- Nagham Qasim
- BBC News Arabic
Have you ever imagined that you put saliva on your face to protect it from the appearance of wrinkles?
Millions of women and men around the world have tried applying snail slime or creams containing its saliva to their faces as one of the many attempts to prevent the appearance of those fine lines that cover all of our faces with age.
Hundreds of advertisements and tips appear to me daily on social media, and I watch them hundreds of times a day, like others, in the media. After that, I noticed for the first time these two lines on my forehead and these around my mouth, and as soon as similar lines appeared around my eyes, I started following dozens of Arab influencers and dermatologists who They offer tips to stop wrinkles creeping into the media, which range from drinking water to using creams, devices, and exercises, to trying treatment sessions in specialized clinics.
Among them is an Iraqi influencer named Ghadeer Sultan who has 2 million followers on Instagram. I contacted Ghadir, who repeatedly advertises a cream she has developed that “snail extracts make up 98% of its total composition,” to find out why she is so interested in delaying the appearance of wrinkles.
Ghadir told the BBC: “What scares me most, and millions of women around the world, is the appearance of these lines that give a sense of age. The problem with wrinkles is that they make others think that you are no longer young and therefore less attractive.” According to Ghadir, her followers are the ones who pushed her to find a solution to the problem of wrinkles, as most of them see it as the most urgent problem and are ready to “do anything to prevent wrinkles or delay their appearance.”
But why do we get wrinkles?
Five dermatologists contacted by the BBC agreed that there is no treatment or ointment that can prevent wrinkles from appearing. Wrinkles are those lines, folds, or sagging that appear on the skin as a result of stretching or damage to skin tissues due to a lack of fat and a lack of collagen and elastin.
Dr. Hani Al-Nazer, former head of the National Research Center and a consultant dermatologist, told the BBC, “Although it is not possible to escape the appearance of wrinkles, there are factors that accelerate their appearance, such as lack of drinking water, and excessive exposure to sunlight at noon, as well as smoking, and excessive eating.” Pickles, frequent eating of processed sweets, tension and stress, and excessive use of cosmetics, contrary to what many people imagine.
Basically, aging is a major cause of decreased collagen production, but according to specialists, genetic factors interfere with the rapid appearance of wrinkles. People who come from families suffering from the appearance of wrinkles often appear early.
However, genetics is responsible for only 10% of the appearance of wrinkles, but lifestyle is the most important responsible for their appearance. And heredity here is what is meant by the thickness of the skin that results in its sagging and wrinkle patterns.
Skin color also plays a role in determining when wrinkles appear. Al-Nazir says that dark-skinned people have wrinkles at a later stage of life compared to other white-skinned people, because dark-skinned people have large amounts of melanin, which protects the inner tissues of the skin from UV rays. the sun. Because exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun causes the breakdown of collagen and elastin, which are the pillars on which the shape of the skin and wrinkles depends.
According to specialists in dermatology, the effect of smoking on the skin is very similar to the effect of sunlight in terms of breaking down collagen and elastin.
As for pressure or stress, they lead to an increase in the secretion of neurotransmitters, including adrenaline, which leads to narrowing of blood vessels, and thus reduces blood flow in tissues, including the skin of the face. Also, increasing the amount of salt consumed leads to water retention in the body, and damage to the blood vessels that carry blood to the skin.
There are two types of wrinkles, one of which is called kinetic or expressive wrinkles, which are caused by repetitive movements such as laughter or forehead knots. The other type is called fixed wrinkles, which appear on the face continuously and often begin as expressive wrinkles, but then turn into permanent ones. It occurs as a result of the skin losing its elasticity with age.
Wrinkles may carry messages about a person’s health status. According to Emma Hobson of the International Institute of Skin, wrinkles in the upper forehead area may be related to the health of the bladder and stomach, in the lower forehead area they may be a sign of food sensitivity, and around the eyes they may express the condition of the liver and in the surrounding area. Oral administration may be related to the condition of the gastrointestinal tract.
Money for eternal youth
Professor of dermatology, Hani Al-Nazer, confirmed that the excessive use of cosmetics stimulates the appearance of wrinkles, including those that “their promoters claim” to fight wrinkles, despite this, these products achieve imaginary profits.
The 34-year-old Iraqi influencer, Ghadeer Sultan, tells the BBC, “I spend between 160-320 dollars every 3 months on skin care products, and I cannot do without any of them, but there are many who spend much more than this amount and inject Botox.” Every 6 months, about 650-810 dollars.
According to the global market research company Euromonitor, the size of the market for products intended to delay the appearance of wrinkles has grown globally, rising from $25 billion in 2016 to $37 billion in 2021.
And most of this money is spent by younger women, meaning that young women are more afraid of the appearance of wrinkles than their counterparts in the older stages of life. According to a survey conducted by the British “One Ball” market research company for the American groupon for e-marketing, young women in their thirties spend more on cosmetics to delay the appearance of wrinkles than women over the age of forty, fifty and sixty.
Skin care products occupy an advanced position in the list of beauty products that women spend on. The “One Ball” survey indicated that the average American woman spends more than $225,000 on her appearance care products over the course of her life, and a quarter of this amount is spent on facial care products. Specifically, while men spend half of what women spend on cosmetics.
In the Arab world, women spend about $25 billion annually on all kinds of cosmetics, which is the first in the world, according to the Euromonitor market research network.
Saudi women lead in spending on cosmetics compared to their counterparts across the Arab world, as Saudi women spend $1.5 billion annually on these cosmetics.
Fight wrinkles with Botox
The quest for “miracles” that can stop or hide wrinkles seems to be as old as humans. This is what drives the market for products that serve this purpose to develop rapidly. This market evolved from the use of acids to stimulate collagen production in ancient Egypt to Europeans putting meat on their faces in the 16th and 17th centuries, until face-lifts appeared in the early 20th century. In 2002, a paradigm shift occurred in the cosmetics market with the start of the use of Botox. To resist wrinkles.
Ghadeer anticipated the appearance of wrinkles since she was in her early twenties, by injecting Botox, and she says, “I injected Botox to hide these wrinkles in a faster manner and prevent the emergence of more of them in the future.” I found the same advice given by dozens of women to each other on beauty groups on social media. Girls in their twenties and even younger accept Botox injections to prevent wrinkles from appearing later.
We asked the principal about the validity of this, “This is a lie that some companies exploit to promote their products. Nothing can prevent the appearance of wrinkles in the future, and in no way can they be prevented. All we as doctors can do is hide what has already appeared from them through fillers and Botox.”
Wrinkles and beauty are an inverse relationship
Social networking sites have recently been buzzing with bullying comments on two pictures, one of which is of a well-known Lebanese singer whose face is covered with wrinkles, and the other of an Egyptian movie star in her seventies who was considered one of the beauty icons in the films of the sixties. Why do some people not accept wrinkles and pay millions to try to hide them in any way?
The Egyptian actress, Engy Wegdan, told the BBC, “There is an inverse relationship between beauty and wrinkles in our culture. So much because, for women, advancing age means that they become less attractive.”
Engy launched an initiative entitled “You are as beautiful as you are” on her Instagram page, aiming to encourage women to accept their appearance, and added, “I launched my campaign on social media because the latter provided a platform for bullies, and anyone who directs hurtful comments to others and imposes beauty rules on them has become entitled.” Strict and unrealistic, otherwise they will be subject to offensive comments.
And Angie’s initiative is only one of dozens of initiatives around the world that call for abandoning what is described as unrealistic beauty standards and self-acceptance. Description of Angie.