By: Sheetal Rawal, scientist (human genetics) & founder of Apsara Skin Care
When it comes to flawless skin babies and little kids are always the pinnacle of perfection. How many times have we heard phrases like “baby soft skin”, “perfect skin like a baby’s”, etc? Many times and for valid reasons.
When my niece Inaaya was born, her skin felt like satin to my touch. When she was one (last year), I remember wanting to glide my hand over her back all the time. Not only because I wanted to caress her, but also because her skin felt so soft and satiny that I simply could not resist. While looking at her photo today, the first things I noticed were the radiance of her skin, the spark in her eyes, and her joyful smile. Reasons behind this perfection started pouring into my mind and I simply could not resist writing an in-depth article. Apart from the obvious reason that they are so young, why is it that babies’ skin is so flawless and soft?
Exploration of this topic is also very important insofar as learning how adults can reliably achieve dewy skin is concerned. Something along the lines of turning back the clock a bit; or much more than just a bit. I think it is possible. Don't get me wrong; we cannot stop aging (yet), but the menace of premature aging can definitely be successfully addressed. I believe on average, we look much older than we need to. However, both my practical and optimistic sides are in agreement that this does not have to be so.
In that sense, this article is going to be a comprehensive guideline. How and what lifestyle habits can be tweaked to get the natural radiance back into our adult skin? Does psychological health play a role in external appearances? What foods can help? I aim to touch upon these topics and in so doing make this article useful to you.
Related: Apsara Skin Care products are gentle on your skin and can nourish it deeply.
Hormones Aren’t Yet Playing a Part
Female and male hormones, their production and instability, do not begin until the pre-teen and teen years. So babies and kids are free from the negative skin-related side effects of these hormones. Therefore their skin is beautiful, calm, and very even. It must be said here that shortly after they are born, even babies can have baby acne or excess body hair, etc. A plausible cause is that the baby is exposed to mommy’s female pregnancy hormones for a long time causing it to have related skin manifestations. However, since the cause is not intrinsic, these issues subside in a few months after birth.
The production of male and female hormones during teenage years can be an eventful time not only for emotions but also for the health and appearance of skin. These often result in an over-production of skin’s natural oil (called sebum), which in excess, causes open pores, patchy skin, blackheads, whiteheads, and acne. As the teenage years come to an end and hormones find their balance, acne should cease, but many times it does not. Adult acne is common. Hyperpigmentation (melasma) is also common in adults and can be caused by hormonal shifts during pregnancy, menopause, etc. Diet, stress, harsh chemicals in products, underlying health conditions, or medications like the pill could all play a part.
What Can I Do to Get Baby Soft Skin?
If it is a matter of imbalance caused by harsh ingredients in skincare products, the solution is to switch to a consistent and natural skincare routine that nourishes and balances out the skin. As the skin calms down and does not find the need to pump out excessive amounts of sebum, it begins to look and feel baby soft! Find products with natural exfoliating ingredients like fruit enzymes (e.g papain found in papaya), citrus acids (AHAs), sandalwood etc that are well esteemed for their anti-pigmentation properties. (Also check out a detailed article about skin exfoliation tips). Most of all, have a daily skincare routine made of products that are as clean and green as possible. The best strategy to keep your skin healthy is by having a natural daily skincare regime. The best ayurvedic skincare products have the ability to make you feel more confident and beautiful!
Babies Have a Clean Gut
Yes! Milk, mashed up fruit, vegetable puree, moderate to no spices, water. That is your quintessential baby diet. And it is absolutely fantastic. In Ayurveda, a very strong emphasis is placed on the health of the digestive system. Ama (Sanskrit for toxic buildup) is caused by undigested food; the longer it stays in the gut, the more the chances of it turning into toxic material that over time predisposes an individual to bodily (and even mental) disease. Ayurveda strongly holds physical health to be intertwined with mental health. The health of one's liver is especially correlated with emotional health. The liver is said to be the seat of emotions.
Results of the buildup of ama initially appear as mere lack-of-ease, which we learn to adapt to rather quickly. This state becomes normal and not perceptible as being far less than ideal. Until a disease manifests.
How does this tie into the health of the skin? A body heavy with undigested food is not clear, quite simply put. The lack of clarity is seen as unevenness of skin, puffiness, early signs of aging, and a general lack of radiance. Hormonal systems going haywire due to this toxic buildup have a more pronounced effect on the health of our skin. Hyperpigmentation, inflammatory disorders, and manifestations related to sub-optimal liver health (like liver spots) become very evident. Over-the-counter and prescription medications too come with unpleasant side effects and put a lot of stress on the liver in particular.
What Can I Do?
Simplifying and balancing our diet is the key here. A healthy body is far less susceptible to lifestyle-related diseases and thus does not need medications and aggressive intervention.
