Healthy Aging & Your Skin
September is Healthy Aging Month
With more than 70 million baby boomers in the United States poised to join the ranks of those aged 65 and older in coming years, this generation has embraced a new twist on aging gracefully.
A State of Mind
In addition to wanting to remain vital and active, boomers are increasingly expressing a desire to look as young as they feel. Many boomers are turning to minimally invasive procedures to avoid the downtime and drastic changes in appearance associated with plastic surgery. Almost miraculously, it's possible to look much younger than one's years, since modern health care is helping ward off life-shortening disease at a tremendous rate. The result is a growing population expected to live longer than any generation before and to look better doing it.
One of the first indicators of overall health and how gracefully someone is aging is the condition of someone's skin. Take the backs of the hands, for example. The increasingly noticeable and enlarging veins and so-called age spots are some of the first telltale signs of aging.
Vitality at Any Age
John Roseby, executive spa director at the famous Arizona-based spa, Canyon Ranch, says skin care, massage, and bodywork are part of their wellness philosophy.
"Health and vitality at any age is one of our core messages and one we believe in passionately," he says. "Regular skin care programs allow vibrant health to shine from deep within."
Anne Williams, esthetician and director of education at Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, agrees and says a spa is an excellent place to treat the entire body. "Massage improves the appearance and condition of skin, and tones muscle tissue, thanks to improved local circulation."
With age and inactivity, circulation slows and skin becomes pale and cold. "Massage has a stimulating cellular function in the hypodermis, dermis, and epidermis," says Sharon Puszko, director of Day-Break Geriatric Massage Institute. "Touch nurtures, relaxes, and heals, as well as stimulates and activates."
Ultimately, Williams says, one of the greatest benefits of any type of skin care and bodywork treatment is the ability it gives you to reconnect. "You re-experience your body. When you're in your body, you own it in a different way. You care about it in a different way."
Skin's Graceful Aging
Proper skin care can help ward off signs of aging. Here are some healthful skin care tips for caring for maturing skin.
Protect Your Skin
The most important thing you can do for your skin, Williams says, is to consistently use sunscreen. Whether skiing the Colorado Rockies, swimming the Pacific Ocean, or just walking to your car for a lunch break, sunscreen should be a part of your daily routine, as sun damage is the number one cause of prematurely aged skin. Consider buying makeup or moisturizer with an SPF of 15 or higher to ensure constant protection. To protect you from the full range of ultraviolet rays, look for products containing at least one of these ingredients: avobenzone, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide.
Keep it Moist
Depending on where you live, you may not give much credence to moisturizer use, but experts say it is a critical piece of the puzzle for great skin. Avoid traditional grocery store finds in favor of a more targeted moisturizing product, preferably one recommended by your esthetician. If you spend money on anything, Williams says, spend it on a good moisturizer. A gentle cleanser (no bar soap on the face, ever, she says) and an alcohol-free toner will round out a simple, yet effective skin care plan. In general, it's a good idea to stick with one product line since products are usually designed to work together.
Don't Overdo It
In our zeal to clean our skin, we often overdo it. Just as you shouldn't exfoliate too often (no more than once a week), you should also avoid overscrubbing your face, even with just water and a washcloth. Your skin is fragile; treat it as such. It pays to leave the serious exfoliation to an expert esthetician and go gently on your skin at home.
Watch What You Eat
The healthier you eat, the better your skin will look. This means natural, unprocessed foods with high antioxidant and vitamin contents (in other words, fruits and vegetables). Strive to replace processed breads and cereals with whole-grain alternatives that contain fiber. Eliminate or go easy on caffeine and sugar. Many believe drinking plenty of water will keep your skin hydrated and healthy.
Talk to the Experts
Williams says working with a skin care professional will help establish a good base of knowledge about how to care for your skin. Having an expert who knows you and your history will help address changes going forward. For example, if you change climates, your skin's needs will change as well. The same is true with the seasons.
The seasons of your life will bring yet more changes to your skin care needs. Talking to an expert will help guide you through those changes and give you proactive self-care steps. Growing older doesn't have to mean growing old.