Catch Up On: ANTI-AGEING (and a tribute to my grannies)

AGE has hit my agenda, for a number of reasons:

1) Although I still have 2 grannies (a bit of a rarity among my friends), they are not so spritely as they once were. One in particular is very frail these days and while she is fully marbled-up, she has had to move into a nursing home and well, things are just failing her and she is frankly sick of still being here (“Human’s live far too long, darling”).

2)I am in the second half of my 30’s, which means that I am (eeeek) approaching 40.

3) I have wrinkly eyes and unless I go about with a scary deadpan look on my face, they are not fine lines but WRINKLES. Recently a local newspaper published a full page picture of my wrinkles – the rest of me was just a background photo bomber. They were so prominent that I felt sure they’d been photoshopped in. But then I smiled widely into the mirror and unless it was some kind of miracle photoshoppy mirror, I saw them with my own wrinkly eyes. Then I didn’t smile. (Note to self – smile into the mirror more so that I at least know what everyone else is seeing).

4) My husband has stopped laughing at my getting old concerns, instead has taken to sighing and saying, “just go with it baby”. We all know what that means.

Most days I at least fleetingly wish my skin time can be turned back and as a result I have a large collection of ‘miracle’ remedies and regimens into which I invest time, money and beauty hopes, none of which have been realised.



I keep getting suckered in by marketing, even when I know I’m being suckered in by marketing. Serums, creams, oils, supplements, whatevers – all beaconing their own ‘miracle discovered in the highlands of Outer Crapolia’ type story. Can we believe any of it? Sometimes – like when I smile in the mirror or guiltily sneak another elixir into the bathroom – I really hope so. Other times – like when I see Tracy Grimshaw’s lips or Demi Moore’s knees – I think we should all just accept ageing for the natural thing it is. But maybe I can’t accept aging if I’m constantly being told I don’t have to, if I still believe that the cure is lurking somewhere in the Priceline aisles and if Nicole Kidman at 46 looks about 26. So, it’s time to take a sensible look, and wow, there is so much written about this and so much product spin disguised as facts that I think I have developed another wrinkle just reading it all. Here’s my precis:

Do non-invasive anti-ageing potions really work?

Dermatologists say NO.  They say the best I can do for my skin now as far as lotions and potions go is a good moisturiser and sunblock. Ohhh, I knew you were going to say that you pooper dermatologists. We all know that keeping the sun’s rays off helps our complexion stay young but it’s a little late for me. I grew up in the eighties ok, when tans were as trendy as the Ken Done sunnies we wore them with and sunscreen was coloured zinc used as decorative daubs.

What about Ponds – they even have an institute? And Skin Doctors? Cosmedics? Cosemceuticals? Are they all just Ponds Cold Cream with a phony honours degree on a credibility campaign? Are they stitching me up?

Well the World Health Organisation projects that the global Anti-Ageing industry will be worth $291,9 billion by 2015 so it looks like its worth finding a good sales pitch. But surely, I think desperately, it’s in the industry’s interests that their products actually work? Well the scientists say that most of the products just moisturise the skin – which does improve feel and appearance and that for the most part the other claims are codswallop. There are a few reasons for why these products are not ‘miracles’ in a bottle:

  • There are many different factors that cause ageing; addressing one or two of these factors will make a barely visible difference.
  • Everyone has different skin – no one product can help everyone.
  • There is every chance that the miracle ingredient, while works in a test tube, doesn’t even penetrate the outer skin layer. You can’t for instance, bung a dollop of collagen (the protein that helps keep our skin elastic) into some oil and expect it to sink in and work miracles. It can’t.
  • Many products only use very low – sub-therapeutic – levels of the active ingredient.

If I were to list all the ‘It’ products, endorsed by celebs that don’t work, we’d be here all day, so I won’t. But just so you know, the ones I’ve tried myself without effect include SKII (I was so convinced by Cate Blanchett and her luminous face), Olay Regenerist and Dr Lewinn’s Line Smoothing Complex. Please note that I am saying they didn’t work for me – maybe they will for you (and your flying pigs).

Are there any exceptions? Please?

Meet Tretinoin. It is a Vitamin A (retenoid) product that dermatologists evidently recommend. It reportedly stimulates collagen production, increases blood flow and helps shed old skin cells. It’s products are called Retin-A or Retrieve and to get them you need a prescription and no history of eczema (rules me out). And get this peeps – it is $40 a tube – such a cheapie compared to those minuscule portions of bullshit extract you buy for about $300 per gram.

There is some evidence that AHA‘s, which are naturally occurring acids from sugar cane, milk and fruit also stimulate collagen and hyaluronic acid production, clear pores and slough off sold skin. But to be effective it the AHA has to be a greater than 10% concentration in the product. If the label doesn’t tell you how much AHA is in it – it will be less than a bee’s sniff.

Please note, that AHA’s and retenoids can serve to aggravate the skin and that it’s benefits just stem from  the resultant puffiness that smooths wrinkles and flakiness that speeds up cell renewal. Guess you can only try them and weigh up the pros and cons yourself.

What about microdermabrasion, laser, peels and stuff?

“Skin Resurfacing” is a deeper removal of the outer layers of skin than the bit of exfoliation I do once a week (well ok, when I think of it).  Ther remaining dermis (skin) effectively heals and supposedly results in ‘fresher, healthier, more radiant skin’.

