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I figure it’s hiding in plain sight.
Despite the ever-raging battle between my creeping, middle-aged spread and an uncompromising treadmill of life’s stresses, I admit to being fairly sanguine about my face.
At 50, my dearth of facial wrinkles, compounded with a dewy complexion, comprise the unlikely crown for a body persistently intent upon morphing into a potato.
But I’ve been “using”—and my “drug” du jour is a home-made concoction that women have accosted me and demanded the recipe for in countless manicure salons and supermarkets across the state.
It’s a simple recipe, handed to me from a-friend-who-knows, the day my face began to look like Walter Matthau’s twin sister (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/being-walter-matthaus-twin-sister/).
Don’t worry, I’ll talk. It’s olive oil. That’s right. Olive oil, combined with several drops of the essential oil Rose Otto (with a delicate scent that prevents you from smelling like a salad), applied to my face daily, beneath my other moisturizers.
My mother used to apply it neat to her pregnant belly, swearing it prevented stretch marks. Sophia Loren—the Italian film diva of the 1960’s famed for retaining her beauty—attributes her beauty to daily olive oil baths (http://www NULL.mirror NULL.co NULL.uk/celebs/news/2009/08/23/they-are-both-75-this-year-but-brigitte-bardot-could-pass-as-sophia-loren-s-mum-115875-21616741/).
In combination with some other lifestyle and diet changes, it’s been my facial fountain of youth.
But, why does it work? Why are our faces especially prone to falling apart after having a baby in middle age?
According toJada MacLeod (http://www NULL.healinghouse NULL.ca/)—a naturopathic doctor who specializes in women’s health and pediatrics in Ontario, Canada—women having children at 40+ have triple trouble when it comes to aging skin.
During the post-partum period, new mothers experience a sharp drop-off of progesterone and estrogen, responsible for the youthful glow during pregnancy.
“A woman’s skin can change significantly,” says Dr. McLeod, “and appear quite unhealthy with the loss of these hormones.”
“Our regularly cycling progesterone and estrogen help to keep our skin supple, toned and moisturized from the inside out.”
Following midlife childbirth, it’s not a desperate leap of imagination to consider most of us will soon commence the beginning mating ritual dance with perimenopause. And that’s when the fun really begins.
“Perimenopause also signifies a drop in first progesterone and then estrogen,” says McLeod,“and we then begin to notice increased wrinkles and fine lines.”
But that’s not all. Having children in your 40’s onward means that, during perimenopause, you’re facing the constant stress of managing a baby, preschooler, or a child in primary school.
According to Dr. McLeod, “constant stress leads to decreased blood flow and oxygen supply, creating dry, unhealthy skin that is prone to rapid ageing.”
She also adds that the adrenals are one of the only places where we still produce estrogen and progesterone after menopause.
So, what’s the secret in the olive?
According to Dr. McLeod, olive oil has many properties that lead to positive effects on aging skin.
“Since olive oil is a strong antioxidant, it can repair damaged skin cells when applied topically.”
“Scientists have applied olive oil to skin that has been damaged by ultraviolet light and the effects are remarkable,” she continues.
“It was shown that the antioxidant effects of the olive oil actually reduced the damage done to skin cells and repaired the DNA.”
What’s more, throw some olive oil on some salad and it will help to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.
Combined with Rose Otto, and applied to your face the positive effects can be enhanced.
“Rose Otto essential oil has astringent properties that can help to tone and give life to skin when applied topically,” says Dr. McLeod.
“Farsenol is a compound in the oil giving it the ability to shrink broken capillaries and stimulate healthy circulation to the skin.”
She adds that Rose Otto also has emollient and hydrating properties that leave skin “supple and glowing, adding to the anti-aging benefits.”
Dr. McLeod also suggests some other remedies that can help reduce the adverse effects of stress on your skin—the body’s biggest organ—and on your body generally.
“Licorice root helps your body adapt to stress, preventing the breakdown of your adrenal hormones (cortisol) and help to physically cope with daily stresses.”
“B-vitamins are very important and can help prevent the ‘breakdown’ that can happen when your body is not handling stresses well.”
Other herbal medicines that can “help you regain control over rapidly shifting hormones during perimenopause” are: Agnus castus (Chastetree berry), which helps to regulate hormones; Actaea racemosa (Black cohosh), and Buplerum Chinese root, used to help cleanse the liver.
“In concert with these herbs, I find taking 2000 mg of vitamin C, and 2 tablespoons of flaxseeds very helpful in maintaining elasticity and hydration of the skin during perimenopause,” says Dr. McLeod.
Of course, ensure you consult a naturopath before you start dosing yourself with these remedies.
All in all, Olive Oyl has been wearing her youthful secret on her sleeve the whole time. And, it has the added benefit of being cheap too, keeping your wallet well-oiled with funds!
Notes for this blog:
Angel La Liberte is the founder of the website Flower Power Mom.com—The Truth About Motherhood After 40 (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/) (www.flowerpowermom.com (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/)), a regular blog featuring commentary, real mom stories and expert advice about motherhood after 40. She regularly campaigns for more supportive attitudes towards women having children in midlife and more awareness on the realities (social and physical) of being a later life mother.
Angel also hosts “A Child After 40”, an online community to empower all women on the journey of motherhood after 40. She gave birth to her children at 41 and 44 after conceiving naturally.
- (http://www NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/health/health-headlines/women-increasingly-going-online-to-seek-free-sperm-donors-1 NULL.1590245)
Angel on CNN(http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=WySnP2nnwXU)
CNN Mother's Day: "Mature Moms" (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=WySnP2nnwXU)(http://youtu NULL.be/atScMih4_d0) (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=sGRro4rHGeA)
AARP's "Inside E-Sreet" on PBS TV (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=sGRro4rHGeA)
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