Could the secret to youthful skin lie in our cells? The latest beauty buzz is around a little something called a ‘telomere’, a key cellular component that wears out with age. And if we can restore our telomeres to tip-top health, the experts claim, we can also restore our skin’s youthful glow.
Every so often a new buzzword hits the beauty industry and right now it’s all about telomeres. Never heard of them? Well, you’re not alone. They’re part of your chromosomes and are a big factor when it comes to ageing. Molecular biologist Dr Bill Andrews, who is behind the revolutionary TAM-818 technology (more on that later), explains them as “just like the caps on your shoelaces… The older the telomeres get, the more worn out and shorter they become, until they are rendered useless.”
By putting a halt to the shortening of our telomeres – or even better, lengthening them – you can cure a long list of illnesses and (drumroll, please) ageing! The leading expert Elizabeth Blackburn, who won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology for her discovery of telomerase (an enzyme that, when switched on in the body, will work to stop telomere shortening) believes stress may promote the erosion of the telomere, causing early onset of age-related diseases.
In a 2014 study Blackburn, along with colleague Elissa Epel, found that women with the highest stress levels were almost a decade older on a cellular level than less stressed women. Later the pair discovered that elevated levels of stress hormones were also likely to lead to the shortening of the telomere. We know what you’re all thinking… what on earth is the secret to lengthening these mysterious telomeres so we can effectively wind back the clock on ageing? Well, it’s easier than you think – and it’s not all about what you put on your face.
1. Dr Brandt Do Not Age Transforming Pearl Serum, $240:
Juvenessence+ Complex is used to reverse the effect of cellular ageing. On application the pearls burst to deliver exactly the right dose of ingredients per application
2. Kate Somerville Age Arrest Anti-Wrinkle Cream, $144: This advanced formula, based on telomere research, uses Telo-5 technology to increase skin firmness and elasticity. It also works to improve the appearance of skin discolouration and wrinkles.
3. One Truth 818 Serum, $299: Using the Telomerase Activation Molecule 818 (TAM-818), this revolutionary compound activates deep within the skin – working to reverse the signs of ageing. The light serum absorbs quickly, helping to improve firmness and reduce the appearance of wrinkles on your forehead and around your eyes.
People have been waxing lyrical about the benefits of meditation for years, but when we heard it could help you look as great as it makes you feel, we were sold. A recent study found people who took part in a three-month meditation retreat (where they meditated for six hours a day) significantly increased telomerase activity. In short, it shows positive psychological change can help to slow the ageing process.
While many of us can’t jet away from life for a three-month stint in the name of beauty, meditating regularly can still help. Yoga instructor Erin O’Hara says, “Meditation is great to de-stress and de-clutter the mind… When people get stressed and overwhelmed the mind gets overloaded. Meditation is a process of unloading the mind of thoughts from the subconscious. It will rebalance the mind, slow the heart rate, and bring awareness to how you are breathing.”
Try: Diaphragmatic breathing – Sit upright with a tall spine and take some long deep breaths through your nose. Inhale and feel the chest and belly expand, then, as you exhale, feel the belly and chest relax inwards. You will feel calm and relaxed in just a few minutes. Even just 3-5 minutes of meditation a day will help to relax you.
Exercise can be a mood booster, but on top of that bonding hormones oxytocin and vasopressin are released to calm stress when you’re exercising. And it’s even better when you are exercising in groups. The benefits of social support have been shown to increase the telomere length – especially when done in conjunction with meditation and a good diet. Yoga in particular is a great way to reduce stress levels. “In a time of stress, your heart rate elevates, the breath becomes shallow, the body becomes tense, the stress hormone cortisol rises, and sleep can become interrupted. All of these elements can age you,” says O’Hara.
Try: The Cat-Cow Pose. O’Hara says, “This posture has been used for thousands of years for anti-ageing by stimulating the energy along the spine, and boosting the endocrine function to balance hormones. Begin on all fours on your hands and knees. Inhale as you arch your back and lift your head, and exhale as you round your spine and bring the chin to the chest.”
From the editors of NEXT