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Change Please?

October 11, 2009

They say that in this world, the only constant is change so we had better get used to it. Well, that may be true but is it helpful? Does it make us feel happy to know that? Does it comfort us when we feel that the rug has been pulled from under our feet? I think not.

And what about the rate of change? I am a science minded being and talking about rates of change appeals to me. What people forget when they utter those immortal words from their position of smugness is that the rate of change matters. In fact, it is critical to what happens next.

Take for example the changes that happen in our bodies. There are good reasons why our skin starts to sag, as we get older. The system slows down, as we no longer need to be physically invincible, deliciously attractive or dynamically energetic. Indeed, if our bodies carried on pumping out the hormones and regenerating our cells at the same rate as a nubile 20 year old we may well be in trouble. Our bodies are designed (or have evolved) to give us what we need, when we need it – well, give or take! The cells all around our body slow down as we age to protect us from ourselves. A lifetime of enjoying all that our planet can offer be that lashings of sunshine, oodles of sugary treats or more than our fair share of moon shine takes its toll, leaving our cells a little tired and clumsier than they were. Mistakes start to happen, the ball is dropped a bit more often than usual and our internal vacuum cleaner has lost a little suction! Add to that our bodies’ battles with viruses, bacteria and fungi and our mental exhaustion from many decisions made and you have a system that has decided to meander through the rest of the journey – no need to run any more.

With luck, health and good genetics you may find that the ageing process is a gradual change, if you are lucky it may even be a small change. Not everyone is that blessed and that is one reason why the search for the elixir of youth persists. We don’t like change. Not even small change!

This year’s IFSCC (International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists) conference provided yet more evidence that change, where the skin is concerned is not good! We had presentations on a number of new sun protection strategies aimed at cutting back the risk of UV induced damage. We discussed ways of improving the skins barrier function, ways of enhancing delivery of precious anti-ageing actives to the appropriate locations and discussed how all of this could be measured. The message was loud and clear – we must FIGHT ageing on all battlefronts.
But should we be fighting? Isn’t change “normal”? There is a song out at the moment by Jordin Sparkes that goes something like “why does love always feel like a battlefield”…… That sentiment seems to be ringing true throughout the cosmetics industry. We are at war with our skin, forget loving the skin we are in, we want to fight the signs of ageing, to combat wrinkles and fine lines, to erase dark circles. Take that! All of this from the pink and fluffy world of beauty? Are we kidding ourselves or do we need to fight change?

To Go Out Fighting.
We don’t have to don the war paint and flak jackets but we do have to follow the rules of battle and be prepared. It doesn’t take many years of sunburn before our skin and our body starts to wave the white flag. Visually we may start to see pigmentation differences, scaly patches or changes in the appearance of our moles. Internally we could be doing much more harm as our cells start to become affected by the constant stream of energy coming from UV light. It makes sense to be pro-active and use sunscreen as well as adopting some “sun safe” common sense to preserve our good looks and vitality.

Along with the sun allergies, sickness, acne and other chronic skin conditions such as eczema can age the skin prematurely leaving it dry, pigmented and scarred. Anti-oxidants, AHA’s, moisturizers, fillers and some enzymes can help to re-balance and re-sculpt stressed out and damaged skin. Cosmetic Science provides the ammunition if you are up for the fight!

Or To Surrender?
With 60 being the “new” 40 and 30 being practically just out of nappies the wish to retain a youthful vigor is not surprising and with a plethora of technology at our finger tips why should we? We can sculpt, preen, disguise, re-build and nourish our skin in what seems to be a million different ways. The only change that we want is regression and why not?

That is all good and all empowering but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to make these choices in peacetime? I mean, why, when there is essentially nothing wrong with our 30, 40, 50 or 60 year old skin do we HAVE to go to battle with it? What is wrong with a few wrinkles – a sign that our body is reacting normally and slowing down as we age? And what is wrong with our hair greying a little? Doesn’t that show that we are wise, that we have lived, that we have a story to tell? Dye it, sculpt it and preen it at your leisure but do it without a fight – save that energy for bigger issues! In short, I believe that there are times to fight and defend what you have and times when you should enjoy, reflect and then celebrate the fact that you are still in the driving seat.

Change may well be the only constant in our lives but it is through embracing and taking control of change that we can become empowered. The cosmetics industry provides us with many high tech toys to play with, putting the rate of change in our hands. All we have to do is relax, have fun and leave the fighting to the soldiers.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 13, 2009 10:00 pm

    I think there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good, whatever age you are. As long as it’s not taken as the only obsession in life. Afterall, there’s more to life than preserving my look! 😀


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