We’re always being told ‘you are what you eat’, and with that advice in mind, the health-conscious among us watch carefully what we put in our shopping trolley.
Now an anti-ageing skincare expert has gone a step further and suggested that we can also keep a low-cost facelift in the fridge.
So next time you’re writing that shopping list for ingredients to keep you healthy and young on the inside, add a few more that will work wonders on the outside.
You can turn back the clock without the need for expensive creams or even more costly surgical procedures, according to Dr Anthony Youn, a leading US plastic surgeon, who claims to have captured the secret to youthful looks in his anti-ageing best-seller, The Age Fix.
‘Ageing is natural but many of us wish it didn’t have to happen quite so soon,’ he said.
‘As one of the world’s leading cosmetic surgeons, I’m often asked if I can stop ageing and the answer is I can’t – but I can stop you looking as if you’re ageing.
‘Ageing happens more rapidly and dramatically in some people than in others but there are remedies that don’t involve surgery. You may be surprised to hear this from me, but most of them shouldn’t involve surgery.
‘You can look younger, with smoother and brighter skin, and you can feel better without going under the knife.’
Dr Youn, who treats patients from around the world, has brought together comprehensive research from other plastic surgeons, dermatologists, make-up artists and dieticians to identify the best steps people can take to halt the ageing process in its tracks.
The skin is the body’s largest organ and over time various factors cause it to lose its elasticity which, in turn, leads to the formation of fine lines or wrinkles.
Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun damages fibres in the skin called elastin. This breakdown causes the skin to sag and stretch and lose its ability to snap back into place after stretching.
The hormone cortisol, released when the body is subjected to stress, degrades the collagen in the skin, which gives its plumpness. This damage also accelerates the skin ageing process.
The ageing process typically starts to reveal itself on our bodies in the form of wrinkles, fine lines and age spots.
To keep these outward signs at bay, experts recommend the simple, effective remedy of exfoliation – removing older, dead skin cells to reveal the younger cells beneath.
Allowing the older cells to build up on the skin’s surface hastens the appearance of fine lines. Exfoliation gives the skin a smoother more youthful glow.
Anti-ageing ingredients Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and retinoids have a dramatic rejuvenating effect on skin and are found in some treatments prescribed by doctors.
Retinoids and retinols are concentrated forms of natural antioxidants (vitamins), which work by neutralising the free radicals (damaged oxygen molecules) that cause visible ageing by breaking down collagen to leave skin looser and more wrinkled.
AHAs are fruit acids (including citric acid from citrus fruits), glycolic acids (from sugar cane) and lactic acids (from milk products) found in common foods.
So Dr Youn has drawn up a shopping list of these everyday foods which he recommends keeping in your fridge or kitchen cupboards for a DIY facelift at a fraction of the surgery fees.
‘This simple skincare routine will help you look ten years younger without having surgery. You can do this for the rest of your life to keep ageing and wrinkles at bay.
‘You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars buying dozens of expensive creams. Don’t swallow that costly supplement and please don’t sign up for that unnecessary surgery.’
Interestingly, many of the ingredients he lists in his top ‘fridge facelift’ remedies are ones we turn to when we try to ward off infections or cure routine health conditions such as the common cold or influenza.
So next time you reach for the honey and lemon to cure a sore throat, consider rubbing them on your face; when weighing up the pros and cons of caffeine, think what powers it might have to keep us looking youthful and read on to find yet another amazing property in the wonder drink that is green tea.
Whisk three tablespoons of orange juice and two tablespoons of lemon juice with 200ml of plain, unsweetened yoghurt and apply to your face.
Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes, or until dry. Rinse off with warm water. Fruit acids from the orange juice and lemon juice and lactic acid from the yoghurt help to exfoliate the skin, removing the upper layer of dead skin and leaving your face with a healthy, youthful glow.
Apple ‘chemical peel’
Combine the skin-tightening effect of egg white and the gentle exfoliating effect of apple juice with this quick and easy mask.
Mix three tablespoons of apple juice, two tablespoons of milk and one egg white and smooth over your face. Leave for 15 minutes before rinsing off.
The malic acid in the apple juice and lactic acid in the milk act as exfoliants, while the albumin in the egg white has a shrink-wrap effect, tightening the skin, shrinking open pores and leaving your complexion smoother.
Mix one tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda with half a teaspoon of honey and 125ml milk and gently warm the mixture in the microwave.
Wet your face with warm water, dip a cloth in the milk solution and apply to the skin. Bicarb is a natural exfoliator and can have a subtle lightening effect, and your skin will feel fresh and clean.
