Anti-Aging, Clean Beauty, Holistic Medicine for Makers

Beauty Corner with Jewel: The Reason your Anti-aging Products Don’t Work

The beauty industry’s been lyin’, dawg.

I cringe at the idea of bottled beauty. It is so so missing the mark. There are a lot of factors in how gracefully we age, and very few have to do with how old we are, or especially what we’re applying to our face.

If aging is something you’re currently addressing, looking older gives you “inferior” feels, or you didn’t know aging is really just changes in your health: this is for you. We’re about to dive into some very relevant anti-aging talk. It’s a little known fact that you’ll have a much greater impact on your anti-aging efforts, not through procedures or topicals, but with nutrition and understanding why you age in the first place — I’ve even seen reversal with this strategy (wow).

Aging has very little to do with how many years you’ve been on this earth, y’all. Honestly, it has much more to do with cell-injury – sounds new and strange, but it’s a fact. I’ll explain why and how; plus how to prevent, protect, and even reverse, in just a second.

But, before we get to that, I have a few things to clarify.

First of all, by aging, I mean premature aging. Sure, we all get old and then we die as assuredly as taxes and that’s just life, right? But, we’ve been falsely labeling health deterioration as natural, normal aging – I’ll talk about that more in a bit. All you need to know now, is, that when I talk about aging, I’m talking about the premature, unnecessary part. This is the vassssst majority of everything you’ve come to associate with getting older. Pretty much all of it, seriously.

So, think about a person you know who has aged so gracefully — lookin’ healthy and glowy wayyy into old age. That is your potential.

Yes, really.

If you’re in your 20’s and 30’s and seeing signs of aging, this just means there is something your body needs. Honestly, if your body gets whatever that is, there’s a huge prospect of reversal. Right now I’ll just say there’s a reason the most glowy, aging graceful af, no lines on the neck women I have ever met were naturopaths. Just sayin’.

Second thing to clarify: my language in this hereee article is definitely associating the appearance of aging with something we’re trying to avoid. That isn’t because looking older is bad or wrong, but because it has everything to do with your body trying to tell you there’s a part of your health going off course – and that is something we’re trying to avoid, right?

I’m serious, every little thing. Age spots, lines on the neck, thinning brows, uneven skin, weight gain/loss, brittle nails, jowls, even wrinkles — they have an internal reason. This reason usually points to a specific happening in your body (like selenium deficiency, high cortisol, unhappy liver, etc). Yes, we’re getting real here. Again, that has nothing to do with you being bad or wrong or (wow) even, “broken”. No no no.

However, this is why topicals by themselves just won’t do what you’re aimin’ for. If you think you’re going to beat back an entire body’s worth of imbalanced-ness with a face serum, you’re probably starting to discover why that doesn’t make sense.

I’ve have to say, I had two motivations for writing this article: helping my lady friends feel better, body and mind. Hey, I’m a woman identifying thing, and as much as I wish it wasn’t the case, I know what’s up with women and how we feel about looking older. We associate our looks with our self worth, with our viability as a woman, with our success, etc. It fucking sucks.

Honestly, the best thing to happen to me in regards to my self image was to understand that our appearance changing is informational — and it’s meant to be.

Your body wants you to know what’s happening inside it so you have the chance to help it. It’s the way we’re programmed, for real. Everything inside has an outside reaction, and that’s a good thing. Even so, it’s really unfortunate that no one could tell you that before. It saves a lot of heartache. The second we stop seeing changes in our body as a curse, and more as a quick telegram from our insides, that’s the moment we’re happier.

It’s very important to separate health needs from feeling aging, and to know how to listen. Part of what I want to do here at Uncouth Youth is help you know wtf these little messages mean so your body isn’t such a mystery – and there’s so much more to come.

I write all of this to say: your body makes sense.

“Aging” is the reaction to situations you can avoid, and my only goal is to help you look as good as you feel, aka great. What I’m not advocating is an unhealthy focus on appearance, or self worth based on how you look. This is meant to be an overall glow-up.

@mich.dawn in Austin, TX

Now that we cleared that up, on to the facts! With the help of Jewel Watson – our resident anti-aging aficionado – we want to help you know you have the power. Also, that beauty (which is just health) is simple. We’re hoping you won’t ever have to think negatively about time-as-we-know-it – but especially aging – ever again. That way you can get back to just livin’ your life, getting your antioxidants, and doing what you love, amiright?

