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Aging. This is a word that most people have a negative association with. And the truth is that the aging process is inevitable. Therefore, the notion of “anti-aging” is actually an uphill battle that we cannot win. In trying to win the battle, many find themselves dazed and confused in the maze of skin treatments, medical intervention as the fountain of youth, and spend thousands on magic potions to turn back the hands of time. And while all of these can be great ways to manage the aging process in moderation, we need to have a paradigm shift in the way that we think about aging and how we can accept ourselves and find beauty at every stage of life. This is what “Graceful Aging” is.
As aging is the top skin concern for most, the good news is that managing premature aging on the skin is something that we can do quite successfully….and gracefully. Since only 10% of aging on the skin is inherited, 90% of aging comes from the environment, and our behaviors and habits which we do have control over. This is why I feel it is very important to share my best graceful aging tips, recommendations and suggestions with you!
WHY DOES THE SKIN AGE?
In order to address any issue, the best place to start is to have a good understanding of why it is happening in the first place. The process of aging on the skin is very multifaceted but can be categorized into two main reasons: intrinsic aging (which is inherited) and extrinsic aging (which is caused by outside sources.)
“I got it from my mama.” This fun statement couldn’t be any truer! Just as we inherited our mother’s eyes, or our father’s nose, how our skin ages is somewhat inherited. Although there are certain factors we cannot change, there are many ways for us to override some genetic factors to slow the aging process. Let’s go over all the inherited factors that cause aging on the skin:
Intrinsic Factor #1: Fibroblast Fall-Out
Like most of our body, our skin begins to show the beginning signs of aging in our late twenties. Fine lines begin to appear and the skin might show signs of sagging or laxity. This is because our little “worker bees” called fibroblasts, which are responsible for stimulating and creating new collagen growth, go into “retirement mode” in our late twenties. Don’t worry, they aren’t dead, just semi-retired and we can entice them to get back to work. It is quite common when seeing skin care commercials or working with a skin care professional to hear the term “stimulate new collagen growth”. What that really means is that our little fibroblasts are receiving a wake-up call to get back to work. This can be done is a multitude of ways such as:
Intrinsic Factor #2: Your Skin Type
When we are born, it is predetermined what our skin type will be. Our skin type is determined by how much oil our skin produces. So generally, you might find yourself describing your skin as oily, combination, normal or dry. How much oil your skin produces can determine how quickly your skin will age as our oil is our skin's natural lubricant which helps all the processes of the skin to work optimally as well as give us that gorgeous glow...and in this case, the more oil, the better. Therefore, if your skin type is dry, it is important to moisturizer daily with ingredients, like ceramides found in our HydraLuxe Cream, to help lubricate the skin and to help the skin retain moisture. However, if you are oily, it is also important to moisturize daily with a lightweight lotion like our Pure Light Lotion to help regulate the oil glands to prevent them from overproducing.
As we get older, you may find that your skin type begins to change as our oil gland production will slow down. If you were more oily or combination in your youth, as you get older, may find that you may become more “normal to dry” in later years. If you have always had dry skin, you may find that the skin becomes more difficult to retain moisture and you feel chronically dry. Therefore, it is always a good idea to do a yearly “skin audit” to make sure that the products you are currently using are still the right ones for your current skin type.
If you are new to Emme Diane, please start with my free Online Skin Consultation for a through skin audit. If you are a current client, please fill out my Check-In Form online anytime you have questions about your skin or skin care routine.
*We will talk more about “moisture in the skin” below in extrinsic aging and how we can combat this
Intrinsic Factor #3: Advanced Glycation End
In recent years, we have learned more and more how excessive sugar can be detrimental to our health. But many do not realize that this sweet addiction is also very aging to the skin. Of course, our bodies need glucose as it is the primary source of energy for every cell in our body and without enough, our brain’s neurotransmitters begin to break down. From an intrinsic standpoint, how well your body processes sugar can determine how aging sugar can be to your skin.
When there are sugar molecules in our system, they love to attach to proteins in our bodies, such as collagen and elastin. Unfortunately, this bond of sugar to our collagen and elastin begin to weaken these precious fibers and turn once pliable, buoyant and elastic fibers into stiff, rigid and brittle fibers. This process which results in sugar breaking down our collagen and elastin is Advanced Glycation End (AGE) Products. While this process does happen to each and every one of us, those with uncontrolled diabetes or high blood sugar conditions will find their skin will show signs of aging earlier in life due to this process.
