convinced they donít feel good anymore exhibiting flu like symptoms by the end of the day.

To the brain, receiving a compliment is as much of a reward as being given money. It has been discovered that the same area of the brain, the striatum, is activated when rewarded a compliment as presented with cash.

The positive effects of a compliment became evident to me personally when one of my male clients asked my age on a day that I wasnít feeling very well. We are close to the same age and he was apparently looking for some emotional support.

I believe there is a natural tendency to stereotype others by their age. In an attempt at preventing this automatic categorization, Iím a hairdresser that tends to beat around the bush on the subject.

I told my client, ďToday Iím not feeling very good. Iím 85.Ē After a pause he answered, ďWell, you look great for 85.Ē Odd as it may seem, I felt better the rest of the day. Even weirder, I think he did too.

Complimenting others has been proven to have beneficial effects on your own inner well being. Positive reinforcement initiates an intimate bond between two people where positive energy is passed from one person to another.

Simply put, when you take the time to make someone else feel good, it makes you feel good too.

Scott Terwilliger is an Aiken salon owner and Master Colorist. He can be reached at 803-979-2126 or for questions or comments.