Outline & initial draft: Alex Raffanti
Final draft & editing: Sheetal Rawal
Aging is perceived as one of those very undesirable happenings. Given the push for perfect beauty and skin via media outlets, these days aging seems to be one of the worst things that can happen to us. Anti-aging is the way to go. The war is on. Against fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, grey hair and all the rest. This battle is very superficial though. How about we go deeper and assign a new meaning to the concept of anti-aging. How about we make it more about getting to the root of the issue and handling it there. At least we can reasonably hope to weaken the foundation upon which the epidemic of early aging of skin and body stands.
A small fib about one’s age could be just normal given the fear that age evokes. Appearing younger with makeup or sometimes even more drastic measures like plastic surgery is nothing unfamiliar. But what is it about aging that makes us so afraid? Is it simply a cosmetic issue about lines and wrinkles, or far more deeply psychological? Well, this question can open up a whole big discussion and debate, which may be out-of-scope for this article. But even shortly one might think that physical attractiveness (youth) is closely associated with romantic love. Youthful and healthy skin is a big part of being young and therefore as one gets older one might begin to lose the confidence of being attractive to others. Media and our social conditioning do absolutely nothing to fix this; on the other hand, this sense of apparent lack is only reinforced everywhere we look. This was just a little aspect where this discussion about wanting to look younger might take us. There are many others at play.
There is no practical way to stop aging. Insofar as the process goes. We started aging from the time we were conceived in mommy’s womb. So what? What is this all about then? All this noise about anti-aging and what have you. If we can’t stop aging why are there anti-aging products?
Now before delving further let me clarify one thing for you all. Aging is one thing and premature aging is yet another. Both exist; I wish the latter didn’t, but it does. While little can be done about stopping the process of aging or reversing it by decades at once (unless we discuss some secret and ancient esoteric methods like kayakalpa in Ayurveda; or if we take a futuristic view to see if a successful intervention aimed at a drastic reduction in the rate at which we lose telomeres in our DNA is possible) we can do an awful lot about premature aging. So for the sake of this article, let’s assume that anti-aging means reducing the rate at which our skin ages, and taking measures to reverse over time some of the symptoms like age spots, sagging skin, dullness etc. Or with constant practice of wholesome habits, reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles as well.
And I mean a lot of practical and easy lifestyle changes and cultivation of new habits can lead us to a point where can we actually look decades younger. Yes, you heard that right. I firmly believe in this possibility. But I also know that nothing so desirable comes without effort. So constant effort and a disciplined lifestyle is the key.
"I love how it exfoliates the skin and makes you look clean and fresh. I absolutely love this. I highly recommend this product."
In theory and on average it is believed that our skin begins to age at around 25! Yes! Now you are wishing you didn’t stress out as much in graduate school, right? That would have only contributed to it. I agree. It could have. Or about that job promotion or those worrisome thoughts that kept you up at night.
So before you fall for that new and latest anti-aging product, that on close scrutiny turns out to be filled with new and novel chemicals that have no data or statistics behind them, see what you can do at the level of your lifestyle. Asking thought-provoking and intelligent questions are the way to approach any doubtful situation. Should I pick a product made with time-tested natural ingredients (read awesome amounts of empirical data over 1000s of years), or should I try a new one that promises instant results? By the way, these instant results come with a slew of the latest lab-made synthetic chemicals that have no history behind them. The phrase “instant results” sends shivers down my spine. I loathe the deceptive confidence behind the phrase. It is a phrase that directly plays on people’s fears.
Here is a list of the top 5 things you can do to significantly reduce or eliminate the chances of premature aging. These are the top (and very easy) anti-aging secrets. What is even better, the appearance of existing lines and wrinkles can also be reduced as these habits are practiced.
1. Stay out of the Sun: Tanning your skin and staying out in the sun for hours is very damaging in the long-term. Sun’s UV rays are well known to cross-link DNA in our cells and this can cause cell mutations and serious issues like skin cancer. And the free radical damage due to sun exposure can cause early aging symptoms like fine lines and wrinkles, sun spots, dark patches and severe dehydration of skin. Wear protective clothing at all times and find yourself a great sun hat. Overall stay away from prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.
2. Exercise: Exercise is not only good for your body, but it is great for your skin! It increases blood circulation, which brings nutrition and oxygen into the skin. It is also known to boost your immune system and in turn, will also help fight signs of premature aging. The rate at which our cells shed can be prevented from becoming slow as our skin receives plenty of oxygen and other healing agents due to regular exercise. In addition exercising is known to increase the levels of those feel-good, anti-stress hormones in the body. Low stress means far fewer chances of premature aging. Ever heard this, “I was so stressed, I felt I looked 10 years older than my age.” Well, you get the picture.
If you need an anti-aging remedy for your skin, watch this video to learn how to make a jaggery and lemon mask at home.
3. Get Plenty of Antioxidants: Make sure to eat a healthy and balanced diet because this has a huge effect on your skin and what it looks like. Something that is especially great for skin and to look for in your foods is antioxidants. Antioxidants fight the damage of free radicals. Free radicals harm the cells not only in your skin but also your body and are a primary cause of line and wrinkles that show up way before time. Smoking, stress, chemical additives in skin care products and food, excessive sun exposure etc are all related to higher levels of free radical damage.
4. Stay Hydrated: It is not only important for your skin to be hydrated, but also your body. When you are dehydrated you can easily see it on your face; your skin looks dull and prone to more damage. Remember this: Dehydration causes the existing lines and wrinkles on your skin to look more prominent. The older ones get, skin appears to lose its ability to retain moisture and nourishment. Therefore it becomes even more important to use the right products (made with natural ingredients) that help boost the hydration and nourishment levels of the skin. A high-quality serum, for example, will offer deep nourishment, and will also prevent loss of moisture from the skin by providing a protective layer on the skin. A high-quality lotion, likewise, should be able to directly increase hydration levels in the skin.
5. Get Rid of Products with Harsh Chemicals in Them: I saved the best for last! This is HUGE! Products these days are filled with harsh chemicals that dry out your skin extremely quickly. Positive effects, if any, from using these products appear to last only a few hours, or at best, from one use to the next. These chemicals damage your skin in the long run and instead of remaining healed and youthful, the skin remains busy protecting itself from the onslaught of these nasty chemicals.
So in addition to providing you with practical guidelines on how to approach the concept of anti-aging with the right frame of mind, I hope this article also opened up clues to what might be causing your skin to look older than it needs to. If not all 5, I highly encourage you to implement at least 3 of these habits to see how transformed your skin can look within a reasonably short period.
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Go natural. It is good karma!