By Vanessa Farquharson
Humanity has been brooding about wrinkles and blemishes ever since man first saws his reflection. And it’s no wonder: our skin – the body’s largest organ – is on permanent display. Whether it’s a severe case of acne, psoriasis or hives, r cosmetic issues such as age spots and scarring, skin problems can trigger bigger concerns, from low self-esteem to anxiety and depression.
“Women, especially, report noticing the physical effects of stress,” says Dr. Amy Wechsler, a New York-based Dermatologist and registered psychiatrist. “It becomes a vicious cycle: stress affects your beauty, and when you’re not happy with your appearance, you’re not happy in general, so you can’t cope, which takes a bite out of your beauty, and so on.”
History’s most beautiful – and, arguably, most stressed out – woman was no skin-care slouch. While ruling ancient Egypt, Cleopatra was said to regularly bathe in milk and honey. (She was on to something: milk is full of alphahydroxy acid, which helps slough off dead skin cells, while honey helps lock in moisture.)
Today, options for skin maintenance seem countless, from cosmetic surgery to lotions and potions that claim to “turn back time.” So are we more preoccupied than ever? Dr. Lisa Kellett, a dermatologist at the Toronto clinic DLK on Avenue, doesn’t think so. “There has been a definite move away from people saying, ‘I want to look like I’m 30 again,’ and toward people saying, ‘I want to look like a fresher version of myself.’”
The increase in treatment options has led to a waning interest in drastic surgery, she says. Although some celebrities go overboard with Botox – most famously, Nicole Kidman – for many of us, a tiny dose is one too many. Fortunately, there are effective – and cheaper – alternatives: shun the sun, use good moisturizer, exfoliate regularly and stick to a healthy diet.