  • Chemical Peel: A variety of caustic (eek) agents are available including TCA (trichloroacetic acid), phenol and croton oil. The chemicals actually burn the outer layers of skin. Different concentrations will cause varying depths of skin removal. (“Hi, I’m looking for a 3rd degree peel, I just want a fresh start”)
  • Dermabrasion: A mechanical removal of the outer skin layers achieved by a rapidly rotating cylinder or dome covered with diamond chips or wires. Ooouuuuch.
  • Laser: Uses beams of concentrated high intensity light to accomplish the removal of skin layers. It hurts like hell and leaves you looking like a raw prawn for a few days.

Apparently choice of resurfacing depends on the person and the problem so you need to talk your local skin stripper-offer before choosing what’s best. None will get rid of the fairway divets around my eyes, but they might all leave me feeling fresher and more rejuvenated. Plus if you follow it up with some skin pampering, moisturizers and toners will work better on the new cells. I wouldn’t say no to that.

And Botox? 

Well yes it does get rid of wrinkles – basically it means that I would be injected with a small dose of Botulinum Toxin, which is lethal to

Oops I slipped and fell on a bunch of botox needles.

Oops I slipped and fell on a bunch of botox needles.

humans in high doses, but which in small injections will effectively weaken the muscles around my eyes so they can’t crinkle up into crow’s feet. Botox has many other noble medical applications but I’m not interested in them unless my vagina suddenly goes into spasm (which sounds quite nice actually but would no doubt get annoying). No one has ever died using botox cosmetically, but a lot of people look like dead wax people. I do suspect, though, that there are some people out there using it in modest amounts with good results. I’m not opposed to this one but given I an eternally emerging (try hard) writer with no real job, I can’t justify the cost. You fork out $300-$400 and it lasts only 3 to 4 months.


Oh dear

Oh dear

The idea behind dermal fillers (think Juvederm, restalyn, fortelis) is that as we age, our faces lose volume, resulting in skin sagging and wrinkles. An injection of a substance derived from hyaluronic acid (a natural acid in the skin) will attract water to the area and plum it up, ironing out wrinkles. I really hate the idea of these for some reason; I suspect they may be the culprit behind that weird swollen look we see on the telly.

I would love to hear from anyone who has had an anti-aging procedure or who has found something that really works – but appreciate that you might like to keep it quiet. I will endeavor to keep you posted if I do ever take the plunge. But I can’t promise. I might just pop up one day looking sensational. Or (as my 3 year old would say) frozed.

What else helps combat ageing?

Sleep. We all need to getting the right amount of sleep for our age to maintain as fresh a face as possible. Ideally I should be having 8 hours sleep per night. Oh, well that explains it. I’m lucky to have 7.

Genes. As I said, I still have my grandmothers, so that’s got to be good doesn’t it? And they are both lookers even now.  My Mum still looks great too – she still has more brown hair than grey and her bod is smoking hot for a woman in her mid 60’s.

Actually I just want to pay tribute to my dear Grannies – my children’s great grandmothers. They are both in their mid 80’s, both fully marbled and both very glamorous. They have both battled cancer and other health problems, both had 3 children (two boys and a girl) and strong marriages.

Granny M still lives independently and drives herself and many of her younger friends about. My sister and I grew up with her next door to us on the family farm and her home was a warmer, better stocked with bickies extension of our own. We were welcome anytime and allowed to drink dry ginger ale from metal goblets. There was a large jar of pickled walnuts in her kitchen which in my mind was to be avoided at all costs. She is known for her beauty – still clearly there – bright blue eyes and generous, patient, caring nature.


Granny M and my dashing Grandfather

Granny P is a bridge champion with a wicked sense of humour and a great love for books, diamonds and the Adelaide Crows. She speaks fluent prickle, appreciates good fashion and good grammar, “It’s not fuckin’, darling, it’s fucking”, and doesn’t suffer fools. She once told her (overweight) doctor that him telling her not to drink wine is like her telling him he can’t eat. She dislikes obese people, particularly men “Eww, imagine the tiny penis”. She always has good hair, good coffee and tim tams for visitors. She has the most stylish and impeccable taste I know – I really mean that. She is the least prudish, most new-age granny I know.

Little Granny P with her mum - I know, she's another story.

Little Granny P with her mum – I know, check out the genes!

I am very proud of both of them. I would be proud to be like them when I am their age. I still think of them as the strong, caring women they were when I stayed with them – often – as a child. The ones who buttered my toast in clumps and sugared my apple and soothed away my fright after a teenage seance (I thought) brought the spirit of Ricky May into my bedroom (don’t ask). But when I see a wobble in their step, the easy-come bruises on their skin or horror of horrors, when I see them fall, their fragility hits me right in the guts and really hurts.

I want someone to tell me that a good moisturizer and some sun screen will keep them here forever.

Categories: Navelgazery, Newsteller

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7 replies

  1. What’s great is not that you have your grandmothers still – it’s that they’re so flat-out COOL!

  2. The grandmother of all tributes!

  3. Hi Meg, love your work! Off topic but just have to ask – have you done a radio ad for Car Buyers Online? If it’s not you I swear you have a voice doppelganger!

  4. Fantastic post but you are a mid 30s whipper snapper and NOT OLD. Repeat NOT OLD!
    I know its upsetting to watch your beloved grandmas become increasingly frail but its a fine thing that they are fully marbled.

    • After one had an 88th birthday yesterday, I was moved to check the meaning “marbled” and I think the paper version is more accurate:
      “(of paper) having a streaked and patterned appearance like that of variegated marble; (of meat) having the lean part streaked with thin layers of fat”.

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