MAINTAINING A YOUTHFUL COMPLEXION: ANTI-AGING PRODUCTS FOR THE SKIN

As we grow older, often the mirror reminds us we’re no longer young. To maintain the youthful appearance society considers ideal, products like EMD’s RonaCare® can eliminate the signs of aging.

YOUTH MOVEMENTS FIRST APPEARED AROUND THE YEAR 1900

They celebrated youthful, athletic physiques, which symbolized high performance and sex appeal. Old people were considered out of touch with the times. The aging body became a synonym for weakness and backwardness and was expected to adapt to the attitudes of a new age. “We never stop learning. But more important than school learning is the ceaseless cultivation of the will to be young — and this applies to even the oldest people…,” declared the epoch-defining Jugend magazine in 1903. 

For older people, the cult of youth was a threat from which there was no escape — but it wasn't the only one. During the Great Depression, they also realized that their declining flexibility made them less valuable from an economic standpoint. Professor Susanne Wurm, a psychologist and gerontologist at Friedrich Alexander University in Erlangen-Nuremberg, believes the roots of today’s negative image of old age can be traced back to the social upheavals of the early 20th century. 

“There was massive restructuring that transformed an agrarian society into an industrial one. The experience that old people had was no longer needed and thus declined dramatically in value,” she says. This already became apparent at the beginning of the Great Depression in 1929. “Employees over 50 were systematically laid off,” Wurm points out. Old people were now considered unathletic and unattractive underachievers who could not come to terms with the new era. As a result, people learned to avoid looking old at all costs and to let nobody realize that they might be elderly. In a youth-focused environment, people are well advised to maintain at least a youthful appearance as long as possible.    

Our active ingredient RonaCare® Bronzyl can stimulate the creation of melanin, which triggers the natural sun protection process.

sabine renker

Head of Global R&D Functional Materials

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

The changing image of old age

However, our views of aging have changed since then. There are now 65-year-olds who run marathons and 72-year-olds who take computer courses — never before has “old age” been as flexible a term as it is today. People are extending the middle-aged lifestyle into the late stage of aging, thanks to greater physical fitness and a higher level of education. Susanne Wurm thinks this is a real trend. “We can observe that the image of aging has become more positive since the 1990s. 

Aging is now associated less with deterioration and more with continued personal development,” she says. Most people’s objective and subjective ages now differ by ten years. And people obviously only want their subjective age to be visible — especially in the face, which is the most sensitive indicator of age.    

UV protection, wrinkle fillers and deep nourishment

The ultraviolet radiation in sunlight also leaves its traces on the face, or, more precisely, in the collagen structure of the connective tissue. These traces are very noticeable: Up to 80 percent of the skin’s aging is caused by ultraviolet light. That’s why UV blockers are now a state-of-the-art feature of day creams. 

However, people can do a lot more to maintain a youthful complexion. Sabine Renker, Head of Global R&D Functional Materials at EMD in Darmstadt, lists some of the compounds that can counteract the aging of the skin or at least hide wrinkles. “Our active ingredient RonaCare® Bronzyl can stimulate the creation of melanin, which triggers the natural sun protection process,” she says. “This contributes to the creation of a harmonious and uniform tan and stimulates the skin to build up its own natural UV protection. Scientific studies of human cell cultures have shown that the melanin concentration in the basal skin layer increases by 43 percent in ten days.” 

But what should one do if wrinkles are already visible? “In that case we can make them almost invisible with a skin-colored matte powder,” says Renker. RonaFlair® Flawless consists of tiny silicate pellets with the diameter of a fine strand of hair. The trick with these pellets is that they roll into the wrinkles and fill them up. They make the incident light so diffuse that shadows no longer have any clear edges." This makes the skin look smoother and wrinkles become less apparent. 

Smooth, even skin is also the result of the uniform distribution of fat in the subcutaneous tissue. The creation and breakdown of fat have to be in balance so that no dents can mar the attractive appearance of beautiful skin. A familiar summer flower, the common poppy Papaver rhoeas, contains an ingredient that does just that. This versatile active ingredient for cosmetics — RonaCare® Poppy SE — is extracted from the flower’s seeds. It supports the creation and breakdown of fat in precisely the right proportions, thus helping to maintain the skin’s elasticity. “In a clinical study, we were able to demonstrate that this compound had a visible effect in a cosmetics product," says Marketing Manager Heike Hanau.

Although the aging process cannot be stopped, there are plenty of things we can do to ensure that the ever lengthening phase of old age is a good one. That includes having a beautiful skin.

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