These are all very well documented aging theories — and, thus, anti-aging theories. No complicated skin care regimens, procedures, or expensive creams here: because it’s way simpler than that. When you understand why aging happens, you’ll automatically know how to counteract it, superheroine-style.

We fight aging with principles, my dudes, not magic products.

So here we go.

Why Topicals Don’t Work

Oxidation / Free Radical Damage: Oxidation. Almost sounds like it could be healthy… maybe? No, it’s not. It’s the result of Free Radicals and causes cellular damage, aka aging.

Which… Free Radicals… you feel like you’ve heard that somewhere. Maybe it was that official sounding word in one of those commercials where a model splashed water on her face and, ahhhh Aveeno? – you know what I’m talking about, right? Antioxidants and free radicals have been thrown around a lot, but has anyone ever explained to you what they are? Well it gets a little chemical, but we’ll take it slow. A Free Radical is a molecule or piece of a molecule with an odd number of electrons, still with me?

Now, personally, I don’t mind flying solo, going to the movies alone and stuff. I guess electrons, though, they care. Without their pair, they’re very unstable and a little reactive — a lot reactive, actually. Without their partner electron, they quickly find other molecules to rob electrons from. They’re just trying to regain stability, but stealing just isn’t the way, guys. Once they steal from one molecule, that molecule becomes a Free Radical too, and has to go on to steal for itself. Can you see the domino effect?

This process is called Oxidation, and cascades along to cause a lot of disruption and irritation to cells. It damages DNA and diminishes the amount of energy a cell can produce — which causes aging. This damages your tissues, and tissues are, well… everything. This causes your cells to break down much earlier and faster than would normally be in the cards.

Meet my new very best friend (at least that’s how I feel after reading his well-researched aging documents) Dr. Harmon, who has something to say about that.

Denham Harmon M.D., Ph.D (aka the founder of the oxidative theory of aging) thought that: “many of the degenerative disorders we associate with aging, including cancer and hardening of the arteries, are not inevitable results of the passage of time, but rather are the result of the breakdown of nucleic acids, proteins, and cell structures caused by the presence of free radicals”.

You said it. If we begin to stop associating aging with time and more with – well, to put it bluntly – damage; you can start to get a better picture of why we look older, feel older, and even begin to get sick. They’re all correlated, but not with age, instead with how much time we’ve had to come in contact with toxic bullshit. See the difference? Causation vs. correlation, people, look it up.

BUT as scary as that sounds, when you end the process of oxidation the majority of this can heal and go back to normal.

Which means, now you’re asking, how do I do that?? What are these sources of free radicals I can avoid, and how do I get my current electrons to stop being delinquents?

Well, Free Radicals are a natural part of our metabolism — in really small amounts anyway. The part that makes the biggest difference are the LOADS of toxic stuff we come into contact with just livin’ our lives. I’m talking outside sources: aka the junk we’re around all the time but hardly notice anymore. These are additives, heated oil (think frying), chemicals in makeup, cleaning products, hair products, burnt food (carcinogens), radiation from our electronics, air pollution, gasses from our furniture, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and then the obvious ones like alcohol and tobacco/smoke of any kind.

But the big one? Diet. No, this isn’t another generic plea for you to eat cleaner. Yes, choosing the cleanest foods/sources possible is important, but all of us have heard that by now. Something you may not have heard, though, is to consider how your particular body processes the foods you’re eating, and which foods are good for your one-in-a-million body, the way it is right now. Oxidative stress actually has to do with how your body processes the food, just as much as if the food is good quality (although being of good quality usually makes food easier and cleaner to process in general, so don’t abandon your organic commitments just yet). What I mean is, just because it’s good quality doesn’t mean it’s good for you. More under Gut Health below.

So, in working with free radicals, first we remove the source (paragraph above), now we increase the amount of items we take/eat that repair our chemical structure and cells.

And… what are those?

Antioxidants. These are bonafide, chemistry backed protection against free radicals, and repairing agents. Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, fruit extracts — what have you — that have electrons to spare. That means they stop the domino effect — because stealing one of their electrons doesn’t hurt them at all. When a free radical runs into, say, a Vitamin C molecule, the free radical becomes not a free radical anymore. Even so, the Vitamin C is still stable, and a productive member of society (no delinquency for Vit C).

