I saw a photograph of myself at a wedding the other day, and it gave me quite a shock. I hardly recognised myself, or at least the self I like to think I look like (a version of me in my mid 30’s, when I still thought ageing was something that only happened to other people).
It has very definitely happened to me too, and probably quite some time ago. So what to do? Time to try to stop it in its tracks with whatever help comes to hand.
Most salon based treatments are adapted from natural remedies, so miss out the middleman and go directly to the source, saving a fortune along the way. So, starting from the top:
I used to be able to take a handful of my hair and feel it thick, shiny and full of life between my fingers. I needed both hands to hold a whole head's worth. No longer. It now feels thin and limp, and all of it slips, with space to spare, inside the circle of my thumb and first finger. My hairdresser says it’s hormones, 'just a part of normal ageing', and wasn’t I lucky that I started with so much hair that I still have quite a bit left? He was trying to console me. Nothing to be done, he says.
But there’s never nothing. So I looked around and found several things you can do.
Coconut oil is an inexpensive option. If you don’t mind the greasy look, and the fact it takes nearly a bottle of shampoo to wash it out, then this is worth a shot. The majority of the Indian subcontinent uses this and nothing else to nourish their hair, and look at the fabulous thickness of the flowing locks of even the oldest of their citizens! Coconut oil is full of vitamins and essential fatty acids that sink deep into your scalp, releasing sebum build up from the hair follicles and encouraging your hair to grow longer, thicker and more shiny.
The LCPRO laser cap is a solution I tried in America. It uses far-infrared LED light to stimulate your hair follicles to regrow, and is apparently the only patented, FDA-approved invention that really works. Alopecia, early male pattern baldness (useful for husbands, too) or just thinning hair? This is your 21st century gadget of choice, but it’s expensive. Though not nearly as expensive as a hair transplant!
People call them ‘character lines’, assuring you they give your face expression and show you have lived a full and varied life. In truth, they are a clear sign of stress, circulatory congestion and depleting collagen and I very much doubt there are many people who would swap the unlined skin of their youth for the character-filled map of their middle and older years. But if injecting yourself with strange substances is not for you, and plastic surgery fills you, as me, with dread, then do not despair. There are other options.
You can read about the remarkable difference face massage and facial acupuncture makes to reducing lines and wrinkles in my 7 anti-ageing secrets. But for a minimal cost alternative, regular use of the small handheld home dermaroller also helps refine skin texture and reduce lines. Covered in sharp spikes, it penetrates your skin very lightly, enough to stimulate collagen to repair the damage but not enough to leave any scarring. It’s not exactly fun or comfortable, but the idea is to roll it over your skin as much as you can bear, leaving it slightly pink, and working even harder over any deeper wrinkles. Take a photograph before you begin, and then again a few weeks later. It makes a difference.
And if you don’t like the spikes, try a jade roller instead. This is an ancient beauty technique that dates back to Seventh Century China (you can buy one off the internet for a few pounds). It looks rather like a miniature piece of painting equipment, but with an oblong piece of jade about 1.5 inches long replacing the usual white roller. Rolling the jade around your face releases the tension and stress build up that can create lines in the first place and stimulates blood circulation, plumping your skin and giving it, even for a short time, that youthful glow we so fondly remember.
Eyebrows and eyelashes
Have you noticed your eyebrows thinning? And maybe the ends disappearing altogether as you get older? And are your eyelashes more wispy than they used to be? Panic not. The answer is at hand and costs less than £5 for a rapid solution to your woes. Castor oil is the key. Rub a couple of drops onto your lashes or brows every night for a couple of months and notice everything begin to grow once more. (Note: it’s worth checking your thyroid to make sure all is well as this can cause similar symptoms.)
Upper lip and chin
Growing a moustache you never had as a teenager? Finding whiskers and those incredibly annoying single hairs sprouting in the oddest places? Hormones again. You can run to a beauty salon for electrolysis or waxing, or risk shaving and hope the hair doesn’t grow back thicker and darker. Or you can invest (and this is not an inexpensive option, but it does work - I’ve tried it) in the Philips Lumea, which zaps away with laser in a home version of the salon hair removal model. It weakens the follicles, ensuring the hair grows back less each time you stun it, eventually disappearing forever. Works on arms, legs and basically everywhere, and no reported side effects of any kind.
Have you tried red light therapy? This is another example of the successful intermingling of 21st century science and ancient wisdom. Red rays are scientifically proven to stimulate both collagen and elastin. You can now miss out the expensive salon treatments and buy inexpensive home devices that tighten your jowls and firm your skin. Purely by using them a few times a week for a matter of minutes you can improve, tone and smooth your face and visibly reduce the depth of your wrinkles. Switch to blue light and you can clear up acne, psoriasis and eczema in no time.
Even easier to use are the LED solid face masks that use coloured light therapy (UV-free) in specific wavelengths via tiny LED bulbs to increase facial blood circulation and promote collagen production, skin healing and acne reduction. Lie back, relax and re-juvenate. You may look like something out of Phantom of the Opera, but lock your bedroom door and no-one will ever know how you get that glow....
And most inexpensive of all the skin brightening options are regular charcoal masks to deeply cleanse and invigorate your skin, followed up by my latest discovery, Snail Repair Perfect Cream from Korea. I have been using it for a couple of months now, and it’s the perfect alternative to the overly extreme option of letting snails crawl all over your face, rejuvenating your skin with their snail enzymes. The clever Koreans have captured those enzymes and put them in a pot of innocuous looking white cream that gently takes off the dead skin cells, leaving your face looking fresh, and dare I say it, definitely younger?
So don’t despair. Natural remedies can knock years off your face, and save you a fortune in salon visits and Botox top ups in the process. Worth a try to find what works for you. Experiment!
Written by health advocate Sara Davenport, who founded one of the UK's largest breast cancer charities, The Haven, twenty years ago. With Reboot Health, Sara aims to bring the best preventative and curative health solutions ranging from nutrition, alternative therapies, fitness and conventional medicine.
Sign up to our free newsletter for fortnightly holistic health tips and a regular dose of get-well advice. SUBSCRIBE NOW!
More beauty posts: