I absolutely love working with older patients. As health care providers in an aging society, we work regularly, and at times predominantly, with the elderly population. They have such a wealth of knowledge, so many intriguing stories and wisdom that is accrued through years of life experiences that come only with time. As a lover of a good story, I always enjoy hearing the many tales of eras passed…the fairy tales of high school sweethearts still together 60years later, the sagas of the civil rights movement, the stories of life before the Internet.
With a growing obsession with skin care and anti-aging techniques, I recently decided to pick the brains of some of my patients who I deemed to be “aging well”. I figured, they must have beauty secrets that were simple enough to duplicate considering the Clarisonic Mia and Botox where not nearly as popular in the 1940’s 🙂 From the wisdom of these elder Mavens, I compiled a short list of the common secrets and briefly looked into why they may work.
Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
Moisturizers adds a layer of protection to the skin acting as a barrier to environmental elements. Daily moisturizers provide external hydration to help plump the skin and combat dryness which can contribute to skin conditions such as acne or rosacea. Even worse, Dr. Whitney Bowe for Good Housekeeping magazine explains that dry skin can cause low grade inflammation leading to a breakdown of collagen and more wrinkles! A good moisturizer should contain Vitamin A for firmness, hyaluronic acid for skin plumping, Vitamin C and E for anti-oxidant effects and, of course, UVA/UVB suncreen which protects the skin from free-radicals that can cause further damage including wrinkles and dark spots. The Derm Review gives a great overview on skin care and face moisturizers. Be sure to consult a dermatologist for major skin concerns.
Cold Water Rinses
Similar to its ability to constrict blood vessels, cold temperatures are said to constrict pores therefore improving the appearance of the skin. Cold water rinses tout improved circulation, slowing the appearance of wrinkles and relief of puffy eyes as some of the many benefits of this practice. Some elders swear by “skin icing“, a practice of massaging the face with ice cubes placed directly on the skin or in a wash cloth. You can even make the ice using frozen green tea, cucumber juice or rosewater for added benefits. While this technique has been used for generations, caution should be taken when applying ice directly to the skin as the extreme cold can cause capillaries to rupture leaving blemishes and further damaging the skin.
Oatmeal contains various amino acids which are essential to healthy skin and promotes healing. Your face can absorb amino acids from oatmeal which makes it an ideal ingredient to help heal blemishes and repair damaged skin. Oatmeal is also a humectant, which means that it helps skin retain moisture. The course texture of oatmeal makes it an effective exfoliant, an essential step in skin care that makes way for fresh, healthy skin by sloughing away dry, dead skin cells. While a great exfoliant, Oatmeal facemasks are still gentle enough for sensitive skin that is prone to inflammation or conditions like acne or rosacea. I Love Natural Skin Care gives great recipes for oatmeal facemasks to treat various skin issues. First Aid Beauty also makes a great oatmeal facemask for the busy Maven looking to save some time.
Drink lots of water
Women’s Health Magazine recently wrote a great article about the benefits of water for your skin. In it, they suggest that while the research does not support or debunk the theory that water is the key to ageless beauty, drinking lots of H2O may still have significant benefits and certainly can’t hurt. Considering that the skin is made predominantly of water, inadequate water intake may make “the skin appear duller, and wrinkles and pores more prominent. That may be because water plumps up the skin, causing wrinkles and pores to, more or less, get filled in ” notes plastic surgeon Julius Few, MD for Womens Health Magazine. For some Mavens, having the suggested 8 cups of water a day can be difficult or nearly impossible, especially if you are stuck in an operating room or in a busy ER with little time to breath, much less drink water. When I have multiple short OR cases, I try to get a cup of water on the way out of the PACU after dropping off my patient. If I am in a long case for the day, where bathroom breaks are less likely, I attempt to make up for my water deficit in the evening after work.
Green Tea’s well known anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects all contribute to its healthy skin benefits. Green tea works synergistically with sun-screen to combat UV damage by reducing the harmful effects of free radicals. The medicinal properties of green tea are generally attributed to its polyphenol content which is the source of its anti-oxidant properties. Both topical and ingested green tea may have benefits for healthy skin and in fact, many skin care lines are adding green tea extract to their product line. Savvy Mavens can easily make their own green tea skin treatments including homemade facemasks and under eye treatments.
Remain Stress Free
We have all heard that getting lots of sleep, exercising and keeping stress levels low can improve our physical well-being. For many Mavens, the reality is that between busy work schedules and personal commitments, these wellness essentials sometimes get overlooked. Well ladies, our seasoned Mavens encourage us to carve out time in our day for stress relieving activities if we want to keep those youthful looks for decades. Studies indicate that chronic psychological stress can have detrimental effects on our DNA, specifically premature shortening of leukocyte telomeres. Leukocytes play a crucial role in immune function and the shortening of telomeres limits the number of cell replications these essential leukocytes can undergo. “We normally lose about 100-200 telomere bases with each cell division and when you add psychological stress to the formula, you lose the telomere bases more rapidly, and telomere shortening leads to premature aging,” Dr. Draelos says for Dermatology Times. So get meditating, hit the gym, strut your stuff in a kick ass pair of heels and get those monthly massages…whatever you need to do to keep your stress levels low and your skin aglow!
Special thanks to our patients and seasoned Mavens of Life for their wisdom and beauty, inside and out.