The things we do to stay young! From exercise, injections to lotions and potions. We all want to look and feel our prime for as long as we can.
How long can we stretch this window? Does skincare actually make a big difference? Contrary to popular belief, skincare doesn’t play an active role.
WAIT WHAT? Before you throw out your anti-ageing creams, hear me out.
Cellular Integrity & Youth
Our entire body is made out of cells. Each cell contains our DNA, our biological blueprint. During physical regeneration/growth, each cell first replicates its DNA and other components, before splitting in two.
Our cells do not replicate indefinitely, hence our mortality. In our youth, this replication process is quick and mostly error-free. With chronological age, this process becomes decreasingly efficient and increasingly error-prone. This is why the ability to recover is generally better in the young compared to the aged.
Maintaining the integrity of our cells is key to staying young. As long as our DNA and cellular components are fully intact, we continue to look (and feel) youthful.
Biggest Cell Damagers
Although age compromises cellular integrity, the main cause of ageing is not age itself, but free radicals.
Free radicals are highly energetic, unstable and small molecules that can enter our cells. A free radical acts like a full blown balloon let loose. Like the released balloon, the free radical moves haphazardly within the cell, knocking over everything in its frantic path. The ‘knocking over’ of everything causes cellular damage, contributing to most of the ageing.
Free radicals are generated from normal metabolic activities of our body, and any source of stress. Stress can come from pollutants, potent energy sources (like the sun), cigarette smoke and alcohol.
It is my belief that long-standing emotional turmoil/worry are significant contributors to free radicals and thus ageing. For unlike the sun, we cannot avoid ourselves.
What All Anti-Ageing Products Do
Anything ‘anti-ageing’ is mimicking our natural perfect cellular replication. We’re not creating anything new, or outsmarting age.
Anti-ageing products protect cellular integrity, specifically by preventing DNA and cellular damage within the skin cells. Thus, conscientiously using skincare preventing cellular damage does make a difference to the complexion.
Now let’s look at some of the best anti-ageing ingredients. I categorised them into two groups I call Protectors and Rebuilders.
Best Ingredients for Youthful Skin
Protectors protect cell integrity. The paramount component to protect is our DNA for it contains all the information necessary for the functioning of our skin.
The sun is so powerful that its UV rays can directly access and damage our DNA. This is why sun protection is considered the most important anti-ageing practice amongst dermatologists and skincare professionals. Some remarkable peptides also protect DNA by induce DNA repair.
Antioxidants protect cellular damage by neutralising the harmful action of free radicals. They encompass a big group of ingredients from vitamins to minerals. The stronger the antioxidant, the more likely it causes irritation. The best antioxidant is not the strongest one, especially if you have blemish-prone or reactive skin. It is what you can use routinely without adversity.
Rebuilders improve the underlying (dermal) structure of the skin giving it firmness and resilience. Our main dermal constituents are collagen, elastin and long molecules like hyaluronic acid. (FYI, Application of hyaluronic acid does not increase dermal hyaluronic content of skin.)
The action of rebuilders can be strong or mild. Strong rebuilders like tretinoin and deep resurfacing lasers have a caveat. First they need to ‘destroy’ our outermost skin layer, the epidermis, to some extent, to cause an injury. This injury then signals our skin to activate repair, increasing collagen and other dermal components in this repair process.
Therefore, be discerning with any strong resurfacing ingredient or treatment. Serious complications will arise if our epidermis cannot fully restore. Our epidermis is the barrier. There can be no beautiful wall without a wall!
Are there rebuilders that do not destroy before they rebuild? Yes, but their rebuilding effect is not as drastic.
Despite so, I personally favour mild rebuilders e.g. plant extracts and peptides. The effect of mild consistency outweighs sparse intense activity – consider how our health is impacted by daily walks vs monthly brutal bootcamps.
With a dizzying choice of anti-ageing ingredients available, and the fact that more/stronger is not better, getting everything right is no small feat. This is we offer The Makeover and Complete Regime – we take all factors into account for the best results for your skin, no matter how complicated it may be.
Of the two, Protectors are the ones doing most of the ‘anti-ageing’, by preserving our cellular content.
Preservation is passive, for we are not actively ‘creating’ young cells. This is why I mentioned at the beginning that skincare does not actively keep us young. This prompts the question, is robust ‘active’ anti-ageing possible?
Absolutely, but not through cosmetic or external means. Youth is not just about looking young. We have to go deeper. What is the essence of Youth? What makes Youth youth?
YOUTH = LIFE
For me, Youth is Life. To be youthful is to be filled with possibility, vigour, wonder, fully feeling the feeling of being alive – all of which emanates into our physicality, making us look and feel young.
I relate Youth to Life not in terms of longevity, but its quality or Power.
What do I mean by Power? I’ll tell you, or better yet, show you on Part 2 on BLOOM. I am excited for you to personally feel your Power!
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