BEAUTY & SKINCARE

Anti-Aging: An Outdated Concept?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… 

22 replies »

  1. 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!

    • D.A., thanks for stopping by!
      As Sarita said, we need a paradigm shift. Everywhere. Because that artificial standard of beauty you mention is pretty widespread in the so-called old world as well.

      Pro healthy glow, anti ageism! 🙂

  3. I am with you all the way. Living gracefully, living in a healthy way; whatever age you are, you can’t do better than that.

    • Thank you for your comment as always ❤
      I think we need to de-clutter our lives from all the buzzwords, and all the marketing terms, and trends, and fads, in order to just hear the silence and feel who we are. There is no other way to happiness, am I right?

      • 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

        • oh you’re right! it’s a shame double feature: first, it’s a very good word, second, it’s from my industry (that kept abusing it). next in trouble is “storytelling”.

            • but I think it’s true. word inflation makes me so mad.
              I have just seen “disruptive thinker” and “facilitator” five (!) times in personal introductions, social media bios, and CVs this week. can you imagine? so people used to be “great teamworkers” and “creative with amazing communication skills”, today, they all turned into disruptive thinkers and facilitators. I sometimes want to say: “K, so please, disrupt some of my thinking NOW. go on.”

  4. 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

    • Thank you for your comment, Sarita! Let’s work on that very paradigm shift.

      I know exactly what you’re talking about. I was not lucky enough to have my grandmothers around, only my granddads and grand aunties, growing up, but it never ever had occurred to me that they looked old. They were just fascinating individuals, and fair enough they did have each their own style; some were quite extravagant, too (not Barbara Cartland-ish though)… The grandma generation in my family was rather fit and in good shape, and I remember as a kid I thought growing up (not aging really) was something to look forward to, and not to dread. I actually had set my mind – again, as a kid, because we *do* think about life and death – to become a slim, sporty granny with flax blonde hair and a red lipstick and, most importantly, tons and tons of great stories to tell. It was their stories that were the real inspiration, as well as their characters, and the concept of grace and dignity that I had the chance to experience from the beginning.