A fabulous movie called ‘Fedora’ spoke about an ageing movie star’s fight against time. Secluded in an old villa, with only her mother for company, Fedora meets a young man whom she falls in love with. He marvels at how young she looks; only her hands give away her age. But, we learn at the end, that the old crone we know as the mother is actually Fedora. The woman we are told is Fedora is actually her daughter. And yes, her hands have been artificially aged to make the impersonation credible.
Ageing isn’t only about the face ‘wrinkling’ up into a little wizened prune. It involves the entire body and the parts most prone to ageing and, often the most neglected, are the neck, the hands and the feet. While we slather on the moisturizers and rich rejuvenating creams on the face, we do nothing for the hands and feet, apart from a monthly manicure and pedicure. And as for the delicate neck area, the first to give way, we often forget to even moisturize it!
The skin wrinkles and ages due to extrinsic factors like exposure to pollutants and the sun, bad nutrition, smoking and stress, and intrinsic ones like the natural process of the slowing down of cellular turnover and changes in the skin’s structure.
For instance, the fat that generally plumps up the skin in the face and the neck migrates to the torso as we age, leaving these areas hollow and wrinkly. The skin on the body, hands and feet becomes much drier than normal and tends to wrinkle much faster – after all, the skin here has already been through a lifetime’s exposure to harsh detergents and unfriendly shoes. The blood circulation to these areas slows down, and constant expressions and movement contribute towards lines and folds in the neck area. Here’s what you can do to make sure your body doesn’t age faster than your face…
NECK IN THE NOOSE
Moisturize this delicate area with gentle upward strokes. Use a moisturizer with gentle alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) to minimize wrinkly folds.
While you can camouflage your rapidly-ageing neck with carefully draped ‘dupattas’ or stoles, avoid going on drastic diets after you hit your 40s, unless you are obese and need to lose weight for medical reasons. A bit of extra fat on the neck and cheeks gives an impression of youthfulness.
We abuse our hands throughout our lives with domestic work and harsh detergents. We don’t bother with sunscreen when we go out in the sun. With age, the skin becomes drier and prone to wrinkles, taking on the appearance of dried parchment in extreme cases.
Applying a heavy-duty cream on your hands every night before sleeping works wonders. Massage the cream in well, and pull on a pair of cotton gloves to ensure that it stays on the skin for a longer time. Avoid the use of harsh detergents, and use rubber gloves while washing dishes to prevent further drying.
Do use a sunscreen on your hands. Most skin cancers are caused by overexposure to harsh UV rays, and often start on the hands. However, if you discover some dark spots or patches, don’t panic. These are probably liver spots, common on ageing fair skins. They are caused by years of cumulative exposure to the sun. The pigment in these cells has become overactive, and clumps together to form spots, which start as a light tan and gradually darken. If you feel uncomfortable about them, do go to a dermatologist and get them checked out to rule out any malignancy. “You can use a cream with two per cent hydroquinone like eslite or melalite to reduce the dark spots. Remember, apply these creams only on the spots you want to get rid of, as these could further intensify the dryness. If all else fails, your dermatologist could offer laser treatment to fade them.
Our feet are usually crammed into ill-fitting shoes, mostly left to their own devices, rarely pampered and often abused. Consequently, as our feet age, they start throwing up unwanted problems like corns and bunions. Very often, dried and neglected feet will also have unsightly cracks.
While the feet have large and active sweat glands, they also have very small oil glands, so this is one area of the body where you must moisturize regularly. You should apply a foot cream every night before bedtime and pull on a pair of soft cotton socks to allow the cream to work its magic. Soak your feet in warm water at least once a week, and remove dead cells with a gentle pumice stone. Do massage in a light foot cream after your bath and treat yourself to a professional pedicure once a month.
WALKING TO YOUNGER SKIN