You may have heard the street talk that “Asians don’t age”. Or you may have noticed it first-hand, in jealously that during the last 30 years, between the ages of eighteen to forty eight, your female friend didn’t look any different. Perhaps just by one or two wrinkles. Tanning is a specifically Western hobby. Venturing around Europe, America and Australia, you may observe that there is a common desire to “get a tan”, and methods to do so have ranged from setting up chairs in the backyard to driving all the way to crowded beaches. In Australia, disregard for protective sunscreen has arrived at a point where almost 1.2 million prioritise smartphones over it. The wisdom of this decision will come with time, any it may soon be realised that the urge to flaunt a ‘sun-ripened’ body on social media is an extremely short-term pleasure.
What is the sacrifice? Tanning may look healthy. It certainly is portrayed by common conversation and the media to be. Pale, white skin is often associated with too much time spent indoors and a life devoid of healthy social activity. Playing sport, running around the beach with family, hosting barbeques in the glorious rays of the sun instead develops radiant, ‘tanned’ skin. But as the Australasian College of Dermatologists state, sun exposure is the main cause of aging in the skin. Wrinkles, irregular pigments may show up as people age, and are mainly due to sun damage. The process of tanning itself, is actually a sign that the cells are in trauma and are trying to fix themselves.
And if you think sunscreen is the solution, think again. Whilst many people think that applying it is the cover-all solution, they neglect that it needs to be applied prior to sun exposure, and often, re-applied every two hours. Despite what labels on products may say, their sunscreen was tested in lab conditions and application is different once exposed to the routines of running around, sweating, swimming in mineral water and towelling it off.
It is a strange paradox that Westerners often enjoy maintaining the glow of their tan whilst worrying about the appearance of wrinkles over time. In solution, they purchase vida glow as a remedy to keep the skin supple and healthy. Little do they know, that the secret behind perennial Asian agelessness lies in a diet rich in collagen and a lifestyle not valuing excessive exposure to the sun as a socially beneficial priority.
Walking around the streets of Beijing’s ‘hutongs’, you will notice countless unusual foods being sold. One particularly popular item is donkey hide. Young women are drawn to this, as they believe it maintains their beauty. In China, health revolves around the diet, which often contains collagen rich foods. The practice of eating donkey skin, tucked inside flaky buns and spiked with flavoursome garlic, stretches back to the first century BCE. Pig trotters, Bird’s Nest, the uterine tubes of female frogs and sheep placenta are part of the weird and wonderful array of Chinese food eaten to keep your skin young and healthy.
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