Aging is a complex topic that many in the beauty industry unfortunately try to make far too simplistic.
I hear it all the time from clients, that they've seen a TikTok video or an Instagram post stating something like if you take this one collagen supplement then that will solve your aging problem. Or if you stay away from the Sun, your skin won't age. Or this one serum is the answer to all that ails the aging.
But there are so many factors and reasons why the skin is showing signs of age. The only true single point that you can boil aging down to is the fact that your body is not functioning properly. But in order to move forward and help with the signs of aging, we really do have to dig into what's going on in the body and what is causing the malfunction.
So, with this blog topic I'm going to give you the reasons behind the bodily functions of aging signs and attempt to give you symptoms that you can match up to the condition. In addition, I'm going to give you some actionable integrative health tips to help prevent and correct the malfunction.
But keep in mind, this is a BIG topic that I could write an entire book on, but in the hopes that you'll actually read this whole thing, I'm going to keep it at a high level (short & sweet).
Glycation is what happens when most commonly glucose, but sometimes fructose, binds to a protein or a lipid molecule to form what is called an advanced glycation end product. (AGE)
What that means in layman's terms for your skin is that these glucose molecules attach to the protein that supports your skin, collagen and elastin, rendering the collagen and elastin non-functional.
Collagen and elastin are the supple strength underneath your skin. They are what provide the stability. And when these molecules attach to them, they're unable to make that supportive web, which results in a loss of elasticity and suppleness.
The symptoms you'll see when this happens are wrinkle formation in the form of a crisscross. So, think about the 11s on your forehead or the crow's feet on the sides of your eyes, these are from movement over time. You'll see this typically in straight lines. But when glycation is involved, you'll tend to see crisscross lines, that form a hashmark (and if you know this as the pound sign on your old phone, it's time to start checking for these kinds of lines.)
In addition, you'll notice a sallowness to the color of the skin. This happens because skin that has that cross-linkage will experience a loss of circulation. There is less blood flowing to each skin cell around those areas and there is less drainage from the lymphatic system, which results in that yellowy sallow color and also brown age spots.
Other signs are sagging around the jawline and sudden hormonal acne onset.
The best prevention for this type of aging is of course to eat less refined sugar. Recommended daily amounts of refined sugar are 45 grams or less. Pay special attention to what you're drinking. In my practice I've noticed that people tend to not have a high sugar diet in food, but they don't realize how much refined sugar they're drinking. Fruit juices, sweet teas, sodas, delicious Starbucks coffees, these are all really good examples of very high sugar drinks.
In forms of correction to this type of aging, it is very important to increase the circulation to that area. Excellent ways of doing this are Gua Sha massage (see here for my online course that teaches you how to do this massage at home) and facial cupping. Both of these techniques increase blood circulation and lymphatic drainage.
Foods that contain glycation inhibitors are buckwheat, asparagus, apples, green tea, blackberries, figs, citrus, parsley, sage, cherries, black and red grapes, and eggplant. These are all foods that you'll want to put in your diet if you are showing signs of glycation.
Products that contain reservitol can help reverse the formation of glycation. This is a component of red and black grapes, such as Oregon grape extract that's found in my Sandalwood & Reishi serum.
In person treatment that helps is microdermabrasion, with its circulation boosting suction.
Oxidation occurs when there is an imbalance of the oxygen gaining/giving electron cycle occurs. Oxygen is an instable molecule and is constantly taking electrons from other molecules. This is something that our body deals with every single day, all the time. The problems occur when there is an imbalance, and that results in essentially the rusting of your cells.
Just think of a car that has been exposed to the elements for too long. This is almost exactly what is happening inside your body.
Symptoms of this are thickening of the top layers of your skin, the epidermis. The skin will become tougher and less supple. Fine lines will deepen since the skin has lost that suppleness. The skin will become flaccid and dry.
All of this occurs because there is a buildup of toxic waste in the form of damaged cells inside your body.
The key to solving this problem is an abundance of antioxidants. You can get these in the form of food inside your body and products that you put on your skin. And I highly recommend you tackle it from both sides.
For consumption, the foods with the highest amounts of antioxidants are broccoli, spinach, carrots, dark chocolate, avocados, beetroot, radish, artichokes, and blackberries.
In addition you want to protect your skin from the sun because UV rays speed up oxidation. Fall in love with hats again. They really need to make a comeback. Over the centuries we have had some amazing hats created, they're beautiful, unique, absolutely gorgeous accessories. Go find some!
Oxidation can also come from the foods that you consume. When we overheat oils that are high in omega-6, we are putting foods into our bellies that will cause oxidation. So beware of frying your food in sesame seed, sunflower seed, soy, safflower, and corn oils. These oils are just fine unheated, but when you heat them to high temperatures they become oxidation vehicles.
Add to your diet foods that carry high anti-inflammatory properties, such as turmeric, oregano, star anise, peppermint, sage, rosemary, hazelnuts, flaxseed, and switch that sweet tea to green tea, baby.
Many products now carry antioxidants because we know how bombarded our skin is with oxidation. I refer you once again to the Sandalwood and Reishi serum, with it's sea buckthorn, clary sage, wild cherry, blueberry, grape and acai fruit additions.
