The most cruel of mashups, we often see the words “graceful” and “old” used together but can we truly age gracefully?
Sagging, balding, fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots…you name it. As you cruise over the hill, it all happens. I say Audrey Hepburn got it wrong when she said:
“…and the beauty of a woman, with passing years only grows!”
This brings up the all too real inconveniences of aging. Aging brings with it several unpleasant things that you just have to deal with, some worse than others. Incontinence, to name one thing, is a rather annoying thing that some people experience when they get older. But there is an awful, dreadful thing that’s much worse than these inconveniences. Sure, we lose a step here and there as we age, but it’s what we see in the mirror that is often most difficult to deal with. Losing our youthful looks, our younger looking skin, these are things we see and share with everyone around us, every waking second.
People that make their living on beauty, like TV producers, celebrities and the such, will tell you that youth and beauty go hand in hand and that beauty heads down the drain once you’ve hit your peak, especially for women. But what is this “peak” they speak of and is it the same for men and women?
A 2013 study performed by Condé Nast’s Allure Magazine and research consultancy Penn Schoen Berland found, among other things, that American men and women have similar views when it comes to aging. The research showed that when men were asked at what age a woman is most beautiful, they responded:
“…female beauty peaks at 29, while women give themselves a few more years, answering, on average, 31.”
Great. Peaking at 31 is not something you actually think about until you are about 31. By then, you might find yourself thinking about it a lot. The average American woman lives to be 86, so how exactly are we to deal with the signs of aging throughout the remaining 50 odd years? No matter how graceful we are, our age is progressively more obvious. Like paparazzi at a celebrity wedding, our skin is the first to spill the beans on how old we are. So what are we to do?
It’s what’s on the inside that counts
While we might like to control our appearance and our look as we age through sensible lifestyle choices, and the good news is that you can play some role in that, your DNA plays an undeniable part. With DNA, the old saying “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” has a solid basis in reality.
When a person ages naturally, also known as “intrinsic aging”, they experience an “inherent degenerative process”. From the very day that we’re born, intrinsic aging begins so we’re bound to display the wear and tear we age beyond young adulthood. Understanding this is one thing, but it is alarming to see just how fast our skin begins to give up on us. Some skin care companies will suggest that we attack the problem at its heart, at the genetic level using plant stem cells the way that Origins offers, or human stem cells, the way that Jeunesse Global suggests. This is just nonsense and I would like to see lab results showing not something like “the apperance of fine lines was reduced” but instead something saying that smearing stem cells on your face is making your skin healthier. Of course, that’s not happening because it isn’t something their products can really offer. But there are other areas to focus on, other ways to at least protect and help your skin along a more controlled and healthier progression as we age.
Collagen in products is another thing that is offered by skin care companies. This protein keeps skin firm and supple but it dwindles naturally as we get older and again this is partially determined by our genes. Less produced collagen means simply that our skin loses firmness and elasticity. According to global skincare brand Dermalogica “by the time we reach our 30th birthday, we will start to lose 1% of collagen with each subsequent birthday”. That’s me and billions of other women around the world, totally screwed!
But don’t go reaching for the collagen fillers and plastic surgery hotlines just yet.
Beauty is only skin deep
Fortunately, not everything about how our skin ages is down to genetics. That would be too simple. It would also put the blame completely on other factors, not how it is that we are caring for our skin. The truth is, there is a lot you can do. Environmental factors and what we do to our body in general, not just our skin directly, affect how our skin ages and the condition it is in at any one point.
Ultra Violet rays, smoking, pollution, or surface injuries are all factors. These are also known as “extrinsic aging” factors and good luck avoiding them altogether. Sadly, it’s just not going to happen.
A study by J Herschtal and J Kaufman found that as much as
“…85–90% of all cutaneous [ed. skin] aging is a direct result of these avoidable factors.”
