“I want to grow old without facelifts. I want to have the courage to be loyal to the face I have made.” -Marilyn Monroe
Although Marilyn Monroe tragically never got the opportunity to stay loyal to the face she made, her statement still holds a lesson that all of us can, and should, learn from.
Our society is one that celebrates looking youthful, and scorns age. Our media, whether it’s online, in print, or on TV, is saturated with beautiful, young faces. There are thousands of chemically laden products and procedures that will, so the claims go, smooth away your wrinkles forever. And in spite of the down economy, cosmetic surgery is steadily growing.
According to the American Society for Plastic Surgeons, cosmetic surgery was up 2% overall in 2011, and Botox treatments were up 5%. And at $375 a treatment, this is an expensive way to numb your face so you look younger, at least for awhile.
Honoring the Face You’ve Made
At 33, I’m just now starting to see the fine lines around my eyes and mouth that will, eventually, deepen and become wrinkles. And I’m okay with that. Those lines have come from a life that so far has been lived well. Those lines come from smiling and crying and laughing, and squinting in the sunlight on hot afternoons.
While I certainly don’t want to look like a wrinkled leather bag by the time I’m 60, I sure don’t want to look like I’m 25 either. The lines on my face are, to me, the early marks of wisdom. I didn’t have any wrinkles when I was 20, but I sure didn’t have the life lessons and strength I have now either.
Taking care of your skin naurally still means you can combat wrinkles. But it also means you’re honoring the life you’ve lived, and the face you’ve made, by helping it age gracefully.
How to Fight Wrinkles Naturally
The good news about your skin is that it doesn’t need the chemicals and treatments that skincare companies say you must have to keep looking youthful. There are plenty of things you can start doing, and stop doing, to start aging gracefully.
1. Stop Smoking
Other than sitting in a tanning booth, smoking is the worst thing you can possibly do to your skin. It makes you look years older, makes your skin dry and sallow looking, gives you age spots, and adds a ton of wrinkles to your face, especially around your eyes and lips. Smoking deprives your skin of oxygen and nutrients, which causes a great deal of damage. Furthermore, there are more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, and none of them do your skin any favors.
If you want to see the difference between what one smoker looks like compared to a non-smoker, WebMD has a great feature that shows the difference between two identical twins. One has smoked for 14 years, while the other never has. The difference is eye-opening.
2. Drink Water
Moisture is essential for maintaining healthy skin, and it also helps rid your body of toxins. When your skin is properly hydrated it looks healthy and radiant. However, drinking water doesn’t have an immediate effect on your skin. Proper hydration is important for long-term health, but it offers few short-term gains (to your skin, at least).
Drinking eight glasses of water a day helps your body and skin over time. Just don’t count on it to be a quick fix.
3. Consume Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids nourish dry skin, and they also do a lot of other great things for your body (such as reversing heart disease, reducing depression, and improving brain cognition). You can take omega-3 supplements, such as fish oil, or you can add more omega-3s to your diet by eating foods rich in this particular fat. If you currently have dry skin, it could be a sign that you’re not getting enough omega-3 in your diet.
Flaxseed is an excellent source of omega-3, and this is how I work this fat into my daily diet. I eat a homemade muesli blend for breakfast each day, and I add flaxseed powder to the mix to boost the omega-3. You can also boost your omega-3 intake by eating more cold water fish (like tuna and salmon), soybeans, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts.
4. Eat a Plant-Based Diet
Fruits and vegetables contain many of the vitamins and minerals your skin needs to stay healthy.
For instance, vitamin C (an antioxidant) is known to be essential in the production of collagen. Collagen is a protein that helps the cells and blood vessels in your skin grow. This, in turn, is what gives your skin its strength and firmness.
Some foods that are rich in vitamin C are:
- Oranges and grapefruits
- Red and green peppers
- Brussels sprouts
It’s also important to eat foods rich in other antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize free radicals. According to the Mayo Clinic, free radicals are the toxic byproducts of natural cell metabolism; they’re also introduced into your body through your skin in cigarette smoke, pesticides, pollution, and other factors.
Essentially, antioxidants help protect your cells from these toxins, especially your skin cells. This means they protect all your cells, which is why the National Cancer Institute believes that antioxidants could help lower your risk of cancer. Antioxidants are vitamins C, E, and K, as well as beta-carotene and lycopene.
To get more antioxidants in your diet, think color. The more colorful foods you can eat, the better your skin will look. Foods rich in antioxidants include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Spinach, kale, and other dark leafy greens
- Almonds and walnuts
- Grapefruits and blood oranges
- Sunflower seeds
5. Use Sunscreen
Have you ever seen someone who has spent years out in the sun or in a tanning bed? Their skin is sagging, dark, dry, and full of wrinkles.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the reason is because when you get burned, either by the sun or in a tanning bed (which emits three to five times the UV rays of the sun), you’ve damaged your skin cells. Cumulative damage from UV rays is the primary cause of premature aging and skin cancer.
This is why using sunscreen when you head outside, protecting your skin from sun damage, and staying out of a tanning bed are essential to fighting wrinkles.
It can be difficult to refrain from tanning, especially if you are young. Tanned skin looks healthy and beautiful. And when you’re 18 or 20, the concept of all that sun exposure and tanning leading to wrinkles when you’re 35 or 40 seems too far in the distant future to worry about. I know, because I believed that too. However, 35 will come a lot faster than you think, and when it arrives, you’ll wish you had taken better care of your skin.
The good news is that you can make a difference right now just by keeping sunscreen with you, and remembering to put it on your skin before you go out into the sun.
6. Use Natural Face Cleansers
For the past year, I’ve adopted a new philosophy when it comes to my skincare regime. I don’t put anything on my skin (apart from sunscreen) that I would not also be willing to put in my mouth.
This means no commercial moisturizers, face washes, or toners. After all, Treehugger states that over 90% of the skincare and cosmetic products have not been evaluated by the FDA or any other accounting agency. Do you really know what all those chemicals are doing to your skin? Do you know the long-term side effects of those chemicals?
Most people don’t. And this is a big reason why I stopped using commercial skincare and cosmetic products. Their interests are their bottom line, not the long-term health of the consumer.
Instead, I use all-natural cleansers that I make myself, and I use recipes from the book “Return to Beauty: Old World Recipes for Great Radiant Skin” by Narine Nikogosian. This book is incredible, and it’s full of recipes that use simple ingredients that you likely already have in your kitchen.
For instance, every night I wash my face with oatmeal, milk, and honey. If I need to moisturize, I use organic coconut oil. That’s it.
If you do want to use commercial products, research them first on the Cosmetic Safety Database. This is a nonprofit organization run by scientists who have collectively evaluated more than 74,000 commercial cosmetic products, including sunscreen, lotion, and soaps, to rate the safety of the ingredients used in each product. You might be shocked at just how dangerous some of the brand-name products you’re using really are.
Honoring the skin you have doesn’t mean just letting it go and doing nothing. Rather, it means taking care of it naturally so you look your best and age gracefully.
Remember, be gentle with your skin, especially the skin on your face. Because it’s so thin and delicate, scrubbing it hard or drying it vigorously with a towel pulls on the muscles which, over time, will lead to sagging skin. Instead, wash gently and pat dry softly.
What other tips can you suggest to fight wrinkles naturally?