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Aging With Edge

By: Annet King
Posted: June 16, 2008, from the August 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

It’s a fact that America is going gray. Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, now number approximately 78 million—about 31% of the population. And so Rolling Stone has been replaced on America’s coffee tables by the latest issue of AARP The Magazine.

Inside and outside influences

The buzzword these days is, of course, “anti-aging.” It’s a misnomer, however, because even a scalpel and laser cannot truly slow the sands in the hourglass. Still, there has been a radical shift in how those in the science and medicine professions consider and discuss the aging process.

Even a generation ago, drooping, sagging and wrinkling were commonly equated with the then-current understanding of aging. A woman of 40 or 50 literally was expected to look weathered. Today, it is known that the conditions frequently associated with aging are not the result of genetic or hormonal programming—otherwise known as intrinsic factors. They actually are primarily the result of the opposite, called extrinsic factors. The most significant of these is—you guessed it—exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Other extrinsic influences include environmental pollution, stress and nutritional choices. Even commonly observed phenomena, such as the breakdown of collagen and elastin in the skin that is concurrent with menopause, largely may be the result of free radical assault—which is extrinsic—rather than purely the decline of estrogen production, as once assumed.

The current medical thinking today is that if humans ate healthfully, were sheltered from environmental toxins, got adequate exercise and rest, and spent most of their lives indoors and away from the sun, their skin would look and feel plump, moist, firm and unlined well into the sixth and seventh decade of life. But is this anyone’s idea of fun?

Real-life age management

The boomer who constitutes the majority of your spa’s clientele has had her day in the sun—and she wants to have more. What can you realistically offer her?