Recently, a colleague of mine, who I hadn’t seen in a couple of months, approached me for a hug–and I had to take a step back. I almost didn’t recognize her! I took a good look at her and could not get over how much thinner, youthful, and radiant she looked than the last time I saw her. Her face was smooth and supple, and her hair was super shiny and had a ‘bounce’ to it. She denied having a new love interest (she’s perpetually single by choice), nor did she add any expensive creams to her regimen. Instead, she revealed she had just lost twenty pounds, and is “just taking vitamins”. While I believe that weight loss greatly attributed to the overall improvement in her appearance, I couldn’t help but ask what ‘vitamins’ she’s now taking. I mean, I want to look good too!!
For many years, I’ve tried all sorts of lotions and potions—high end, low end, and especially fads (aspirin mask, Crème de La Mer, anybody?). While I believe my skin is ‘alright’ and people seem to think I am a good 5-10 years younger than my real age depending on the day (which I attribute to the extra pounds I carry and not necessarily my skin condition), I still haven’t found the miracle potion that will keep my skin plump, even-toned, glowy, and wrinkle-free. Instead, I’ve come to realize that while it’s a combination of many things, there are some other important key factors to staying young than those expensive creams at your local high end department store. What I’m talking about is being beautiful starting from the inside.
What you see on the outside usually reflects what’s going on inside. We all know that when we get that 30-minute power nap, it’s even better than having slapped on some $35 highlighter or blush to try to achieve that look that we’re simply alive. In the same token, when we’re ill with the flu, we look our worst in appearance: pale and sullen.
So, I’ve come to realize—why spend ridiculous amounts of money on expensive creams while I could also be working on what’s ‘inside’? A common goal to exercise, better diet, and taking vitamins is usually a healthier and longer life. The goal of lowering your blood pressure and perhaps reducing your risk for cancer is often enough to bring a person to the gym. But imagine how much better this package deal is when beauty comes along with the territory?
This brings me back to my friend who lost twenty pounds—she’s the picture of health and youth after having lost that weight. Nothing expensive added (she wore Cover Girl makeup that day and wears Aveeno skin cream), but just an improvement in her overall health and physical condition. She’s more beautiful simply because her internal chemistry is better than it was when she wasn’t taking steps to be healthier.
Below is a list of things that she has recommended (including this sheet from Oprah.com) and has now been passed around the entire nurses’ unit. I’ve reviewed them and realize that it all makes sense. Here is HER fountain of youth:
- Flax seed oil (a source of Omega-3, 6 Alpha Linolenic Acid): The only instance where fat is good. Omega-3’s are found in the fatty layer of our skin. These are considered the good ‘fats’. The more omega-3 acids we have in our body, the stronger that layer of fat will be in our skin, therefore making our skin plumper (fat is so good at that plumping effect, isn’t it?). The plumper the skin, the more diminished your wrinkles will appear. Makes sense! While the published benefits of flax to one’s overall health should be reason enough to add it to your daily supplemental intake, flax seed oil is also said to have anti-inflammatory properties (great for conditions like eczema and acne) and helps heal skin abrasions and bruises when applied topically. With what I’ve already mentioned, I expect everyone to run out and buy these babies.
Omega-3’s are believed to help Flax seed oil are available in seed form, pills, and in liquid form. Other sources of linolenic acid are: walnuts, olive oil, broccoli, and kidney beans.
- Fish Oil Supplements: another source of Omega -3 essential fatty acids, fish oil are also called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). We can see this added into plenty of foods nowadays, especially baby food! DHA are good for brain function (I, who suffer from chronic brain farts, need these desperately) and eye development. Because they are part of the Omega-3 family of essential fatty acids, I would apply the same benefits to the integumentary system as those listed above.
- Coenzyme Q-10 supplements: an antioxidant, Co-Q10 is known to help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. (Note: free radicals = cause of aging). It is believed that as we age, CoQ10 levels in the body decline, which makes sense that we should add it to our supplemental intake. It is said that Co-Q10 can boost skin repair and regeneration. Even more interesting is that studies have shown that rodents treated with supplemental CoQ10 lived up to 30 percent longer than those who were not treated. Note: The famous Dr. Oz actually recommends 300mg of Co-Q10 twice a day. Also, I’ve read years ago that the Co-Q10 found in creams can be inactivated when it comes in contact with the air (thank you, Pandy!), so one might benefit from making them instead. (Anyone want to take me up on this challenge?)
Other new things she has added to her regimen and swears by (that is nothing new to us):
- 30-45 minutes of exercise. Say wha? Yeah, yeah. I’ll get on that bandwagon again soon. From a medical standpoint, exercise makes sense. When you exercise, you’re increasing blood flow and oxygenation to the skin. And there’s nothing better to improve the way your skin looks than blood flow!
- Eight hours of sleep. Sounds cliché, but there really must be some truth to this one!
- Lots of water: she finishes two liters before the end of an eight-hour shift. I’d like to think I drink enough, but I could probably manage to chug some more.
One thing she didn’t add that I personally swear by is sunscreen. I never leave home without it. I know many beautiful women out there who don’t wear it AND love to sunbathe or go to the tanning salons and let me tell you, their skin looks dry, dehydrated, and they are sporting wrinkles already. In their 30’s, I would say that sunscreen in their 20’s would’ve been a good thing. However, it’s never too late to start, wrinkles or none.
So what do you think? What other beauty secrets might you want to share? What other supplements that you take in the name of beauty?