Dehydration is the result of not having enough water inside the skin cells and/or around the skin cells.
Dehydrated skin will lose its bounce, show wrinkles more prominently, will have a sheen to it that makes it appear like parchment paper, will show dark under eye circles, have dullness and might even be itchy.
If you experience looking in the mirror one day and seeing tons of wrinkles, and then the next day not seeing the wrinkles as much, and then a week later seeing those wrinkles again, dehydration is probably playing a huge factor in your signs of aging. Dehydration can change from day to day so its effects can have a variance on your skin.
Prevention of this aging sign is definitely to drink enough water. The recommendation for a sedentary adult is 1.5 liters. For an adult that gets up, about, and around, it is 2 liters a day.
It is very important to note that only 75% of that amount is recommended to come from liquids. The rest of that needs to come from food. The hydration in foods is absorbed into the body more slowly and will therefore stay in the body longer.
Water-rich foods are things like cucumber, watermelon, tomatoes, celery, strawberries, and cantaloupes. Think of the fruits and vegetables that gush out over your mouth as soon as you bite into them.
In addition to just water that you get in your system, it is very important to make sure you have the correct balance of electrolytes, and I will tell you that the typical Western diet does not.
The balance of water outside your skin cells and inside your skin cells hinges on the balance of your potassium and sodium. Most people that eat a typical Western diet have sodium levels that are too high, and not enough potassium.
Use an app like the Cronometer to make sure you are getting enough potassium in your diet, and not getting too much sodium. An imbalance will allow your skin cells to seep too much water.
Things to stay away from in your diet are foods that are dehydrating. Things like dry cereal, chips, granola, and dehydrated fruits and meats.
When we consume these foods our body actually has to rehydrate them in order to digest them. So when you eat these types of foods (and you know which ones they are, they literally suck the saliva out of your mouth), you're stealing the precious water from your body. So if you don't have extra, don't waste it on these types of foods.
As for products that help this type of aging, it is important to understand that you can't really hydrate your skin from the outside. Your skin only absorbs a very small amount of water from the outside world. This is an important component of your skin, or it would constantly be absorbing everything around it. Think of taking a bath, if your skin could absorb a ton of water, you would just be a bloated sponge by the end of a 10-minute bath.
Now, that doesn't mean that there's no product on the face of Earth that will help you. There are two types of products that will help with dehydratiom, they just work by helping your body hold on to water instead of the product itself putting water into the skin.
The first are products with hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a protein that your body naturally produces that binds to water molecules. As we age we produce less and less of this, just like with any other protein in our body. We can use products that contain hyaluronic acid or hyaluronic acid alternatives. One such product is my Dandelion & Senna serum which contains Cassia angustifolia (the Senna plant), a plant-based alternative.
Using an oil that is high in vitamin E is essential for keeping water in your skin as well. Sunflower, hazelnut, and avocado are some of my favorites. You can find those in my Bearberry & Turmeric infused oil or my Ashwagandha & Sesame seed oil.
Inflammaging is a new term that refers to what happens when chronic low levels of inflammation lead to cell damage. This damage is either cellular senescence or the disruption of your body's ability to break down proteins into amino acids.
The inflammation can come from chronic stress, gut dysbiosis (an imbalance in the gut) or autointoxication (being exposed to or ingesting toxic substances).
Signs that you're experiencing inflammaging are consistent puffiness possibly accompanied by mild diffused redness, a loss of elasticity, and skin wrinkling.
This chronic inflammation is actually a really big topic because of the multitude of things that can cause it, but I'm going to try to make it as simple as possible.
If the inflammation is coming from gut dysbiosis, the most common culprits are refined sugar, gluten, dairy, high fat foods, and a poor omega-3 to Omega 6 ratio of foods.
Autointoxification is something that happens to everyone daily. We are constantly in contact with toxic chemicals, from pollution in the air, products that we put on our skin, and bacteria and pathogens we come in contact with daily. Some of these can be so bad that we actually end up breaking out with acne or rashes, but some of them are so low level that it just becomes a buildup that our body is unable to completely flush out.
The amount of stress that we hold in our body greatly influences how quickly our skin ages from this inflammaging. Our western lifestyle is a very high stress lifestyle, and unfortunately our typical culture does not promote activities that relieve stress from the body.
Prevention of this includes staying away from foods that cause inflammation, engaging in activities that release the energy from stress, and removing as many products as possible that have toxic ingredients out of your environment.
Correction of the damage caused by the inflammation starts with eating a diet high of anti-inflammatory foods such as ginger, turmeric, green tea, seaweeds and foods high in omega-3such as salmon, white fish, walnuts, chia and flaxseed.
Using products with the same anti-inflammatory ingredients is also important. Products such as my Peptide Shea Moisturizer which contains the seaweed spirulina, my Bearberry and Turmeric oil, and the Turmeric Enzyme Mask.
In person treatments should include Gua Sha massage to reduce inflammation and support lymphatic drainage. In addition LED treatments with red light are also anti-inflammatory.
