Forget ‘anti-aging,’ how about healthy, sustainable aging?

January 22, 2013

The latest Ecoholic column question came from a handful of readers wondering about what anti-aging products I recommend.  The truth is there’s a lot of BS in this field so you should take the claims on mainstream AND natural lotions and potions with not a grain but a handful of salt. (And no, I don’t suggest rubbing salt on your face). For natural products I do think moisturize well and/or provide good sun protection to help you age your best, read the column here. Speaking of aging your best, many of you told me we need to ditch the anti-aging attitude altogether and embrace aging gracefully. I totally concur! My gorgeous mom is the perfect example of a woman aging naturally with grace. She puts coconut oil on every night, monthly olive oil treatments on her hair and a weekly egg face mask. Now, if you want to be proactive about aging well  here are couple Brains Before Beauty suggestions from Ecoholic Body.

  • Put your vice on ice. Hate to be the party pooper, but yep, you’ve got to give up smoking (and excessive drinking too)—unless you strive for “smoker’s face” complete with grey, dull skin and wrinkled lips. Drinking a glass of red a day, on the other hand, isn’t so much a vice as a proven longevity booster. Phew.
  • Hit the snooze button. Well, actually, going to bed half an hour earlier would probably be wiser career-wise, but either way, the body benefits of sleeping a solid eight hours do transfer to your skin.
  • Zen out. Daily meditation, yoga or some kind of destressor will help keep your woes from weighing on your skin.
  • Chow down on anti-aging (read: proactive aging!) foods. No fad dieting here, just lots of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich foods such as bright fruits and veggies, whole grains, sustainable coldwater fish (see for a pocket guide to eco-safe seafood), beans, nuts, as well as probiotics and lots of water and green tea. In food form the antioxidants will help keep age-related diseases including heart disease and cancer at bay. And if you pick local, organic options, you’ll be keeping the planet happy, too. By the way, don’t be fooled by all the marketing-hyped nutricosmetics available today (foods or drinks pushing cosmetic properties). You shouldn’t put too much stock in, say, vitamin drinks that claim to fight wrinkles or lighten skin with natural licorice extracts.
  • Pick a sunscreen that actually works. This is easier said than done when so few sunscreens are both safe AND effective. Once you find a good natural one that is free of estrogen mimickers, make sure you’re applying a quarter-sized squirt for each limb. Got a few suggestions in this week’s column and more here.

Oh and avoid creams with retinyl palmitate (linked to cancer when exposed to UV light) as well as other unsustainable palm-derived ingredients. As I’ve mentioned in the column, in my books and here in the blogosphere, vital rainforest and peatlands are being cleared and endangered species like the orangutan are being seriously threatened all to make way for palm plantations. If your fave products use palm-derived ingredients, let them know it’s time to go palm-free!