Adopting a vegetarian diet can have phenomenal positive implications. Animal matter is hard to digest and the remnants stay in our gut for a very long time, creating grounds for inflammation and disease, which skin indicates very readily. Being vegetarian and vegan is a non-violent state of being, which can have massive positive effects as far as cleansing the psyche goes. This important point has a lot to do with the active practice of spiritual principles.
Including good fats in the form of nuts, oils, and fruits are wonderful to keep the system oleated. This means skin that is supple and less likely to age prematurely. A tablespoon of organic, cold-pressed flaxseed oil is an awesome supplement to your body's good-fat requirements. Eliminating foods high in salt and chemical additives is great. Too much salt increases water retention, which can mean puffy skin (babies don’t have that!). Chemical additives increase toxicity and that takes an overall toll on the body and can be indicated by uneven and patchy skin. Read this popular article for a list of the 5 top best foods for healthy skin.
Related: Banana & Sugar Face Scrub to Remove Dead Skin & Dark Spots on Face
Babies Are Joyful & Live in the Moment
A giggle can be followed by a tantrum, which too responds to a trivial distraction. That is a baby alright! Energetic, engrossed in play, ever curious, and ready to learn new things and explore the possibilities. Such a seemingly zen state is conducive to a body that knows how to bounce back quickly. Spirituality places a huge importance on being in the moment; not allowing the past to weigh us down or the future worries us. Babies practice this with no effort.
Serious meditators and generally well-centered people have an ethereal presence to them. Their skin has an inner radiance that is beyond compare and their bodily presence has a calming effect on everyone in the vicinity. They could be pretty old but look decades younger (think the Dalai Lama). The pace of aging (including that of skin) can be dramatically slowed down if stress is managed from becoming a chronic menace. Mental attitudes like forgiveness (babies are stars at this), not holding on to resentments, cultivating the habit of fearlessness, etc. are rewards in themselves but offer an added bonus in the form of vitality and inner beauty. Chronic stress is scientifically shown to worsen or cause skin disorders like acne. Natural systems such as Ayurveda have correlated negative emotions to skin issues like psoriasis, urticaria (chronic hives), etc.
What Can I Do?
Take some time to reflect on your day to see where and what the triggers were: ones that caused your heart rate to go up, your muscles to stiffen; ones that caused anger or resentment to well up or caused you to re-live past hurts or imagine future disasters.
Many of these issues could be resolved by constructive conversation, not saying anything rash until you take the time to evaluate the situation fully, trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Nurturing the courage to stand up for yourself (in a non-violent manner), when the situation calls for it; this is a huge factor in good mental hygiene. These habits might take time to mature, but the rewards are not minor. The result is less of all the major negative emotions which translates into good health and radiant skin that does not age or deteriorate prematurely. For many, daily exercise is a big player in unwinding emotions. For others, meditation does the anti-ageing trick.
Babies Aren’t Fully Mentally Conditioned
This is the blessing that comes with being a little one. Babies do not have a set of expectations to check off the master life-list every day. It takes some time for babies to learn the skills of behaving in a way that is socially acceptable. So in that sense, they are not weighed down by the requirement of appropriate behavior. It takes a while to learn the difference between right and wrong and to respond appropriately to subtle social cues. No wonder then babies have such beautiful skin. When parented lovingly and compassionately, the possibility of babies developing psychological issues as children and adults (like low self-esteem, anger, hostility) is low. Babies have their unique personalities as well as tendencies of developing certain personality traits, but the discussion here purely deals with parental and social conditioning.
As adults, the performance pressure can be high and many times quite uncomfortably so. Be it at work or home or in social situations, the need to adapt and respond appropriately can result in stifled emotions, and worse, a departure from our own true nature. These strictures and withheld emotions result in subtle but consistent bodily responses. Like tightening of the forehead muscles, clenching of the jaw muscles, resulting in what is called expression lines (premature wrinkles and lines along with areas of frequent muscle clenching and movement). The emotional toll of not being able to express yourself freely gets us back to the discussion of stress and how it impacts our overall health and the beauty of our skin.
What Can I Do?
Finding constructive and non-threatening ways of expressing yourself freely and appropriately is worth all it takes to do it. An emotional release is health and beauty-promoting at all times. When emotions and self-expression are kept under wraps, one’s mind can resemble the insides of a bubbling volcano. Once it erupts, friendships can break and relationships can take a beating. So it is best to express yourself freely, gently, and in a timely manner. The routine emotional cleansing will show externally as beautiful and glowing skin (just like a baby’s). Creative outlets can be very therapeutic too. Music, dancing, painting, formulating natural personal care products, and researching (in my case) are all great examples. And yes, don’t forget to consciously relax your facial muscles throughout the day. You don’t want those expression lines on your face!
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Go natural. It is good karma!