While we cannot stop this process entirely, we can slow its roll by reducing the amount of sugar in our diets which we will talk more about below in Extrinsic Factor: Nutrition.
Intrinsic Factor #4: Facial Bones
Our facial bone structure is the framing for our face. It is what our facial muscles connect to and what our skin drapes over. Many of us know that as we get older, our bone density can decrease as our body absorbs our bone mass. This is also very true for our facial bones. As we lose bone mass in our face, it will not only change the structure of the face but also how the skin and underlying tissue lay on the face. The eyes begin to look more sunken in, our cheeks and jawline begin to sag and create jowls, our temples become more hollow, our upper lip elongates and folds over, and even our nose can elongate and droop.
While this aging process is inevitable, if you clench or grind your teeth, this pressure can also accelerate the bone loss in your jaw and mandible area. In this case, your dentist may have already suggested a night guard for you to wear to prevent your teeth from being worn down, but the night guard can also help prevent excessive bone loss from the pressure of clenching or grinding your teeth.
In addition, there are some facial injections that can help augment and restore the appearance of lost bone structure, such as Sculptra.
Intrinsic Factor #5: Fat in the Face
If you have ever heard, “You can’t save your face and your ass at the same time.”...fat is totally the butt of this joke. We live in a society where we glorify low fat diets and fat loss. However, many don’t realize that what gives us that youthful looking, plump skin is our fat that cushions our face. Unfortunately, as we get older, we will begin to lose fat in our face making our skin look more gaunt and shallow. And, if you have a very active and fit lifestyle, you might find the face can look aged beyond your years. This is where finding a balance between a healthy diet and lifestyle can be essential to ensure you are aging gracefully.
There are also treatments, like injectable dermal fillers, to restore lost volume in the face.
“Nature gives you the face you have at 20; it is up to you to merit the one you have at 50.” ~ Coco Chanel.
This could not be any truer! How you take care of your skin in your youth will greatly determine how your skin looks as you age. Unfortunately, many of us do not heed the warning to stay out of the sun (I even managed a tanning salon in high school!), to get our beauty sleep, to eat nourishing food, etc. But a question I am asked a lot is, “Is it too late for me?” Luckily, the answer is no, it is never too late! Even if you have neglected your skin in your youth (and adulthood), it is never too late to adopt healthy skin habits. With a customized game plan for your skin, we can always make improvements! However, the younger you start, the better as it is much easier to prevent premature aging than to reverse it.
Let’s go over all the external factors that contribute to premature aging:
Extrinsic Factor #1: Sun Exposure
Ironically, although we quoted Coco Chanel above about how your decisions about how to care for your skin can ultimately affect your aging process, she also was the one who unintentionally first glorified the golden bronze tan after being photographed on a Mediterranean cruise in Cannes. This trend that a sunkissed tan is a sign of a “healthy glow”, could not be further from the truth. Although aesthetically pleasing and most would agree that a golden tan looks beautiful, the process to achieve this pigment change is the skin is actually your skin cells doing everything they can to protect them from mutating and being destroyed by solar radiation. So, in essence, this is your skin under surprise attack and waging a defensive war. Therefore, there is no such thing as a healthy tan.
Above and beyond the change you see in the shade of your skin from tanning, the damage goes much deeper. While most realize that traditional “sun damage” resulting in uneven pigmentation and brown spots on the skin is from sun exposure, the sun also is very responsible for the breakdown of collagen and elastin in the skin as well as dilating capillaries. This means the #1 culprit to sagging, wrinkled skin and broken capillaries is sun exposure.
Unfortunately, this is more of a delayed reaction that does not appear until later in life. Sadly, the damage that was done as a youth will first appear later in life, generally in your early 30’s and beyond. This is when you will see more significant signs of sun damage, fine lines, and possibly texture change. This is part of the reason why you might begin to see brown spots, hyperpigmentation, broken capillaries, as well as a loss of elasticity in the skin even if you have been diligent with your sunscreen as of recent. This is a hard lesson to learn, unfortunately.
These are the exact reasons why I beg you to wear your sunscreen every single day.
My best-selling sunscreens were formulated to be cosmetically elegant so that you will actually enjoy wearing them daily!
My Tinted Mineral SPF 40 has a beautiful universal tint to blur imperfections with a semi-matte finish.
My Illuminating SPF 58 gives the skin a luminous glow with a light tint and dewy finish.
