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The science of growing younger may seem like a fairy-tale or snake oil. The truth is that a growing body of research is pointing to the causes of aging. By knowing the causes, we can prevent the damage that these processes do to our body, and in some cases, even reverse it. By making smarter lifestyle choices, we can also preserve a youthful mind, body and spirit well into our senior years. Age really can become just a number once you’ve discovered the science of growing younger.
So let’s start first with the main area of our body that can give away our chronological age if we don’t take proper care of it, our skin.
Chapter 1 - How To Look 45 At 60
The skin is the largest organ of your body. It protects our inner organs and musculoskeletal system from injury. It allows nutrients in and stops essential fluids from leaking out.
It’s easy to take our skin for granted-until something goes wrong with it. The most obvious example when we are young is acne. As we age, the big concern becomes wrinkles.
However, an even bigger concern is aging the skin through poor lifestyle choices, which in some cases can culminate in skin cancer. The most common type is melanoma.
Melanoma is caused primarily by the harmful effects UV rays of the sun. Those who spend a lot of time out in the sun without sunscreen or sunblock are at increased risk. So too are those who:
spend a lot of time at a beach or pool;
work on the water, where the sun’s rays are reflected;
go to tanning salons often
work outdoors and don’t cover up against the sun.
Any unprotected exposure to the sun carries risks. The most common location of melanoma is the left forearm in men. Researchers attribute this to men leaning their left elbows on the edge of their car doors as they are driving.
If you’ve ever seen the skin of people who spend a lot of time out in the elements, such as fishermen, you will notice their weather-beaten look. Sun, wind, salt, and sea spray dry the skin while the rays of the sun darken it, causing a craggy, darkened complexion.
As people age, they also develop ‘liver spots’ on their face and particularly their hands. Even if you are smart enough to use an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) sunscreen/moisturizer of 30 or more each day, do you also think to put it on the back of your hands? If not, it’s time to start.
What about your neck? As we age, it starts to look slack and pouchy. So does the skin under our eyes. This is gravity at work, it is true, but it also signals a loss of skin tone and collagen that can be prevented with a good beauty routine and healthful diet.
The first thing people see when they meet us is our face. What does yours say about your age? If you look old beyond your years and want to appear younger without spending a fortune, the best place to start is your daily skin care routine.
Caring for your skin regularly
There are a number of steps to this to keep it looking youthful, including washing, toning and moisturizing. Let’s look at the most important aspects of each.
Washing Your Face
You would think that most people would know how to wash their faces. After all, we do it every day. Cats make it look really easy too, don’t they?
The truth is that especially if we live in a large city with a high-level of pollutants, it can be tricky to keep your face clean and blemish-free.
Every day, we get a build-up of impurities on our face that can clog the pores and give us a washed-out complexion, which makes us look older than we really are.
Some personal care products can actually make the situation worse. Studies have shown that women are exposed to up to 100 chemicals each day through the personal products they use. For men, the average is about 40. The first step, therefore, is to strip down your products to the basics, all natural ones that can be used for a range of purposes.
The most basic is pure Castile soap and warm water. Soap is best in its liquid form because no chemicals have been added to turn it into a solid bar of soap. Castile or vegetable glycerin soaps are mild enough even for sensitive skin. Wash your face and neck, rinse well, and pat dry.
Many people choose a toner based on skin type. One good choice for a natural toner is pure witch hazel which is mainly alcohol-free. Some women use lemon juice, but it can cause photosensitivity, that is, sensitivity to sunlight, and make skin darker, sometimes permanently.
If your skin is very dry, add a couple of drops of a soothing essential oil such as myrrh to the pure witch hazel.
Toner removes impurities that soap alone can’t reach, and refines the pores, making your skin smooth. It helps keep down blackheads and whiteheads, and lessens your risk of breakouts.
Once you have toned, putting on moisturizer helps keep moisture in. Even people with oily skin need moisturizer. A daily moisturizer with an SPF of 30 will protect you from the aging effects of the sun. Look for one that is oil free.
At night, when applying before bed, SPF is not important, but you could use a heavier cream than you would use if you were going out in public, or applying before you put on your makeup if you are a woman.
If you are a man, moisturizer can help keep down the irritating effects of shaving and the raw look it can give around your face and neck. Shaving will, however, offer one benefit in addition to hair removal, and that is exfoliating.
Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells from the upper layer of your skin, the epidermis. Dead skin cells can make your complexion look dull and weathered instead of youthful and radiant. Soap and a washcloth will work well, Scrub lightly in small circles over every part of your face, taking care in the eye area.
A mild scrub made from ground almonds or apricot kernels can also help. A homemade sugar scrub can serve as a fruit peel as well. However, it can redden skin for up to 2 hours afterwards, so if you wish to use it, apply it only at night.