Style & Beauty » Vol. 42

Nurturing healthy aging

Suki KramerBy Suki Kramer

We all know our skin will evolve someday, but it is evolving, every day. What we will look like later in life is a subject we spend many ~ perhaps too many ~ hours on in our short lives. We look in the mirror trying to figure out if we look like we, or like others, think we should.

It begins in adolescence, when our hormones create a wave of self-consciousness. Later, we start to turn to the miracle creams, pills and potions that promise to turn back the clock but never deliver. Curiously, through the past 20 years of creating and managing my own business in the intense, unethical, sometimes beautiful, world of beauty, the focus on retaining our youthful appearances, once a rite of passage only for those in middle age, has become a new obsession for those in their 20s! Why can’t we accept that there is nothing ~ besides injections and going under the knife ~ that can change a wrinkle once it has formed? Why can’t we instead consider, “How is my face changing for the better?”

Think of a wrinkle. What is a wrinkle? Babies have them! They have beautiful little smile and frown lines, but we never think of them as wrinkles. We, too, have lines that form from years of smiling and, as well as stressing and frowning. Isn’t the culmination of our lives worth wearing with pride? For the most part, these signs of aging are completely normal. Ironically, the very worry and negative thoughts we have about our appearances contribute to negative effects of premature aging. Joy, happy thoughts, gratitude, laughter, compassion and intense passion lead to character lines that enhance the features we were born with, not take away from them.

But it is also true that the science of aging is, at least in part, the result of accumulating damage to our molecules (proteins, lipids and nucleic acids) that make up our cells, which are always in the natural process of creation and death. After our cells divide about 50 times, they enter a phase in which they no longer behave as they did in their youth. (This is why exfoliation is so important. It helps the skin as these cell functions slow down.) Partner this with the “muscle memory” of a squint, a smile, a frown or, let’s face it, gravity, and there you have it ~ wrinkles. It’s important to realize that the realities of health and vanity provide two very different perspectives on aging, but there are always things we can do to prevent a weakening of the skin. Strengthening and maintaining our perfectly good cells allows us not to squander their potential.

I firmly believe nurturing healthy aging begins with one’s outlook and sense of self, which affects the way you appear to all. The irony is that confidence and a strong sense of self often come with age! Of course, lifestyle habits play a role and topical treatments can have profound effects on the course one’s skin will take over a lifetime. Lack of sleep, exercise, hydration, poor diet, using synthetics and toxins inside and out, improper skin care maintenance, overexposure to the sun, and poor stress management all contribute to damaged cells. With the scientifically-advanced, 100 percent pure actives available in skin care today, you actually can have radiant healthy skin without living the most perfect lifestyle. But over the long haul, if you don’t pay attention to the whole person, the underlying causes of damaged topical appearance (inflammation, systemic imbalances, immunity issues, allergies, bacteria and oil production issues) will contribute to a decline in health.

renew-groupMany of us try synthetic skin care to remedy signs of aging. What I’ve discovered by formulating my skin care line and researching the underlying causes of skin problems is that volatile synthetic actives cause topical irritation, but they also cause an underlying immune response that continues a vicious cycle of skin issues such as premature aging. I utilize pure, yet highly active, refined ingredients from botanicals in place of synthetic ingredients in my skin care formulas, and I recommend the same for your skin care routines. These healthy actives stop the cycle of immune and inflammatory response and stop the skin issue at the source.

That said, I know finding “natural” ingredients and skin care is easier said than done. Even natural superstores that should be counted on to sell only pure, healthful ingredients do not always deliver. Consumers most often avoid purchasing ingredients like allergens, gluten, dairy and synthetics they have been told are toxic, but the most important thing to consider when strictly talking aging, is to avoid ingredients that cause inflammation of the body and the skin. Pure skin care that utilizes safe, stabilized, clinically-proven effective ingredient actives that target the underlying causes of premature aging head on is the most effective choice. Look for resveratrol, an antioxidant with long-acting power against premature signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines. It fights oxidation, brightens and even has proven anti-inflammatory effects. Resveratrol has incredibly strong clinical studies behind it and will stand as a recommended topical and ingestible ingredient for years to come.

Co-enzyme Q10 is another well-proven antioxidant ingredient found in skin care and in supplements. It has a powerful impact on prematurely aging skin and should be combined with exfoliation agents like stabilized Vitamin C and natural alternative retinol Vitamin A, as well as safe brightening agents like licorice root and natural arbutin, rather than toxic hydroquinone.

Also, don’t assume all sun exposure is bad exposure. In fact, it is necessary to get at least 10-20 minutes (depending on skin tone) of healthy, screen-free sun per day for the real vitamin D we need for healthy bones into our maturity. Problems can arise from an excessive amount of sun exposure, but some is necessary for vitamin D and good health.

Good hydration, both inside and out, and care when it comes to your real skin challenges is always the first thing to take care of. Protecting delicate skin with deeply nourishing ingredients, especially at night, is all-important. Incorporate these ingredients and topical routines into your life, supplementing them with fish oil, DHEA and probiotics that keep internal and external cells healthy and renewed, as well as topical treatments like microdermabrasion, lasering and other safe technologies, to help smooth skin and fight premature and underlying causes of unhealthy aging.

Finally, be patient. We live in an instant gratification society, but with any skin care and supplement regimen, expect to wait one to three months to see real benefits, depending on the depth of your skin problems. If you really need a quick fix, exfoliation is the exception to this rule. I’ve formulated Suki Exfoliate Foaming facial and body cleansers, which create results pretty darn immediately, sloughing away dead and damaged cells to reveal healthy skin and jumpstarting collagen production to create a rosy glow right away.

It’s important to remember that maturation, even of our exterior, is not a disease; it’s natural, it’s healthy, it’s evolution! No one is “perfect,” so don’t feel bad for not being someone else’s ideal of beauty or not having the perfect lifestyle. Our lives are so fast-paced and stressful, the last thing we need is for our growing consciousness and lifestyle decisions to make us feel less than perfect in yet another way. I encourage you to truly embrace who you really are as you get older. And to hell with perfection.

I’m not sitting back here ~ I work out every day; I do all the things I’ve advised in this article. I’m going to give myself every chance I’ve got at a longer life. I’m also going to give myself a break every once in a while. The pint of ice cream I enjoyed this weekend tasted great.

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Suki Kramer is the founder, formulator and president of Suki Skincare, which is based in Northampton.

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