Extrinsic Factor #2: Nutrition
You are what you eat. If we are honest with ourselves about what literally feeds our bodies, this would actually be quite true. Every cell in your body is dependent on what nourishment you give it via food. Therefore, the health of your cells is dictated by how nourishing your diet is. Or in contrast, how harmful the food and drink choices you make are.
Another way to think of it is if you were pregnant and feeding your unborn child. We tend to be much more thoughtful in what we nourish our bodies with when we are growing a little one inside. But don’t you deserve the same consideration?
With so many diets out there, what does it mean to have a healthy, balanced diet geared toward optimum cellular regeneration for glowing, radiant skin? A nutrient dense, diverse and anti-inflammatory diet. So let’s break down the “macros’ that your skin craves:
Amino Acids from the protein we eat are the building blocks for our bodies and our collagen is one of the most valuable proteins in our bodies. Therefore, a diet rich in lean proteins is essential for youthful skin.
Colorful, Fresh Vegetables and Fruits:
When we were kids, we were told to “eat the rainbow”. This is one of the keys to healthy, glowing skin as fruits and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants that help to protect skin from the cellular damage caused by free radicals.
Our bodies use carbohydrates as the body's main source of energy. But not all carbs are created equal, as simple carbohydrates are the culprit that produces Advanced End Glycation Products (or AGE as we discussed above). It is important to choose complex carbohydrates (like quinoa, oats, brown rice, legumes) which deliver lots of nutrients, minerals and sustained energy.
Thanks to the “fat free diet” craze a few decades ago, we still cannot seem to let go of the idea that fats are really good for us. Moreover, our skin craves healthy fats which are also known as essential fatty acids (therefore, essential for glowing skin). Consuming healthy fats will result in a noticeable difference in the skin including how supple, moisturized and radiant the skin is. In fact, you can also tell when someone’s diet is lacking healthy fats as it will tend to look dull, dry and lackluster.
Every cell in our body is made up of water, and our skin is composed of 63% water. So needless to say, drinking water is essential to healthy skin. It will plump up fine lines, reduce dark under eye circles, brighten your skin tone, and keep your skin from becoming dry and irritated from active products. Aim to drink at least 3 liters to 1 gallon of water daily. This may seem like a lot but drinking more water is essential to maintaining healthy, hydrated skin. If you are not used to drinking a lot of water, you will be running for the ladies room quite frequently at first, but your body will get used to it (I promise!)
Extrinsic Aging #3: Facial Movement
Have you ever heard the joke about “Resting bitch face”? Well, this is partially where it comes from. Unfortunately, living a life full of emotion creates lines and creases on our face which become more prominent and pronounced as we get older. The key to prevent these expression lines from forming is to reduce the repetitive facial movements. As you have already probably guessed, this is exactly what Botox is used for cosmetically (and why it is so popular). However, I am a firm believer that no one “needs” Botox and it should be a personal preference as opposed to the absolute standard of beauty.
Fortunately, with the advancement of skin care, there are certain peptides, found in my Firming Peptide Serum, which are known to “mimic Botox”. Learn more about these amazing anti-wrinkle peptides here: Does Botox in a Bottle Exist?
Extrinsic Aging #4: Smoking and Pollution
This goes without saying, but smoking is literally one of your skin’s biggest enemies. The amount of damage that accrues from smoking is substantial and compounds over time. First, smoking steals oxygen from your bloodstream which is essential for healthy skin. Without it, the skin will look dull and, in some cases, even gray. Next, smoking creates an environment that is thriving with damaging free radicals. These are the little beasts who break down collagen and elastin, aging the skin rapidly. Lastly, the action of pursing the lips around a cigarette or vape pen will create those dreaded smokers lines (as does constantly sipping on a straw).
Vaping and other smoking accessories are just as bad, if not worse. Fortunately, when a person quits smoking, a visible improvement in the skin can be seen quite quickly. If you have trouble quitting, reach out to your doctor for what smoking-cessation strategies might be right for you.
Extrinsic Aging #5: Sleep
Sleep is imperative to good health and beautiful skin. While we are sleeping, our skin works hard on repairing the damage from the day and regenerates new healthy skin cells. When we do not get enough sleep, this reparative process cannot happen and will lead to dull, lackluster skin or people telling us, “you look tired!” As modern women, we tend to be overachievers and pride ourselves on powering through our days and the last thing on our priority list is getting a good night’s sleep. However, getting your beauty sleep is one of the most important things you can do to prevent premature aging on the skin. So, begin making it a priority to aim for 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night and your skin will thank you.