I don’t know if you have been there yet, but I assume most of you already have, but I have recently been experiencing the bitter taste of the day when you realize you have found your FIRST wrinkle (wrinkles, plural, for most of us since it seems as though they do not like to travel alone).
At first you look at them and think that they are just from smiling too much that day, or sleeping funny on your pillow, but then you realize… “Hey wait! I think I saw you yesterday… and maybe the day before… and maybe the day before that… *&%$*! They are NOT going away!”
For me, I completely blame it on my outdoor lifestyle, believing my Italian skin has stronger resistance against the UV rays so I do not have to wear sunscreen, and just the sheer fact that living in the California sun is a guarantee for some sort of skin damage. And to be honest my friends, those are things I am not willing to give up 🙂
Bottom Line: they are here to stay. Attempt for Acceptance…
(Repeat in Mind: List of things I am GRATEFUL for)
So what do I do? I go to my trusted natural beauty guru, Melissa from Bija Body for advice (Bija Body is an amazing TRULY natural skin care line that just ROCKS. And she rocks as well, professional kayaker turned philanthropist, world-changing pioneer, to natural beauty manifestor).
Over an evening of delicious raw food and wine, we discuss the truths about aging naturally, and of course, wrinkles. Because the bottom line is, I know I am going to age, but I certainly am not going to allow it to happen without a fight. BUT, the catch is, how do you do it without the chemicals, injections, and facelifts.
Melissa let us know if it is possible….
I know that the bulk of beauty industry marketing makes you think it’s possible to annihilate aging, if you just buy the right product, but here’s an honest truth, from a company who makes an anti-aging products and wants you to buy ours:
So let’s talk realistically. Honestly. Authentically. Hopefully.
If you haven’t yet read this essay by Andrea Jones, which I quote and link to often, bookmark it and finish your day with it today. The gist: Skin is the exact line of demarcation between You and Everything Else. Inside Skin: You. Outside: Everything Else.
Time passes. We use our pliable skin every single ticking second of the day. Our wrists bend as we’re typing. Our knees cross over each other stretching the skin. We laugh. Cry. Rub our eyes. Eat. We try not to, but end up curled fetus like while sleeping, squishing ourselves into a little nook, and creating creases in the meantime.
Expecting lines and wrinkles to not show up would be entirely absurd.
But, slowing down the process, now that, my lovelies, is what we should be talking about.
“Slow down the relationship between your beauty and time.”
BijaBody uses that tag line all over the place, but I don’t think people really think about what it means. I think it’s the most we can do, and enjoy the ride along the way.
Were you to do nothing, from the appearance of that first line (or even before) onward, your heredity, lifestyle and geographic location would determine how your skin ages. From that point, how much or little you do is up to you and your personal relationship with beauty.
What follows is possibly too much information. Cherry-pick what resonates with you.
I can’t fathom not moisturizing. A barrier to protect your skin’s hydration and lipid barrier is the most basic skin-care step, and should be repeated several times a day, particularly in dry climates. For this, any simple oil or oil-in-water emulsion will do. Oil-in-water emulsion is your basic lotion, available by the thousands of varieties, with a gazillion scent variations and thickness according to preference.
Take your pick if you really want just this basic step. Look for at least a couple moisturizing ingredients within the first few ingredients on a label. If all else fails, pull out olive oil, and know it’s still, after all this time, one of my favorites.
Moisture (lotion), will slow down cell degradation versus not using anything at all. It’s the most important step really. All other ingredients aren’t very effective if proper moisture content isn’t achieved. If you choose just moisture, I’d recommend sticking with botanical oil based formula vs. petroleum based products.
2. Nourishing Ingredients
Your next step would be the inclusion of nourishing ingredients. This will start to slow down the process a bit more, and every little bit counts, I think. Nourishing means ingredients which feed and support your skin’s natural regenerative process, but aren’t interfering with the biological process in any way.
This is the piece we all have to decide for ourselves: do you want to interfere a little bit, to affect the process more significantly, or are you comfortable only with the nourishing aspect? It’s a big question.
I’m from the school of thought that even antioxidants cross the line past simply nourishing, because they are targeted, highly lab-reliant. My super natural girls will stick with nourishing moisture. And that’s perfectly fine.
I, on the other hand, along with a many of you, want a few steps beyond a pretty smell in a bottle of lotion.
3. True Anti-Aging
Alright, this is where it gets tricky. This is where Natural crosses into Natural-Ish and beyond. And this is where marketers go haywire. First and foremost, you cannot stop aging. Again. But, we are smart, smart cookies nowadays, and we understand skin functioning, toxicity, ingredient penetration and interaction and combinations way, way more than ever before. Unfortunately, we’re also a bit more obsessed with hope in a jar, so sometimes, we’re total suckers.
Anti-aging ingredients interact with skin’s molecular biology to affect not only the skin, but the entire matrix including collagen, lipid balance, and connective tissues.
Let’s get one thing really straight, and really honest: It is goofy to expect anything more than about a 20-30 percent change in the appearance of your skin from a topical product.
Getting that big of a visual change is awesome. You are working to slow down future damage/change, and can expect to reverse some past damage significantly, but not entirely. As an esthetician and formulator, my eye is keenly trained to see this change, but I realized long ago that client’s eyes are not. They want to either see wrinkle there or gone. Dark spot there or gone. Not currently possible with product alone. Not everyone can see a 20% change. But you should be able to see your skin brighter. Smoother. Healthier. What you’re really aiming for is for it to take 10 years, vs 5, for a line to really become a wrinkle. For 35 years, vs 20, for skin to sag beyond repair. Slowing down the process.
