Are you in your 30s or 40s and looking for anti-ageing products? Today we learn the Truth about Anti-Ageing Creams and why you should stay far, far away.
"Age is something that doesn't matter... unless you are a cheese!"
This quote by Broadway actress Billie Burke is cute, and makes us smile. Unfortunately, modern society, especially media and companies, have created a world where the opposite is true. In today's world, age matters. It matters a lot.
A survey done by the National Consumers League in the United States found that at least half the men and women they surveyed believed that looking young was crucial to do well professionally. Women were more likely to believe that happiness was a direct result of looking young.
Perhaps there is a reason more women think this way. Our society is somehow more biased towards women getting older. The fashion magazine Vogue found that the average age of a female model is 17. You've probably heard of how as actresses age, they get offered fewer roles. This is evident even as actresses hit their thirties, although male actors in their fifties aren't as affected.
So yes, there is definitely a bias. And this bias breeds insecurities, particularly when it comes to appearance, which is exactly what the cosmetic industry thrives on. Ageing of the skin is the most talked about, and it is what most women seek to 'treat'. The Dermato Endocrinology Journal states that "Skin aging is a part of a natural human “aging mosaic”... While the aging signs of internal organs are masked ... the skin provides first obvious marks of the passing time."
But we're not ready to treat ageing as a natural process. While the journal states that successful aging’ should refer to 'health and active participation in life', media and cosmetic companies have made ageing seem like a disease. If you've got wrinkles, there's something wrong with you.
And that's what the million dollar "cosmeceutical" industry promises to 'fix' for you. The term 'cosmeceutical' was developed in 1984, so that it wouldn't have to be subject to the analysis of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The result is entire ranges of creams, lotions and potions which make medical claims that haven't been tested as rigorously as a medicine would be.
A large price - at the cost of your health
As the size of the older population increases, PS Market Research states that the global anti-ageing market is set to generate $421.4 billion by 2030. Anti-ageing creams are attractive since they're easier and less invasive than botox or surgery. They're also less expensive than these procedures, although they're by no means cheap. Most of these products claim to have extracts of something found at the bottom of the ocean or on the top of Mount Everest. The truth is that they actually contain water, glycerin, acids, oils and other chemicals.
Most experts agree that anti-ageing creams are effective to a very small extent if at all, and the effects are often temporary. Many others claim that it has more of a placebo effect - if you believe the cream will work, it will have some effect. What we don't realize is that these small positive changes come at the cost of long term harm to health. For this minor effect, anti-ageing products need to include a good amount of chemicals and active ingredients. Even doctors say that these should be used under medical supervision.
Today, we reveal the truth about anti-ageing creams - why they're not doing you or your skin any favors. We also talk about natural anti-ageing alternatives that focus on a more holistic kind of 'youth', and which won't hurt you in the long run.
The Truth about Anti-Ageing Creams - and Why Natural Alternatives are better
- They can cause Cancer
Most commercially available anti-ageing creams are chock full of chemicals. Since they need to be potent for results to show, they need to contain a high percentage of them too. Most of these, like MEA, DEA, TEA are known to be strong carcinogens. Other common ingredients include Limonene, Triethanolamine and urea, all of which are carcinogens. Then there are parabens, which are found in nearly every commercial skin care product out there, and have been found in biopsies of breast cancer tissue. The worst offender is 'Fragrance' which is simply a blanket term for chemicals that the company chooses not to reveal individually. It can be just about anything, and experts say that this could contain a list of human carcinogens.
- They affect the Nervous System
Propylene glycol is often added to anti-ageing products to do the work of a moisturizer. However, it is a well-known neurotoxin, which means it can have a direct effect on the nervous system. As a result, it can affect cognitive function and interfere with the signalling between neurons in the brain. It can also cause liver damage, kidney failure or dermatitis. This is all the more dangerous since propylene glycol is readily absorbed into the skin and enters the bloodstream easily. It also acts as a vehicle for other neurotoxins. Methylisothiazolinone is another neurotoxin that has been banned for use in Canada.
