Oh the Joys of Aging Skin.
A lot of things change as we age, both physically and mentally.
Skin, hair and nails can become more brittle, lose elasticity and wrinkle. By the time we reach age 80, it is perfectly normal to have lost as much as 2 inches of height, which can be attributed to the kind of compression in the joints, bones and discs that are part of the normal aging process. Our hearing and eyesight are not as sharp as they once were, and sleeping can sometimes prove to be a challenge. Our metabolism slows down, making it harder to lose and keep weight off, and our brain and nervous system do not function as efficiently as they did when we were younger.
While it may be true that how your body ages depends, in part, on your genes, lifestyle choices have a greater impact. Eating well and exercising can help with some of the physical changes we experience, while keeping ourselves engaged socially can help to slow our mental decline. Avoiding certain activities can help protect us and allow us to age with a little more grace. Let’s talk about the best ways to help our bodies ease into the natural changes that come with age.
Hair, Hair, Everywhere….Except on my Head
One of the earliest signs of aging many of us have is the graying and loss of our hair.
For some men and women, gray hair can begin as early as the late 30s. Hair turns gray when our cells stop producing pigment. Fifty percent of the aging population is gray by the time they reach age 50. The good news is, gray is all the rage right now. People who are too young to naturally have gray hair are going to great lengths – and expense – to make their hair look gray. Many seniors and boomers also choose to let their hair go gray naturally. If you decide to keep your hair au naturel, there are a number of haircare products designed for men and women with gray hair to help keep it looking its best.
If you are among the seniors and boomers who aren’t yet ready to sport a natural gray, there’s more good news. There are a number of products on the market today for both men and women to help preserve their natural color – or to try a completely new one! If you’ve never colored your gray before, it may be best to visit a haircare professional to have it done professionally. The average cost of a professional coloring is $83 per treatment. If you’re comfortable coloring your own hair, over-the-counter hair dye costs on average $8 per treatment. Just keep in mind that coloring your hair can increase the dryness and thinning issues that already are a part of the natural aging process.
Speaking of thinning and balding, both can be issues as we age. Unfortunately, we can lose as many as 100 hairs daily as a normal part of aging. Hormonal changes can add to the hair loss senior women experience, as well as normal hair growth patterns. While it’s true that Rogaine can help with hair regrowth, it may not work for everyone. There are some supplements, such Biotin, which can help with hair growth and thickening. Also, don’t just assume your hair loss is age related. There are other conditions which can lead to hair loss. Discuss your concerns with your doctor to determine if there may be something more than age-related hair loss happening.
In addition to going gray and thinning, hair also can become quite dry as we age. Oil glands shrink as we age, producing less oil, which is our hair’s natural lubricant. One of the best ways to help with dry hair is to wash it less frequently. Also consider using a natural oil product to nourish it, such as Argan Oil or Coconut Oil.
Connecting the Spots
So many things can happen to our skin as part of the normal aging process that it’s hard to know where to start. It becomes dry. It becomes wrinkled. And let’s not forget the age spots.
How our skin ages has a lot with how we treated it when we were younger – and in most of our cases, not as informed about proper skin care. Smoking, for instance, produces free radicals, which is bad news for the skin. It can cause our skin to look and feel drier, and to produce more wrinkles at an earlier age. The sun also is not our friend. Over exposure to the sun produces free radicals that damage our cells, leading to dry skin, wrinkles and age spots.
Even if it has not been a common practice in your past, it’s never too late to kick the smoking habit, apply sunscreen generously and wear a large-brimmed hat. And if you’re not already doing so, drink plenty of water. Too many caffeinated products, such as coffee, can add to an already-existing dry skin issue. Hydration of the skin should happen from the inside out.
There also are moisturizers and other products that can help restore moisture and keep aging skin looking its best:
- Vitamin A – revives dull, dry skin and can reduce the appearance of dark spots.
- Retinol – increases cell turnover and promotes the production of collagen, which helps aging skin stay smooth and firm.
- Vitamin C – this vitamin plays a vital role in collagen synthesis and can help prevent and treat UV-induced (sun) damage.
While none of these things will turn back the clock – nor would we want them to – they will help the aging process to move along more smoothly, skin and all!
Have some tips for skin or hair care? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.