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THRIVE ‌ Keep Yourself Alive

Fighting the visual signs of aging

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What if we could turn back time? Or at least erase the havoc that those empty bottles and ashes have wreaked on our bodies? Certainly for Cher the dream has come and gone, but don't fret — those deteriorating signs of youth can still be salvaged. There are many internal and external options for combating Old Father Time's head-to-toe attack, most of which are readily available and inexpensive. Think dental floss (about 99 cents), sunscreen (less than $10), not smoking (annual savings of hundreds of dollars), and a baseball cap (about $10 for an inexpensive one), for starters. For more tips and tricks, read what some experts have to say about how to easily and painlessly retain those youthful looks.


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White Teeth

What's more beautiful than a full set of pearly whites untarnished by years spent serving as a filter for coffee, tea, and cigarette smoke? According to Dr. Adam Clark, a prosthodontist specializing in tooth reconstruction at Atlantic Aesthetics, "The health of one's gums is a more indicative way to tell of the overall health of the person rather than the appearance of their teeth." Clark adds, "If I was to interview someone for a position of responsibility and they obviously showed the signs of negligent tooth-care (i.e. gum disease), I would be suspicious of their work habits as well."

To keep your choppers and gums in tip-top shape, one should heed the dentist's advice by brushing and flossing daily. Flossing is required only once every 24 hours due to the amount of time bacteria takes to form, and it is also rumored that dentists would be out of a job if everyone were to floss at this rate. For those needing a quick and relatively lasting fix, take-home whitening kits are often good remedies for those yellow kernels. Simple treatments like Crest White Strips are cheaper, while a tray-type whitener seen on infomercials can cost in the hundreds. In general, stay away from substances that can stain (tea and tobacco being the worst), practice good hygiene, and remember to smile.


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Sharp Eyes

They are the window to your soul, and since seduction always starts with the penetrating gaze and a wink, it's important to keep those knives sharp. Dr. Frederick Shinners, of the Low Country Vision Center, says the two biggest causes of cataracts and glaucoma are smoking and unprotected sun exposure. Smoking seems to already hurt every part of your body, but smoky rooms are also no place for the vision conscious. Sunglasses have become as practical as they are fashionable, and if you like the water, polarized lenses are a necessity. Shinners also recommends eating plenty of dark-green vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli to curb retina deterioration. Also, since eye loss is mostly a chemical thing, one shouldn't stress over the strain from reading marathons — having a bigger head is more important than having a set of specs.


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Firm Skin

There's nothing more coveted than a peaches and cream complexion. Scott Crater, of Lowcountry Dermatology Associates, stresses the adverse effects of smoking cigarettes and harmful sun exposure. The fastest way for someone to get wrinkles is to chain smoke while sunbathing without proper protection. If your goal is to retain a youthful appearance, quit smoking now and wear at least an SPF 15 sunscreen or higher every day. Crater says the best skin product on the market is sunscreen, plain and simple.

If you're into bronzing, tanning beds are equal to if not worse than receiving natural ultraviolet exposure and unless you want your skin to look like boot leather or a car seat, stay far, far away. Although a flawless tan may equal beauty, that beauty is really just short of a thin callus covering one's entire body. Tans are actually a visible skin injury, and your body's change in pigment is a natural defense against further harm from the sun's bombardment. So keep yourself buttered and basted (with sunscreen) while catching rays and try to avoiding smoke or smoking whenever possible.


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Thick Hair

If you're going to be appear 25 forever, you need the mane to prove it. Thick hair is truly a gift from god, but like everything else in the mirror, it will eventually cease to be. Most excessive hair loss is due to your family's genetic history, so don't hold back on blaming your grandfather for stopping up the shower drain. However, part of what is collected there is the result of your hair's cyclical process of growth and loss. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, "At any one time, about 10 percent of the hair on your scalp is in a resting phase. After two to three months, the resting hair falls out and new hair starts to grow in its place."

Other causes of excessive hair loss may result from trauma, illness, or a major surgery. The academy also says that, "If you wear pigtails, cornrows or use tight hair rollers, the pull can cause a type of hair loss called traction alopecia. If the pulling is stopped before scarring of the scalp develops, your hair will grow back ... however, scarring can cause permanent hair loss." To hide thinning hair, you could just wear a hat, although if you can pull off a cue-ball look, go ahead and shave that scalp. If your tresses require medical treatment, topical remedies like Rogaine work for the crown while more serious prescriptions like Propecia work with every follicle. The bold can opt for hair plugs, but that won't remain your little secret forever.

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