I was listening to an interview with Kari Gran on the Formula Botanica podcast the other day and it really got me thinking about the way our society views the natural aging process as something to be ashamed of and disgusted by.
Here are my takeaways from the interview.
- Most of the bigwigs in the mainstream cosmetics industry are men.
- Anti-aging marketing and products are designed to make women feel ashamed if we're not doing our best to look younger, or at least trying hold back the visible signs of time on our skin.
- These anti-aging products are heavily marketed to women who haven't really even begun to age yet (I'm talking ages 18-36). So we're fed this aging paranoia from very early on.
- This kind of marketing has "normalized" the idea that women should seek out products that ‘turn back the clock’ in order to feel good about themselves.
- Many products are marketed as a high tech ‘fix’ for issues that are a result of our body's most natural processes - like stretch marks from pregnancy, or dry skin from menopause. Like there is something wrong with you, as a person.
Let's change the conversation, shall we?
- The podcast addressed how the natural beauty industry is shaking things up. Most of the bigwigs in this sector are women. So we owe it to all women to seek products that are outside the mainstream.
- It's completely okay to look your age - and your beauty routine does NOT need to be one of your top priorities. The best things that women over the age of 35 can do to improve the look of their skin are to drink lots of water and to start using a facial oil instead of lotion. You'll know when it's time to switch to an oil when after your lotion soaks in, you still have flakes. *raises hand* I'm there...I guess I'll be formulating one now!
- If you are under the age of 35, don't even bother with makeup, please. Just slap on a moisturizer with some SPF and get on with your day. I mean, if you reeeeally like a winged eyeliner, go for it. But just know that you don't need it.
- The kind of marketing we really need when it comes to our skin is what to avoid that speeds up the aging of our skin. Like stress, smoking cigarettes, yo-yo dieting and sun exposure (more about this below).
- Your beauty routine does not have to cost a fortune or be super-involved. And it should be more about achieving health than reversing "flaws."
Prevent Premature Skin Aging The Natural Way
How smoking affects your skin
If you're a smoker and you've never seen the study by Dr. Bahman Guyuron that compared 7 sets of identical twins (one who smoked, and one who didn't), you really should. Guyuron says, "Smoking reduces the collagen formation, results in collagen degradation and reduces the skin circulation. Additionally, nicotine reduces the skin thickness. All of these reduce skin elasticity and (cause) premature aging." The difference in skin health for these identical twins is clear:
Ready to quit smoking then?
How sun exposure affects your skin
Sun exposure is just as hard on your skin. Just look at these identical twins - one who admits to spending "as much time in the sun as possible" and the other who has aimed for as little sun exposure as possible. Full disclosure, the twin with the sun damaged skin was also a smoker for 16 years. But smoking doesn't cause sun spots.
For goodness' sake, wear sunscreen! Or at least a floppy hat?
Both of the above images are from Guyuron's study.
A few extra pounds doesn't necessarily make you look older
For women over 40, carrying a little extra weight can actually make you look younger! According to Dr. Rod Rohrich, M.D, professor of plastic surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, women need a body fat percentage of at least 15-25% to maintain facial fullness in their late 30s and early 40s. But don't think you have to aim for 15%! A healthy body fat percentage for women in their 30s is 20-24%, 40s is 23-27%, and for women 50+ it's 27-31%.
When your face fills out a little, the wrinkles get stretched out, so your face looks smoother. Additionally, yo-yo dieters who constantly lose weight and regain it are at higher risk for premature skin aging, because the constant stretching damages collagen and elastin fibers. So quit obsessing about your weight, ladies, and just replace some of the junk with vegetables.
Oh, and if you haven't heard it enough times already, I'll say it again - quit drinking soda (yes, even diet soda). According to registered dietician Deborah Orlick Levy, “Researchers have found that just one eight ounce serving of soda a day for three years could add almost two years of aging,” she says. “If you drink more than that, aging incrementally increases.”
Other factors that contribute to premature skin aging
- Excessive alcohol intake. According to Dr. Guyuron (mentioned above), the liver has a lot to do with both the quantity and quality of the collagen fibers. So it makes sense that stressing the liver with a lot of alcohol (or other toxins) would have an effect on the skin.
- Stress. Emotional stress can interfere with the way the skin barrier functions and contributes to oxidative stress (which can result in pigmented spots, wrinkles and skin sagging). Learn more here.
I know, that was a lot of information! But it was important information. So now, I'd like your input.
Please comment with your answers.
- How has the mainstream beauty industry's product marketing affected the way you see yourself or your buying habits?
- Have you made any changes to your lifestyle or skincare routine that has made a big difference in the health of your skin?
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