Here’s a quick intro to your antioxidant superheroes: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Grape Seed Extract, S.O.D, and so on. (more on these in my follow up list, 10 Anti-Aging Tools You Never Knew Existed,) Most of these are safe at high doses, especially if you use the emulsified version of the fat soluble vitamins (this means, very absorbable). And Vitamin C, he’s a baddie. You can essentially take as much Vitamin C as you want. The only side effect when taking too much is a quick bathroom break or two – then you’ll know you’ve hit your ceiling and can back off a little. It’s nearly impossible to “poison” yourself with this vitamin, so don’t be shy.

Antioxidants are a HUGE part of anti-aging, I would say THE part. This you’ve likely heard, but never knew why.

I take a few different forms, multiple times a day, and have a few in my skin care products, too (you know, in addition to everything I’m doing inside my body).

Antioxidants: aka, they keep the cells from breaking down, aka you’re not aging, aka we like them.

Toxic buildup: You could say this is a sub-genre of free radical aging. We just learned this new buzzword, “Free Radical”, and how it damages cells aka tissues aka ur face, and so on. So yes, when cells come into contact with poisonous shit, oxidation ensues. Usually this contact, though, isn’t quite a “tag you’re it”, one touch and it’s gone, thing. No. Usually we pick this stuff up, bring it with us. It hangs out for days, years, or even forever, continually making Free Radicals the entire time. Some examples? Heavy metals, hair products, pesticides, nail polish remover, fluoride in our water/toothpaste, undigested food, and so on. So in these cases, yeah, you’d want to take lots of antioxidants to minimize damage, but they’re just a band-aid until you get this stuff out. Some of these are hard to get rid of (think, heavy metals), which is why we want to avoid them as much as possible. Some just take a little attention and some routine cleansing. Ps, did you know it’s recommended to do a full body cleanse at the change of every season? Somehow, I figured you didn’t. Get with your naturopath and see which are best for you (really, if your spleen is low functioning Raw diets will HURT you, and there are other constituents like this, so it’s important to figure out what your body needs). Some cleanses even come prepackaged as a fiber, detox, flush-ing trio straight from your closest health food store – it isn’t always as time consuming as a juice fast, so do it.

Speaking of fiber, that’s a biggie. Fiber, like psyllium husks and flax seeds, actually bind to toxins in the gut so they can be eliminated. Fiber is so so important when detoxing so the toxic stuff doesn’t just re-circulate into your system – the common thing. Pectins bind to heavy metals and help get them the hell out, also. All of this reduces your toxic load, and the pressure on your liver. Which conveniently reminds me…

The liver is a HUGE factor in aging. If you take extra good care of you liver, monitoring it and doing regular flushes and cleanses with the help of someone who knows what’s up, it will be very very hard for you to prematurely age, get sick, and it will be especially hard for you to get cancer – for real. (Check out A Cancer Battle Plan by Anne Frahm for more on this)

Gut Health/Malabsorption: An extension of both of the above is gut health. The only consistent, surefire way to get rid of toxins is through the gut (also fiber and regular movements if you know what I mean) and the only consistent, surefire way to keep free radicals away is to not have toxins buildup in the body.

If the gut isn’t working smoothly, easily, and consistently, it isn’t clean. If the gut isn’t clean, the liver is backed up and the blood is toxic – ahhhhh what.

If the liver is backed up, there are a lot of bits in your body causing free radical damage. Sounds extreme, but in this day and age, this is likeeee… everyone. I don’t say that to scare you, it’s just the truth. I know what you’re thinking, It sounds like a major, scary thing that you must be able to feel this happening, right? There has to be a reaction, or sign, that you would know to start paying attention? Well there is, but you ignore it. These signs and symptoms are dismissed as “getting older” —  not sleeping well, more headaches, less energy, slow digestion, bloating etc. It’s not really your fault, doctors generally make us feel that it’s normal to be uncomfortable, but it isn’t. That’s why, never think of something that is uncomfortable as normal. Feeling vibrant and healthy with zero hiccups in digestion is where we all can aim to be, no matter how old. It’s entirely possible – and preferable for your health and anti-aging regimens tbh. You should be having two smooth, uniform, odorless bowel movements a day. They should look like they recommend in this bomb-ass article. Anything other than what’s suggested here, and you’ve got some tweaking to do.