Most people when they think of malnutrition they think of poor starving children on a different continent. However here in the western world, we are starving in a different way. Our calorie content is usually there, but we're not getting the nutrients that we need. Our foods are full of what is called empty calories.
We may eat a lot, but we still end up malnourished.
The symptoms for this form of aging unfortunately vary quite a bit depending on what nutrients you aren't getting. So this one can be a little bit hard to pinpoint on your own by just looking at your skin.
The best way to know if you're malnourished with some nutrients is to keep track of what you're eating. I once again refer you to the amazing free app Cronometer. You put in what food you're eating and it'll tell you exactly where you are on the nutrient list. I recommend doing this for a couple of weeks and don't even look at the nutrient list for that couple weeks. Just really put in what you're honestly eating and drinking and see where you are at the end of that couple weeks. Then you can adjust accordingly.
In order to correct this condition, you obviously want to start eating the nutrients that you're low in. In addition, you want to stay away from the foods that are empty calories, so foods like highly processed foods, very overcooked foods (because the more you cook foods the more nutrients they lose) and avoid a diet that does not consist of variety.
Unfortunately changing your diet is the only way to correct this condition. There is not enough creams, oils, or high priced serums in the world to change malnutrition. There is no outside treatment in any of the most luxurious spas in the world that can change malnutrition. It is all up to you my friend.
Even before the onset of menopause our bodies produce less and less hormones. And when perimenopause and menopause hit the production is slashed drastically.
The symptoms of hormonal reduction changes are less thickness in the dermis, so those lower layers of skin, less skin cell hydration, less elastin and collagen production resulting in a volume loss that leads to wrinkles from sagging.
Prevention and correction activities include making sure you are getting up and moving. A sedentary lifestyle speeds up hormone decline. Walk daily, do yoga, go swimming, it doesn't have to be vigorous activity but make sure that you are moving your body around more than just getting up from your desk and going to the printer.
Diet related changes should include making sure you're getting enough calcium, because hormone reduction results in bone loss. Bone loss will in turn result in less volume in your face.
Make sure you are getting the right amino acids to create collagen and elastin. If your body doesn't have the right ingredients to make collagen and elastin, it's not going to happen properly. You can read about exactly what amino acids you need and what foods to find them in in this blog.
There are cutting edge discoveries of hormone enhancing products that can be used on the skin. The skin not only has hormone receptors, it actually produces its own hormones too so products that contain hormone replacements ingredients such as soy, red clover, pomegranates, and evening primrose can be very effective. Take a look at the Sandalwood & Reishi serum for its pomegranate extract.
My favorite in-person treatment that helps with this condition is microcurrent. Microcurrent is a lifesaver for volume loss. Not only does it stimulate collagen and elastin production, it also helps to strengthen and tighten your muscles to visibly lift your skin. It is non-invasive and works with the energetic frequency of your own body.
Telomeres are the ends of your DNA strands that protect your DNA from degradation. If your telomeres become too short, DNA are no longer protected, and your DNA codes will start to break down.
The symptoms of this are skin atrophy. This looks like a reduction of oil production, volume loss in your epidermis, dermis and your subcutaneous fat layer, and the appearance of telangiectasia, which are those tiny red blood vessels that appear underneath your skin.
When your DNA is damaged it results in cell senescence, which I like to call zombie cells. You can read more about that here.
Essentially it is cells that are unable to function as live cells but are also unable to die and finish their life cycle.
Telomere shortening is sped up by smoking, obesity, chronic stress, and leading a sedentary life. So, first things first, don't smoke, make sure your weight is healthy, release the stress that's in your body, and get up and move.
In regard to correcting the condition, it's important to remember that telomere shortening is something that naturally occurs, however if the only cause of your telomere shortening was the natural aging process it is estimated everyone would live to 120 years old. So, there are a lot of extrinsic factors that we can control to experience longer lives with more vibrant skin.
Studies have shown that vitamin D3 supplementation increases telomerase, which is an enzyme that maintains the length of telomeres. This nutrient is found in salmon, tuna, egg yolks, and cod liver oil. Because it's a nutrient that's not found in a lot of foods, you can also seek out a supplement too.
In addition, studies have also shown that the curcumin that's found in turmeric may help protect telomeres.
For in-person treatments red light therapy is excellent at reducing the inflammation and encouraging proper cell turnover.
A series of peels can also help take away the cells that are experiencing senescence.
Welcome to the end.
I realize that was a lot of information, and I hope it helps you be able to zero in on some of the conditions you are experiencing. I know it can be so frustrating when you're attempting to correct a condition and you see a product or service working so well for someone else and when you go to try it you don't have nearly the same results.
And it's not because there's something wrong with you. It's just that you're experiencing different conditions and your body requires different treatments.
For most people they're experiencing more than one cause of aging. And that is why I just do not prescribe to the idea of one magic ingredient or one magic service correcting all of the symptoms.
If you're still questioning your skin symptoms, I invite you to come in for an Enlightenment Facial so that we can take a deep dive into what's going on and create a comprehensive treatment plan for you. You can learn more about that here.
Let your radiance shine!