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What's Your Skin's Real Age?


kamurj

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Excerpted from
Beyond Botox: 7 Strategies for Sexy, Ageless Skin Without Needles or Surgery
By Ben Kaminsky, Howard Kaminsky

After spending a lifetime in the blistering Santa Monica sun, Lauren, thirty-six, a professional counselor and part-time yoga instructor, is concerned about the rough skin, fine lines, and crow's-feet that seem to have appeared on her face almost overnight. She wonders if it's too late to start being proactive about her skin and lifestyle habits.

Claudia, twenty-nine, from Houston, has lived with blushing apple cheeks her entire life. Recently diagnosed with rosacea, a chronic skin disease that resembles acne and affects 14 million Americans, this young attorney now has dark red patches, small pimples, and broken blood vessels on her face. She asks what she can do to keep this inflammatory condition from worsening.

Elizabeth, sixty-one, from Indianapolis, wants a product that can reverse her postmenopausal skin changes yet is unsure which compounds are safe-and which ones could cause her highly allergic skin to flare.

Immediately after having Botox injections in the forehead area, Arlene, fifty-two. the owner of a New York City boutique and former model, experienced drooping of the upper eyelid (called "partial ptosis")- Though this condition went away after several months, she is now seeking an injection-free topical preparation that targets wrinkles and expression lines and helps to reverse the visible signs of aging associated with menopause.

These are just a few of the thousands of women who have written to me over the past year for immediate answers to problematic and aging skin... and they are not alone. With the enormous popularity of beauty-related television programs and every type of extreme makeover imaginable, America has experienced a recent surge in the demand for rejuvenation, as women vow to take control over their lives-and skin aging. Today's "body business" is big business-a massive $40 billion global industry, to be precise.

It must seem surprising that aging skin is even a concern in the twenty-first century. After all, we are a technically sophisticated society with tremendous health advances that have improved the quality and length of our lives. Women get annual preventative mammograms to detect early signs of cancer and begin treatment even before symptoms of the disease are experienced. We now have access to complete joint replacements, cures for once-terminal diseases, and organ transplants that have greatly increased the quality of life and life span for millions. The average American female born in 1900 had a life expectancy of 47 years, and a female born in 1950 was given the life expectancy of 71.1 years. Today, a baby girl has a life expectancy of 84.7 years!

Yet while modem medical innovations are allowing us to live longer lives than ever before, we not only want to live long, we want to live well. And part of living well these days involves looking as good on the outside as we feel on the inside. After all, who doesn't want to turn back the hands of time when it comes to our appearance-particularly the appearance of our skin? As one woman said to Howard at a recent cosmeceutical conference: "I am trim, teach a Spinning class at the Y, and own my own company. Even though I am forty-five, I feel like I am twenty years younger. I want my skin to look as young as I feel."

"To look as young as we feel" is the chorus of millions, particularly baby boomers who are used to getting all they can out of life. However, the reality is that even with modern scientific breakthroughs, aging is an inevitable process. And though we may want skin that looks younger, many of us have taken our skin for granted for decades and are just now waking up to the certainty that our skin will age. When you were young, did you ever consider the injurious effect that exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays might have on your skin? We now realize that more than 80 percent of the visible signs of aging-the tiny lines around the eyes, blotchy skin tone, brown age spots, and wrinkles-are direct results of the UV rays we were exposed to before the age of eighteen. When you add years of photoaging during the teens, twenties, and thirties to exposure to environmental toxins and pollutants, carcinogens, and extreme temperatures, is it any wonder that premature skin aging is so common among young and middle-aged women in our society?

It's a frustrating situation, but I'm here today with good news for you. While no one can reverse all the damage to skin after decades of abuse, I believe that ever}- woman can look younger than her chronological age-without using Botox or other invasive procedures. You can do this by making specific choices about how you treat or pamper yourself--and your skin-each day. The resulting healthy glow in your face, combined with the increased oomph and vitality you feel, will radiate youthful allure ... and this I promise!

Facing Up to Aging Skin

A quick glance in a mirror is every woman's reality check as she comes face-to-face with skin aging. And the simple truth is this: all the anti-aging creams, exfoliations, Botox injections, and cosmetic procedures will not completely stop the skin changes that occur over time. Even if you never exposed your skin to the sun's rays, with aging there is still a loss of fat and breakdown of collagen, the group of proteins found in skin, bones, and other connective tissue, that ultimately results in wrinkles and sagging, transparent skin. That's because your skin, the largest organ in the human body, is an integral part of the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems, and the fingerprint of what is going on inside your body.

Consider a newborn's skin. At birth, the infant's skin is soft, lush, and pliable. Over time, the skin firms and thickens. The skin's texture, temperature, color, and clarity all give a wealth of information about your age and current physical condition, keeping no secrets about lifestyle habits, your personal hygiene, whether you smoke or drink, how much time you have spent in the sun, your nutritional and sleep status, and your overall health-good or bad.

Through the years, the skin is exposed to damaging ultraviolet rays, chemicals, and extreme temperatures, as well as cellular demise from free radicals. Free radicals are the unstable by-products of oxidation, the chemical process that causes iron to rust and a peeled apple or banana to turn brown. Free radicals can cause similar deterioration in the skin and body, as they destroy cell membranes or make cells vulnerable to decay and pathogens. These free radicals damage your DNA and mitochondria, the basic building blocks of all tissues, and leave in their path the brown age spots and fine lines and wrinkles we all recognize as the signs of aging.

But there are natural ways to combat this damage and even reverse some significant signs of premature skin aging. For an example, eating certain anti-aging "superfoods" that are high in antioxidants and powerful healing compounds (not just popping vitamins and supplements) appears to neutralize these free radicals and take away their destructive power. Many scientists now believe that antioxidants also reduce the risk of some degenerative diseases associated with aging, including very serious skin cancers, and slow down premature skin aging. (In our program's first step, "Nourish," page 55, we've done the homework for you and will discuss the foods highest in antioxidants and other key nutrients to help combat this free radical damage.)

Another way to slow the effects of time on the skin and even reverse some skin damage is to use the proper ingredients on your skin-carefully selecting healing compounds in your lotions, creams, and ointments that fit your skin's needs. For instance, if your skin is ultradry and flaky, we will teach you how to identify the ingredients that are best suited for dry, scaly skin. Or, if you have excessively oily skin that is prone to pimples or acne, finding a topical lotion that moisturizes without being overly greasy can keep your skin healthy without exacerbating your blemishes. We'll learn more about choosing the proper topical treatments for your particular skin in the next chapter.

In this chapter, we'll start by giving you a bit of background information about how healthy skin works and how aging naturally happens to skin. Then I'll offer you a quiz-a simple assessment to see how your chronological age compares to your "skin age." It's a predictor of how healthy your skin is today and how healthy it will be tomorrow, and a guideline for what you should be doing to slow or even reverse the many signs of aging.

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