Tuesday, December 1, 2009


As you age, the style of your skin changes. You start with a tight-fitting sports jacket, and you wind up with something closer to a pair of baggy pajamas. This transition is quite traumatic for many people, as our culture considers it deeply embarrassing for one’s body to betray any sign that it’s a day over 18. If given the choice to look wise and experienced or young and nubile, most of us would choose the baby face every time. Many factors work together to cause midlife wrinkles and the pruniness of old age. As the years tick by, the collagen and elastin fibers in your dermis— those components that make your skin flexible and resilient—begin to break down, loosening their hold on your skin. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to intervene. But if you must try, here are a few wrinkleavoiding strategies:

• Choose the right parents. Your genes have the greatest say in deciding how elastic your skin is, and how long it stays relatively smooth and unwrinkled. That’s why some people in their sixties look like they’re in their thirties, much to the chagrin of everyone around them. If you want a quick prediction of how your skin will fare over the next few decades, look at your parents. And if this leaves you too depressed to continue through the rest of this chapter, consider the possibility that you were adopted from a passing circus.

• Don’t use your face. Many of the deeper grooves in your face are usage lines that mark where your skin folds when you scowl, smile, frown, or look utterly confused. To reduce the rate at which these wrinkles form, stop expressing any of these emotions. Or just accept the fact that wrinkles add character to your face.

• Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoke damages skin, causing it to wrinkle prematurely. This probably happens because cigarette smoke reduces blood flow to your skin, starving it of important nutrients. And while quitting the habit may improve your lungs, it won’t repair skin that’s already sagging.

• Limit sun exposure. Ultraviolet light (both UVA and UVB) breaks down the collagen in your skin. This weathering process speeds up aging and increases wrinkles. To prevent sun damage, slap on some sunscreen and follow the good sun habits.

These techniques may slow the rate at which your skin becomes progressively more wrinkled, but what can you do to remove the wrinkles you already have?

There’s certainly no shortage of cosmetic products that promise ageconquering miracles. However, most skin creams do relatively little. On the practical side, they may moisturize your skin (as dry skin looks older) and shield it from sun damage (with sunscreen). The effect of other ingredients is less clear-cut. Although many anti-aging skin creams are packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients, their concentrations are low and there’s little independent research to suggest that they actually do anything. Similarly, vitamins, collagen, antioxidants, and other useful-sounding substances are unlikely ever to reach the lower-level dermis, which is where wrinkling takes place. Some creams contain ingredients that obscure fine wrinkles or scatter light, giving skin a “soft-focus” effect. Whatever the case, these creams can only hide aging rather than make lasting improvements. And lotion lovers beware: Some ingredients can actually aggravate sensitive skin or clog pores, exacerbating acne.

More drastically, cosmetic procedures like chemical peels, laser resurfacing, and microdermabrasion can improve wrinkles by removing excess dead skin in a strategic way. The effect is temporary, usually limited to fine lines rather than deep wrinkles, and may cause redness and peeling. For all but the most wrinkle-averse, it hardly seems worth the trouble. The truth is that if you live in your body for half a century, it will gradually develop the creases of use and abuse. The over-80 crowd will tell you that the relentless march of time leaves the human face with more grooves than a 45-rpm record (but first they’ll have to explain what a 45-rpm record is). The real decision you have to make is not how to fight wrinkles, but whether you want to accept them with dignity or become an increasingly desperate chaser of youth.

A variation of this wrinkle-avoiding technique is Botox injections, which paralyze the face muscles using a highly toxic nerve agent. (It’s the same substance that causes death by paralysis in improperly canned foods.) A Botoxed face temporarily loses some of its ability to move, and a face that can’t move has a hard time furrowing up a decent wrinkle. What you get is a sort of blander, wax museum version of your face. If you prefer being wrinkle-free to being able to move your forehead, Botox just might be your ticket.

Source of Information : Oreilly - Your Body Missing Manual (08-2009)

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