There’s a commercial right now by a major company with a speckled egg turning completely unspeckled. Bullsh*t is all I have to say about that. Another company promises your wrinkles will be “gone” by the end of one $15 jar of cream. Bullsh*t on steroids. Stop falling for it. Especially since a lot of premature aging your skin suffers is because of those products; because of too much hype, too much gunk, and too little actual care.
Now that we have that in place, let’s talk about anti-aging ingredients a little more.
There are a couple schools of thought, and I think there’s room for both depending on the skin.
a. Anti-Aging Acids
One school takes a more aggressive approach with the inclusion of regular chemical peels and regular use of topical retinol products. If you have thick darker skin, and are affected by scarring or excessive oil production, but don’t spend a lot of time outdoors, this might be your ticket. I went down that path for a little while, and enjoyed a few months of glowing results, but reality is, I have really thin skin that genetically wants to age quickly, and I’m an outdoors girl (or was before I decided to spend 15 hours a day on my beloved little company!). If you choose this path, PLEASE do it professionally. Don’t play with acids alone. Dr. Dennis Gross is my most trusted source for acid-based formulations.
b. Peptides, Antioxidants and Vitamins
This approach resonates with me. I want more than a completely natural approach because I adore ingredient technology, know the difference between toxic and scientifically advanced, and know that a primarily natural, with a few brilliant scientifics thrown in, is a good balance in products, clothes, building, and life in general.
Peptides: These currently over-hyped, misunderstood little wonders are one of my favorite anti-aging advancements when done correctly. Peptides are communicating molecules. I hope I break this down in a way that makes sense and isn’t over-simplified: When collagen dies, it’s gone. It doesn’t easily get replaced. Bye-bye. And, a bad rumor starts to get sent around to other cells that it’s unhealthy, or dying, or old and so nearby cells should be too. You’ve lost that little bit and the rumor has started. When a dark spot is created, even as the old cells die and new ones are formed, the new ones tend to be dark. Because the original dark cells keeps sending a message to the new cells “Hey buddy, we’re dark over here. So come in dark”.
The goal of peptides is to alter that message. To slowly get a better message sent around.
Peptides: “Hey everyone! So we’re all healthy collagen cells, and our pigment formation is balanced! Yep, no problems here. Totally plump. Hello little new cells. Don’t forget to be healthy. Hey, you over there, getting lazy, plump up! Don’t die. Hey, little pigment rumor starter. You’re busted. You’re now only allowed to speak to the cells right next to you. And we’re going to try and stop that too.”
Collagen Cells with peptides: “Hey neighbor. So I have to die now because I’ve gotten old. But even though I look unhealthy and am leaving, I want you to stay strong, and pass on my hope!”
Pigment Cells with peptides: “Man, I got a wrong message and became way darker than I should’ve. Don’t follow in my shoes new skin cell. I thought I had to get dark to protect my person, but it was miscommunication”.
For peptides to be effective, they have to be correctly concentrated, preserved and formulated. They’re expensive to source and formulate with, so don’t fall for the claim of a peptide in a cheap product.
And, although there are dozens of peptides to formulate with, there’s only a few proven ones. (BijaBody proudly uses higher concentrations than any company has ever used in a body product, of the two most effective anti-aging peptides.)
Antioxidants are usually naturally derived, but anyone who claims they’re fully natural is misrepresenting. There is an extensive lab process to extract, manipulate then formulate effectively with antioxidants.
I love them. Unlike traditional sunscreen ingredients, antioxidants aren’t trying to block the sun. Antioxidants provide your skin with the necessary tools to accept the less beneficial components of sunlight, pollution and interaction with oxygen (oxidizing) and alter the relationship into something more positive and less destructive. So instead of trying to block the sun, you’re able to enjoy it for a little bit (smartly).
Instead of freaking out in a polluted city, you know your skin has the tools it needs to filter out the crappy molecules before absorbing air through the pores. Again, formulation and concentration is the key. Less than 2% Tea extracts is useless. Alpha Lipoic Acid is only effective at concentrations of about 1% or higher. Lycopene as well. Don’t get fooled. Call the company and ask. They should be proud to tell you.
Vitamins: Very much like natural nourishing ingredients, but, because they’re highly specific and lab targeted, I don’t pretend they’re all natural. Natural-ish. Every good formulation should have a few vitamins. Vitamins alone are a little old school for anti-aging skincare, but you can’t have a good formulation without them.
From here, it becomes more about medical procedures such as fillers, muscle relaxers (botox) and lasers, and even further into cosmetic surgery. For my gorgeous 26 year old, with your first line, you’re many years away from these steps.
But right now, with your first line, begin to slow it down. Decide how far from completely natural you’re willing to go, and make your choice. Your best bet is to have an esthetician help find your perfect regimen based on your preferences, life style and hereditary predispositions.
So there it is. Right from the Natural Beauty Guru’s mouth, the keys to preserving our youthful glow. As for those already existing wrinkles, I say let’s be GRATEFUL for them, because at least we know they were well earned.
Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been. ~Mark Twain
Remember to check out Melissa’s Blog and Bija Body website, and get started on some of her amazing products! You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter for daily anti-aging and skin care updates.