- They mess with Hormones
A good number of commonly found ingredients in skin care products like anti-ageing creams mess with hormone function and cause several undesirable effects. Parabens top the list here, and they can cause serious damage to the endocrine system causing reproductive issues like infertility. Phthalates are also dangerous, especially for younger people. That's another issue with anti-ageing creams, they're often formulated for post-menopausal women, whose hormones act differently from younger women. If taken by a younger woman, it can mess with a healthy system unnecessarily.
- They result in Skin Rashes
The main culprit here is, again, parabens. Parabens are used to increase the shelf life of skincare products, but continuous use of creams with parabens can increase sensitivity to rashes. The skin tends to get thinner over time, sometimes so thin that you can see the blood vessels underneath. The increased concentration of potent ingredients means that there is a higher chance of breaking out or having an allergic reaction. Retinol is quite strong, and overuse can cause skin to become dry and irritated. Experts find that the some anti-ageing creams are photosensitive, causing a reaction when exposed to sunlight.
- They can cause Pregnancy Issues
Since the ingredients in anti-ageing creams mess with the hormones, it goes without saying that they're unsafe for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Parabens, found nearly everywhere, upsets the delicate hormonal balance during pregnancy and can cause poor development of the fetus. Another ingredient to be wary of is retinol, a type of Vitamin A that is used to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This should be strictly avoided by pregnant women since it can cause birth defects in the unborn child.
- They make Skin more Vulnerable
While a regular skin care routine is supposed to make your skin healthier and more able to withstand common stressors, overuse of anti-ageing creams has the opposite effect. Hydroxy acids, a common ingredient in anti ageing products, increases the permeability of the skin. This means that all the dangerous chemicals mentioned above can easily enter the bloodstream through the skin. This also removes the skin's natural protective barrier, which makes it more vulnerable to pollutants, irritants and sun damage that can also lead to melanoma.
So you see, your anti-ageing cream does more harm than good. The scary part is that most of these companies claim that you need to use the cream for an extended period of time to start seeing results. However, such long term use can wreak the most damage on your body.
Most dermatologists agree that unhealthy or dull skin or skin that's showing premature signs of ageing is simply a result of poor skincare and bad lifestyle habits. Taking care of these will improve not just your skin, but also your hair and overall health. Check out our natural anti-ageing solutions that actually work, without any of the bad stuff.
Natural Anti-Ageing Solutions that Work
- Have a Consistent Skincare Routine. You know it's important to have a skincare routine, but it's also important to be consistent at it. Have a CTM routine for both morning and night. Use gentle cleansers without harmful chemicals. Avoid soap since it can strip the skin of its natural oils. Rose water and green tea make excellent toners. Use a moisturizer suitable to your skin type.
- Use Cold Water. A cold shower is known for its many benefits, and anti-ageing is among the list. Even if you can't bring yourself to shower in cold water, washing your face in cold water can help. It helps keep skin taut and also closes pores, smoothening out the skin’s surface.
- Remove Makeup before Bed. Leaving makeup on when going to bed clogs and stretches out the pores, leading to acne, breakouts and loose skin. Use coconut oil or a gentle cleanser to remove makeup and rinse off with cold water.
- Protect against Sun Damage. This is one of the most important tips in maintaining youthful skin, and one that no anti-aging product can match. Most premature signs of ageing are due to exposure to sunlight. Avoid exposure to the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM and always use sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Eating foods rich in lycopene, like tomatoes, also helps boost sun protection.
- Exfoliate. As we age, the skin's auto-renewal process slows down. Exfoliation gets rid of dead skin cells and reveals fresh skin underneath. It also speeds up the regeneration of new skin cells. Exfoliate once or twice a week depending upon your skin type, and avoid abrasive scrubs that can cause micro tears in the skin.