But past the liver and free radicals, this is another reason gut health is mega connected to your appearance. If there are lots of toxins in the body and the gut isn’t getting rid of them, that means the kidneys are now trying to (woahh anatomy lesson: the kidneys are where pee comes from). But honestly, there’s only so much they can do. If the bulk of toxin get-rid-of-ness is left to them, it’s not gonna cut it. If this happens, the body will look to the third and final member of the get-the-bad-shit-out system, the skin.

The gut is your skin, the skin is your gut. If the gut is irritated, the skin is inflamed. If the there’s leaky gut (holes in the surface of the digestive tract where particles of food slip through and cause not-real allergic reactions) the skin is inflamed. If your body is trying to eliminate toxins out of the skin, it’s irritating the skin in its deepest layers and then allll the way out. Acne is also a sign of gut health, which I am all too familiar with. The fact that my deep, big, painful under-skin acne went away the second my digestion was in order, that was a welcome insight.

I can hear a lot of y’all now, “But my acne is caused by hormone imbalances!” Let me ask you, though, what causes those hormone imbalances? Did you know probiotics in your gut plus the actions of the liver break down extra estrogen? Aka, if gut health isn’t tip top, both of those aren’t doing their jobs, so your hormones are inherently imbalanced. Also, if the liver is overwhelmed, you aren’t digesting fats well. This means the liver can’t balance cholesterol levels, and cholesterol makes hormones. Looky there! Another gut reason for hormone imbalances. Ps, chemical imbalances don’t just “happen”, they themselves are a reaction to something else in your body. Always dig in and find the root cause for maximum results, like so.

Another thing? If the gut is out of order, you also won’t be absorbing nutrients well, equaling dull and lifeless skin, also skin that’s more easily wrinkled. A big truth. Beauty comes from the inside out. If you’re breaking out, skin is dull, hyperpigmented, or any major/minor skin issue, it’s a sign that the gut needs some attention. That’s the truth.

Telomere shortening: This one is a little more obscure. The kicker, and a focus of Jewel’s in her practice. This is actually why we get older. This is why we have an expiration date. Past all of the preventable symptoms I’ve been referencing up until now, you know, the ones we mistake for aging, this – telomere shortening – is actually why we go. Think of telomeres as those little plastic caps on your shoe strings. They keep your laces from fraying, just like telomeres on the end of our DNA. As we age, and every time a cell splits, the telomere shortens a tinyyyy bit. When we are born, our telomeres are 11,000 bases long, and by the time we’re old and grey, more like 4,000. This is the actual, down home, natural form of aging, and the only one I will tolerate being categorized as such (don’t try me). This does account for body deterioration etc, but slowly, generally gently, and much later in life. Even though this form of aging is natural and DNA coded as can be, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way you can support your telomeres in staying long and healthy, as long as possible. Jewel made me privy to this substance called NAD+. It’s a coenzyme needed for “all fundamental biological processes that make life possible”. Ok, that had my attention. But what it also does, is aid in DNA repair. Aka, give the telomere’s what they need to stay as long as possible, for as long as they can. In some instances, they’ve even been known to help repair damage to the DNA and telomeres. Um, wow. So healthy telomeres, mean a healthier you, for much longer. I go into this a little deeper in my list, Top 10 Anti-Aging Tools You Didn’t Know Existed.

Tension in the face: This list item has more of that directness you’re used to: actually touching the face! Jewel practices something called The Natural Facelift, which is a bit like holistic BoTox – only without all the needles and whatnot. So first off, do you know how BoTox actually works? Did you know it’s a neurotoxin? Injected into the skin/muscles to stop the brain and nervous system from communicating with the muscle it’s injected into, so it smoothes and, in essence, eliminates wrinkles. From this angle, what if we could just relax the muscle in a different way, but permanently, and without endless injections (of venom, no less). How? By getting to the root cause of the tension and relaxing all the right muscles with approximately zero toxic substances. So if this is the basis of the BoTox thought process, it gives sooo much validity to the fact that facial tension causes wrinkles, which is the focus of our last aging-originating topic.

Anyway, so this is exactly how solutions like The Natural Facelift work. All the principles of BoTox, except without it. Just another thing I talk about in that Anti-Aging Tools list.