Crow’s feet banisher
Boil one sweet potato for 30 minutes (or microwave for ten minutes), cool, remove the skin and mash with four or five tablespoons of full-fat plain yoghurt. Apply to the wrinkles on the corners of eyes, leave for 15 minutes, wash off with warm water.
Sweet potatoes are a rich source of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant similar to the main ingredient in the traditional skincare treatments RetinA and retinol. The lactic acid in the yoghurt acts as a gentle exfoliator. This remedy can reduce wrinkles both immediately and in the longer term.
Green tea eyelid lift
Place one green teabag in a cup of hot water, then allow to cool in the refrigerator during the day. Cut a raw white potato into thin slices, drop the slices into the tea and return to the fridge to allow the tea to soak into the potato.
In the evening, place one potato slice on each eyelid and relax for ten minutes. The starch in the potatoes acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, soothing the irritation from a long day of pollutants, toxins and stress.
It is also a mild skin lightener, so it can help to reduce dark circles under the eyes caused by excess pigmentation.
Green tea contains caffeine, which reduces swelling and tightens the skin under the eyes to reduce puffiness or ‘bags’. It is also full of antioxidants.
The remaining potato slices can sit soaking in the tea in the fridge for up to three days, enabling you reach in and use them morning and night in less time than it would take to apply a classic skincare regime.
Repair rough, chapped heels by rubbing the inside of a piece of avocado peel against your heel for two minutes. Avocado is packed with moisturisers such as Omega 3 fatty acids and the shell, which just fits the heel, exfoliates the skin. For maximum benefit, do this before bed, wipe clean, apply a good moisturiser, or massage with extra-virgin olive oil, and put on an old pair of socks overnight to lock in the moisture.
Magic mayo eye cream
The albumin in egg white is a potent (if temporary) skin tightener and this, combined with the moisture-rich oil, makes mayonnaise an effective eye cream. For best effect use home-made mayonnaise.
Dab a small amount on the crow’s feet area with cotton wool, leave for 30 minutes, then wash with warm water and moisturise.
Sea salt hand smoother
To protect your hands against the ravages of ageing you need to be applying hand cream on a regular basis.
Mix three heaped tablespoons of oats with 50ml water in a blender, then add a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and two tablespoons of sea salt and stir together. Rub the mixture onto your hands for several minutes to exfoliate them.
Rinse with warm water before applying a generous amount of rich hand cream and pulling on a pair of cotton gloves so your hands stay soft all night.
Soya milk sun spot mask
One of the most obvious signs of ageing after wrinkles is age spots – commonly referred to as sun spots or liver spots.
Instead of turning to laser treatment and chemical peels, Dr Youn recommends regular use of home treatments which are altogether more gentle on the skin.
Combine one tablespoon each of soya milk, honey and lemon juice, mix and apply to your face for 20 minutes, then wash off with warm water. Repeat two to three times a week.
The citric acid in lemon juice is a natural skin lightener; soya milk contains enzymes that can inhibit the production of melanin in the skin, so preventing the darkening of pigmented areas (it is also full of vitamins A and E, which are both good for ageing skin), and honey has natural antibacterial properties, so it can help reduce acne; it also soothes irritated skin, moisturises dry skin and has a slight tightening effect.
Sticky tape facial
Dr Youn says the most common cosmetic complaint that women consult him about in his Michigan office is the small vertical frown lines between the eyebrows (the ‘11’ sign).
He counsels against facial exercises and understands some people’s fears over ‘frozen forehead’ from Botox.
‘Facial ageing isn’t caused by poor muscle tone, rather it’s a loss of collagen and elastin in the skin,’ he said. ‘In fact, repetitive facial muscle movements from exercise might even cause more wrinkles because the more you crease your skin, the more likely it is that a crease is going to settle in and make a permanent home on your face.
‘The most obvious ‘cure’ is Botox, but if fears of ‘frozen forehead’ or ‘evil eyebrow’ are steering you away (for now, or until a Botox cream becomes readily available), you might be able to train your muscles to stop contracting by sticking tape over your forehead during the evening and while you sleep.
‘The idea here is that the tightness of the tape acts as a reminder every time you unconsciously frown, and could even train your muscles at night to contract less during the day.
‘Any tape will do. You can also buy specially formulated ‘frown patches’ to wear at night called Frownies (frownies.co.uk).
He also advises you sleep on your back rather than on your front or side. Try putting a pillow under your knees to take pressure off your lower back – hopefully making you comfortable enough to lock you in position.
‘If you must sleep on your side, invest in a 100 per cent silk pillowcase which won’t crease your skin as much as cotton and will cause the least possible long-term damage.’