The fear of becoming old is born of the recognition that one is not living now the life that one wishes. It is equivalent to the sense of abusing the present. —Susan Sontag
Admittedly, I initially considered titling this article “Best Books for Anti-Aging,” but I stopped myself because I believe the contemporary rhetoric of aging and beauty contributes to the great unease women (and men!) feel about the natural changes in their bodies as time passes. Have you noticed that skincare regimens often sound a lot like a tour of duty? We’re always “combatting” fine lines and “fighting” the signs of aging. There’s already enough conflict in the world, so let’s pick our battles, shall we?
While it may be impossible to completely eradicate aging-induced anxiety, there are sure a lot of things we can do to age gracefully. One of them is understanding the aging process and using that knowledge to keep yourself in optimal health. In other words, instead of framing the process as a fight against something, let’s think of it as just taking care of what we’ve got and practicing self-love. Additionally, self-care is a way of turning your attention to the present and enjoying the body (and life!) you have now. And don’t worry, self-care yields impressive results. When you feel and look healthy—whatever your age—those age-related worries won’t clamor so loudly.
My Favorite Books for Aging Beautifully
My interest in skincare compels me to look at every book on beauty I can get my hands on. I’m always seeking writing undergirded by scientific research that goes more in-depth than the beauty column in your average women’s magazine (although I enjoy those, too!). There are dozens of books that merely skim the surface of skincare and the aging process, but that’s okay—there are a few that offer to really deepen your knowledge.
1. Bio-Young: Get Younger at a Cellular and Hormonal Level by Roxy Dillon
You will probably not find another book out there like Bio-Young. Nutritionist and herbal therapist Roxy Dillon combines her knowledge of traditional remedies with intriguing scientific research to help the reader understand how and why skin ages and what natural treatments we can employ to extend the life of your telomeres, elastin, collagen, and fibroblasts while promoting healthy hormonal balance. Many of Dillon’s remedies can be made in your kitchen, like her aniseed and cocoa butter cream, and many can simply be eaten! Dillon’s ebullience is contagious. Caring for your skin with her advice will feel like a true treat!
Caveats: Some remedies aren’t completely vegan-friendly. Some employ honey and lanolin. When possible, Dillon offers vegan alternatives, like olive oil-based squalene.
2. The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here: Busting Beauty Myths So You Know What to Use and Why by Paula Begoun, Bryan Barron, and Desiree Stordahl
The Best Skin of Your Life is my most dog-eared and tabbed beauty book!
Truly a game changer for my skincare regimen, this book approaches skincare from a more modern/Western standpoint. As far as aging gracefully is concerned, this book will help you understand which ingredients support skin health, which out-of-this-world anti-aging claims to avoid (all of them!), and which skin-irritating ingredients and treatments to avoid for peace of skin (and mind). This book made me feel better and less anxious about taking care of my skin because it answered so many of my skincare questions. Plus, there’s an awesome ingredient encyclopedia in the back!
Caveats: Not all of the product recommendations in the book may be for you if you adhere strictly to natural ingredients. Also, the book is co-authored by Paula Begoun of Paula’s Choice, a popular skincare company. That said, the book seems to stay objective and always leans on scientific findings. The authors also recommend products from brands other than Paula’s Choice. You can still benefit from this book even if you don’t pick a single product from their recommendations.
3. Aging Backwards: Reverse the Aging Process and Look 10 Years Young in 30 Minutes a Day by Miranda Esmonde-White
We know that exercise can make us more youthful (at the cellular level and beyond), but sometimes we need a little extra motivation. Former ballerina Miranda Esmond-White explains how to keep our organs (including skin), bones, and muscles feeling young and vital through a style of simple stretching and body-weight exercises she titles Essentrics. The book details and illustrates workouts for straightening posture, promoting weight loss, soothing joints, increasing energy, relieving pain, improving mobility, and protecting your bones. Esmonde-White also discusses how exercise (or lack thereof) impacts our genes, muscle mass, and neurological system. The best part, however, is that the explanations are accessible to readers who may rarely exercise while still offering helpful insights to longtime lovers of exercise.
Caveats: None! The exercises are fun and easy to follow.
What are your favorite books on aging gracefully? Do you have any role models who have aged gracefully?
Related: Aging Gracefully in Your Thirties
How to Prevent and Reverse Photoaging and Sun Damage
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Photos: Mary Hood Luttrell