If you’re like me, you want younger looking skin and have spent a lot of money over the years on anti-aging skin care products that promise younger looking skin but ultimately don’t deliver. You’ve probably learned for yourself that no cream will reverse the aging process. Marketers are doing a great job convincing us otherwise, though. According to one statistic, the global skin care industry is anticipated to reach $148.32 billion by 2020.
Damage to our skin accumulates as we age–cellular turnover slows down, hormone production decreases, our levels of collagen and elastin go down, we lose fat in our faces, and our facial muscles atrophy. This combination causes our skin to dry out, wrinkle and sag, so no face cream can address all of that.
Natural Skin Care Products
Unfortunately most skin care products on the market today have toxic chemicals in them that are absorbed into your bloodstream and cause things like hormone disruption, and can actually make your skin worse not younger.
Even so-called natural and organic products you find at the health food stores often aren’t as clean as they seem—you really have to look at the ingredients list. Generally if it’s something you can’t pronounce, you probably don’t want it on your skin. Most are full of things like parabens.
As someone who has chemical sensitivities, I look for products that have as few ingredients in them as possible and avoid things with chemical-sounding names and especially fragrance (or parfum).
If you want to check if a product’s ingredients are safe or not (skin care and cosmetics), search the Environmental Working Group’s website or download the Think Dirty app so you can check products while shopping.
Anti-Aging Skin Care Ingredients
These are some ingredients that have been studied to be effective:
- Retinols and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) derived from Vitamin A and fruit acids. They’re available by prescription and over the counter but can be irritating and make skin more sun sensitive, though, so wear a sunscreen if you use them.
- Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E – to help protect skin from the environment. They’re often found in serums you put on under your moisturizer
- Hylauronic acid – a clear lubricating fluid found in the skin that helps skin hold in moisture
- Peptides – may help stimulate collagen production
DIY Natural Skin Care
When you make your own products, you have control over what’s in them. It’s fun and inexpensive to make your own masks and scrubs with ingredients you have in the kitchen. I like to make a mask made from a mashed avocado or strawberries; yogurt and honey are also good. For an exfoliator/scrub, try mixing sugar or ground oatmeal with an oil like olive oil.
You can create your own lotions with ingredients like jojoba, argan or coconut oils as a base. Essential oils such as lavender and frankincense are supposed to have anti-aging effects, but they should only be a small percentage of the cream (like 1-2 drops) as they are strong and can burn–there’s lots of recipes online.
I don’t like to recommend brands as there’s so many of them, but you can find lots of natural skincare products online on sites like eBay. I’ve made my own face cream with ingredients from Skin Actives and am currently using a cream by Fatco.
Tips for Younger Looking Skin
Your skin reflects what’s going on in your inside. You already know that things like smoking, alcohol, and too much sun exposure are bad, so I don’t need to remind you.
As I wrote in a previous blog post, inflammation is believed to be the main thing that causes aging, so avoiding inflammatory foods such as gluten is important, but particularly sugar, which is probably skin’s #1 enemy as it causes glycation and skin aging.
These are some things I do:
- I like the Bulletproof Diet™ because it’s low carb, moderate protein, and includes lots of healthy fats, such as coconut oil/MCT, nuts, grass-fed butter, avocados, etc., which are great for your skin. I also eat lots green vegetables and make green juices and smoothies for an additional nutritional boost, even though they’re not really Bulletproof.
- Exercise is hugely important because it builds and maintains muscle mass, so I recommend lifting weights 2-3 times a week. Age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia) is one of the things that makes us look old. However, it’s just as important not to overdo it as I’ve seen women look older than they are from too much exercise. Six-pack abs isn’t my goal the older I get; I keep my weight higher than my normal weight so I can have extra fat in the places I want it like my face. I did not look good as a size 0 a few years ago when I was at my sickest from toxic mold illness; my husband saw a photo of me taken back then and said, “You look old.”
- Avoid environmental toxins. Yes, they’re everywhere but you can do things like buying organic food, filtering your air and water and purchasing nontoxic products. I probably sound like a broken record on this but they build up in the body over time and cause us to age faster.
- Get your hormones checked – imbalances can cause skin problems like dry skin.
- Manage your stress levels with things like breathing exercises, yoga and meditation.
- Get enough sleep – lack of sleep will age you prematurely and is just as important as eating healthy and exercise.
- Address gut health. It’s hard to have healthy, glowing skin when your gut isn’t healthy. Try fermented foods such as raw sauerkraut, kefir, or take a probiotic.
- Exfoliate your skin with gentle scrubs or at-home peels that contain AHAs (once a week). This helps speed cell turnover, which slows as we age.
Expensive Options for Looking Younger
Obviously there’s many quick fixes for looking younger offered by dermatologists and plastic surgeons like lasers, cosmetic fillers and Botox. There’s new things coming out all the time and they’re hugely popular but are expensive and come with risks, plus it’s easy to overdo them and end up looking unnatural.
No judgments here—I’ve tried a lot of things myself. I did fillers in the past and had a systemic inflammatory response to them. Yes, I’m probably more sensitive than most people, but it makes believe they’re not as bioidentical as they’re touted to be. I like the idea of more natural procedures such as fat/stem cell treatments better and prefer to plump up my skin from the inside with things like healthy fats, bone broth and collagen protein powder.
Botox is effective at freezing muscles so you can’t frown, but it is a neurotoxin and can spread to other parts of the body.
Before resorting to any of the above procedures, first address your lifestyle and do your research. You can read real people’s reviews at www.realself.com where you will find both happy customers and horror stories and you can decide for yourself.
Another pricier option is red light, which has anti-aging properties for the skin. I purchased a REDjuvenator™ therapy light at a big discount the Bulletproof Conference and use it on my face daily. You can check it out on Leanne’s Venier’s website, along with lots of research about all the many benefits of red light.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your best, but as a society, we’re a bit too obsessed with youth. Don’t you agree?
Ultimately, there’s only so much we can do to keep wrinkles at bay and time will catch up with us eventually. So let’s learn to love our wrinkles! They’re a sign of a life well lived.
I hope all of this was helpful. Let me know what you think in the comments below.