Mirror Mirror On The Wall, Who Looks The Most Youthful Of Them All?

The quest for eternal youth and our obsession with looking forever young.

Like many areas in life, beauty is one that is constantly changing. Throughout history, each period had beauty standards that were followed, revered or even scorned. What can be deemed as classically beautiful to ancient Greeks– who believed that the equal proportions of a woman’s face is where her beauty lies, might not work so much with the eccentric looks we can see today. With that said, the Western standards of beauty came about from the Greeks and Romans. However, the Greeks understood that being beautiful isn’t the only important factor of a person, being a good person on the inside i.e. ‘noble, honest and brave also plays a major role.

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Image via www.salon.com

Ancient Egyptian nobles and royalty such as Cleopatra (who made this a trend), bathed in milk as it was said that it had anti-ageing properties. And for those who know a bit of Hungarian history or like reading about gory tales, the infamous 16th century countess Elizabeth Báthory, apparently washed herself with the blood of virgin girls whom she murdered to remain young. An extreme case of vanity.

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Painting of Elizabeth Bathory. Image via Pinterest

Beauty ideals come and go as they are often influenced with politics, popular culture and what is happening in society at the time. In today’s world, having great looking skin is seen as a way to determine that you are living a healthy and balanced lifestyle, many of us striving for that ultimate goal. The skincare industry makes billions out of our spending habits as we search for that perfect cream to make us look luminous, glowly and ultimately, youthful.

For a while, getting surgical enhancements such as botox was the answer to looking young. But now, face creams can do the job just as well, many even claiming to be the facelift without having an actual facelift. Skin care treatments unlike surgery procedures aren’t painful or cause complications (well for the most part), and it’s more value for money. One can say that they’re gradually replacing the traditional surgical enhancements like botox and facelifts.

Getting spa facials are also proving to be very popular than going under the needle. Acids like glycolic and Hyaluronic acid, retinol (Vitamin A), Vitamin E and co used in serums and face creams, help treat hyperpigmentation, fade spots, blemishes, scars, dark eye circles, crows feet, fine lines, acne and brighten the face. Overall, they renew the skin. Sounds great doesn’t it?

Treatments such as HydraFacials are on the rise as they have benefits that isn’t harmful to your skin and you can do them even in your home. If you’re a bit unfamiliar with what HydraFacials are, it’s basically a 3-in-1 device that cleanses, exfoliates then pumps your skin with deep serums. It sounds a bit like doing your own facial at home but whereas using gritty like exfoliators that are harsh for your skin (increasing sensitivity), HydraFacials has a vacuum like effect where it sucks out your pores while at the same time, inserting serums that help to brighten, moisturise, protect and plump the skin. On the downside, it’s more on the costly side compared to buying face creams from beauty stores but to some, it is a great investment.

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We’re surrounded by beauty treatments that claim to solve our various ailments. Scrolling through instagram and other social media platforms, you often come across adverts such as these even whilst looking through videos. It becomes overwhelming because what products do you get that will benefit you? As many describe to do the same thing.

The problem that many of us have with the digital and social media age in regards to the beauty industry is that we read various articles or watch all these beauty and skincare bloggers who talk about a particular skin treatment. What we tend to forget is that they’re talking about treatments that work for their skin. So you’re constantly buying all these products, a majority of them not working to your favour and continuing this cycle of frustration. It takes a lot more to find what works for you than just watching or reading about what somebody else has tried for themselves.

Researching into what your skin type is i.e. combination, sensitive, dry, oily skin, even things such as the T bone area are a major key to finding products that work for you. Other issues such as dryness, irritation, sensitivity, eczema, redness, pores, acne and more need to be taken into account when looking for treatments.

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Image via Glossier

Another point to consider is the foods you eat, genetics (some are blessed with great genes), and sleep. Sleep is a major area when wanting to have that youthful appearance. In today’s cosmopolitan society, we take sleep for granted. Sometimes, during moments of rest, that guilty sense kicks in urging us to work more and be productive. However, being constantly busy does not always equate to productivity. Having a healthy amount of sleep of at least 6 hours daily for the working adult, not only gives you that beauty sleep glow you’re looking for but it also helps your mind work that bit more actively and give it space to breathe.

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The quest for having that eternal youthful looking skin is more of a psychological aspect since beauty standards deem wrinkly or dull looking skin as ugly. It’s not physically possible to achieve long-lasting youthfulness even with the advanced science we have around. Although research is being carried out in the field of genetics as scientists are looking for ways to manipulate the aging process to slow it down.

With all this, one big question comes to mind. Are we becoming obsessed with trying to look forever young (figuratively speaking), or are we looking for ways to tell ourselves that we are healthy because we look it whilst ignoring the bigger health issues that might be present?

Written by

Writer and visual artist // I write about culture and societal issues with a focus on the effects of colonialism, globalisation and capitalism.

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