The Age of Anti-AgingJun 01, 2021 06:00AM ● By Susan Gonzalez
From the moment of birth, our bodies begin to age; it’s a natural process that cannot be avoided.
The anti-aging skincare industry, however, wants to help us try. In 2020, U.S. consumers spent over $52 billion on anti-aging skincare products alone. While getting older might be inevitable, looking older isn’t something many will accept without a fight.
Skin’s Aging Process
Here’s a brief overview of the aging process of the skin: Inside the body, aging depletes hormones, skin’s oil production and water retention. The resulting dryness, combined with a lack of collagen and/or elastin, helps to form wrinkles in the skin. Collagen and elastin are the substances in the skin’s deep layers that keep skin plump and firm.
Externally, skin is exposed to solar radiation, pollution and poor skincare habits, which lead to sagging skin and dark spots.
There are ways to combat aging skin, both on the inside and the outside. First, keep in mind that every routine that seeks to turn back the clock must be met with strict routine and patience. Most wrinkle creams that actually do help fade wrinkles—and don’t merely “reduce the appearance” of them—take about 80 days before you can begin to see their effects. A good anti-aging skincare regimen incorporates a multitude of products and strategies that work from many angles to get real results, especially if a more natural method, without injections and fillers, is desired.
How to Maintain a Youthful Appearance
There are many lifestyle habits that promote a youthful appearance, including:
- Avoiding smoking and secondhand smoke
- Getting at least eight hours of sleep per night
- Maintaining a regular exercise routine that includes getting your heart rate up
- Addressing any estrogen loss, if applicable
- Drinking half your weight in ounces of chlorine-filtered water
- Avoiding the sun, wearing sunscreen or wearing physical protection
- Adopting a diet that’s high in colorful fruits and veggies and low in animal protein
- Avoiding processed foods and foods with added sugars that cause spikes in blood sugar
- Maintaining a healthy gut by eating fermented and raw foods
Don’t forget that skin is deeply entwined with every other system in the body, so keeping the body healthy keeps skin looking its best.
One should know that 80% of premature aging damage comes from sun exposure. When people ask me to tell them the number one anti-aging product on the market, I always respond, “Sunscreen!” The damage that can occur from the sun alone is significant, as the sun’s UVA rays penetrate deeply into the layers of the skin and wreak havoc with the elastin that holds the skin taught. It also creates damage in the form of “age spots” that come to the surface years later. Whether it’s a chemical sunscreen, which absorbs radiation from under the skin, or mineral sunscreen, which reflects it from the surface, SPF of 30 or more should be part of everyone’s routine, regardless of age.
Just Google “truck driver sun damage” to see how aging the sun’s rays can be!
Ingredients to Watch For
A few ingredients can penetrate deeply into the skin to rejuvenate it and to combat wrinkles, fade dark spots and give skin a youthful glow. Read the labels of your skincare products and look for the following:
Antioxidants act by stopping the cell damage caused by “free radicals” that are produced by pollution, poor diet and stress. They prevent the destruction of the DNA and slow the aging process. They include vitamin C, vitamin E, alpha-lipoic acid, idebenone, stearyl glycyrrhizinate, green tea, pomegranate and coenzyme Q-10.
Peptides are very small molecules that stimulate actions in the skin, such as creating more collagen, firming tissue, and strengthening cells. Some peptides act on the nerves like liquid Botox, stopping the contractions that cause wrinkles, and some inhibit the enzyme that causes melanin to create dark spots. Peptides are very safe, have little or no side effects and are usually able to penetrate deep into the skin. Some of the most popular ones include palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7, palmitoyl pentapeptide, acetyl hexapeptide-8 and acetyl tetrapeptide-9.
Acids and retinoids
These chemical exfoliators serve to constantly resurface the skin by forcing it to replenish the surface with healthy new cells. Acids and retinoids can help diminish fine lines and wrinkles, hydrate the skin, help encourage new collagen formation and help control acne. Any anti-aging routine should include something from this category. They include glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, retinol and tretinoin (Retin-A). [For more about this, see “Exfoliation Explained” in our May 2021 issue.—Ed.]
Polyglucans and beta-glucans
These sugars, found in the cell walls of plants, are great for sensitive skin. They are high in antioxidants, slowing the rate of cell damage and aging. Polyglucans and beta-glucans are also super hydrators; they can absorb 10 times their weight in water, and some think they hydrate the skin better than hyaluronic acid. They protect the skin barrier that keeps skin healthy. They include mushroom extracts, yeasts, algae extract and oat extract.
Plant stem cell extracts
Stem cells are special. They can regenerate and form new cells and tissue of the specific structure or organ from which they came. The stem cells used in cosmetics are derived from plants and are sometimes labeled “plant extracts,” “phyto stem cells” or “fruit extracts.” Plant stem cells can only cause the growth of new plant parts, but stem cell extracts are high in antioxidant power and can stimulate the production of fibroblast cells, which are the most common cells of connective tissue in animals and are responsible for synthesizing collagen. Studies demonstrated that apple stem cell extract alone could reduce crow’s feet wrinkles by 15% in four weeks.
The real power of the plant stem cell will come in the near future when live stem cells will be deeply absorbed into the skin and generate new skin cells and new collagen! It will be a game-changer for the anti-aging industry. Apple, tomato, ginger and grape stem cells are some of the ones in use today.
Glycoproteins help maintain a healthy skin barrier by binding to water and increasing cell oxygen. They are molecular chains of carbohydrates and proteins derived from algae, and they work great with other hydrators and moisturizers, such as hyaluronic acid and ceramides. Glycoproteins help protect the skin’s surface.
There are many strategies that help combat the effects of aging on the skin. As you put them into play, remember that aging is affected by what goes on inside, outside, and around the body. There isn’t one magic bullet that will fix all aging issues. The skin needs support from all angles, including diet, exercise, product choices and management of stress. For best results, work with a licensed esthetician to create an optimal skincare plan. ❧
Susan Gonzalez is a holistic licensed esthetician, author, nurse and owner of MOON Organics a skincare company providing clean, healthy skincare and personal care products. Reach her on FB, IG and TW at @MoonOrganics or visit MoonOrganics.com.