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General characteristics

General characteristics

A wrinkle is a crease, line, furrow or fold in the skin. They can appear on the face and neck but also on areas such as the forearms and hands. Whilst wrinkles are not in any way an ailment or harmful to the health, their appearance and concentration can point to an opportunity to make positive changes to your diet and lifestyle.

Wrinkles often begin to form as a result of expressions we make with our facial muscles such as laughing, smiling, frowning etc. In youth, these lines usually disappear when we stop making the facial expression. As we get older and the thickness, elasticity and fat content of the skin reduces, the expression lines tend to remain.

Other factors such as over-exposure to sun, constant bombardment from weather, poor nutrition (too many free radical producing foods and not enough anti-oxidant containing foods), long term tension, smoking, some medications, dehydration, genetic susceptibility, hormonal changes (eg. menopause and oestrogen reduction), being under weight and dry skin (often due to dehydration and/or a lack of oils in the diet) can all contribute to the formation of wrinkles.

Healing objectives are to ensure the foods you eat are helping to keep the skin in good health and that you limit your exposure to foods and other factors that cause the ageing process to accelerate. The skin can be nourished from the outside with herbal and food based creams and ointments but always ensure you are nourishing the skin from the inside too.

If using any homemade creams, ointments or washes, it is well worth trying a test patch first on a small area of the skin that you intend to treat. This will help you to avoid nasty rashes or reactions. If you have an allergy or suspected allergy to any food, herb or other ingredient then do not use it on your skin.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Limit your intake of processed foods that contain processed sugar and its derivatives and refined carbohydrates (also sugars) as these tend to cause the production of free radicals. Free radicals are to some extent reduced by consuming food rich in anti-oxidants.

Foods rich in anti-oxidants will help to reduce the damage that naturally occurs to skin over time and help to keep it healthy and less wrinkly. The vitamins A, E and C are anti-oxidants as are zinc and selenium. Antioxidant rich foods include all the berry fruits, all fresh fruits and vegetables, especially pomegranates, avocados, raw garlic, raw unprocessed chocolate, green leaves, broccoli, sweet potatoes, buckwheat, nuts, seeds, whole grains, yoghurt (live natural, unsweetened), olive oil (extra virgin, cold pressed), green tea, coconut oil and milk.

Essential fatty acids and oils are also important in maintaining healthy skin so try eating oily fish like herring, sardines, mackerel, wild salmon and trout a couple of times a week and include avocados, seeds and nuts in the diet regularly.

Stay well hydrated every day with plain water, herb teas and fresh juices.

Reduce your alcohol intake as it reduces the amount of vitamin A available to the skin, vitamin A is a potent anti-oxidant.

An old Russian beauty recipe is 'garlic milk', which can be taken once a week. Slowly bring a pint of full fat organic milk to the boil and add at least 2 cloves of crushed or finely chopped fresh garlic. Remove from the heat and allow it to infuse for 10 minutes or so. Strain off the milk and drink the full amount in the morning before breakfast.

You could try this complexion boosting mixture in the mornings from time to time, before breakfast... a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice, a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of olive oil mixed together well and eat on an empty stomach.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Essential oils are invaluable when it comes to getting the goodness of certain plants into the skin. They should be diluted in a carrier oil or added to homemade ointments. The most commonly used oils for anti-ageing and wrinkles include geranium, frankincense, myrtle, lavender, rose, myrrh, neroli, galbanum, palma rosa, chamomile, violet leaf, fennel and carrot.

Sea buckthorn berries are very popular as a skin food and can be taken as juice, used fresh in ointments or juices or taken in their dried form in herbal teas. They grow along the coast of Britain as a thorny shrub and the berries are bright orange and sickly sweet in taste.

Unsurprisingly, there are numerous herbal or natural recipes for ointments, creams and facial washes to reduce wrinkles, some dating back hundreds of years. The most commonly used herbs and ingredients include seaweeds, egg white, cold-pressed vegetable oils, foods such as cucumber, grated beetroot, linseed/flax oil , artichoke leaves, aloe vera gel, castor oil, strawberries and wild strawberries, buttermilk, potatoes, honey and flowers and herbs such as teasel water, chamomile flowers, rose petals, elderflowers, lemon balm, lady's mantle, yarrow, plantain, fennel seeds, marigold, nettle, dandelion leaves, violet flowers, chamomile flowers, lime flowers, cleavers, cowslip flowers, rosemary flowers and leaves and comfrey leaf and root. Many of these have moisturising qualities (oils, honey, buttermilk, linseed, aloe, seaweed, chamomile for example) or astringent (tightening) properties (yarrow, rosemary), which when combined can give moisture to the skin and plump up its appearance but also tighten the skin slightly, helping to reduce wrinkles.

Burdock root, leaves and seeds are known to improve skin elasticity, oil production and improve the appearance of wrinkles. Use as a tea or eat the root as a vegetable.

An example of a anti-wrinkle face cream could consist of chamomile flowers, egg white, a good oil (e.g almond, olive) and honey. Make a strong chamomile tea using a tablespoon of flowers in a small cup of boiling water and allow to stand for 10 minutes or until cool. Use the tea as your base and add some honey, egg white and oil to make up a creamy consistency. Apply the cream to the face and leave for  a few minutes before rinsing off and allowing the skin to air dry. You can experiment with different herbs and ingredients mentioned above as you get to know their individual properties.

Schisandra berries help keep the skin toned, bouncy and wrinkle free when used regularly in small doses.


Natural healing

Natural healing

If you want to reduce or prevent wrinkles, limit your exposure to the elements such as direct sunlight, wind and sea water as much as possible by wearing appropriate clothing.

In terms of sun exposure, wear wide brimmed hats and cover the arms with light clothing.

Get plenty of sleep which encourages repair and regeneration of the body generally.

Exercise your facial muscles regularly (daily) as this helps to keep them in good tone and the skin less likely to sag and lose form. Research something like 'facial exercises for wrinkle prevention' in an online search engine.

Regular facial massage (you can do it yourself) can help to improve blood flow, waste removal and muscle tone of the skin.

Don't smoke (or reduce considerably the amount you smoke) as this increases skin ageing by constricting blood flow to the layers and cells of the skin. Nutrient delivery to the skin is reduced as is waste removal from the skin.

Evening primrose oil capsules are used buy some to help keep skin younger and more supple.

Make your own moisturising ointments and creams using herbs, essential oils and foods to help nourish and protect the skin form the effects of ageing. Oils such as olive, wheatgerm, avocado and almond make a good base.

Honey (on its own or as part of a facial mask) makes a good moisturiser and also gives nutrients to the skin. Use once a week or so as part of a pampering routine. Make sure you are using real honey from bees that have collected from flowers, not fed on white sugar.

Try a 'potato face pack' by grating peeled organic potatoes (keep the peel as large as you can) and packing against the face. Place the cut side of the peel around the neck and lie down for an hour to relax and let nature do the work. Wash off thoroughly with warm water.

Grated beetroot can be mixed with fresh sour cream and applied as a pack to the face and neck. Leave to dry then rinse off gently with warm water.

Avoid using commercial products on the face as these usually contain harsh chemicals.

Conventional soap can be extremely drying to the skin and ultimately lead to increased wrinkle formation.

Try a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in water daily to improve complexion (doesn't reduce wrinkles though).

Try to sleep on your back as you get older to prevent sleep wrinkles from forming. These often form from having the face and neck pushed into the pillow.

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