let's face it -- in a world where air and water pollution, bombs and poverty kill thousands daily, are wrinkles really a big problem? Strange, but in our youth-fixated, wisdom-denying culture, they turn out to be a widespread concern.With little respect for history or for the seventh generation ahead of us, we are locked into forever nowness, and signals of time passing are not hailed positively. Many of us are working toward an era when a crease in facial skin will signify that the owner actually has had enough worthwhile experiences to enrich the common good.
How to hasten that fine moment?
Every time you wear a wrinkle without worry or seek counsel from an elder, that day gets closer. It's a struggle, of course. There are many temptations -- and a whole ad empire -- eager to lure us into spending wads of cash on magic potions. Resist. If you find you can't stop obsessing over your appearance, train yourself to think of anti-aging as an attempt at good health.
Exercise is the number-one anti-aging elixir. Get your heartbeat up for at least 20 minutes at a time at least three times weekly, and to keep your bones healthy, make it exercise that forces you to carry your own weight -- walking, running, dancing, squash (swimming and cycling don't count). At least once a week relieve your stress with yoga, tai chi or Pilates. Get enough water -- if your daytime urine isn't clear, you're not drinking enough.
Keeping skin young is also a matter of eating enough foods that fight the aging effects of free radicals. You're looking at five to seven servings of fruits and veggies daily (a serving is a half-cup of cooked plant or one cup raw). Don't smoke -- it breeds wrinkles.
Sun exposure is a skin killer, too. Besides sunblock, the new way to protect yourself in an ozone-depleted age is with topical vitamin C, formulated for easy skin absorption. I use Jason's Hyper-C Serum, about $30 for three months. Those with more cash to burn can check out Cellex-C: a three-month supply costs $82.50, available at the Anti-Aging Shop.
If you can't leave the issue alone, an acupuncture face lift is an option, as is the relatively non-invasive high-voltage electricity face lift. The pros carefully choose which muscles to stimulate. Last but not least, this is a great arena in which to practice keeping your individuality and sense of perspective. Try asking what you will liberate in yourself if you decide to live a life free of the demands of advertising execs and their airbrushed fantasies.
EXPERTS"You earn wrinkles and grey hair; they show you've journeyed through life and been through the struggles. Developing a strong sense of self is one of the healthiest things one can do, both for facing the trials that life presents and for having a healthy body image. If you are gentle, non-judgmental and generous with yourself, you're more likely to take good care of yourself."
JEN GREEN, naturopath
"A lot of points on the skin are stomach points, so a lot of skin problems are related to digestion. The spleen and stomach provide internal energy. You need enough internal energy to push nutrients to the skin surface; wrinkles and lines happen when not enough nutrition gets to the skin surface. An acupuncture face lift, especially in combination with attention to overall health, can have dramatic results."
EMILY CHENG, acupuncturist, aesthetician
"In the East they respect age; people will lie about their age to make themselves seem older, though that's changing now."
SHIRLEY MA, Jungian psychoanalyst
"When we work with people, their appearance changes. I think individuals who learn to accept themselves and take responsibility for their own particular attributes, behaviour and responses become comfortable in their own skin, and those people are very attractive."
JoANNE GREENHAM, Gestalt Institute
"We use a combination of exercise, nutrition and metabolic balancing for best health. Surgery doesn't reverse the aging process. It fixes the skin, and the aging process continues."
VINCE DeMARCO, MD, Clinic for Optimal Health and Rejuvenation