Anti-Aging: An Outdated Concept?

Have you noticed – the term “anti-aging” is slowly becoming a no-go. Today’s fancy terms include “positive aging” and “pro aging”… But hey, can we talk?visual-anti-aging

How about we replaced “aging” with “time”?
How little sense would “anti-time” or “pro time” actually make?
You can’t be anti time (well, you can – but it’s pointless); and being pro time totally doesn’t hold any perks for you.

You might argue that “positive time” still made sense, and that’s rather true.
However, only few people out there truly enjoy aging or have positive connotations with grey or thin hair, wrinkles, saggy dry skin and age marks.

Also, the methods of anti-aging can bring about quite questionnable results we’re all aware of:
old, grumpy men with weirdly reddish, unnaturally dark hair colour or atrocious wigs;
women with false cheekbones, lips and breasts with claw-like, old hands “adorned” with fake nails in a bright colour.

How about aging gracefully?
Dammit.

How about living gracefully?
A nice face shows.
A kind heart shows.
A great mind shows – and it doesn’t look sad, or ridiculous, or just plain wrong.

I am a healthy aging evangelist, and, Adventurers, I invite you to join me.
Let’s age healthily.
Let’s have fit bodies, alert minds, and a good time.
Because aging is time, aging is life. Fighting this current is obviously a fool-proof recipe for depression, fear, and panic.

But to age healthily, let’s understand what exactly happens to our skin as we age (“Understanding Aging” below), and what can cause premature aging, or: the Cardinal Skin Sins.

Understanding Aging

Earlier this year – in February, to be precise – I had the opportunity to meet and to talk to renowned German dermatologists.

Professor Uwe Trefzer, MD, is one of the leading dermatologists behind Dermatologikum Berlin, a specialist centre for all things skin health.
On the occasion of a press event, Doctor Uwe held a workshop about reasons of aging that I was happy to attend.
In his own words: “these are reasons for wrinkles and these reasons are a law of nature”.

1. Skin cells get thinner.
2. The number of cells decreases.
3. The cell division rate decreases.
4. The epidermal barrier function weakens and can retain less water.
5. Cell damage takes longer to be fixed.
6. After approximately the age of 20, the collagen production decreases.
7. Elastin fibres get less supple.
8. The sebaceous glands produce less sebum.
9. The number of sweat glands decreases.
(What a trend, huh?)
10. The epidermis and the hypodermis are loosened, skin damage and skin injuries are more common.
11. Subcutaneous fat decreases.
12. Fat cells gets smaller, and can’t cover tissue damage as quickly and efficiently.
13. UVA rays destroy elastin and collagen fibres.

dermatologikum-berlin
From left to right: Professor Trefzer MD, professor Kämpgen MD

Understanding Premature Aging

Doctor Uwe’s colleague, Professor Eckhart Kämpgen, MD, a skin cancer specialist, held a rather fun session about “skin sins”.

Here is Doctor Eckhart’s skin sin list – things that lead to premature aging and are to be avoided:

1. Sitting down is equally bad for skin tissues and veins.
2. The skin barrier function decreases if we strip our skin bare from sebum.
3. The use of improper cosmetics can cause skin problems, such as dermatitis, eczema, or allergies.
4. Intolerance reactions to acetylsalicylic acid, histamines, and preservatives.
5. Excessive tanning.

Bottom line

To me it’s absolutely clear that aging – living – is a process, and it’s one that should involve growing, learning, connecting, and evolving.
One more proof that the Quest is the right thing to follow.
Healthy skin is beautiful skin.
With healthy food, sport, and keeping our minds and souls alive, “anti-aging” is indeed a sign of an outdated way of thinking.

And now I listen closely to you… 

About Nath @ BEAUTYCALYPSE

Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at BEAUTYCALYPSE.com (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)

22 Responses

  1. Joan Bennett

    Love this article. To not age, you have to die, so if you don’t want to age… It’s utterly ridiculous, right? Just choose to be happy and the rest will follow.

  2. I loathe the term “anti-aging” which is not only ridiculous but insulting and the absolute OPPOSITE of what we should focus on, which is healthy and vibrant living. We’re all aging… all the time! (I’ve ranted on this topic repeatedly. Can you tell?)

    It is particularly challenging in the US where so much is predicated on how you look and a certain (artificial) standard of “youthfulness” that can be very off-putting.

    I am ardently “anti anti-aging” and “pro great glow.”

    Love this post!

      1. Indeed. De cluttering and silence are much needed. One buzzword which seems to be haunting the airwaves at the moment is “narrative”. Everything has a narrative! So I guess we could speak of the positive aging narrative….:D

              1. Oh bless me, bless me. Who thinks up these things? They are new words to me. No doubt I will hear them everywhere now I know them.

  3. Here, here! Cheers to you for bringing up this topic, Nath. Can I sign up as cheerleader for the anti-antiaging movement? We need a paradigm shift in a big way. Growing up, I was surrounded by older people and never once thought: hmm…she really should have taken better care of herself. That’s because my parents never placed emphasis on that aspect of growing old but rather that we must treat older individuals respectfully and that it was worthwhile spending time talking to them to glean insights into life. How right they were! Their life stories were carved beautifully into their skin – not one wrinkle wasted. Because we loved the octogenarians in our lives, we saw them as inherently beautiful. I hope others will start making this shift too. Thank you for this thought-provoking post that’s chock full of great information as always. Living is a process indeed. xoxo

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