- Use Pure Oil Blends. Many oils possess anti-ageing properties along with other skin benefits. Sweet almond oil is one such oil that works as a great natural sunscreen. It can also be used as a night cream. After cleansing, mix 2-3 drops in a tablespoon of water and massage all over the face. Rosehip oil contains good fats that keep the cell membranes healthy, resulting in glowing skin.
- Make your own Anti-Aging Serum. Face serums are all the rage, but you can easily make yours at home. Mix together 2 teaspoons of jojoba oil, 3 teaspoons of rosehip oil and a teaspoon of coconut oil in 8-10 teaspoons of rose water. You can also add in a few drops of sandalwood oil. Store in a glass bottle and apply with a dropper.
- Use the Ingredients in your Kitchen. There are many ingredients in your kitchen which can be easily mashed or ground and applied to your face, which will give you healthy, glowing skin. Wild honey is our number one choice, since it is a humectant, emollient, packed with antioxidants as well as antimicrobial. Others include pineapple, avocado, banana and strawberries.
- Apply a Tightening Face Pack. Along with individual ingredients, you can also create face packs with a combination of ingredients that'll tighten skin and make it look plump and smooth. One great option is an egg mask made of 1 egg white, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and half a teaspoon cream. A combination of yogurt and honey in a 2:1 ratio also works well. Another option to try is a paste of ground red lentils or masoor dal.
- Try Ayurvedic Ingredients. Ayurveda has many natural anti-ageing remedies of its own. Certain treatments like Rasayana, Ashwagandha and even Chyawanprash can delay visible signs of ageing, along with providing other benefits. You can also try your own remedies with herbs like Brahmi, Amalaki, Gotu kala and Ginseng.
- Be Gentle with your Skin. The skin on the face is thinner than the rest of the body, which is why it requires special, gentle treatment. Avoid rubbing your face vigorously or pulling down any part of the skin. Always massage in circular motions or pat gently when applying any product. Another tip is to use silk or satin pillow cases that are gentler on skin than other fabrics.
- Include Collagen-boosting Foods. Collagen is a protein that helps keep skin looking young and healthy. As we age, the body's natural production of collagen slows down. By increasing collagen-boosting foods like chickpeas, pineapple, spinach and bell peppers in your diet, you can encourage collagen production in the body.
- Cut out Refined Sugar and other Refined Foods. Just as including the right foods is important, staying away from the wrong foods is also crucial for healthy glowing skin even as you age. Excess sugar intake speeds up the ageing process and prevents collagen from making the skin look youthful.
- Drink at least 2 liters of Water. Water is crucial for overall health, and it's just as important for healthy skin. As collagen decreases when we age, the skin's plumpness decreases, and skin also starts losing its ability to hold water. So drinking enough water is important to maintain hydration. Water is also essential for skin cell regeneration.
- Get at least 7 Hours of Sleep. Our body repairs itself when we sleep, and this applies to our skin as well. Certain hormones work only at night, and when you deprive yourself of sleep, you are tampering with the body's natural process of regeneration and repair.
- Do Face Workouts. Yes, any kind of exercise is great for your skin, but exercising your facial muscles can have added benefits. It can help them retain their elasticity and also helps reduce stress. You can also try using a jade roller to increase blood circulation.
Nowadays, there are increased demands for banning all kinds of products with the 'anti-ageing' label, not only because of the ingredients, but also because it gives ageing negative connotations. It gives the impression that ageing is something that needs to be eradicated, similar to the way we talk about 'anti-virus'. We need to accept that ageing is a gift of life - we've been blessed to live long enough to age! Naomi Wolf describes this beautifully in her book, 'The Beauty Myth': "You could see the signs of female aging as diseased, especially if you had a vested interest in making women too see them your way. Or you could see that a woman is healthy if she lives to grow old ... The maturing of a woman who has continued to grow is a beautiful thing to behold.”
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