Are we alone in facing the pressures of maintaining a youthful appearance? Certainly not, if one considers the sheer size of the global beauty industry, predicted to reach the R400 billion mark within the next 5 years. This gigantic figure represents components of beauty care such as skincare products, cosmetic surgery and the latest craze, which includes facial injectables such as Botox. Alongside this industry is that of health products, show significant developments in the field of beauty enhancement.
What is driving this immense pressure to maintain a youthful appearance? Take a look at what sells magazines, clothes, television programmes – young, beautiful people. Historically, beauty has carried power – is this likely to change? No! Our environment is telling us to keep looking young, but is Botox or cosmetic surgery the next step?
‘Definitely not!’ maintains Adele Galgut, a health and skin care therapist with over 30 years’ experience in the South African health and beauty industry. She finds it interesting to see how keen people are to throw money at quick fixes, without considering all the factors that affect ageing. ‘There is no shortcut to a healthy glowing skin. There are some basic rules to sustain natural beauty. Good genes are a great bonus – but in the absence of this blessing, there are some ways to make the most of, or enhance, what you’ve been given.’
TAKE A LOOK AT LIFESTYLE
Lifestyle factors that accelerate skin ageing include smoking, stress, exposure to harsh sunlight, a diet packed with processed foods, and regular intake of alcohol. With so many people seeking treatments to remove the effects of their lifestyle on their skin, perhaps they should reflect on the proactive steps they can take to prevent its accelerated ageing.
Adele lists the basic building blocks for a youthful skin:
- a healthy lifestyle that includes selective eating and regular exercise
- nutritional supplements such as vitamins A, C, D and E, the omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and zinc
- avoiding the ‘major agers’ – we know about alcohol and smoking, but extend this list to include the toxins in our homes such as noxious detergents and the invisible poisons in our foods. Get educated and read those labels carefully!
- ‘From my own personal experience as well as experience gained in the health and beauty industry I believe the building blocks or the steps to a super skin are totally interlinked and intertwined. These factors will assist the skin to restore, replenish, revitalise and regenerate by mobilising its innate ability to repair and maintain itself,’ Adele explains.
Adele believes that anti-ageing nutrition will grow to become an integral part of the beauty
industry. She warns, ‘We’re all well aware of the many risks involved with any surgery. This includes cosmetic surgery. One has to weigh these up when making the decision to sign up for a general anesthetic and the surgeon’s knife. This decision should be based on rational thinking and your general state of health. New technology and cosmetic science provide less invasive options such as Botox and fillers – but do we know their long-term effects on our health?’
Adele’s opinion is backed up by the latest trends in ‘cosmeceuticals’ – nutritional products that promise to slow down the ageing of the skin, especially ageing due to the environment. Most of the nutrients and natural extracts that are shown to have protective effects are rich in antioxidants – nutrients that help fight the damaging effects of factors that accelerate the degeneration of body tissues.
Restore, replenish, revitalise and regenerate by mobilising its innate ability to repair and maintain itself
The antioxidant benefits of rooibos tea have been well established by research conducted through the Agricultural Research Council at Stellenbosch University. Rooibos tea’s antioxidants help prevent the damage to the skin and other body tissues that occurs with the natural ageing process. Rooibos tea has even been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancer caused by the damaging effects of UV sunlight exposure, which are also well known to accelerate skin ageing.
Most of the antioxidant and anti-ageing benefits were established through research on the fermented rooibos leaves commonly used for making tea. The focus now is on green or unfermented rooibos, since fermentation reduces the antioxidant content. Green rooibos tea is therefore believed to offer even greater benefits, and products now available include green rooibos tea extracts in skincare products and supplements.
Coenzyme Q10 is another potent antioxidant, very popular in the field of cosmeceuticals. It has been proven to reduce the visible fine lines of ageing on the skin, and is therefore another nutrient used in anti-ageing creams and supplements.
Vitamins C and E are two more antioxidant nutrients that have been shown to protect the skin, as they help fight against the harmful effects of free radicals from environmental factors such as pollution and the sun. Both topical application and supplemental intake of these nutrients are of benefit.
Berries, in particular blueberries, are known for their high antioxidant levels. Blueberry extract is believed to help in the prevention of premature skin ageing, as the antioxidants help maintain the elasticity of the skin by slowing down the hardening of its collagen and elastin components. Pine bark and grapeseed extracts are further well-known sources of potent antioxidants that help protect against the harmful effects of the environment on our body tissues and organs, including the skin.
Resveratrol, a potent antioxidant found in the skins of grapes, is also known to benefit longterm skin health. However, even though red wine is a rich source of resveratrol, regular intake of wine and other alcoholic beverages is known to accelerate skin ageing. To get the benefit without the booze, take resveratrol in a nutritional supplement.
Can we in fact obtain sufficient intake of antioxidants through diet alone? It may well be unrealistic, as a healthy, balanced diet including five portions of fresh fruits and vegetables a day cannot even provide our basic requirements for vitamins and minerals. To achieve sufficiently high concentrations of antioxidant nutrients, one does have to look at supplementary intake.
THE COLLAGEN CONNECTION
Collagen is the main structural protein of the skin, holding its other tissues together and ensuring its firmness and elasticity. As the skin ages, the collagen and other protein components of the skin change. Loss of firmness and elasticity results in wrinkling and sagging. New breakthrough research points to the ingestion of collagen in supplement form, to assist in the maintenance of the collagen components of the skin and help prevent premature wrinkling.
Euginie September of the Isa Carstens Health and Skincare Academy believes that a good deal of education is required to motivate people to be pro-active in maintaining a healthy skin. ‘It is a challenge. People know that nutrition is important to maintain a youthful appearance, but few are willing to change their eating habits. Look at smoking, for instance – the very real risk of cancer does not convince most people to stop.’
The harsh effects of our environment seem to influence trends in skin care. ‘There seems to be a shift in the enquiries for anti-ageing treatments and products, with younger women starting to invest in anti-ageing products and also more men seeking skincare advice.’
Euginie believes that increasing numbers of women are investing carefully in anti-ageing skincare products, and that they are prepared to look at lifestyle factors that affect their skin. ‘People do expect results before investing long-term in anti-ageing skincare products and nutritional supplements,’ she adds.
Positive results from research indicate that nutritional supplements play an important role in maintaining a beautiful, youthful skin. However, they should be used in combination with all the other elements of skincare, including sufficient water intake, regular exercise, a healthy, balanced diet, and a regular skin cleansing and moisturising routine. It’s as important to limit or avoid factors that accelerate skin ageing such sun exposure, smoking, alcohol intake, and exposure to pollution and stress.