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Natural, Knife, or Needle?

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Laughter greeted me as I walked up to the door of my Aunt Kelly's home. 'Sounds like you're enjoying a good joke,'#157; I said as I followed her into the kitchen.

Laughter greeted me as I walked up to the door of my Aunt Kelly's home. "Sounds like you're enjoying a good joke," I said as I followed her into the kitchen.

"We were reminiscing over some old photos of when we were young," she laughed.

"You both still look great!" I said, smiling at my favourite aunts.

"It's very kind of you to say that, but I am seriously thinking of trying those botox injections. I've seen the 'before' and 'after' and I want to look like the 'after' pictures. But the thought of having injections in my face gives me goose bumps," said Aunt Kelly.

"And I've been thinking about a little face lift," joined in Aunt Vera. "My wrinkles show even in my photos. But I heard cosmetic surgery requires anaesthetic, and that part scares me."

I looked at them and said, "Instead of deciding between knife and needles, how would you feel about a third option using natural products massaged gently into your skin?"

They leaned toward me and said, "Okay, tell us more."

Risky Business

I first expressed my concerns about knife and needle procedures. Botox injections are not a permanent solution; the reduction of wrinkles generally lasts about six months. The procedure is expensive, costing up to several hundred dollars. There's also a level of risk involved, as there is when any chemical is injected into the body. There are no long-term studies of possible side effects from this procedure.

Cosmetic surgery and the use of anaesthetics, on the other hand, pose recognized risks. Again, this kind of elective surgery is an expensive procedure and requires careful consideration and evaluation.

Avoidance Techniques

I moved on to the natural approach to skin care and prevention of wrinkles. Just to set the record straight, I explained that it is not possible to reverse years of skin-care neglect. What is possible is to prevent further damage and reduce the signs of aging, i.e., wrinkles.

It is important to remember that lifestyle choices can affect the health of your skin. Excessive sun exposure and smoking (including second-hand smoke) are the two leading causes of skin damage.

Both my aunts nodded. They were from the "bake in the sun until you look like overdone toast" era. Fortunately, both had given up smoking years ago. They listened as I explained how air pollutants, water pollutants, and some chemicals in skin care products can have a damaging effect on skin.

There are many ingredients to avoid, including mineral oil. The chemical structure of this petroleum-derived oil prevents it from being absorbed through the skin. Instead, mineral oil forms a fine layer on the surface of the skin, clogging pores and attracting dust pollution. Some tongue-twisting ingredients to avoid include the known allergens triethanolamine (TEA), benzyl alcohol, and formaldehyde. I told my aunts to be label readers and to remember the ingredients they don't want to find in their skin care lotions.

The Good News

"Now," I told them, "I have the good news." Natural ingredients gently promote the production of healthy skin cells. Rosehip oil tops my list for preventing wrinkles. It contains essential fatty acids and has a very high content of the antioxidant vitamin C. I recommended applying a light rosehip oil moisturizer immediately after showering while the skin is still moist and the pores are open from the heat of the shower. Rosehip oil promotes the retention of moisture in the cells. This plumping-up effect gives a smooth surface to the skin, reducing fine lines and wrinkles.

Now my aunts were really interested. They sat back and listened as I extolled the virtues of other proven skin care ingredients. For centuries, the herb camomile (Chamaemelum nobilis) has been used for its healing and softening properties. More recent research has shown that coenzyme Q10 and hyaluronic acid are effective antiaging components in skin care products.

Next, I told them about the function of wrinkle-prevention products. Formulas need a base carrier to transport the beneficial ingredients through the epidermal layer down to the dermal layer. Almond and olive oils are my first choices. Both are compatible to the natural oils of the skin and are quickly absorbed, leaving no oily feel. Understanding the theory behind skin care products would make my aunts savvy shoppers. When they asked the best place to find natural skin care cremes and lotions I told them they would have a great selection at their local health food store.

That night, there was no more talk about knives and needles-just a few laughs as we looked at old photos.

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