One of the principles of this method is getting to the root cause of your tension so you can work it down to nothing. One of these root causes? Jaw tension. This is actually a major sign of adrenal fatigue which we all have. Quick test: are you or have you ever been stressed? Open your mouth wiiide wide. Does it click or crackle? You have adrenal fatigue. A fun side effect of adrenal fatigue is jaw tension, and just in case you didn’t know, your jaw muscles wrap allllll the way through your face and around your head. The muscles of mastication (aka jaw muscles) connect to the skin around your eyes, forehead, neck, scalp, mouth, cheeks, etc. If your jaw is tight, your facial muscles are tight, and you’re saggin’ sister. Same with tension in the neck and shoulders, which women tend to carry. This will start to pull everything above it down, aka, what looks like aging, and is a large cause of “jowls”. Get with your naturopath to discuss which supplements will help you get back on track with your adrenal health to address the underlying cause of this, mmmk.

Can we stop and wonder for a second why no one has thought of this before?

(Side note, I have no shade to throw at BoTox users. My beef is with the practitioners who won’t dig a little deeper or try to find permanent solutions for their patients, end rant)

Memories and disposition: Another root cause? Emotions and general attitudes. Yeah, I know how it sounds, but don’t take this lightly. Work through your shit people! Compartmentalization and a downer attitude, well, your face will literally stick that way! And wrinkled and pulled and stuff. The way we’re feeling, even what we’ve stuffed wayyy down, filed away, always shows up in our face. I’m sorry hun, but RBF isn’t just the way your face is, you’ve got some shit you aren’t dealing with. I can tell you from personal experience – Chels, the teen RBF queen. I also used to tell people, “well, that’s just how my face looks”, but then I unpacked my angry angry victim-y scared bb within and suddenly well… I was no longer a resting bitch. I was an active bitch, and on my terms, not when I was letting my guard down and letting my face do what it’s meant to: show how I feel.

           And, as Jewel puts it, these un-dealt-with emotions? Picture a mansion with a ballroom. No one really lives there right now, it’s just chillin’. Someone, though, turned the lights on in this ballroom and forgot to turn them off. *Eco-waste shudder* So that’s a big room. Lots of lights. Now there’s all of this energy being wasted, lighting a ballroom that no one is using or knows is sapping watts. This is what happens with compartmentalized emotions. They are there, using up your energy day in and day out, until they’re resolved. This depletes the hell outchu, and anything that is depleting you, is aging you. So not only are emotions causing facial tension, thus, wrinkles; they are also expending your limited energy in majorly inefficient ways, that could no doubt be of better use elsewhere – like your digestion, or cellular detoxification maybe?

So there it is: get your antioxidants, take care of your DNA, don’t ignore your emotions, find someone (a naturopath) to help you have forever-good gut health, and drop me a line below, telling me which part of this article will change your anti-aging regimen the most. Now, can you see why topicals are literally the tip of the iceberg? (Get it, it’s just for the little bit you can see, punny)

So no, aging isn’t just about getting older, or not having the right lotion, but tacking on more years does allow time for these scientific no-funs to accumulate. Think causation vs. correlation. Aging is more an accumulation than an act of god, and these stockpiles of shit-we-don’t-need can easily be whittled down with the right antioxidants, attention, supplementation, and detox regimens. Meaning it is ever-so possible to look and feel healthy well into old age, as we’re meant to. So next time you think, eh, I must just be getting older, give yourself more credit.

Additionally, if you have a thorough understanding of why something is happening, you can easily counteract it. That’s why in the way of the body, knowledge is power. So here’s more power, from me to you.

X and a million O’s

Chels

And p.s., make sure you check out that follow-up piece I’ve been mentioning, The Top 10 Anti-Aging Tools You Didn’t Know Existed. Jewel and I teamed up again to make another gem of a guide on aging and well, the tools you didn’t know existed.

Photo set by Michelle Waggoner, @mich.dawn

Jewel Watson is a natural beauty practitioner and industry veteran, having worked in the beauty world for nearly 28 years. She began as a hair stylist and color specialist, working in color correction. She started moving away from hairstyling when she no longer wanted exposure to harsh chemicals, while simultaneously becoming more and more interested in anti-aging, natural beauty, and detoxing, discovering the link between nutrition and anti-aging. She started delving into all things esthetics and aesthetic, building up her current modality – The Natural Facelift.