Anti-Aging Secrets of the Ancient World

There are some that say with age come wisdom, tranquility and relaxation. But for many of us approaching the age of senior citizen, sometimes just the incidence of an unflattering light can feel so unkind. Most every woman wants to be kind to her looks and keep them there. But what choices or decisions does one make about a potentially sagging or wrinkling face that approaching senior age may bring on? Magazines and ads everywhere offer the range of modern anti-aging or rejuvenating products-creams, lotions, vitamin based supplements, and even small hand held electrical massaging machines. And they all work miracles-according to experts for each and users of each. So how can anyone make a choice of “wisdom, tranquility and relaxation”?

Giving your attention to care for the face in terms of rejuvenation and anti-aging is not just a modern phenomenon and impetus. Women since ancient times have established the importance of discovering and use of mixtures that will have positive results. Caring for the face, using products for anti-aging and rejuvenation has been documented since ancient times. Myths and legends surrounding the use of aloe vera in ancient times suggest that it was an important part of the beauty regime of the Egyptian queens, Nefertiti and Cleopatra. Medical papyrus in burial tombs from the 16th century BC have been found that contain detailed recipes to remove wrinkles, blemishes and other signs of age. One of these allegedly successful remedies consisted of these ingredients: gum of Frankincense, wax, Moringa Oil, cyperus Grass and Fermented Plant Juices, recommended to be applied daily. Unfortunately, because of the devastation of native plant species around the world, the exact duplication today of this anti-wrinkle cream is not possible. But a close substitute recipe anyone today can easily make up is: One Teaspoon Sweet Almond Oil, Two Drops of Essential oil of Frankincense, one drop of Rose Attar, (also a very gentle oil reputed to heal and strengthen facial skin and well known to the Egyptians), Apply to the cleansed face nightly with a gentle massage.

During the Tang Dynasty in Tibet in 618-907 AD, sea buckhorn was known to be used on the skin and face. We know now that the berries of this plant are a source of major antioxidants Vitamin A, C, E, and other important minerals.

In Medieval times, documented facial practices for rejuvenation are found such as the following recommendation: “boil the leaves [of rosemary] in white wine and wash thy face therewith, thy beard and thy brows, and there shall no corns grow out, but thou shall have a fair face.” (Banckes’ Herbal, 1525). This is worded so specially as to almost sound like a religious decree!

When it comes to creams and lotions, of today there are thousands of products claiming the range from miracle results to specific remedy. What can their listed ingredients tell you about the product? The ingredients may sound different from the prescription but ingredients that really are beneficial to the face for rejuvenation and anti-aging may not have changed throughout the ages. The specific choices mentioned in the Egyptian papyrus and Medieval manuscripts include a mixture of fruit juices with specific vitamins, oils and herbs and minerals with specific properties. Our research of today can help us to be as knowledgeable as the ancients when choosing over the counter face creams for anti-aging and rejuvenation.

According to the Mayo Clinic the following ingredients have been determined to be modestly effective to reduce wrinkles and prevent or reverse damage caused by aging and sun exposure:

Vitamin A (retinol)
Retinol is a vitamin A derivative and is the first antioxidant to be widely used in OTC wrinkle creams. Antioxidants are substances that neutralize free radicals – unstable oxygen molecules that break down skin cells and cause wrinkles. Retinol is less potent than the vitamin A derivative tretinoin, the only prescription topical treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating wrinkles. Works deep below the skin’s surface to smooth wrinkles.

Brand examples
RoC Retinol Actif Pur Anti-Wrinkle Treatment, L’Oreal Dermo-Expertise Line Eraser Pure Retinol Night Treatment.


Hydroxy acids
Alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids and poly hydroxy acids are all synthetic versions of acids derived from sugar-containing fruits. These acids are exfoliants, substances that remove the upper layer of old, dead skin and stimulate the growth of smooth, evenly pigmented new skin. They improve the look of deeper lines and wrinkles while increasing skin hydration.

Brand examples
Kiss My Face Peaches & Creme Moisturizer with 8% Alpha Hydroxy Acids, M.D. Forte Facial Cream III with Glycolic Acid.

The following ingredients have been determined by the Mayo Clinic to be possibly effective:

Alpha-lipoic acid ( ALA)
Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that penetrates skin cell membranes, where it neutralizes free radicals and increases the effectiveness of other antioxidants such as vitamins C and E. It may also work as a superficial chemical peel to exfoliate dead skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. It diminishes fine lines, wrinkles, brown spots and other skin irregularities. Produces firm, toned skin and a smoother complexion.

Brand examples
Derma e Alpha Lipoderm Alpha Lipoic/Green Tea Advanced Repair Complex, Zia Natural Skincare Ultimate Oil-Free Moisture.


Coenzyme Q-10

Coenzyme Q-10 is a nutrient that helps regulate energy production in cells. And so it is said to improve the skin’s ability to fight wrinkles.

Brand examples
Avalon Organic Botanicals CoQ10 Wrinkle Defense Creme, Nivea Visage Q10 Plus Wrinkle Control Night Creme.

Copper peptides
Copper is a trace element found in every cell. In topical products, it’s combined with small protein fragments called peptides. Copper peptides enhance wound healing. They also stimulate production of collagen and may enhance the action of antioxidants. They may improve the skin’s elasticity and hydration to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Brand examples
Neutrogena Visibly Firm Night Cream with Active Copper Formula, Neova Night Therapy with Copper Peptide Repair Complex.

Growth factors
Growth factors are naturally occurring hormones found in plants and animals. They act as chemical messengers between cells. Kinetin, a plant growth factor, is the one most often used in cosmetics. It may reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles and uneven skin tone.

Brand examples
Almay Kinetin Skincare, Kinerase Cream.

Soy isoflavones
Protein extracts of soybean and soymilk contain several different estrogen-like substances called isoflavones. Because they may mimic the effects of estrogen, they’re sometimes called phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens may produce wrinkle-reducing effects on skin that are similar to those resulting from hormone therapy. They may reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

Brand examples
Aveeno Positively Radiant Anti-Wrinkle Cream, Archipelago Botanicals Milk Soy Cream.

Tea extracts
Green, black and oolong tea contain compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea extracts are the ones most commonly found in wrinkle creams. They may repair sun damage, leaving skin toned and refined.

Brand examples
Derma e Retinol and Green Tea Advanced Renewal Creme, Sudden Change Eye Gel with Green Tea.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant nutrient that helps recycle vitamin E. It also promotes collagen formation. It may repair and protect skin by stimulating cell renewal and increasing healthy circulation.

Brand examples
Avalon Active Organics Vitamin C Moisture Plus Lotion with SPF 15, ShiKai Dermaceutical Formulation Nighttime Renewal Cream with Bio-Active Vitamin C.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E, an antioxidant nutrient, is the major antioxidant found in human skin. Declining levels in skin are associated with wrinkles. It may neutralize free radicals for a soft, smooth, radiant complexion.

Brand examples
Nutra-E Pure Vitamin E Skin Cream, Olay Moisture-Rich Cream Cleanser with Olay Moisture and Vitamin E.

So while there may not be a fountain of youth, when it comes to aging modern science seems to agree with the “wisdom of the ages”. It is the naturally occurring therapeutic properties in plants and herbs that are effective. So it seems we can learn some things from the past about not looking so “ancient”.

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