Even if this is an estimate, 85-90% is big and gives us women a whole lot of hope! One of the worst things you can do to your skin is prolonged sun exposure. When it comes to skin in the sun, less is definitely more. Dermascope, the official publication of the Aesthetics International Association, warns of the effects of unprotected sun exposure, though almost any medical group commenting on the subject of skin would tell you the same thing:
“UV radiation is particularly damaging to the skin because it has been shown to not only increase levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), a particularly destructive free radical, but it also depletes the skin’s own natural antioxidant defense system.”
Then there is another common thing that many people do to slowly erode their skin. Few things are as bad for your skin as cigarettes. Cigarettes and nicotine simply restrict the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to your skin. That in turn means unhealthy skin and increased skin cell death. Leading professsional skin care website skininc.com contributor Jennifer Linder MD, dermatologist and micrographic skin surgeon, writes:
“Smoking is a major contributor to many skin conditions and complications, such as skin discoloration, ECM breakdown, deep wrinkling, premature skin aging, poor wound-healing and the formation of abnormal skin growths.”
You’ve probably always known it, but wearing sun block and not smoking are a couple sure fire ways that you can actually look better, longer.
Where did this idea for growing old gracefully come from anyway?
If growing old gracefully means staying young forever, it’s a fairy tale, like The Brothers Grimm or a Walt Disney story, these fantasies, especially including topical stem cell creams, tell us that beauty can be suspended in time with a spell, or a potion, or a wish. Well I for one really wish it was true, I really, really do and I’m not alone in that. That’s why there are so many lotions, potions, and magic formulas that promise to hold back the years, most making reasonable claims, others telling us lies about stem cell products and “ageless” effects (*cough* Jeunesse Instantly Ageless).
The truth stings, but there’s no such thing as Sleeping Beauty and no such thing as reversing your skin’s age! Dermalogica says it best.
“No matter what you hear, what you read, or what you want to believe, skin aging cannot be reversed.”
So that’s it, end of story. But as I’ve been hinting at, there several things you can and several things shouldn’t do to manage the signs of aging and keep the damage to your skin under control.
Number 1: Limit sun exposure
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (ADD),
“…the sun plays a major role in prematurely aging our skin”. Therefore limiting exposure to the sun can help reduce the visible side effects…You can protect your skin by seeking shade, covering up with clothing, and using sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, SPF 30 (or higher), and water-resistant.”
Number 2: Stop smoking
We can’t all be as cool as Mary Kate Olsen, dishing out cigarettes at her Hollywood wedding like candy. It’s worth remembering that they’re expensive because they get taxed as a penalty imposed by local and federal governments – and for good reason.
Number 3: Boost vitamin intake
Diet plays an important role in maintaining overall health and vitamins make a huge difference in your skin’s ability to produce beneficial results in the form of things like collagen.
Web MD states that
“antioxidants like Vitamin C and E, as well as Vitamin A and the B vitamin biotin, are particularly important for healthy skin.”
So, to have healthier, better looking skin, eat those five servings of fruits and veggies every day.
Number 4: Rest
A good night’s sleep goes a long way to your body doing its job of restoring your skin. Dr Mehmet Oz MD, swears by the fact that proper sleep is essential;
“when you sleep, your body repairs and renews itself. That process goes on at the cellular level in your skin”.
Number 5: Perfect your beauty routine
Washing your face regularly and then cleansing and moisturizing can go a long way in keeping skin supple. By gently completing these steps you’ll be able to clean away any impurities without irritating skin. What you’re doing is simple: protecting your skin from unnecessary damage. It just makes sense. There are thousands of products that you can use to supplement these efforts, just, as I keep saying, do not believe the lies that some companies put on their products!
Number 6: Use products with a pH close to 4.7
Steer clear of products that sting or burn, especially if they have a very high pH. The worst example of a product with a high pH is Jeunesse Instantly Ageless with a staggering pH 11.95. Jeunesse Instantly Ageless is over 10,000,000 times more alkaline than your skin is naturally. Applying products with the wrong pH will dry out your skin age you prematurely! In the video below, you’ll see my test of Jeunesse Instantly Ageless which shows without a doubt that you must avoid it like the plague. Any products with a high pH are not for your skin, no matter what they are charging for it or what Disney like fantasy they are justifying it with.
Until next time…