The population is getting older. In fact, nearly one in five U.S. residents will be aged 65 and older by 2030.1 As such, the concept of youthfulness at every age has become a hot topic. Deepak Chopra is a strong proponent of the holistic body, mind and spirit approach to anti-aging.2
I wanted to explore the topic of anti-aging further, so I decided to speak with a good friend in the spa and beauty industry. Shelley Birnbaum is the owner of ReNew Botanicals, where she provides skin care services and an organic skin care line. She is a master esthetician with more than 20 years in the industry. Notably, she was green and organic before it was a trend, and she continues to be a trailblazer in the esthetics world. It is her motto of “aging with attitude” which made her the ideal collaborator for this article.
What made you chose the concept of “aging with attitude” over the concept of “anti-aging?”
Shelley Birnbaum (SB): I really dislike the term anti-aging. It isn’t about anti-aging. It’s really about looking our best. Our society looks down on aging, but in many societies, it is considered a privilege and the elders are revered. I think we all should consider it a privilege and a gift, after all, what is the alternative? So, embrace it!
Julia Louis-Dreyfus said to New Beauty Magazine and I agree, “I hate that word [anti-aging]! It should be something positive, like pro-aging.” We shouldn’t spend our lives acting like a victim of aging, but we still want to look fabulous. And you can and should look fabulous. Accepting the fact that you are getting older does not mean you should neglect yourself.
What are some suggestions for those who are also ready to step into the concept of “aging with attitude?”
SB: We hear over and over how we should eat a healthy diet, exercise and keep our minds active. More than ever, people today are concerned about what they eat, and they are purchasing organic foods. This is great because what we eat will affect our skin. I believe in eating what is local, organic and available seasonally.
Can you describe what this diet would look like?
SB: It is important to not only eat healthy foods but a diet rich in antioxidants and fatty acids. Antioxidants are compounds that inhibit oxidation, which can produce free radicals that damage cells.
In the fall and winter, I like to roast winter squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onion and garlic. Of course, leafy greens such as kale, Swiss chard and spinach should also be added to the diet. Fruit can be high in fructose, but it is beneficial in smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to get more fruit and veggies into your diet.
In the spring and summer, I switch to the beautiful array of veggies available at the farmer’s market. I eat more fruit in the summer, like berries which are high in antioxidants and low in fructose. A nice little treat is to indulge in a piece or two of dark chocolate.
As for adding fatty acids to your diet, eat oily fish rich in omega 3 such as salmon. Keep in mind that farm-raised fish may contain toxins, so it is always best to eat wild, sustainably caught fish. Grass-fed beef and dairy is another way to get the fatty acids.
Last but not least, take a high-quality omega-3 supplement. Make sure the label states they check for mercury and heavy metals. Discuss any dietary changes or supplements you may want to add with your doctor.
Explain how the mind affects our aging?
SB: In addition to nutrition, our frame of mind and outlook are important in keeping us feeling and looking our best. Everyone needs to find what works best for them to live a happier, fulfilled life. We hear repeatedly that we need to get more exercise, and that is true. Find what you enjoy and do it. This is about finding something you are passionate about—something you love. Even if we take care of ourselves with diet, exercise, massage and facials, that isn’t necessarily what we love or are passionate about. Well, maybe the massage and facials. For some of you, it may be music or art. Others may love traveling. Whatever excites you, do it. I truly believe when we find something that brings us joy, that carries on through every cell of our being.
What role do skin care products play in aging
SB: We need to be just as concerned about what we put on our skin. After all, our skin is our largest organ. So, it stands to reason that we need to respect and care for our skin as we do the rest of our body. We can do this without sacrificing results. Just as antioxidants and fatty acids are important in our diet, nothing is better to slow down the aging process and help keep collagen and elastin in good shape. It just so happens that pomegranate oil, rose hip seed oil, raspberry seed oil, borage and evening primrose, just to name a few, are rich in antioxidants and fatty acids.
Oils such as argan, moringa, avocado, etc. are rich in vitamins, as well as fatty acids such as omega 3 and 6. These fatty acids and vitamins also play an important part in keeping your skin firm and healthy. Herbs such as gotu kola, fennel and yarrow as well as essential oils of frankincense, carrot seed, rose, helichrysum and jasmine can be used in skin care products to nourish aging skin.
However, it is not just the ingredients that are important; it is how we use these products. Make sure clients moisturize twice a day to prevent the skin from becoming dehydrated. Dehydrated skin can lead to inflammation and sensitivity.
Tell me a little more about your approach to products?
SB: I believe that the products we put on our skin, like the food we eat, should come from nature. With respect to nature, I believe no plant should be sprayed with pesticides or fed chemical fertilizers. In keeping with respect for the environment, all products should be packaged in recyclable bottles and jars, and unnecessary packaging such as individual boxes for each product are not needed. I believe in formulating with a unique blend of predominately organic and natural ingredients. All plants should be sourced from reputable farmers using sustainable practices. Each ingredient should be as close to its natural state as possible to retain the benefits to your skin. Skin care products should be without: GMOs, parabens, synthetic fragrances, endocrine disruptors, propylene glycol, petroleum-based ingredients and plants that have been sprayed with pesticides or toxic chemicals of any kind.
What aspect of the face/skin shows our age the most?
SB: The eye area is delicate, and the skin around it is fragile. Therefore, it needs different ingredients than a facial moisturizer. Encourage clients to apply eye serum daily.
What product do we need the most to age with attitude?
SB: Never leave the house without sunscreen! The latest scientific studies tell us that we need a broad spectrum sunscreen. Most sunscreens in the market protect you from UVB rays. However, most of the rays that reach the earth are UVA rays. The UVA rays are present sunrise to sunset and penetrate the skin much deeper. UVA rays can cause free radical damage and the breakdown of collagen, which leads to wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and aging skin.
Is it ever too late to start addressing aging skin?
SB: As we get older, our skin and body go through many changes Using the correct ingredients for maturing skin will keep it looking smooth and subtle and will give the client glowing, beautiful skin. By taking good care of their skin, clients can be stunning at any age. The key is to start now.